Dodger Blue May Take on Pinstripe Tinge

The New York Post reported that former Yankee manager Joe Torre is negotiating to become the next Dodger manager and present manager Grady Little will have his contract bought out. There is no official confirmation from the Dodgers on the report.

The story was picked up by Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, ESPN and other news outlets.

After an initial report in the New York Post that the Dodgers had interest in bringing Torre to Los Angeles, the Journal News of Westchester, N.Y., where Torre lives, also reported the revered manager could be hired by the Dodgers.

Late Monday night, ESPN reported that the Dodgers remain interested in Joe Girardi in the event he does not accept the Yankees' offer to replace Torre.

So Little remains manager of the Dodgers, as Torre acknowledged that in an interview Monday with talk-show host David Letterman, who asked whether he might manage the Dodgers or Angels, who are managed by Mike Scioscia. "Well, the Dodgers have a contract, I mean, a manager," Torre replied during his "Late Show" appearance. "The Angels have a very good manager."

Torre went on to say: "That's a bad question to ask. I know what's been rumored. The local paper today is talking about going to LA. There has been a time or two that something that has been in the newspaper hasn't been true."

Gurnick noted the hiring of the 67-year-old Torre -- who incidentally is a Brooklyn native, how appropriate would that be? -- would give the Dodgers a public-relations victory after a disappointing fourth-place finish in 2007.

Torre had rejected a one-year, $5 million offer plus incentives from the Yankees two weeks ago, but reportedly would accept a three-year deal for less than $15 million from the Dodgers. Torre is rumored to be eager to return to managing and prove he doesn't need the richest payroll in baseball to win.

According to the Post, the Dodgers were negotiating to buy out Little from a contract for 2008 guaranteed at less than $1 million and an option for 2009.

Jackson pointed out that what little word there was coming from the organization clearly indicated otherwise. That did not mean, however, that the Dodgers aren't exploring the possibility of replacing their current manager, Grady Little, with Torre.

?One Dodgers source with knowledge of the situation told Jackson "there is no truth to the story as it presently stands." Another source within the organization, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, "I don't know where any of this is coming from, but if you write it, you'll look like an idiot."

The Dodgers were 82-80 last season and finished fourth in the NL West in what Little said was the toughest year of his career because of tensions between the team's veteran and young players.

"What's been the most disappointing to me is that so many people, when things are going good, they're fine," Little said. "But then the very minute things turn sour, the real person comes out. That's what disappointed me the most."

Like the wind-blown California wildfires, the rumors have spread so far as to speculate that if hired, Torre could bring with him a number Yankee coaches and then branched into pointing out that Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman might replace Ned Colletti.

Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times pointed out, with Torre as the boss, Colletti will have to produce like Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, or risk being replaced by, well, Cashman.

Texas has an interest in Yankee hitting coach Kevin Long. Field coordinator Rob Thomson has drawn interest as a bench coach or base coach. Dodger hitting coach Bill Mueller, who replaced Eddie Murray during the season, is likely headed back to the front office.

Torre's bench coach in New York, Don Mattingly, would likely move with him to Los Angeles as a coach -- joining the organization that drafted his son, Preston, in 2006.

That would open a spot for Long, who Torre believes did an outstanding job in his initial season in the The Bronx this past year.

The move would be popular move based on the reception Torre received at an Elton John concert in Las Vegas Saturday night. John introduced Billie Jean King and Torre from the stage. The crowd at The Colosseum At Caesars Palace gave Torre a standing ovation and the Dodger fans on hand serenaded Torre with "Come coach L.A."

Torre was the American League Manager of the Year in 1996 and 1998. He previously managed the Braves, Mets and Cardinals. His overall winning percentage is .539. However, his winning percentage excluding the Yankees years was .470 and those teams finished first once in 15 seasons, proving that the manager alone does not make a winning season.