Who Wants Dodger Job?
The Dodgers have moved beyond Plan A -- and might already be on Plan C or D -- in their search for a general manager after their top choice, Pat Gillick, took a job with the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.
Twenty months ago, Dodger owner Frank McCourt hired 31-year-old Paul DePodesta over the veteran Gillick. This time it was Gillick, 68, who snubbed the Dodgers.
McCourt is considering going after the DePodesta-like Theo Epstein, who resigned as Boston Red Sox GM one year after leading the team to a historic World Series title.
But three sources close to Epstein, 31, said he probably wouldn’t be interested in the chaotic Dodger situation. He left the Red Sox because of friction with President Larry Lucchino and is DePodesta’s close friend.
“I would be shocked if he touched the Dodger job,” said a front-office executive who knows Epstein well. “He’s not going to go into a situation that one of the 10 people he trusts most in the world says is completely dysfunctional.”
Another candidate, former Houston GM Gerry Hunsicker, apparently also is no longer available. The St. Petersburg Times is reporting today that he will accept a front-office position with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
The Dodgers might find themselves in the position of giving the job to someone grateful for the opportunity instead of someone they are excited about hiring.
Former Cleveland and Texas GM John Hart and Washington GM Jim Bowden have interest in the opening, but McCourt has not asked for permission to speak to either of them. Hart is an advisor with Texas.
Hart led the Indians to several playoff appearances in the mid-1990s. Bowden quickly turned the Nationals into a wild-card contender in the team’s first season since moving from Montreal.
Other candidates could include Dodger assistant GM Kim Ng, who previously was an assistant GM with the New York Yankees, and Dennis Gilbert, a former agent and current special advisor to Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
Ng could become the first female general manager. Gilbert is a strong negotiator who interviewed for the Dodger opening when DePodesta was hired.
McCourt’s senior advisor, Tom Lasorda, has said Orel Hershiser is too inexperienced to become GM, but Lasorda is pushing to bring the former Dodger pitcher into the organization.
The scenario was for Hershiser, who has been the Texas Ranger pitching coach since 2002, to learn from Gillick and take over the position in a few years.
Now a fallback plan could be to hire Hershiser as GM and have him learn from Ng and Roy Smith, the Dodger vice president of player development.
Epstein, who did not return phone calls, is holding a news conference today in Boston primarily to disclose his reasons for leaving the Red Sox. He also might divulge his level of interest in the Dodger opening.
The Dodgers have appeal to some candidates because of their strong farm system, relatively high payroll and strong tradition. But talk of McCourt’s seemingly muddled decision-making and penchant for firing high-level employees is getting around baseball.
“I don’t know how any assurances from them can correct that,” a high-level executive said. “Anybody in a decent situation wouldn’t want any part of it.”
At least one Dodger player is concerned enough with the direction of the team to ask questions. Jeff Kent and his agent, Jeff Klein, met with McCourt at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, one day before McCourt decided to fire DePodesta.
Klein said that Kent expected DePodesta to join the meeting and did not lobby for a new general manager.
“By no means was Jeff Kent gunning for Paul DePodesta to get fired,” Klein said. “It was clear there was a certain dysfunction within the organization, that they were not singing from the same page in the hymnal.
“Jeff asked for the meeting, bought an airline ticket and flew out. And he did it without any fanfare. He was trying to help in any way.”
Kent, who has one year left on a two-year contract, hinted near the end of the Dodgers’ 71-91 season that he would ask to be traded if it appeared the team was building for the future rather than trying to win in 2006. Kent, 38, led the Dodgers in most offensive categories and has built Hall of Fame credentials as a second baseman.
Klein said that Kent isn’t sure what to make of the events of the last several days, especially the firing of the general manager who signed him.
“Maybe the decisions were courageous,” he said. “We’ll have to judge what comes out the other end. Courageous or compulsive? Time will tell.”
Times staff writer Tim Brown contributed to this report.