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Category: Joe Torre

Every bidder for the Dodgers needs to withdraw right now

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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.

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

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

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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)

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Rick Caruso, Joe Torre withdraw from bidding to buy Dodgers

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

Rick Caruso, Joe Torre withdraw from bidding to buy Dodgers

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Rick Caruso and former Dodgers manager Joe Torre have withdrawn a joint bid to buy the Dodgers, three people familiar with the sale process said Thursday.

Caruso cited owner Frank McCourt's refusal to include the Dodger Stadium parking lots in the sale, according to the people, who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the sale process.

Rick Caruso, Joe Torre drop Dodgers bid In this letter to Major League Baseball, Caruso and Torre explain why they are withdrawing from the Dodgers bidding process.

Caruso could reenter the bidding if McCourt were to agree to sell the parking lots, the people said. McCourt has told people he has at least one bid in which the buyer would let him retain ownership of the parking lots.

Caruso is the Los Angeles developer perhaps best known for the Grove and Americana shopping and entertainment complexes. He commissioned studies on how to improve parking and traffic at Dodger Stadium and ultimately decided he could not provide the desired fan experience without control of the parking lots.

Caruso and other bidders have believed the purchase of the parking lots would be negotiable. Caruso's decision to withdraw offers the clearest evidence yet that McCourt intends to keep the lots and try to build on them.

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Photo: Former Dodgers manager Joe Torre has withdrawn from his attempt to buy the Dodgers. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

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.

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

Second cut looming for Dodgers bidders

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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 »

Dodgers' sale: Falling deeper into the Frank McCourt rabbit hole

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Even as we supposedly approach the end of this mescaline-shrouded trip of an ownership sale, the tale continues to grow curiouser and curiouser.

Really, the whole thing is so completely bizarre. The cast of characters is all over the map, beginning, of  course, with Frank McCourt, who bought the Dodgers with equity in a parking lot, mismanaged the team into bankruptcy and almost a billion in debt, and is still about to exit a ridiculously wealthy man.

And then there are the bidders. They include a guy who once interviewed to be their general manager (Dennis Gilbert), a guy who used to be their general manager (Fred Claire), a guy who used to be their manager (Joe Torre), a couple who used to play for them (Steve Garvey, Orel Hershiser) and a guy who used to own them (Peter O’Malley).

Then there are guys who won NBA championships (Magic Johnson), one who owns the current champion (Mark Cuban) and another who owns an NFL team (Stan Kroenke).

There are stupid-rich investment guys (Steve Cohen, Tom Barrack, Stanley Gold), stupid-rich guys who may yet jump in (Patrick Soon-Shiong, Ron Burkle), guys who are agents (Arn Tellum), who built TV networks (Leo Hindry) and actual TV networks (Fox, Time Warner, Comcast). Alas, sadly the Dilbeck Investment Group has been left a financial casualty, although the good news is I do get to keep the 2005 Accord.

Some have advanced and some have not, though apparently they can get slip back in if they only up their initial bid by another $200 million or so.

And yet somehow this ongoing sale still grows more fantastic. The Times’ Bill Shaikin reported that in addition to the original final eight approved by McCourt for the auction, there is a ninth named Jared Kushner, the 31-year-old son-in-law of Donald Trump. Listen, David Lynch hit on the head couldn’t come up with this stuff.

Kushner is the son of New York real estate mogul Charles Kushner, who served prison time for what the New Times said was for “orchestrating one of the more memorable get-even schemes perpetrated in the name of sibling rivalry. He had hired a prostitute to entrap his brother-in-law and captured their encounter on hidden camera to show his sister.” Aldous Huxley on a psychedelic flashback couldn’t come up with this stuff.

Baby-faced Jared Kushner has zero experience in sports management, though that hardly makes him unique in this group. His claim to fame is buying the New York Observer in 2006. He is now on his fourth editor. He also used family money to purchase a Manhattan office building for a record $1.8 billion in 2006, which the New York Times said is now bleeding money.

Shaikin said Kushner family money would primarily be used for his bid on the Dodgers. Ain’t that just swell? A silver-spooned sports neophyte with inherited money and connected to Trump. What could go wrong?

Maybe you think it cannot possibly grow more preternatural, but just wait, tomorrow calls.

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Photo: Dodgers owner Frank McCourt bids farewell to retiring Manager Joe Torre in October of 2010. Now Torre could be part of the ownership group that McCourt selects to replace him. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press

Dodgers Web musings: 2012 team is not wowing followers

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It seems Ned Colletti’s off-season maneuverings aren’t exactly converting the skeptics. Guess a $90-million payroll just doesn’t buy what it once did.

So the team that returns the National League Cy Young Award winner and MVP runner-up is not exactly getting a lot of off-season media love. Of course, they did have Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp last season and all it netted them was an 82-79 record.

Know those power rankings that are still the rage in professional sports? In the early results, the Dodgers are not faring well. Not even as good as last year’s squad.

Sports Illustrated’s Joe Lemire ranks the Dodgers’ baseball’s 18th-best team. That’s actually down four spots from where he had them finish last year. Arizona is listed at No. 11 and San Francisco at No. 15.

Earlier, Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown ranked the Dodgers 19th.

I don’t put much stake in these rankings, particularly at this time of the year, but it does indicate how the Dodgers are being perceived nationally.

Also on the Web:

--Bloomberg Businessweek’s Roben Farzad has a lengthy overview of the Dodgers’ sale.

“It’s a sports-business circus here,” said David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at USC.

Farzad claims the three current favorites in the bidding are the Rick Caruso-Joe Torre group, the Magic Johnson-Stan Kasten group and Steven Cohen.

--Hall of Fame baseball writer Ross Newhan doesn’t think South Korean conglomerate E-Land's financial backing of Peter O’Malley should negatively affect his bid.

Wrote Newhan: “No one has the ability to put the organization back together faster than the former owner.”

--Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall said he was staying with the team despite overtures from potential owners wanting him to run the Dodgers should their bids succeed. But, really, what else is he going to say?

--Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick said the Dodgers were thrilled with the results of their "young guns" mini-camp in Arizona. Also joining the prospects were Chris Capuano, Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen and Scott Elbert.

--The Dodgers and White Sox have scheduled a spring game March 23 in Tucson to benefit the Christina-Taylor Green Foundation.

--Jamey Carroll tells MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger he’s ready to be the Twins’ everyday shortstop.

--The Red Sox are hoping right-hander Vicente Padilla arrives to camp on time after a report in Nicaragua he may not be able to leave that country over a failure to pay child support.

--The Dodgers have released a copy of the Dodger Stadium 50th anniversary logo, sponsored by State Farm. The Times’ Dylan Hernandez wonders if it includes a discount on fire insurance.

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Photo: Ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw and slugging center fielder Matt Kemp celebrate after Kershaw's shutout against the Detroit Tigers last summer at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images / June 20, 2011

Dodgers Web musings: Is the 1% all in on the Dodgers?

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You better have a pretty deep scorecard if you’re planning on keeping up with all the guys with supposedly deep pockets who want to buy the bankrupt Dodgers.

Pretty soon it will become easier to list which of the uber rich doesn’t want to buy the Dodgers. And the deadline for applications is still more than two weeks away. Getting the sinking feeling Frank McCourt may yet have the last laugh?

The Times’ Bill Shaikin has reported on two more of the well-heeled who want to move into the Dodgers owner suite, Tony Ressler and Stanley Gold, a pair of names that are unlikely to be familiar to you, unless your circle includes guys with Aston Martins and Bugattis.

Ressler is the co-founder of a Los Angeles investment group that controls more than $40 billion in assets and Gold heads Shamrock Holdings, the investment company founded by Roy Disney.

They already have one ownership quality down –- both refused comment for Shaikin’s story.

Also on the Web:

-- Hall of Famer baseball writer Ross Newhan wonders where are those Chinese billionaires who were supposedly interested in purchasing the Dodgers. Remember last September when Bill Burkle and his Chinese government friends supposedly offered a record $1.2 billion for the club?

-- Daily News columnist Tom Hoffarth takes a stab at handicapping the ownership field, listing the Rick Caruso-Joe Torre entry as his early favorite.

Hoffarth also writes the pressure is on Commissioner Bud Selig to weed out potential poor owners before approving the group from which McCourt gets to select.

-- Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown writes that the addition of Torre brings enormous credibility to Caruso’s effort.

And unrelated to the ownership situation, but also from Brown and truly worth a read, is his tribute to his brother and early observations on unexpected loss.

-- In a video, Fox baseball analyst Ken Rosenthal said the number and quality of ownership candidates speaks well for baseball and the future of the Dodgers.

   

-- Steve Garvey tells ESPN/LA that he hopes his getting fired by McCourt last summer while lobbying to be the new owner and working in the team’s community relations department won’t be a factor in his and Orel Hershiser’s bid. Said Garvey: “I think the most money possible is going to be the key."

-- The Dodgers’ annual winter development program for top minor leaguers starts Monday at Dodger Stadium.

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Photo: Stanley Gold has been the driving force behind Shamrock Holdings since it was founded in 1978. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Joe Torre adds to the best show the Dodgers have going

Torre-dilbeck_640Is this the best game in town or what?

In a winter when the bankrupt Dodgers’ new acquisitions have been about as exciting as watching water freeze, the organization has nonetheless managed to add stirring intrigue and anticipation to its off-season.

The next three months -- or so we like to hope -- are shaping up as some of the best drama in town.

To the list of former baseball players, agents, owners, batboys, team presidents and general managers who want to buy the Dodgers, we can now add former managers! Not to mention current bloggers.

Toss in your random billionaire hedge-fund kings, developers, former talk show hosts, bankers, supermarket moguls, superstar NBA players and NBA owners, and I am left with only one observation:

Where the hell were all these people in 2004 when cash-strapped Bostonians Frank and Jamie McCourt purchased the team for $421 million?

The latest official foray into the new ownership bid comes from no less than former Dodgers manager Joe Torre. He officially resigned from his job as a Major League Baseball executive, a post he held for less than a year, to align himself with Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso.

You might think something suspicious was afoot for Torre to leave his new MLB job with Commissioner Bud Selig to join the long queue wanting in on the Dodgers, except Selig isn’t going to pick the new owner.

Under its bankruptcy agreement with Frank McCourt, MLB has agreed to approve 10 bidders. Then McCourt gets to choose the next Dodgers owner. Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports said insiders expect at least 30 bids for the team.

Thirty? And all MLB could come up with last time was an out-of-town owner who purchased the team on heaps of credit?

Bids are due Jan. 23, and even if Torre had an understanding that his group would make the cut, that still leaves him as just one of 10 in an auction in which McCourt selects the winner. An auction in which, I’m thinking, the winner is going to be the highest bidder.

It’s a curious move by Torre, unless MLB told him he could have his old job back should his bid fail. And there is no indication of that. By the April 1 deadline for McCourt to pick the new owner, Torre could be professionally adrift.

Of course with McCourt, deadlines are typically a moving target. Like the world would be stunned if he should somehow get an extension. You know, stretching out the intrigue and all.

Bids aren't officially due for almost three weeks, so who knows what new applicants might show up? Maybe Ton Jones and Allen Haff of Spike’s "Auction Hunters" will drop by the Dodgers' storage unit. Oh, the off-season suspense.

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Larry Bowa: Joe Torre 'would be perfect' for Dodgers

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Joe Torre. Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Larry Bowa: Joe Torre 'would be perfect' for Dodgers

Torre-bowa_640Joe Torre would be the “perfect” person to run the Dodgers, his longtime lieutenant said on Wednesday.

“He’s a great baseball mind who can get the organization back to where it should be,” said Larry Bowa, who was a member of Torre’s coaching staffs with the New York Yankees and Dodgers from 2006 to 2010.

Torre resigned his executive position with Major League Baseball to join Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso in bidding to buy the Dodgers.

“Hopefully, his group will get it,” Bowa said. “I’m a little biased, but I think he would be perfect.”

In particular, Bowa pointed to Torre’s understanding of both on- and off-field matters.

“He understands both sides of the coin,” Bowa said. “The best I have seen with that is [Hall of Fame executive] Pat Gillick,” Bowa said. "But Joe is right there. He has that kind of knowledge and that kind of work ethic.”

Of Torre, Bowa said, “He understands the baseball part of it. He understands the economic part of it. He understands the fans’ viewpoint, the players’ viewpoint, the minor-league viewpoint.”

Bowa said Torre makes decisions carefully.

“Joe’s not a spontaneous guy,” Bowa said. “Joe’s going to have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and Plan D. He’s going to have a backup plan. He’s not going to say, ‘I’m going to get this guy,' and have no other plan. Joe, he calculates his moves.”

When Torre managed the Yankees and Dodgers, he delegated a lot of responsibility to his coaches. Bowa said he thinks Torre would operate similarly as a team’s high-level executive.

“He trusts the people he hires and lets them work,” Bowa said. “He doesn’t just hire people. It’s ‘If I’m not here, can he take care of this area?’”

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Photo: Larry Bowa, left, and Joe Torre in 2008. Credit: Doug Benc / Getty Images

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