Little resigns; door open for Torre in L.A.
Vail, CO Colorado
LOS ANGELES ” Grady Little resigned as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, paving the way for Joe Torre to take the job.
The 57-year-old Little leaves with one year remaining on his contract plus a club option for 2009. Team owner Frank McCourt said on the season’s final day that Little would return next year, but recently several news outlets reported the Dodgers were speaking with Torre about their managerial job.
“I’ve got my own personal reasons,” Little said. “It was a mutual resignation.”
The 67-year-old Torre managed the New York Yankees to four World Series championships and 12 playoff appearances in as many seasons before turning down a one-year, $5 million offer for next season with an additional $3 million in incentives on Oct. 18.
Torre, who completed a three-year, $19.2 million contract this year, ranks eighth on baseball’s career list with 2,067 victories and has won a record 76 postseason games.
“We haven’t hired anybody,” general manager Ned Colletti said. “We’re talking to some people, that’s all I’m going to tell you. We’ll talk about where we go from here at a later date.”
Torre’s agent, Maury Gostfrand, declined comment.
The Dodgers entered this season as the clear-cut favorite to win the NL West and had the league’s best record in mid-July. But they dropped 11 of their last 14 games to fade out of contention, finishing at 82-80.
Clubhouse unrest surfaced between veterans and young players during the season’s final two weeks, when the Dodgers lost seven straight games to the Colorado Rockies while falling out of contention.
The Dodgers have won only one postseason game since winning the 1988 World Series.
Little managed the Boston Red Sox in 2002-03 before being fired despite two playoff appearances.
The Red Sox led the Yankees 5-2 late in Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series before Little opted to leave in pitcher Pedro Martinez instead of going to the bullpen. The Yankees rallied to tie the game before winning in the 11th on a homer by Aaron Boone.
That led to Little’s firing.
Speaking before what turned out to be Little’s final game, McCourt said he was encouraged about the Dodgers’ direction under GM Ned Colletti and Little.
“We should be playing next week,” McCourt said. “It’s sort of an odd place I’m at right now. I feel the fans’ disappointment. I share it. On the other hand, I feel something very positive here. The future is very, very bright.”
The Dodgers went 88-74 and made the playoffs as the NL wild-card team in Little’s first season as their manager before being swept by the New York Mets in the first round of the playoffs.
If Torre were to make the move to Los Angeles, Don Mattingly has been mentioned as a possible bench coach. Mattingly served in a similar capacity in New York and was interviewed to succeed Torre as Yankees manager. Instead, Joe Girardi was hired earlier Tuesday.
“I haven’t seen that Joe’s managing anywhere or going anywhere, so it’s hard for me to answer that question. It’s not a situation that I’m prepared to talk about,” Mattingly said during a conference call.
But he didn’t rule out that scenario.
“I think everyone knows how I feel about Joe. I have a ton of respect. He’s helped me in so many different ways,” Mattingly said. “If something would happen with Joe and he would want me to be a part of that, I’ll make that decision.”
Mattingly’s son, Preston, is a minor leaguer in the Dodgers’ organization.