Dodgers Now

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

Category: Frank McCourt

Every bidder for the Dodgers needs to withdraw right now


What a mess. What a complete mess. It’s orchestrated by Frank McCourt, so the shock factor is nil, but still.

You wonder how any human being can be so completely clueless, but then we’ve been watching this sorry excuse for an owner for way too long now.

His latest fantasy has him selling the team but keeping the parking lots completely surrounding Dodger Stadium. Hey, now there’s a sweet deal. Thursday marked the first day the siege of the Alamo began in 1836. Getting surrounded by the enemy is never a very good idea.

So every single one of the nine remaining bidders on the team need to get out of the Dodgers pool right now.

Follow the lead of Joe Torre and Rick Caruso. No parking lots, no bid. No auction. McCourt is not only still left in bankruptcy but with another lesson to learn.

He thinks the fans boycotted the team last year? Try mudding up the sales process so badly he’s still holding the team after April 1. Outrage will be so rampant that he’ll be lucky to average 20,000.

You may not have been the biggest fan of Bob Daly when he ran the Dodgers for Fox, but he was dead on when he told The Times’ T.J. Simers last month:

"Here's the test to see if we get a smart or stupid owner. If you make a deal and allow McCourt to keep the land and parking lots, you are out of your mind.”

So listen up, you nine remaining bidders. I don’t care if you’re Magic Johnson or Stan Kroneke or gazillionaire Steve Cohen. You buy the team and are willing to let McCourt keep the parking lots, you are not wanted. You don’t deserve the Dodgers.

No one can require McCourt to include the parking lots. That’s the lousy deal Major League Baseball, in its eagerness to rid itself of McCourt, made. In another McCourt specialty, the lots are held in a separate entity and aren't in bankruptcy court.

It may be wishful thinking to entertain the idea that an MLB team in a major market, with the history of the Dodgers, with a huge TV deal coming, won’t find one idiot willing to make a deal with the devil. McCourt is already claiming he has one such bid.

If so, that person needs to withdraw the offer immediately.

Bankruptcy never should have been allowed in the first place. It was a desperate dodge to avoid MLB taking over the team, selling it and pushing McCourt out. MLB was never going to allow team creditors to go unpaid. They weren’t in real danger.

Now McCourt wants to sell the team and keep the lots to develop them? Really? What local developer would go into business with the most despised man in Los Angeles? It’s almost delusional. It is a complete mess. It is all McCourt. And L.A.’s ongoing nightmare.


Rick Caruso, Joe Torre explain why they're out as Dodgers bidders

Dodgers have to be liking the dreamer in Matt Kemp

Jerry Sands is happy with this day job

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Frank McCourt. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times.

Rick Caruso, Joe Torre explain why they're out as Dodgers bidders

This is the text of a letter from Rick Caruso and Joe Torre to Major League Baseball explaining why they have withdrawn from bidding for the Dodgers:

Rick Caruso, Joe Torre drop Dodgers bid "As you are aware, we have been preparing a bid for the Los Angeles Dodgers Baseball Club and related assets. Our team has worked very hard over the past few months to develop what we are confident would be a compelling and competitive offer. As you know, the parking lots surrounding Dodger Stadium are not in bankruptcy and were not officially part of the bid process. Since the outset we felt that operationally it would be impossible to effectively manage baseball operations having the parking lots that surround the stadium under separate ownership. We believed that during the bid process that we would have the opportunity to buy the lots.

"It has now been made clear to us by Mr. McCourt that the lots are not and will not be for sale. We fully respect Mr. McCourt's decision to handle the sale of the Dodgers and its assets in the manner he sees fit. Although our application is ready to submit to you as requested, given these circumstances we do not feel we can proceed with the bid process and are therefore not submitting our applications. If the circumstances of the sale change we are prepared to re-engage in the process immediately. Thank you for your time and consideration."

(signed by Rick J. Caruso and Joe Torre)


Dodgers play it safe with Clayton Kershaw

I'll always forget my first time: Dodger Ronald Belisario

Rick Caruso, Joe Torre withdraw from bidding to buy Dodgers

-- Bill Shaikin

Photo: Former Dodgers Manager Joe Torre. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Bryan Stow attorneys: Let state court decide our claims

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.

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Turns out Peter O'Malley won't be going home again

Well, so much for that little fantasy. Peter O’Malley has given up the ghost of returning as owner of the Dodgers.

I was never convinced he had a real shot, not after he came out publicly and criticized Frank McCourt’s ownership, saying it had lost all credibility and he needed to sell the team.

Not that every word spoken wasn’t completely true, but this was back in September 2010, before everyone and his Aunt Gracie was calling for McCourt to step down, long before Major League Baseball’s invasion and team bankruptcy.

Plenty said more severe things, but you had to figure O’Malley’s words particularly stung McCourt. They came from the long-time head of the family that owned the team for 47 years, the family ownership McCourt said he wanted to emulate when he bought the Dodgers from Fox in 2004.

O’Malley was probably the last person in Los Angeles whom  McCourt wanted to hear disparagement from –- though he had never actually mentioned McCourt by name –- and probably the last one he wanted to see come riding in as a white knight.

The O’Malley group, apparently sponsored largely by the South Korean conglomerate E-Land, had made it through the first round of cuts in this odd ongoing auction. But a new, and understood, higher bid is due in the next round this week.

It’s possible that O’Malley, 74, simply looked at the escalating numbers involved in the auction --  speculation is the winning bid will run $1.5 billion to $2 billion -– and determined that the price had  skyrocketed to a completely impractical realm, huge TV contract waiting or not. O’Malley had warned in November about the new owner overpaying; he sold the team to Fox for $350 million in 1997.

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


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.


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'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.


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

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.

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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.

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Frank McCourt haunting Fox in Padres deal

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. 

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No one on the Dodgers has more at stake in 2012 than Ned Colletti

Ned Colletti is all in this season. His career as the Dodgers general manager is on the line. It is every season, of course, but more so in 2012, with the Dodgers about to undergo new ownership.

It’s also true for Don Mattingly as the manager, but more so for Colletti. New owners typically don’t come in and announce everything will operate just as before. They want their people in charge, making decisions, reformatting the team in some new image.

When Frank and Jamie McCourt purchased the team in 2004, the first thing they did was start searching for a new general manager. In what should have been a complete indication of things to come, they actually made existing general manager Dan Evans apply and interview for his own job. They hired Paul DePodesta, about as miscast to lead an operation as Barney Fife. He was gone after two quick years.

Someone is going to be named the next Dodgers owner by April Fools' Day. They are going to want to place their stamp on the team. It’s hard to imagine Colletti survives — unless the Dodgers win this season.

So you can criticize his off-season moves, but no individual has more at stake on the outcome of this season than Colletti.

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