Dodgers Now

Steve Dilbeck and The Times' Dodgers reporters
give you all the news on the boys in blue

Category: Bill Shaikin

Dodgers have to be liking the dreamer in Matt Kemp

Why you need to dream big ... sounds like the title of 32 different motivational books.

Matt Kemp, however, is dreaming really big. Record big. You’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me big.

His 2011 cry of “40-40” was impressive stuff, and he nearly became the fifth player in major-league history to pull it off, finishing the season with 39 home runs and 40 steals.

Now he’s upped the ante.

“Fifty-fifty,” Kemp said.

That’s his 2012 goal. And hey, why not? Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown examines and applauds Kemp for giving himself lofty goals. Fifty-fifty never has been accomplished in a single season by any player in baseball history.

Of course, hitting 50 homers can get a little in the way of stealing 50 bases. Hard to steal when you’re trotting around the diamond.

Also on the Web:

-- Jonathan Broxton told the Associated Press he’s happy to be in the Kansas City camp and isn’t worried about his post-surgery velocity: “I could come out this year and throw 100 or come back and throw 95. You never know what your velocity is going to be.”

-- The Times’ Bill Shaikin reports on the Bryan Stow family charge that the Dodgers are using bankruptcy court to shield them from their liability claim.

-- In a Fox video, manager Don Mattingly looks to the team’s coming season.

   

 -- Veteran baseball writer Tony Jackson is ESPN/L.A.’s new Dodgers bloggers, and here reports on Rubby De La Rosa’s progress.

-- True Blue L.A.’s Eric Stephen is scheduled to be with the Dodgers all spring, and reports on Jerry Sands arriving at camp and wanting to start.

-- The Dodgers have claimed speedy outfielder Matt Angle off waivers from the Orioles, and in a corresponding move, placed De La Rosa on the 60-day disabled list to create roster room.

-- Mike Petriello gets in touch with his optimistic side in this look at the Dodgers’ coming season.

-- Reid Forgrave at Fox looks back on the historic effect of Dr. Frank Jobe’s ground-breaking Tommy John surgery.

-- Remember, he can play first! Jay Gibbons has signed a minor-league deal with the Brewers.

-- In a video from MLB, excited closer Javy Guerra says he thinks the Dodgers can win it all.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Bryan Stow attorneys: Let state court decide our claims

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The Dodgers should not be allowed to use the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to minimize their liability to Bryan Stow, attorneys for the injured San Francisco Giants fan argued Wednesday.

The Dodgers have asked the Bankruptcy Court to throw out Stow's claim, arguing they should not be held liable for an attack they could not have predicted. On Wednesday, Stow's attorneys asked the Bankruptcy Court to yield to Los Angeles Superior Court, where they filed a civil suit last May against team owner Frank McCourt, the Dodgers and related entities.

Stow's attorneys claimed the Dodgers can repay creditors and exit bankruptcy by the April 30 target date without rushing to litigate the Stow matter.  The attorneys allege the Dodgers are using Bankruptcy Court as a shield "to try to gain unfair strategic and economic windfalls for ... personal injury litigation defendants and insurers."

The filing cited $50 million as a "conservative total estimate" of Stow's damages. His injuries, suffered in an attack in the Dodger Stadium parking lot after the opening-day game against the Giants, include traumatic brain injury and limited movement.

"As a result, he is wheel chair bound and will unfortunately require 24-hour skilled nursing care for the rest of his days," according to the filing.

Continue reading »

Frank McCourt to Bud Selig: I can never thank you enough

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I don’t know what the world record is for emerging from bankruptcy with the greatest amount of wealth, but you have to think our good buddy Frank McCourt is a serious contender.

Bankruptcy is designed to make sure creditors are paid, and you have to wonder at this point if there was ever any danger of that not happening. But McCourt chose bankruptcy, the courts accepted and it has led to a historic auction, the likes of which Sotheby’s has never imagined.

Hall of Fame baseball writer Ross Newhan finds it incomprehensible that after leaving the Dodgers the laughingstock of baseball and dragging them into bankruptcy, McCourt could not only get the record $1.5 billion he was looking for, but possibly $2 billion and still own the parking lots.

The Times’ Bill Shaikin reports that, aside from TV rights, team revenue and the parking lots, whether the sale price is ultimately closer to $1.5 or $2 billion could largely depend on how much renovation Dodger Stadium is deemed to need.

McCourt now claims it doesn’t need significant renovation, which sort of goes against his grand 2008 plan for a transformation that was estimated then to cost $500 million. And, oh yeah, was supposed to be completed before the start of the 2012 season.

In a stunning development, McCourt found financing a tad difficult to come by.

Yet despite everything, despite the embarrassment of bankruptcy, an ugly public divorce that exposed his and wife Jamie's horrendous greed and perhaps the worst year in team history, McCourt is about to exit richer than anyone –- no doubt including him -- ever dreamed.

The McCourts purchased the Dodgers for $430 million in 2004 without spending a dime of their own money, using equity in a Boston parking lot. Now even after paying Jamie a settlement of $131 million once the team sells, paying off $573 million in debt and possibly more than $200 million in sales taxes, McCourt could walk away with around $1 billion?

Wonder if Jamie would like to rework that settlement.

No one has any real clue which of the 11 surviving bidders will get the team, though if it does become more of a vanity purchase than a practical one, the deep pockets of Steve Cohen and Magic Johnson’s group are impressive. Newhan said the Joe Torre-Rick Caruso group has picked up the backing of a member of the David Thomson family, the wealthiest in Canada. Groups could yet merge, and still floating out there are local billionaires Ron Burkle and Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong.

No one knows this better than Frank McCourt. His feud with Commissioner Bud Selig is looking like the best thing that ever happened to him.

__ __ __

Newhan also had this interesting mention in his blog post:

“… sources also revealed that none of the investors are particularly happy with the Dodgers' eight year, $160 million, back loaded signing of Matt Kemp, and the two year, $19 million contract to Clayton Kershaw.”

Jon Weisman at Dodgers Thoughts found this particularly unsettling, arguing the Dodgers were simply giving competitive salaries to their two best players.

Which is true, of course, but if you’re about to be the new owner, no doubt you would like to be the one negotiating the salaries. It is your future debt, and neither contract had to be done now.

Kemp’s salary, compared to subsequent deals signed by Albert Pujols ($240 million) and Prince Fielder ($214 million), could prove a relative bargain if he continues to produce anywhere near his 2011 level.

Of course, the difference is Pujols and Fielder have performed at the highest level for several years. Kemp reached true elite status only last year, and the Dodgers are counting on the 2011 version and not the 2010 one.

Kershaw’s deal is another matter. Two is an unusual number of years to give a player in the first year of arbitration. The Dodgers guaranteed him $6 million this season, meaning he gets $13 million next year. For that, they essentially got nothing in return, save for avoiding a year of arbitration.

So the Dodgers have taken an expensive gamble that Kershaw doesn’t blow out his elbow. Normally if a team does make that kind of commitment, the contract is extended to at least buy out a year or two of free agency.

RELATED:

Profit at Dodgers' spring home drops 65% in two years

What is the Dodgers' backup plan if Dee Gordon falters?

Fan loyalty to Dodgers took a tumble in 2011, survey says

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Commissioner Bud Selig with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt during a ceremony in 2006. Credit: Ric Francis / Associated Press

Dodgers Web musings: Worst offensive infield in baseball?

Dee Gordon
Let's face it, there's not much clout there. The Dodgers infield is what you might call shy on power.

In his preseason analysis of the Dodgers, ESPN's Jim Bowden wrote: "The Dodgers have one of the worst offensive infields in the NL." Which I'm pretty sure would qualify it for one of the worst in all of baseball.

On the corners there is limited power from James Loney (12 homers, .416 slugging last season) and Juan Uribe (4 homers, a woeful .298 slugging, plus a .204 batting average). Mark Ellis is a solid glove at second whom Bowden correctly notes "has no speed or power and is in his declining years." And then there is speedy, though powerless, shortstop Dee Gordon.

And that would be half of your lineup.

Also on the Web:

-- At SB Nation, Eric Stephen is having difficulty building enthusiasm for the Dodgers' coming season.

-- Manager Don Mattingly tells Dodgers.com's Ken Gurnick that he's more concerned about distractions over the ownership situation this spring than he was a year ago.

-- NBC Sports' Matthew Pouliot writes that the theme to the Dodgers' winter was quantity over quality.

-- The Times' Bill Shaikin writes that the 11 remaining ownership groups bidding on the Dodgers have been asked to submit revised bids before a second round of cuts is made by investment bank Blackstone Advisory Partners (read: Frank McCourt).

-- Wednesday's post here about the Dodgers trying to sign Andre Ethier to a long-term deal while his price is low brought some Web reaction. Chad Moryiama likes the logic but thinks Ethier is simply the wrong guy to utilize it on. Mike Petriello at Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness thinks that if Ethier waits until the end of the season, he might double his contract.

-- Long-time Dodgers photographer Jon SooHoo is running a series of historical team photos at his MLB blog, including one with background on Kevin Waters, the team's handyman for over 20 years.

-- The New York Post's Kevin Kernan profiles Mattingly’s son, Preston -– a former first-round pick of the Dodgers -- after he signed with the Yankees as a minor-league free agent.

-- Let the investigation begin. The Dodgers blogger softball tournament last weekend, organized by the Left Field Pavilion for charity, was won by ... the Left Field Pavilion Forum 2.

-- CBS Sports' Scott Miller has a nice overview about what it’s like covering spring training every day for six weeks.

ALSO:

Second cut looming for Dodgers bidders

It's time for Dodgers to lock up Andre Ethier

James Loney says blow to head led to his odd behavior after crash

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dee Gordon walks back to the bench after striking out against the Arizona Diamondbacks back in August. Credit: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press

Second cut looming for Dodgers bidders

Torre3
The 11 bidders remaining in the Dodgers sweepstakes have been asked to submit a revised bid and supporting information within one week, multiple people familiar with the sale process said Wednesday.

The field of bidders will then be cut, with the surviving parties submitted to Major League Baseball for approval, said the people, who could not be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the sale process.

Blackstone Advisory Partners, the investment bank handling the sale for outgoing owner Frank McCourt, accepted initial bids until Jan. 23 and cut the field of bidders to 11 on Jan. 27. That cut reflected Blackstone's assessment of which parties had the ability and desire to bid at least $1.5 billion for the Dodgers.

The complete list of 11 bidders -- featuring such household names as Magic Johnson, Joe Torre and Peter O'Malley -- can be found here.

The remaining bidders have met with Dodgers executives and reviewed additional financial data, and McCourt and Blackstone hope the bids will go up. In addition to a bid amount, however, Blackstone now has asked each group to identify its investors, explain how the purchase of the team would be financed and propose a five-year business plan.

Continue reading »

Bryan Stow attorneys ask court to reject Dodgers statement [UPDATED]

Dodgersbig1Attorneys for Bryan Stow on Wednesday asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to reject a proposed disclosure statement necessary for the Dodgers to exit bankruptcy.

Stow, the fan beaten and critically injured in a Dodger Stadium parking lot beating last March, has sued the Dodgers in Los Angeles Superior Court and filed a claim in Bankruptcy Court. The Dodgers earlier this month asked the court to throw out Stow's claim.

Stow's attorneys are expected to file a formal objection to that request next week. The papers filed Wednesday relate to a disclosure statement necessary for the Dodgers to proceed with their plan of reorganization — that is, the sale of the team.

In Wednesday's filing, Stow's attorneys asserted that the Dodgers do not need to resolve the claim in order to proceed with the sale of the team. They also alleged that the Dodgers are trying to use the bankruptcy process as an end run around Superior Court, as the defendants in that suit include the Dodgers and other entities in bankruptcy as well as parties not in bankruptcy, including team owner Frank McCourt.

"The proposed releases seem designed particularly to protect Mr. Stow's non-debtor defendants from facing trial in state court," attorneys for Stow wrote.

Continue reading »

Frank McCourt haunting Fox in Padres deal

Frank3
Once upon a time, Frank McCourt and Fox Sports were the best of friends. McCourt needed money to retain ownership of the Dodgers, and Fox was more than happy to give it to him so the company could lock up the Dodgers through 2030.

That was last spring, before Commissioner Bud Selig rejected the deal. When the Dodgers filed for bankruptcy, Fox turned its back on McCourt and aligned with Selig. Fox sued the Dodgers, and in return the Dodgers sued Fox, with fighting extending into two courts before McCourt agreed to sell the team and keep the current Fox contract intact.

McCourt still haunts Fox, however. Fox is weeks away from launching a San Diego cable channel centered on the Padres, but the deal remains in limbo in part because of McCourt.

Fox and the Padres were "close to announcing a new TV deal" last May, according to the North County Times. However, Selig has yet to approve the deal. And, at last month's owners meetings, a decision to approve Jeff Moorad as the Padres' new majority owner was unexpectedly tabled.

The two issues are related. One of the MLB concerns in approving Moorad involved the Fox deal -- in particular, whether the Fox contract provided an up-front payment that Moorad could use to complete his purchase from outgoing owner John Moores.

The proposed contract included an up-front payment of more than $150 million, a person familiar with the deal told The Times. 

Continue reading »

Dodgers Web musings: Clayton Kershaw and the long term [Videos]

Plenty to get to today, leading off with … so the Dodgers have signed Clayton Kershaw to a two-year, $19-million deal. Exactly right for the moment or does more have to be done?

Buster Olney argues in this ESPN video that the new owner’s first order of business should be to sign Kershaw to a long-term deal. He argues Kershaw would be only 26 in his first year of free agency and free-spending teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies would be circling.

Olney estimates a five-year deal for Kershaw would cost between $100 to $120 million.

Meanwhile, Robert Timm at Dodger Dugout argues there is risk in signing any pitcher to a long-term deal and the Dodgers were smart to settle for a two-year agreement.

Also on the Web:

--The Left Field Pavilion has organized a charity softball tournament of teams representing several Dodgers blogs on Saturday at the Big League Dreams fields in West Covina.

Play starts at 8 a.m. Admission is only $3 and includes a drink. Fans are asked to bring a box or bag of food for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

--It never ends: USA Today thinks the Dodgers could be in line for a $5-billion TV rights deal. Guess that $3 billion Frank McCourt wanted to sign up for with Fox might have been just a tad low.

--Eric Stephen at True Blue LA has his Dodgers preview. He doesn’t think Jerry Sands makes the 25-man roster, but Josh Fields does.

--FanGraphs’ David Laurila has a lengthy and detailed Q&A with Dodgers scouting director Logan White, while Dodgers Thoughts’ Jon Weisman interviews farm director De Jon Watson.

--MLB.com’s Spencer Fordin looks at the Dodgers' top 20 prospects, while ESPN’s Keith Law (Insider status required) rates their system 12th overall in the majors.

--The Times’ Dylan Hernandez talks to James Loney about his bizarre freeway accident. Loney blames it on a blow to his head.

--The Times’ Bill Shaikin adds an 11th and, really, possibly final Dodgers bidder in Michael Heisley, the 75-year-old owner of the Memphis Grizzlies. He could bring Jerry West into the deal.

--ESPN’s Baseball Tonight crew looks at what could be next for Matt Kemp.

--Reuters’ Sue Zeidler writes that the second round of bids on the Dodgers is due around Feb. 23.

--NBC Sports’ Tony DeMarco thinks that with the right owner the Dodgers could be a power fairly quickly.

--Fox Sports' Mike Martinez checks in with shortstop Dee Gordon. Gordon on how many bases he’s capable of stealing: “a hundred.”

--Daily News columnist Tom Hoffarth is auctioning off a Kershaw-autographed copy of his new book, “Arise,” on EBay to raise funds for a Watts literacy center.

--Daily Breeze columnist Mike Waldner looks at the Dodgers auction situation: “McCourt's first, last and always goal has been to line his pockets.”

--Oh, goody: Russell Martin tells the New York Daily News he’s all giddy the Yankees have added Hiroki Kuroda.

--And finally, Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy has found a video of a vintage TV commercial, this one from 1981. Warning: Hope you like looking at a shirtless Bill Russell.

 

-- Steve Dilbeck

 

Dodgers web musings: It's the daily question

Frank3
The off-season for the Dodgers used to be spent wondering if the new pieces would fit, if they’d be any good, if they had a shot at the World Series.

That would normally be the first question asked by acquaintances, or those I was just meeting who discovered what I did for a living:

How are the Dodgers going to be this year?

Only, not this off-season. This winter it is seldom asked. Now the first question is always:

Who’s going to be the new Dodgers owner?

Like I had some remarkable insight into the curious cranium of Frank McCourt. I usually just reply, "The guy who bids the most." Not trying to be flip, it’s just that those of us follow the Dodgers professionally have no double-secret knowledge of what is really happening behind the scenes that we’re failing to share with the public.

Which doesn’t mean we don’t like to speculate as much as the next guy. Will it be all money for McCourt? If bids are close, does a guy with L.A. roots win out, the guy with a baseball background, the guy who took McCourt to lunch?

Jon Heyman, the veteran baseball writer now at CBS Sports, likes the chances of the Magic Johnson/Stan Kasten combo, particularly if local billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong joins their group.

Heyman  said he heard the bidding is already up to $1.5-billion range, which is certainly believable since Larry King, who was in the Dennis Gilbert group that didn’t make the first cut, told ESPN’s Jim Bowden they bid $1.25 billion.

The Times’ Bill Shaikin reported that at least eight groups advanced into the next round. They’re all stupid rich, and still waiting in the wings are billionaires Soon-Shiong and Ron Burkle, who are still expected to join someone’s group. Or some groups may yet merge, or bring in a group that didn’t make the first cut.

Really, I would tell you exactly what’s going to happen, if I or anyone else, actually knew.

Continue reading »

Dodgers' auction is a private affair, exasperation and all

Steve-garvey_600

So they’re already whittling down the list of potential new owner of the Dodgers, and perhaps you’d like an explanation.

Sorry, wrong auction. Wrong process. Wrong men.

It’s a frustrating time for Dodgers fans, eager to know what is going on and who the next owner of their team will be. We know the dates the sale is operating under and a few general guidelines, but really that’s about it.

How many groups submitted bids? Was it 10, 12, up to 20? We’ve seen reports on all. And who were they exactly? We have names of most, or at least we think we do, but that doesn’t mean all.

On Friday the global investment firm conducting this auction for Frank McCourt, Blackstone Advisory Partners, began notifying groups whether they had advanced through the first round.

That in itself was surprising, since even the bidders were uncertain when Blackstone would make the first-round cuts. It’s also uncertain exactly how much influence McCourt had on the preliminary cuts and whether it was based strictly on the significance of their initial bids. The bids came in only on Monday.

The Times’ Bill Shaikin reported at least eight groups have advanced, though not all are known. Among those not moving forward were Mark Cuban, Dennis Gilbert and Steve Garvey/Orel Hershiser.

What prevented them from getting a ticket into the next round? We don’t know that either, though the assumption is their opening bid was too low or they were simply deemed not having the necessary financial resources. Good thing for McCourt he was never vetted like this.

Of course, as much as it’s said the Dodgers belong to the people of Los Angeles and are a civic treasure, ultimately they are a privately held company. The sale has every right to proceed behind closed doors. McCourt doesn’t have to say anything until he announces the winner by April 1.

McCourt, who purchased the team for $421 million in 2004, apparently wants at least $1.5 billion. So even if he is about a billion in debt, he’s still going to come out of this having made a ridiculous profit. Shaikin wrote the final bidding could even be in the range of $1.5 billion to $2 billion.

Blackstone apparently has cut a surprising number of initial bidders, leaving fewer for Major League Baseball to approve before turning over the final list to McCourt to select from.

How long will MLB take to approve those advanced by Blackstone? We don’t know that, either. We don’t know a lot of mechanisms involved here. It’s a tad maddening, but the only explanation required is the final one.

RELATED:

Hiroki Kuroda talks about leaving Dodgers, why he chose Yankees

Report: Dodgers went hard after Prince Fielder

Richest man in L.A. might join a bid for the Dodgers

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Former Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey at Dodger Stadium last spring to watch his son Ryan play in a high school championship game. Credit: Christina House / For The Times

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