Over the past several weeks, I have seen the McCourt Saga gather momentum, like a rock rolling down a hill. While the divorce is nasty and ugly, a lot of mis-information exists. It starts with “McCourt might have to sell the team” (a possibility) to “McCourt has to sell the team” to “we want a new owner” to “McCourt won’t spend the money for young players” to “the young players will leave” to “McCourt will sell them off” to “Logan White and the coaches will leave” to “no player will want to play for the Dodgers.” These are the ramblings of an overactive imagination. There are several facts of which we can be sure:
- The Courts are divorcing;
- A hearing is scheduled for May to determine the ownership of the team – it is likely that it will not be decided until June or even later, depending upon many unknown factors;
- The Dodgers have been cash strapped as they have been leveraged since McCourt bought the team;
- This makes the Dodgers even more strapped for cash;
- The payroll probably CANNOT go much above $100,000,000; and
- At some point the Dodgers will solely be the property of Frank McCourt or they will be ruled as community property of the divorce.
That’s ALL we know. You can think and imagine and conjecture, but that is all we KNOW! You can assume the worst, if you are inclined to make yourself miserable, or you can face reality, which is listed above. Every legal case is different. Certain precedents may or may not apply in this case, as we do not have all the facts. A $100 million payroll is not what any of us expect, but in any business, certain years bring differing budget needs. The Dodgers will still be in the TOP Thirty Percent in Baseball Payroll. They are not the Padres. Now, I would be unhappy if this were to go on forever, but all indications are that we can compete with a $100 million payroll THIS year.
Also think about this: The Boston RedSox had a payroll of $122.6 mil last year, while the Dodgers payroll was $109.1 mil. So, the RedSox had $13.1 mil MORE payroll than the Dodgers, yet their income was about $30 mil more than the Dodgers! When you consider that, the Dodgers payroll doesn’t look so bad. Why doesn’t anyone bash John Henry for not spending more money? If you put things into perspective, it looks a lot different. The sky is not falling and the end is not near!
Come June or July, if ownership of the Dodgers stays with Frank McCourt, then within a year or so, the payroll will creep back up and climb when a new cable deal is implemented. If ownership is determined to be community property, then in all likelihood, the Dodgers will have to be sold. Frank McCourt is reported to be working on developing land around Chavez Ravine, and I would guess he is also working on “Stadium Naming Rights.“ What role that will play in the divorce remains to be seen. I have NO OPINION as to what the Court will do. One can NEVER predict the outcome without all the facts and both sides are sandbagging and stalling discovery. It is possible that this trial will not be held until after the season.
You should also know this: If the team is adjudicated to be “joint property” and has to be sold, it will be worth much more if it is a viable concern and making money with good revenue streams. Selling players and doing what many of you predict will not happen because both Frank and Jamie would end up with much less money and both are too greedy to do that. If ownership of the team is awarded to both parties, then the odds are it will be sold – hopefully to someone with deeper pockets who does not have to pay for debt service out of operating income. Even at that, it is not inevitable that the team will be sold – however I would expect that as long as the front office remains a strength (and it is), the Dodgers will do just fine.
Our prospects are still bright and we have a plethora of good young arms, led by Billingsley and Kershaw. Not all will make it, but we only need a few to make it, and within this group are some outstanding prospects:
As many as eight on that above list could see time with the big club this year. A real dark-horse who could grab a spot in the rotation is Josh Lindblom. He will be 23 years-old next season, and while he has little starting experience, his 6′ 5″ – 240 lb. frame is what you would pick to be an ideal starter. I think he would be “lights-out” in the pen, but he will be given an opportunity to start, along with Haegar, Elbert and possibly Troncoso.
Cheer up! We are not rooting for the Padres!