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Category: Web musings

Dodgers Web musings: Fear and Frank McCourt; Bryan Stow speaks

Hey, that was telling. That told you just how much we’ve come to loath and distrust Frank McCourt. How in the deep recesses of our little hearts we feared McCourt was actually nefarious and devious enough to still be scheming to keep the Dodgers.

Despite an agreement with baseball to sell and having to come up with $130 million to pay a settlement with ex-wife Jamie at the end of April, and that he would risk all his remaining millions if he attempted to renege on his deal with Major League Baseball.

Yet the trepidation was difficult to fight. And the Cubans, mafia or CIA weren’t even involved.

Hall of Fame baseball writer Ross Newhan first broached on his blog what everyone was afraid to say aloud on Dec. 2, asking: "Does McCourt really intend to sell?’’

Instant shivers.

When McCourt failed to produce his book on the team’s financial situation weeks after his agreement with MLB and then won the right to put the team’s media rights up for sale now, suspicions were fanned.

On Wednesday Fred Roggin on KNBC picked up on the paranoia with a segment in which he asked: "Maybe McCourt’s end game is not to sell at all." And he ended it with this comment on the agreement with MLB: "It’s not signed in blood, let’s put it that way, so anything can happen."

 Mike Petriello at MikeSciosciasTragicIllness reluctantly followed up on the conspiracy theory, asking: "What if Frank McCourt was running a long con in order to attempt to keep the team?" And the mistrust grew until Friday The Times’ Bill Shaikin finally addressed it, rationally explaining why it would be foolhardy.

Although, just to keep everyone a tad nervous, I must mention he ends his report with: "Impossible? No, but the chances of Prince Fielder playing first base for the Dodgers next year appear better than the chances of such a strategy succeeding.’’

Prince, of course, is still available.

Also on the Web:

-- That’s the Christmas spirit: Don Mattingly agrees to don dress and wig for a performance of "The Nutcracker."

-- Thanks to Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homebody for this video of Bryan Stow speaking on video for the first time on the Bay Area's NBC affiliate.

 

 -- The Register’s Howard Cole on Matt Kemp’s visit Thursday to the City of Hope, where he surprised Cole’s best friend, laid up after having been donated bone marrow.

-- In a video, Dodgers.com beat writer Ken Gurnick offers his team’s offseason analysis.

 

 RELATED:

Jerry Sands would still be better off playing every day in minors

Dodgers ask court to rule out financial damages to Fox

Car wreck aside, Dodgers tender contract to James Loney

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers Web musings: Are the Angels now L.A.'s No. 1 team?

Moreno-dipoto_600

Heard that one before.

Heard it when Disney bought the team. When the Angels won their first World Series in 2002.  When Arte Moreno bought the team and signed Vladimir Guerrero. And when Frank McCourt drove the Dodgers into bankruptcy.

And, of course, now that the Angels' off-season has been just a tad more impressive than that of the Dodgers’.

You sign the best hitter of his generation, Albert Pujols, and the top starter available, C.J. Wilson, and people tend to notice.

The Times' T.J. Simers said the Angels' moves were clearly in response to the Dodgers signing Aaron Harang and Jerry Hairston Jr. Wrote Simers: "There’s only one Los Angeles baseball team that anyone cares about and it isn't located in Los Angeles."

Added ESPN/LA’s Tony Jackson: "The Dodgers are all about history and tradition and lore. The Angels are all about the here and now, and the future, both short- and long-term."

For the Dodgers, it's a bad convergence of the darkest point in their franchise history and one of the highest for the Angels. And it should be noted that last season the Angels, for the first time, outdrew the Dodgers in attendance.

Also on the web:

-- The roster is looking full, but General Manager Ned Colletti tells Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick: " ... There's also more work to do. We're by far a finished product. Take the rest of the winter off? No."

Colletti can't seem to stop his love affair with utility infielders. Gurnick wrote that the Dodgers had been trying to trade for the Mets' Daniel Murphy.

-- The Times' Bill Shaikin and Kevin Baxter explain how Frank McCourt enabled the Angels to finance their stunning signings by maximizing their own TV-rights deal.

-- The Times’ Esmeralda Bermudez and Eric Spillman have more troubling details about James Loney's arrest last month on suspicion of driving under the influence.

-- Gurnick also has Clayton Kershaw's agent saying they're in no hurry to sign a long-term deal.

-- The Times' Joe Flint writes that the gloves are coming off between Time Warner Cable and Fox Sports in the battle over Dodgers media rights. The 2004 contract that prevented the Dodgers and Time Warner from partnering for a regional sports network doesn't apply to Time Warner Cable, that company argues, because it was spun off as its own seperate operation in 2009.

-- True Blue L.A.'s Eric Stephen has an overview of all the Dodgers' player moves this off-season.

-- Scott Boras, funny man? Who knew? Speaking to The Times’ Dylan Hernandez on the off-season spending of the Dodgers and Mets: "Normally, they're in the steaks section, and I found them in the fruits-and-nuts category a lot."

-- Dodgers individual spring training tickets are now on sale.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Angels owner Arte Moreno, left, introduces Jerry Dipoto as his general manager in October. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press

Dodgers Web musings: Frank McCourt has eviction notice?

Sometimes you want something to be true so badly, the blinders come on to all the potential pitfalls. History be damned, you just want to believe.

And so it is with the official news that Frank McCourt must bid a final adieu to the Dodgers by April 30th.

It’s in writing and everything, though we’ve been down that road before. Late Tuesday night the sales agreement reached between McCourt and Major League Baseball was finally filed in bankruptcy court.

As The Times’ Bill Shaikin reported, it wasn’t exactly all good news. As expected, the agreement does give McCourt the ability to keep the parking lots surrounding Dodger Stadium and sign a "long-term lease" with the new owner. That’s plenty scary, so you just have to cross fingers that an agreement is reached for the team, stadium and surrounding property.

Otherwise, the agreement actually allows McCourt to build parking garages to replace existing spaces so he could develop the property. How insane is that? Somebody is going to drop a billion dollars to buy the team and stadium, only to watch McCourt develop the property around it? I’m thinking they’re going to want a lot more control than that.

But it’s still encouraging that the agreement does require McCourt divest himself of the team by April 30. Count the days.

Initial bids for the team are due by Jan. 13.

Also on the Web:

— Meet the new Dodgers, same as the old Dodgers? The Times’ Dylan Hernandez looks at Don Mattingly’s current team overview at the winter meetings.

— MLB.com offers a video of part of Mattingly’s interview, including an almost desperate plea: "We’re going to have to have guys have good years."

   

— Despite their flurry of activity, Tony Jackson of ESPN/LA writes that the Dodgers are still pursuing another bat, but this one via trade.

— Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness tries to determine which player could be that hoped-for bat.

— The Times in an editorial wants a new Dodgers owner who values the community.

— Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy on news of Clayton Kershaw’s next scheduled sojourn to Africa.

— Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com has the details of the team's spring training schedule. Shaikin writes that it returns the traditional Freeway Series this spring with the Angels.

— The Times’ Diane Pucin writes that the Dodgers’ next media-rights contract is shaping up as a monster battle between titans Fox and Time Warner.

— The Astros have interviewed Dodgers Assistant General Manager Logan White for their vacant GM position.

— Hall of Fame baseball writer Ross Newhan thinks Magic Johnson might be wise to cool his talk of spending big if he gets ownership of the Dodgers.

— ESPN’s David Schoenfield doesn’t think much of the Dodgers’ off-season acquisitions, figuring he’s added a bunch of mediocre 30-somethings.

— ESPN’s Jon Weisman is feeling uninspired by the Dodgers’ winter but longs for spring.

— SB Nation’s Jeff Sullivan is actually depressed looking at the Dodgers’ infield for 2012.

— If you doubt Tommy Lasorda can still spin a good yarn, check out his stories on new Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine in the Boston Globe.

— And finally, remember that scene in the John Cusack film "High Fidelity" when he envisions different scenarios on how to greet rival Tim Robbins when he comes into his record store? Including the one where Jack Black leaps over the counter?

TMZ plays off that on its premise of what you might say to McCourt if you ran into him in a restaurant.

   

— Steve Dilbeck

 

Dodgers Web musings: Fodder, Prince Fielder, slugger James Loney

Prince-fielder_600

Why so quiet?

Hey, it had to happen sometime. After some early free agent signings and the Cy Young and MVP announcements, there has now actually been a moment of calm for the Dodgers’ front office.

Not completely, of course. There are those ever popular nonroster invitees to locate, and you can bet General Manager Ned Colletti is scouring the waiver wire to find fresh fodder before the winter meetings start next Sunday in Dallas.

He has reportedly already picked up a pair of journeyman arms for the bullpen.

Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi, via a Venezuelan publication, reports the Dodgers are on the verge of signing left-handed reliever Wil Ledzema. And Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy reports, via the Melbourne Aces, they have signed right-hander Shane Lindsay.

Both were signed to minor-league contracts, presumably with invites to the big-league camp, and neither were designed to get you sprinting to the ticket window.

Ledzema will be 31 in January and this will be his eighth team in seven years. Did I mention he was a left-handed reliever? He spent most of last season at triple-A, appearing in five games for the Blue Jays.

Lindsay, who turns 27 in January, has spent all but six innings of his career in the minors.

These are the low-risk, moderate-reward (Mike MacDougal) type offseason signings that Colletti adores, though that would hardly make him unique amongst GMs.

Also on the Web:

--Hey, what if the price tag for free agent Prince Fielder actually managed to come down somewhere within sight of the Dodgers? I mean, like only needing binoculars instead of a telescope.

Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman thinks it will take a contract worth about $200 million to nab Fielder.

But ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports there has been so little action on Fielder than some now think he could yet return to Milwaukee.

--Colletti, however, told Mel Antonen of MLB Network Radio last week that James Loney would be his first baseman next season. And, oh yeah, he thought Loney could hit 20-25 home runs.

--The San Francisco Chronicle reprinted a great 1962 column from Charles McCabe on Sunday about how local gamblers suspected that Willie McCovey’s sudden September illness was the work of a nefarious Walter O’Malley and almost led to a great collapse by the Giants.

--To the surprise of no one, Dodgers.com's Ken Gurnick reports the Dodgers did not offer arbitration to any of their remaining seven free agents.

--All his bunting drives Mike Petriello nuts, but he tips his cap to the job Don Mattingly did in a trying rookie season as manager.

--What is it about Boston real estate and its links to the Dodgers? Yahoo Sports’ Ben Maller reports, via the Boston Herald, that after trying to sell his downtown Boston pad for six years, Manny Ramirez finally unloaded it for nearly $300,000 less than he paid for it in 2001.

--Ex-Dodger Bobby Valentine -- ex a lot of teams -- is expected to be named the next Red Sox manager, the Denver Post’s Troy Renck reports.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Slugger Prince Fielder is congratulated by Milwaukee teammates last season after scoring in Game 4 of the NLCS. Credit: Tannen Maury / EPA

Dodgers Web musings: What are the Dodgers really worth?

Traditional answer: Whatever someone is willing to pay.

OK, so that’s also the final answer. But in what baseball stratosphere will the sales price finally hover?

Forbes’ last estimate of the franchise’s worth pegged it at $800 million, which is now starting to sound like an opening bid. Only $1 billion has somehow become a popular number, even though no one has yet to look at their books. Still, even Forbes via Michael Ozanian now thinks the Dodgers could prove "easily worth over $1 billion."

Of course, the numbers being thrown around assume the new owner buys what the McCourts originally purchased – the franchise, the stadium and surrounding parking lots. And Frank McCourt is of the mind that his final price would be enhanced if he’s allowed to sell his TV rights package first.

ESPN/LA’s Arash Markazi spoke to some sports economists, who estimate the final price will be approximately $1 billion. The Times’ Bill Shaikin has reported McCourt may need at least that much just to break even.

Anything over the $845 million the Cubs sold for two years ago would be a Major League Baseball record. And the Cubs did not come with all the valuable acreage surrounding their stadium.

In a video, Fox Sports’ Rick Horrow outlines his reasons why he thinks the Dodgers will shatter the Cubs’ record:

   

 Also on the Web:

— Peter O’Malley tells the Daily News’ Jill Painter he’s behind in putting his group together but is not concerned. He also, interestingly enough, warns against overpaying for the team.

— What next, an annoying Giants fan? Billionaire Tom Golisano, the former owner of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, said he’s preparing a bid on the Dodgers. Golisano actually describes himself to the Wall Street Journal as a lifelong Yankees fan.

— ESPN/LA’s Ramona Shelburne warns the Dodgers don’t need to simply return to their past but find an owner ready to lead them into the future.

— The Hollywood Reporter on why it thinks Fox should reconsider buying the Dodgers back and the advantage of a cable operation ownership.

— Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick writes the Dodgers are looking for a starting second baseman, a utility infielder and a veteran option at catcher.

— Haven’t we gone this route before? Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci writes the Dodgers are ready to go sabermetric with the addition of Alex Tamin to the front office. Gurnick also profiles Tamin.

— ESPN’s Christina Kahrl is not impressed with the Twins’ signing of Jamey Carroll.

— Ex-Dodgers outfielder Mike Marshall is the new manager of the independent league San Rafael Pacifics. His wife, Mary, will serve as the assistant general manager. Both had the same roles last year for the Chico Outlaws.

— Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers web musings: Does sale put Matt Kemp return in danger?

While everybody and his gardener seem to be putting a group together to bid on the Dodgers, what’s to become of the team in the interim?

Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown is not only concerned what the Dodgers might look like on opening day 2012, but that the ownership change could mean not re-signing star outfielder Matt Kemp.

Brown doesn’t like the chances of Frank McCourt adding more debt to the team before heading out of town, but holds out hope after talking to a friend of McCourt:

"The friend told me McCourt still hopes to repair his relationship with Dodgers fans, in part by helping put the team together again, and that to leave the Dodgers short now would weigh on McCourt’s conscience."

Hmm. Some openings you just have to pass on …

Also on the web:

-- ESPN’s Buster Olney, however, said the assumption throughout baseball is whoever the new owner is, he will re-sign Kemp (Insider status required). Which is a good thing, because he doesn’t think much of the 2012 free-agent class.

-- ESPN/LA’s Tony Jackson said MLB will sort through potential new owners before the bidding process, leaving McCourt pretty much his pick.

-- MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch likes the chances of Clayton Kershaw getting the N.L. Cy Young award.

-- The Register's Howard Cole is tired of the dire predictions of the team's post-ownership situation.

-- ESPN’s Jim Caple has his own list of potential new owners  for the Dodgers. Alas, the Dilbeck Investment Group is not on it, but Brad Pitt is.

-- Good news for Jamey Carroll. CBS’ Scott Miller reports utility infielder Willlie Bloomquist has signed a two-year, $3.8-million deal with the Diamondbacks, which Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness fears signals a ridiculous baseball off-season.

-- ESPN/LA’s Arash Markazi said Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who purchased Magic Johnson’s stake in the Lakers, has been approached by at least one group wanting to buy the Dodgers. Apparently he’s thinking about it.

-- Bloomberg’s Alan Sherman said Time-Warner is considering a bid on the Dodgers.

-- ESPN/Florida’s Tommy Rancel thinks the Rays could be interested in signing Jonathan Broxton. Hey, I just provide the links.

-- Evan Bladh of Opinion of Dave Kingman’s Performance, a brave man, tries to identify the positives in the McCourts’ ownership. He tries really hard.

-- 24/7 Wall Street lists seven other professional sports teams in danger of going bankrupt, none from MLB.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers Web musings: Bryan Stow lawyer suggests settlement to MLB

The lawyer for the family of the Bryan Stow family has approached Major League Baseball about working out a "reasonable settlement’’  in its lawsuit against the Dodgers, ESPN/LA’s Ramona Shelburne reports.

Stow, the Giants fan who was brutally beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on opening day, is the largest unsecured creditor. The Stow family lawyer, Tom Girardi, has suggested that damages could approach $50 million.

Whoever buys the Dodgers will inherit the lawsuit, so Girardi reasons it is in the best interest of  Frank McCourt, the Dodgers and MLB to know what the damages will be heading into the sales process.

Also on the Web:

-- The Times’ T.J. Simers thinks you can’t go home again, and believes Peter O’Malley is the wrong man to take the Dodgers into their future.

-- Unlike me, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal isn’t convinced that the looming team sale means the Dodgers are out on Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.

-- ESPN/LA’s Tony Jackson tries to walk through the still complicated process that lead to the Dodgers’ ultimate sale. A new owner by opening day looks like a pipe dream.

-- Oh, that’s all it took. Yahoo Sports’ Jason Cole thinks the Dodgers pending sale could hasten the NFL’s return to L.A.

-- The Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales takes a look at the background of Dennis Gilbert, the L.A resident and White Sox executive who has expressed strong interest in Dodgers ownership.

-- The Times’ Dylan Hernandez writes that  Tommy Lasorda is big on the prospect of O’Malley returning as the Dodgers owner.

-- In a video, Lasorda tells CBS Channel 2’s Jim Hill that  he wants an owner with L.A. roots.

   

-- NBC Sports’ Matthew Pouliot and MikeSciosciasTragicIllness’ Mike Petriello both think Ned Colletti rushed and seriously overpaid outfielder Juan Rivera at $4.5 million.

-- True Blue L.A.’s Brandon Lennox looks at the Dodgers adding Scott Van Slyke and Alfredo Silverio to their 40-man roster and there isn’t much room to add other minor leaguers with the roster at 33 and free agents still to sign.

-- In a video, Fox Sports’ Rick Harrow -- the sports professor -– examines why that  despite their problems, the Dodgers will still attract a hefty sales price.

 

-- ESPN/LA’s Jon Weisman said one good thing to come out of the team’s sale is that it almost ensures that the new owner will sign Clayton Kershaw to a long-term deal.

-- Jackson, also reports that Dodgers assistant general manager DeJon Watson has withdrawn his name for consideration as the Orioles GM.

-- MLB Trade Rumors has its list of projected arbitration salaries, and it is estimating Matt Kemp could earn $16.3 million, Andre Ethier $10.7 million and Kershaw $8.4 million.

-- A Times’ editorial slams McCourt and his attorney for trying to cast blame on Stow.

-- In a video, MarketWatch.com’s Matt Futterman and Dennis Berman explain why they think the Dodgers may yet attract the largest sales price of a professional team in American sports history.

 .

 -- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers Web musings: Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw & all that cash

Matt1
Money, money, money. Not the kind you and I make, and not the kind we can even imagine spending.

We're talking the big money that star players make. The Dodgers currently have two mega-stars, and unfortunately at this bankrupt time, both are approaching major contracts.

Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw are arbitration-eligible this off-season; Kemp for the last time, Kershaw for the first.

Kemp’s situation makes his long-term signing more pressing, but his agent, Dave Stewart, inferred to The Times’ Dylan Hernandez that the Dodgers best not expect a significant hometown discount to sign him.

Last year at age 32, Jayson Werth signed for $126 million and 30-year-old Carl Crawford for $142 million, both for seven years. Kemp is only 27 and coming off an MVP-caliber season.

Though Kershaw remains under team control, Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors said it could cost the Dodgers as much as $35 million just during his arbitration years. Mike Petriello of MikeSciosciasTragicIllness thinks the Dodgers' unwillingness to gamble and tie up Kershaw prior to his breakout season is going to cost them serious dollars.

Continue reading »

Dodgers Web musings: Frank McCourt and all that jazz

Mccourt_600It’s hard to live up to a titanic build-up, but I’m thinking the Frank McCourt versus Bud Selig face-off is going to pull it off just fine.

The bankruptcy showdown is scheduled to begin Monday in Delaware, but the pre-court filings have continued to come and they aren’t getting any sweeter.

Now Major League Baseball has attempted to put a precise number ($189.16 million) on how much money McCourt took from the team for his personal use –- or as MLB called it, "looting."

The Times’ Bill Shaikin has that update, plus how Bryan Stow could prove pivotal in the case and McCourt’s claim that Selig appointing a task force to examine stadium security after Stow’s beating was largely responsible for the attendance decline. Wrote Shaikin:

"Two days after Stow was beaten, and two weeks before Selig appointed the task force, the Dodgers drew their smallest crowd in eight years for a weekend Giants home game. The crowds remained small -- the Dodgers' attendance dropped 18% this season -- and the team blamed Selig for trumpeting his dispatch of a security task force and a trustee to Dodger Stadium within six days in April.’’

Right, that’s why attendance plummeted. Everybody was talking about that task force. Or it could be 99.9% of the fan base knew nothing about it.

Continue reading »

Dodgers Web musings: Don Mattingly doubts big bat is coming

Don3Say this for Don Mattingly: He usually does not try to snow you. He might, understandably, favor the company line, but he is a straight shooter.

That was on display again this week during a radio interview with 710 AM's "Mason and Ireland," when Mattingly first stated the obvious -– that the Dodgers most need an impact bat -- but then acknowledged he was not counting on that happening.

"I can't say I'm confident that we're going to be able to do it," he said. "We've talked about different things. ... You hear Prince [Fielder], you hear Albert [Pujols]. Those are nice thoughts; there's a lot of teams talking about those type of guys ... but you got to have a Plan B, a Plan C. How do we put offense together if we can't do something like that? That's the biggest thing.

"And obviously, I don't know where we're going to be as far as what we're going to be able to do. Are we going to go backward with the budget, are we going to go forward? ... It's hard to know right now."

Got that right. Hard to know the budget when you can’t be sure who will own the team come next spring.

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