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Paul DePodesta New GM

Frank and Jamie McCourt were confirmed as the fourth owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers when Major League Baseball owners voted unanimously to approve the $430 million sale of the Dodgers to them by News Corporation.<br> <br> "Welcome to a new era of Dodger baseball," McCourt said during a news conference at Dodger Stadium. "I intend to restore the glory days of Dodger baseball with a team worthy of support from our fans." <br> <br>

McCourt, a successful Boston real estate developer who paid $430 million for the team, the stadium, the surrounding Chavez Ravine property and the baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, expressed a strong commitment to restoring the Dodgers' winning tradition and the importance of returning family ownership to the Los Angeles baseball team.

Among his first actions, McCourt announced that every Dodgers game in 2004 will be televised, a first in Dodger history. "We are going to brand and market this team aggressively, providing greater value and enjoyment for the fans, season ticket holders, advertisers and sponsors who support us," he said.

After interviewing a number of potential general managers he announced that Oakland assistant general manager Paul DePodesta, formerly the assistant general manager at Oakland, will be the new GM, officially ending Dan Evans' three-year tenure as the team's GM.

"Paul has played an integral role in turning two different organizations into perennial winners," said Dodger Chairman Frank McCourt. "He's one of the most innovative executives in the game and brings with him many fresh ideas and a clear direction in which he plans to take the Dodger organization. Most importantly, his main goal is the same as mine, and that is to bring a world championship to the fans of Los Angeles." DePodesta, 31, McCourt's choice over veteran executive Pat Gillick, the former Seattle, Baltimore and Toronto GM; Philadelphia Phillies assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr.; former sports agent Dennis Gilbert; former Dodger first baseman Steve Garvey and Evans, the only candidates known to have interviewed for the job. "It is truly an honor to be chosen to help lead this storied franchise," said DePodesta. "I'm eager to begin working with the McCourts, who have made evident their commitment to the families and fans of Los Angeles and shown a tremendous willingness and desire to return the Dodgers to the playoffs."

In his eight seasons in Major League Baseball, DePodesta's teams have reached the playoffs seven times, including each of the past four seasons in which he served as assistant general manager for the Oakland Athletics. During that time, the A's posted a 392-255 record (.606) tied for the best winning percentage in baseball. In rating DePodesta as one of the top general manager prospects in Major League Baseball, Baseball America said, "he's intellectual, has excellent administrative skills and knows how to study statistics, but he appreciates traditional scouting methods."

DePodesta becomes the Dodgers' sixth general manager in less than six years, following Evans, Dave Wallace, Kevin Malone, Tom Lasorda and Fred Claire. The Dodgers had only three general managers (Buzzie Bavasi, Fresco Thompson and Al Campanis) in the 36 years from 1951-87.

L.A. Dodger GMs

E.J. Bavasi, 1958-68
Fresco Thompson, 1968
Al Campanis, 1968-1987
Fred Claire, 1987-1998
Tom Lasorda*, 1998
Kevin Malone, 1998-2001
Dave Wallace*, 2001
Dan Evans, 2001-2004
Paul DePodesta, 2004
(*interim)

DePodesta has been working since the end of the 2003 season without a contract, and because his move is considered a promotion, the Dodgers will not owe Oakland compensation in the form of players and/or draft picks for hiring him. DePodesta, 31, joins Brian Cashman (New York), Dave Dombrowski (Montreal) and Jim Bowden (Cincinnati) as the third-youngest person to be named general manager in baseball history behind Theo Epstein (Boston, 28) and Randy Smith (San Diego, 29). His work has been recognized by numerous publications, including Fortune magazine, which recently named him as one of the Top 10 innovators under the age of 40. Among the first orders of business for DePodesta will be to hire a farm director, a position that has been vacant since Bill Bavasi left to become the Seattle GM in November. Dodger assistant GM Kim Ng has assumed some of the farm director's responsibilities, but Evans' search for Bavasi's replacement was suspended when McCourt announced on Jan. 30 that he would be conducting a GM search.

Evans was fired with one year and $550,000 left on his contract. McCourt gave DePodesta a guaranteed five-year contract, believed to be worth about $800,000 a year.

The new GM takes over a club that had the worst offense in baseball last year and made only minor adjustments during the winter, while the franchise was in the midst of a prolonged process to approve the sale from News Corp. to McCourt. That sale was approved by Major League Baseball February 6.

DePodesta resolved at least one issue immediately. He said Jim Tracy, entering the last year of his contract, "is the manager of the Dodgers, and I fully expect him to lead our field staff in 2004." But neither DePodesta nor McCourt would make a commitment to Tracy beyond this year.

DePodesta said he would let Tracy hire a batting instructor, a position that has been vacant since the end of last season and is expected to go to former Montreal and Dodger third baseman Tim Wallach.

DePodesta also said McCourt had given him the resources "to be as aggressive as we can" in an effort to acquire an impact hitter to bolster an offense that was baseball's least productive last season, and that McCourt had not given him any mandate to trim payroll from the $100-million range, as has been widely speculated. A number of scouts in and out of the Dodger organization fear that DePodesta will slash the player-development budget because the new general manager is a disciple of Beane, who, in the book "Moneyball," outlines the A's unconventional approach of stressing statistics over scouting in evaluating professional and amateur players, and of favoring college players over high school players in the draft. However, DePodesta put some distance between himself and "Moneyball".

"I'm not looking to make changes in scouting, I'm looking to change the way we do business," DePodesta told the Los Angeles Times. "I'm open to new ideas — that's how we became successful in Oakland…. What we'll try to do is take everything into account when we make a decision. We're not going to only rely on statistics or only rely on scouting reports. It's all going to play a part in the process….

"The games are not played by computers. It comes down to whether players can perform in critical situations. There's a human element to this that is not measurable. You have to mesh everything into the decision-making process."

A little more than two years ago, when DePodesta was 28, he turned down the Toronto GM job. At 31, he is the second-youngest GM in baseball, behind 30-year-old Boston GM Theo Epstein. "When I got that call [from the Dodgers], I knew that was the reason I turned down the Toronto job," DePodesta said. "I was so young at the time, and I was really happy in Oakland. I knew I could afford to wait for my dream job, and this is it. This is where I feel I belong."

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