By Tony Jackson
Another day passed on Wednesday without the Dodgers naming Joe Torre their 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.
Meanwhile, Colletti said 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 believed to be all but a foregone conclusion and could be announced as soon as today.
“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 tossing (out) 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.”
Meanwhile, commissioner Bud Selig’s edict that teams looking to fill high-profile vacancies must interview at least a couple of minority candidates doesn’t appear to be an obstacle to the Dodgers quickly hiring Torre. The club can simply point out to Selig that it has been at the forefront of diversity, as evidenced by several high-ranking front office officials who are African-American (assistant general manager for player development DeJon Watson and special assistants Toney Howell and Vance Lovelace) or Asian (assistant general manager Kim Ng and Asian operations director Acey Kohrogi).
By Tony Jackson