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Graziano Out as Dodger President

He resigned after 18 years with the team. McCourts apparently going after Red Sox executive Mike Dee.

March 05, 2004|Jason Reid and Ross Newhan | Times Staff Writers

VERO BEACH, Fla. — Bob Graziano for the first time Thursday revealed he has resigned as Dodger president, and new owners Frank and Jamie McCourt apparently have already selected a Boston Red Sox official to replace him.

The McCourts are deep into the process of hiring Mike Dee, the Red Sox's executive vice president of business affairs, to succeed Graziano as head of day-to-day operations, baseball executives said, although Graziano technically remains in the position despite tendering his letter of resignation two weeks ago.

"I'm not surprised that the McCourts are interviewing candidates for the chief operating officer position of the Dodgers," said Graziano, who has been president since 1998 and with the organization for 18 years.

"I met with Frank and Jamie at the beginning of February, at which time we decided that would be an appropriate course of action because we had decided to go our separate ways."

Word emerged of the Graziano-Dee shakeup on the same day Dodger executive Kris Rone, the fourth-highest-ranking woman in Major League Baseball, resigned because of philosophical differences with the McCourts.

The Times in February reported that Graziano was out as president and would be moving on as soon as a settlement was reached on the final year of his contract. McCourt has publicly maintained Graziano is still the president, but Graziano apparently decided it was time to end the charade.

"My responsibilities within the organization changed significantly" after his February meeting with the McCourts, prompting Graziano to instruct his attorney to send the letter of resignation to the Dodgers on Feb 20. He is scheduled to leave the organization March 22.

"I have not said anything up until this point because of the tremendous amount of respect I have for our employees and our fans, and my desire to make this as seamless a transition as possible for the organization," Graziano said.

"I've told both Frank and Jamie I will do what I can to assist them in a transition, so that the team and the organization can have a strong start to the 2004 season."

The McCourts are highly impressed with Dee, baseball executives said, and might already have an agreement in place to bring him to Chavez Ravine.

Derrick Hall, senior vice president, declined comment on behalf of the McCourts, but added, "this particular position is currently being evaluated and addressed."

However, another high-ranking Dodger executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said a deal with Dee appeared imminent.

"Bob and the McCourts have agreed that he will not be here in the long term and are negotiating his departure," the club official said. "They've identified Mike as someone they consider to be a strong replacement and have had lengthy and detailed conversations with him."

Dee formerly was the marketing director for the San Diego Padres under Larry Lucchino, now Boston's president and chief executive. Dee is said to be among Lucchino's top advisors, so Boston might seek compensation from the Dodgers.

Graziano joined the Dodgers in 1986 as the director of financial projects, hired by Peter O'Malley. He became a vice president in 1987, and took over day-to-day operation of the business side of the franchise when he was named executive vice president in 1997.

Fired after the 1999 season by News Corp., Graziano was quickly rehired when Bob Daly took over operation of the franchise before the start of the 2000 season.

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