Hart and Epstein Out of the Dodger GM Mix

Now that Texas Rangers executive John Hart has withdrawn as a candidate for the Los Angeles Dodgers' general manager's job and Theo Epstein, former Boston GM, either turned the job down or said he was waiting to see if the Washington Nationals wanted him, the talent pool has withered away to two, or two and one-half if you want to look at it that way.

The 57-year-old Hart resigned as GM of the Rangers on Oct. 4. He had talked with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt in early November but decided to remain as senior adviser/baseball operations.

Epstein was in Los Angeles this past weekend to meet with Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt about the club's GM vacancy, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

Major League Baseball currently owns the Nationals, and commissioner Bud Selig is trying to decide between eight groups vying to buy the club. At least one of those groups is believed to be eyeing Epstein for a position as the Nats' team president and GM.

So the Dodgers are put on hold again, as they were when NewsCorp purchased the club from Peter O'Malley and as they were when NewsCorp eventually sold the club to Frank McCourt as Vlad Guerrero slipped through their fingers while they were waiting.

To sweeten the deal, the McCourts are believed to have offered Epstein a piece in the ownership of the club, but that didn't sway him and he will wait to see if Washington wants him.

Washington? Didn't they used to be the Expos? So we have a had a manager who would rather be in Pittsburgh and a GM candidate who would rather be in ... well, you get the picture.

Epstein, a Brookline, Mass. native, probably prefers the Washington job to the Dodgers because it is closer to home. But it underlines the candidates reluctance to get involved in a dysfunctional franchise that has spiraled downward since the McCourts bought the club from NewsCorp.

Meanwhile, Frank McCourt seems to be content to have assistant GM Kim Ng and vice president for scouting and player development Roy Smith make baseball decisions -- subject to his approval.

One source with Dodgers ties said. "McCourt isn't worried about putting a team together. In his mind right now, this GM job is first and foremost a statement of his ownership, which is why he wants to put a star in that position. This is more about show than substance."

Meanwhile, back at the ranch in Texas, he situation on pitching coach Orel Hershiser, remains confused. The Dodgers received permission more than three weeks ago to speak with Hershiser about their managerial opening.

He has since been mentioned in connection with as many as three positions with his former club. As with the other decisions, nothing has been decided.

The Dallas Morning News said the Rangers don't want to give Hershiser an ultimatum, but they are starting to run into a time-element problem.

Should Hershiser leave, as the Rangers' expect he will, the Rangers would have to shuffle some people in the front office and still fill at least one opening.

Getting permission from other clubs to speak with coaches or minor league instructors becomes a problem as December nears because most teams have filled their staffs.

If and when the Dodgers make a selection, they will need a manager and an almost complete coaching staff. Bench coach Jim Lett, pitching coach Jim Colburn and first base coach John Shelby have all fled the confusion to be with manager Jim Tracy in Pittsburgh.

Third base coach Glenn Hoffman has signed with San Diego, leaving hitting coach Tim Wallach and bullpen coach Jon Debus unsigned, although both of them are exploring other options.

Win Shares Pick Winners-- Winners of the 2005 MVP Awards -- Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez -- also led their league in Win Shares, as we poined out in a story recently.

Pujols earned 38 WS to top the National League and Rodriguez had 37 to lead the American League. But then the voters took off on their own. Leaving the pitchers off the list, the leaders:

In the National League: Andruw Jones finished second but had only 21 Win Shares, well out of the top 10. Derrek Lee was third (#2 WS), Brian Giles fourth (#9 WS), Morgan Ensberg fifth (#7t WS), Carlos Delgado sixth (#5 WS), Pat Burrell seventh (not in top 10), Brian Giles eighth (#3 WS), Jimmy Rollins ninth (n/a) and Jayson Bay tenth (#4 WS).

Dodger Jeff Kent, ranked sixth in win shares, garnered only 18 points (one fifth, one sixth, two eighth and one 10th place votes).

This underlines the question -- is it most valuable or best player we are voting on? Kent was the Dodgers' Most Valuable but they could have finished fourth without him, although I tend to think that had he not performed as he did, the Dodgers might have finished in the Pacific Coast League.

In the American League: (Again excluding pitchers), David Ortiz was second (#5 WS), Vlad Guerrero third (#7t WS), Manny Ramirez fourth (#2 WS), Travis Hafner fifth (#7t WS), Paul Konerko sixth (not in top 10 WS), Mark Teixeria seventh (#4 WS), Gary Sheffield eighth (#3 WS), Derek Jeter ninth (not in top 10 WS) and Michael Young tenth (#7t WS).

Bip Roberts, who was sixth in Win Shares, had only five points in the MVP balloting, finishing in a tie for 18th.