By Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 22, 2007
Former Florida Marlins manager Joe Girardi turned down the Baltimore Orioles' offer to fill the team's vacant managerial position yesterday, a decision that ended days of negotiations and will make new Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail take what he said would be a more "methodical" approach to filling the job.
"There was interest on both sides," Girardi said. "I felt at this time it wasn't the right time for my family and I. I was flattered that the Orioles showed interest. The baseball history is wonderful. It's a wonderful sports city."
Girardi said his decision did not hinge on the front office or the negotiations. "It was timing," he said.
During a conference call yesterday, MacPhail denied reports that money was a factor.
"I would think that's very unlikely," he said. Girardi and agent Steve Mandel "made it very clear to me that money was not the issue. We started at a pretty good level. We indicated there was flexibility. There would have been plenty of vehicles for them to enchance the package."
When asked if the decision was final, Girardi responded: "I'm not sure what the Orioles are going to do. I really don't know."
With Girardi, the Orioles' clear top choice to replace Sam Perlozzo, out of the picture, the managerial search likely will stop for the weekend while MacPhail takes his 89-year-old father, Lee MacPhail, a former Orioles general manager, to a family reunion in Lovington, Mich. MacPhail will move into his Baltimore office on Tuesday and resume the search.
"I'm disappointed, but undaunted," MacPhail said. "We will go on. This was probably a preemptive strike to find a manager. I think now I'll probably go through a longer list and whittle my way down."
Earlier in the day, MacPhail and former Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker spoke informally regarding the position, according to Baker. Now an analyst for ESPN, Baker said the job is "probably not the right fit right now," but did not completely rule out becoming a candidate.
Baker managed the Cubs for four seasons while MacPhail was an executive for the team.
"We got along great," Baker said. "He was always honest and straightforward with me. He just told me, 'Hey man, your name has been mentioned here a lot here.' We just talked as comrades. He was just calling to say hello."
Baker, 58, said he has not been contacted formally by the Orioles, and his first communication was his brief chat with MacPhail. "Who knows if they're going to talk with me or not," Baker said.
"To me, the Orioles are a great organization and everything, and my passion is baseball," Baker said. "I want to get back into managing, but only if the right situation comes. Right now, it's a bit early for me. At this point, I would probably say it's not the right fit right now. I'd like to fulfill my commitment with ESPN."
Baker said out clauses in his ESPN contract would complicate matters, too. But if the Orioles did contact him more formally, he would not need to interview for the position, he said.
"For me to get into the interview, my interview was my last four years with the Cubs," Baker said. "Why should I get an interview when I was with the Cubs [under MacPhail]? We agreed upon that."
Asked how he would respond if the Orioles showed serious interest in him, Baker said he was not sure. "I don't know," Baker said. "I'm just living my life, enjoying what I'm doing. It'll work out the way God wants it to."
Former Orioles coach and player Rick Dempsey, who has interviewed three times in the past for the job, said yesterday he has not heard directly from the team, but had "heard through the grapevine" he would have another chance to interview.
MacPhail indicated he has not ruled out interim manager Dave Trembley, who managed in the Cubs' farm system while MacPhail ran the club. "I've watched Dave manage a lot of games," MacPhail said. "Dave has got the benefit of not going through an interview process. Dave has the benefit of going through an audition."