Torre, Torre, Torre

Joe Torre has switched his mailing address from the Big Apple to the Big Orange, agreeing to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers for a rumored three years at just over $13 million. "Joe Torre is one of the most respected men in the game of baseball," Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said. "As a player, a broadcaster, a manager and in his life off the field, Joe is a winner through and through."

Torre and the Dodgers finalized a three-year deal with a contract that is believed to be worth around $4 million a season. Torre was said to be negotiating for the right to appoint his own coaches, among them Don Mattingly. He also wanted assurance that he would have input on player personnel moves, which some feel could lead to the free-agent pursuit of Alex Rodriguez.

"Having grown up in Brooklyn, I have a great understanding of the history of the Dodger organization and I am committed to bringing a world championship back to Los Angeles," Torre said in a statement released by the team. "I consider it an honor to be a part of this organization, which is one of the most storied franchises in all of sports."

Torre, 67, has a 26-year Major League managerial record of 2,067-1,770 (.539) and ranks eighth all-time in victories among Major League managers, having passed former Dodgers Leo Durocher (2,009) and Alston (2,040) last season. Torre has more post-season victories (76) than any manager in Major League history.

Over the past 12 years, Torre posted a .605 winning percentage (1,173-767) and guided the Yankees to 12 consecutive post-season appearances, 10 American League Eastern Division titles, six American League pennants and four World Championships, including three consecutive titles from 1998-2000. He was named the AL's Manager of the Year in 1996 and again in 1998 when the team won 114 games.  

Prior to managing the Yankees, Torre piloted the Mets (1977-81), Braves (1982-84) and Cardinals (1990-95) and was named the Associated Press Manager of the Year in 1982 when he guided Atlanta to the National League Western Division title. Torre served as a broadcaster for the California Angels from 1985-90.  

As a player, Torre was a nine-time All-Star, former Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner (1965) and National League Most Valuable Player (1971). He hit .297 with 252 career home runs and 1,185 RBI in 2,209 games as a catcher, third baseman and first baseman for the Braves, Cardinals and Mets. His 1971 MVP campaign included a career-high .363 batting average, 230 hits, 137 RBI and 352 total bases.

He becomes just the eighth manager in Los Angeles Dodger history over the last 54 years, following Hall of Famers Walter Alston (1954-76) and Tommy Lasorda (1977-96), Bill Russell (1996-98), Glenn Hoffman (1998), Davey Johnson (1999-2000), Jim Tracy (2001-05) and Grady Little (2006-07).

Said General Manager Ned Colletti: "Few managers in the history of the game have accomplished what Joe has delivered. Throughout his career he has demonstrated the ability to turn a vision for success into results on the field and we welcome his passion and leadership. We have tremendous fans and they deserve no less."

A news conference has been scheduled for Monday at Dodger Stadium to introduce Torre.

Torre became available Oct. 18, when he parted ways with the New York Yankees after turning down an incentive-laden contract with a base salary of $5 million to return for a 13th season. Torre led the Yankees to the playoffs in every season he managed them and won four World Series titles.

Camille Johnston, the Dodgers' senior vice president for communications, confirmed that a request by Dodgers owner Frank McCourt to commissioner Bud Selig that Selig exempt the club from his long-standing edict that minority candidates must be interviewed for high-profile positions has been granted.

Selig's approval was apparently based on two factors: that the Dodgers already have enough high-ranking minorities in their front office to put them at the forefront of the industry when it comes to diversity; and that it is so obvious Torre is the club's choice as manager that to interview minority candidates just to satisfy Selig's mandate would be a waste of time.

Assistant general managers Kim Ng and De Jon Watson are minorities -- Ng is an Asian American woman and Watson is African American -- and Dodgers President Jamie McCourt is the highest-ranking female executive in baseball.

Torre is expected to bring at least two of his Yankees coaches with him in bench coach Don Mattingly, whose son Preston is a highly regarded Dodgers infield prospect, and third-base coach Larry Bowa. Former Yankees coaches Lee Mazzilli and Jose Cardenal also are possibilities to join Torre's Los Angeles staff.

Sources say manager Grady Little's staff was believed to have been one of the lowest-paid in baseball. Torre's coaches, on the other hand, at least some of whom are expected to follow him to the Dodgers, are believed to be among the highest-paid, if not the highest-paid, in the game, their salaries exceeding those of some big-league managers.

A-Rod in L.A.? Odds say yes-- Doug Padilla of the Los Angeles Daily News wrote, "You can bet on this: Alex Rodriguez will be playing for the Angels or Dodgers on Opening Day in 2008."

A gambling site is giving 3-to-1 odds that Rodriguez will be wearing Angels red next season, the lowest odds on the board. Just behind the Angels are the Dodgers, coming in at 4-to-1 to land A-Rod. How the official signing of Torre is not known. The fact that Steve Boros is Rodriguez's agent could also change the odds.

Where the two-time MVP really ends up still is anybody's guess but a former National League general manager who is still involved in the day-to-day operations of a major-league club, indicated that Rodriguez recently purchased property in the Orange County area.

Rodriguez walked away from a guaranteed $72 million. He had three years remaining on a record-breaking 10-year, $252 million deal Rodriguez signed with the Texas Rangers before the 2001 season.

Angels owner Arte Moreno has repeatedly said that even though he respects Rodriguez as a player, he has no interest in placing 25 percent of the team's payroll in the hands of one player. Indications are that Rodriguez could be seeking anywhere from $200 million to $240 million over eight seasons.

According reports, the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, New York Mets and San Francisco Giants are expected to be interested in Rodriguez along with the Angels and Dodgers.

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