This has been changed slightly to reflect the fact that Selig officially granted the Dodgers an exemption from interviewing minority candidates. Is there even a sliver of doubt left that Torre is the guy?
By Tony Jackson
Another day passed on Wednesday without the Dodgers naming Joe Torre their next manager. But while it isn’t immediately clear exactly what the delay is, it is strongly apparent that negotiations have moved beyond the basic terms of what is expected to be a three-year contract worth about $12 million and have been narrowed to what is essentially fine print.
“I don’t ever classify anything as close or far until it is either done or not done, and it’s not done,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said.
Colletti did say he is considering other candidates for the position. What he didn’t say, but didn’t have to, is that he won’t need any other candidates if a deal can be reached with Torre, which is all but a foregone conclusion and could be announced today.
Camille Johnston, the Dodgers’ senior vice president for communications, confirmed that a request by Dodgers owner Frank McCourt to commissioner Bud Selig that Selig exempt the club from his longstanding edict that minority candidates must be interviewed for high-profile positions has been granted.
Selig’s approval, according to a New York Times report, was based on two factors: that the Dodgers already have enough high-ranking minorities in their front office to put them at the forefront of the industry when it comes to diversity; and that it is so obvious Torre is the club’s choice as manager that to interview minority candidates just to satisfy Selig’s mandate would be a waste of those candidates’ time.
While that leaves absolutely no doubt that Torre is the Dodgers’ choice to become their manager, it remains anyone’s guess when he will become their manager.
“There are too many moving pieces for us to stick a timetable on (the managerial search),” Colletti said. “If things move fast, we could get some things taken care of in the next day or two. Or, it could be a longer process than that, I don’t know. It will be as quick and thorough as possible.”
Translation: either Torre takes the job, in which case the matter will be settled quickly, or he doesn’t, in which case the club will embark on a full-on search for its next manager that has already begun with Colletti making initial inquiries into potential candidates.
“We are talking about a number of people, and we are (eliminating) names and adding names,” Colletti said. “It may be a very short list.”
Maury Gostfrand, Torre’s New York-based agent, didn’t return a message left on his cell phone. But all indications are the final hurdle is the coaching staff and whether the Dodgers are willing to pay Torre’s coaches what he and they consider to be fair market value.
Over the past two seasons, manager Grady Little’s staff was believed to have been one of the lowest-paid in baseball. Torre’s coaches with the New York Yankees, at least some of whom are expected to follow him to the Dodgers, are believed to be among the highest-paid, if not the highest-paid, in the game, their salaries exceeding those of some big-league managers.
Case in point: in October 2000, when then-Yankees third-base coach Willie Randolph briefly appeared to be the frontrunner for Cincinnati’s managerial vacancy, Randolph reportedly was willing to take what was sure to be a salary cut to accept what would have been his first chance to manage in the majors. But when Randolph found out just how much of a salary cut he was facing (reportedly about 40 percent), he withdrew from consideration.
Torre is likely to be joined by Yankees bench coach Don Mattingly and third-base coach Larry Bowa. Other possibilities, according to various published reports, are Jose Cardenal and Lee Mazzilli, both former Torre coaches in New York.
Bowa and Mazzilli are former big-league managers.
“Whoever the manager is, (the coaches) will (be chosen) under the same guidelines (as before),” Colletti said. “There will have to be a comfort level on his part and on my part as to who the staff is. The manager shouldn’t be saddled with anybody I force upon him, nor should the organization be saddled with anybody they don’t have full trust in.”