"I'm disappointed, but undaunted. We will go on. This was probably a pre-emptive strike to try to find a manager, but I'll probably go through a more methodical process and start with a little longer list of names and whittle my way down."
Baltimore opened the manager's seat on Monday, when former field boss Sam Perlozzo was dismissed for presiding over a streak that saw eight straight losses and setbacks in 13 of 15 games. The Orioles elevated bullpen coach Dave Trembley to the interim manager's perch but began their dalliance with Girardi virtually immediately.
MacPhail said that he'd likely restart the process next Tuesday, when he settles into his office at Camden Yards. He declined to name other candidates or acknowledge whether he's made any other interviews thus far, but he said that he'll welcome input from a legion of different sources -- both from within and outside the organization.
"I won't wait forever and I won't drag my feet, but I won't move until I'm really comfortable with the decision. ... I've got a lot of people weighing in with suggestions," he said. "I've got a lot of friends in the game that have names for us. I have agents, former players and all kinds of people checking in with people we ought to consider. I think we have to take advantage of that. I think we have to try to start with a comprehensive field and work our way back from that."
Girardi -- who was named the National League Manager of the Year last season as a first-year field boss with the Florida Marlins -- is currently employed as an analyst for the YES Network. He's still one of the hottest names on the open market for managerial searches, and industry-wide speculation insists that he'll be a top candidate again next winter.
Still, things seemed to be progressing toward a hasty conclusion on Tuesday and Wednesday, when Girardi and his agent confirmed their interest in the Baltimore position. The Orioles interviewed the former catcher Tuesday, and news reports began to circulate Wednesday that the two sides were involved in back-and-forth negotiations.
"I don't think there is a perfect scenario," Girardi said Thursday on ESPN Radio's The Dan Patrick Show, "But there's a ton of jobs, obviously, that at some point in your career a manager would love to have. I'm extremely excited the Baltimore Orioles called me. It's a great job, too, but not at this time."
"This isn't really about Joe, [but] you certainly don't want someone who's half-in and half-out," added MacPhail. "It's like when I talked to [Baltimore owner] Peter [Angelos]. If you're going to do the player personnel responsibilities, you've got to dive all the way in. You can't just dip a toe in and be in and be out. You've got to be all the way in or all the way out. A manager in the dugout has to be all the way in or all the way out. They can't be a house divided."
Baltimore's last four managers -- Perlozzo, Lee Mazzilli, Mike Hargrove and Ray Miller -- all posted losing records. The Orioles will pay Perlozzo through the end of next season but still believed it was time for a change. MacPhail said that his confidence in Trembley as a caretaker allows him the luxury of taking his time to get the right fit.
"Dave's got the benefit of not having to go through an interview process," he said. "Dave's got the benefit of going through an audition, which the others don't have. ... When I mentioned to you that I'd likely do some things on a more methodical basis, I think that's in some degree that we're comfortable with Dave at the helm."
"I'm not following the situation because I'm not privy to what's going on," Trembley said of his own predicament. "And I really don't care to know what's going on. It's like I told people the first day, 'It's really none of my business.' My business is for as long as I'm here, to do what I have to do in order to get this thing done right."
Some published reports indicated that Girardi changed his mind over money, but MacPhail dismissed that suggestion.
"I would think that's very unlikely for the following reasons," he said. "First, I did talk to both Joe and Steve, and they made it very clear to me that money was not the issue. ... We started at a good level, plus in addition to that, we indicated there was flexibility. Plus, in addition to that, I had like three or four different open items.
"There was no indication to me that was an issue, and had it been an issue with them, there would've been plenty of vehicles for them to enhance the package. My concern was trying to get the best manager in the dugout."
When asked what made Girardi an attractive candidate, MacPhail said that he knew he'd be prepared and would keep his players prepared to win. He also acknowledged talking with former Cubs manager Dusty Baker and said that he'd likely speak with him again at some point. Whomever he chooses, though, had better be enthusiastic.
"I want somebody as bullish on the future of the franchise and the dugout as I am," he said. "If the timing's not right, I have a lot of respect for Joe and he's a smart guy and he has to make those decisions -- but from my standpoint, you keep looking and go on. There are a lot of people who are very qualified managers in baseball today.
"There's not just a sea of one. There are going to be a lot of guys who are out there now that are capable managers who have either managed before or have to get their first opportunity the way Joe did last year."