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Dodgers Part Ways With Manager Little

Manager resigns- is Torre on the way?

 

By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com

 

LOS ANGELES -- Manager Grady Little and the Dodgers ended a month of intrigue Tuesday by mutually parting company with a year left on his contract, presumably paving the way for the pursuit of former Yankees manager Joe Torre as his replacement.

The announcement came in a conference call with Little and general manager Ned Colletti, who hired Little almost two years ago to replace Jim Tracy. Little managed the club to a 17-win improvement and postseason berth in 2006, but the Dodgers followed in 2007 with a late-season collapse into fourth place and a clubhouse divided.

On the last day of the season, Little said he would return in 2008 and "see this thing through to the end," but apparently had doubts whether he wanted to manage as a lame duck and spent several weeks mulling his future.

Those doubts prompted Colletti to contact possible replacements like Joe Girardi and Torre and the speculation that followed further undermined the perception of Little's status as a leader.

Both Little and Colletti agreed that Tuesday's decision was Little's and that he could have remained Dodgers manager if he had chosen to do so.

Little, 57, had previously managed the Boston Red Sox for two seasons and came to Los Angeles with a reputation for folksy charm and being a "player's manager."

But the reputation took a hard hit when veteran Jeff Kent criticized the attitude and approach of the team's young players, interpreted as confirmation of a clubhouse rift that developed as the organization's youth movement jeopardized the playing status of veterans.

As the manager, Little received much of the blame for the turmoil and said he would handle things differently next year. He called the just-completed season, "the toughest of my life."

The Dodgers apparently will pay Little at least a portion of the estimated $750,000 he was due in 2008. He also had a 2009 option. That is only a fraction of the $5 million salary Torre is expected to command, having rejected a one-year deal at that figure (plus incentives) from the Yankees two weeks ago.

Although there are indications the Dodgers want Torre, under Major League guidelines the club is mandated to conduct a search that includes interviews with minority candidates.