Hurricane Stein Looms

The George Steinbrenner Watch is to the New York sporting media what tracking a hurricane is to the Weather Channel. On the day after the Yankees were beaten in the World Series by the Florida Marlins, there were storm warnings when a club spokesman read a two-sentence statement from Steinbrenner: "Of course, I was disappointed, but we will be meeting soon to make whatever changes are needed to bring back a stronger and better team to New York and our fans. You can count on it."

Steinbrenner said manager Joe Torre will return but made no such commitment to general manager Brian Cashman, who has a contract for 2004 for $1.15 million, or any of the coaching staff.

"If it is, I'll deal with it," Cashman said of being a scapegoat. "Whatever it will be, it will be. I'm not afraid. Those things I can't worry about. I'll meet with the owner soon. When and where is to be determined."

Not meeting with the owner will be bench coach Don Zimmer, who said after the World Series he won't return; pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, who wasn't sure he wanted to come back; or hitting coach Rick Down, who wants to return. Steinbrenner was highly critical of the coaching staff last winter and didn't let up during the season.

"I feel personally abused," said Stottlemyre, citing the Jose Contreras incident, when he and Torre chose to send him to Triple-A Columbus but were overruled by Steinbrenner.

"Joe and I said one thing, and another thing was done," said Stottlemyre, who was embarrassed with how his starters were roughed up by the Angels last year in the Division Series but enjoyed a revival this year -- a 2.13 World Series ERA and a team that won 101 games despite a patchwork bullpen of 19 relievers.

"I just think to get this far, and accomplish as much as we have, we should feel better about this thing than we do," said Stottlemyre. "But unfortunately, because of somebody's attitude, we're considered failures. Some people feel winning 101 games is successful. Some people feel getting to the World Series is successful. Other people think if you don't win the World Series, and don't do it going 4-and-0, that you're unsuccessful."

Meanwhile, Down, the club's third hitting coach since 2000, with Chris Chambliss and Gary Denbo the others, is taking the heat for the Yankees going 0-for-7 in Game 6 and 7-for-50 (.140) overall with runners in scoring position.

"We didn't play like we did during the season," Down said. "It's disappointing that we lost, but we're not ashamed of the year we had. It's a tough place to work. Not everybody can deal with it. But I'm not going to walk away from anything."

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