More Dodgers Mets, Plus The Daily McCourt Dilemma


Frank McCourt’s first decision after Major League Baseball took over daily operations, hire Steve Soboroff, so far so good, for Dodger fans at least. Soboroff decided to give Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports an interview yesterday and he demonstrated why Frank McCourt is in over his head as an MLB owner, Soboroff failed miserably during the attempt.

Some of Steve’s comments which no doubt helped endear the Dodgers even further with MLB:

"“We’re getting the death penalty for, maybe there were some traffic tickets.”"

Almost $500 million in traffic tickets, and counting if you add up the debt load Mccourt has built up since taking over in 2004, something he hasn’t addressed once during his 2011 World Media Tour. Strike one.

"“If they’re doing an investigation, where are the people? Unless they’ve already figured out the answer and this whole thing is a rope-a-dope."

MLB has asked for the complex Dodgers financial records in a specific format, paper form or on a compact disc, which should take no more than a day with the professionals the Dodgers have in their various departments.  Yet Frank had the Dodgers place them in a virtual data room, where restrictions were attached. Strike two.

Tom Schieffer recently observed – light-heartedly – that there was too much information to digest, due to the numerous sub-companies, LLC’s, and other multiple entities McCourt has turned the Dodgers into. All in an order to move dollars from here to there to avoid taxes and fuel an extravagant lifestyle, while hurting the product on the field. Thus their current financial crisis.

Mccourt’s Thursday’s media tour took a different tone yesterday, he had to personally apologize to MLB for Soboroff. Courtesy of Steve Dilbeck at the LA Times:

"Dodgers Vice Chairman Steve Soboroff told several media outlets (Yahoo) Thursday that Tom Schieffer, the trustee appointed by Commissioner Bud Selig to run the team, did not respond promptly to a request for upgraded stadium security. The allegation outraged Major League Baseball officials, for whom Schieffer produced an email in which he granted authorization two minutes after the request from Dodgers general counsel Sam Fernandez."

The Dodgers are moving toward the inevitable, Dodger fans hope, and they have their Owner, his Ex-Wife, 4 boys, and irresponsible management of the Dodgers finances to blame for the spectacle they have become. Tim Brown said it best so I’ll let you enjoy his version.

"The Dodgers are by definition a large-market, high-revenue franchise. And yet, they rank 12th in payroll…because of that, the current liquidity issues are puzzling to baseball. The majority of teams are flush this early in the season, when season-ticket payments are arriving"

Season ticket sales are down from over 30K to roughly 17K, and I’ll give you one guess why? (See above)

"The notion that a high-revenue, low-payroll team would run aground in May – despite a $30 million loan – has perplexed baseball’s analysts. Additionally, that McCourt’s solution is to pull television revenue from three years out (the Dodgers’ current deal with Fox runs 2 ½ more years), has not instilled confidence in the commissioner’s office.The Dodgers should have been stronger yesterday, it (MLB)believes. They should be stronger today."

Here here. Not only are they borrowing out 2.5 years to get the approx $300 million, McCourt needs to survive, they are selling their 2025 TV rights at 2011 rates. Am I the only one who thinks that this is a terrible idea? Does not inflation apply to TV deals like it does everything else? Strike 3?

Brown postulates typically what would happen if the Dodgers can’t make their payroll at the end of May:

"MLB will, thereby keeping the players from filing default notices and becoming free agents…As a condition of assisting McCourt, likely would ask him to put the club up for sale, as it required of Tom Hicks last year in Texas. If McCourt resisted, he would be found in violation of the sport’s constitution. According to that document, failure to meet such financial obligations is grounds for terminating his ownership of the franchise."

Sorry Frank I feel for you, I really do, but how could it have come to this, without a tremendous effort on your part? But this is about OUR Dodgers not YOUR second chance. One could argue no owner has ruined his team in so short of a span in any sport. I like what MLB spokesman Rob Manfred had to say on yesterday’s drama:

"“The commissioner is committed to a prompt and thorough investigation, and as soon as the Los Angeles Dodgers comply with the commissioners directives to produce documents in acceptable form that investigation will proceed with all possible speed. This is not about personalities. This is about the future of the Dodgers.”"

Let’s hope the team can get healthy, stay in the race, then go on a 2010 Ranger-esque run. Below is part 2 of our Dodger Mets series 6-pack preview. Today it’s my answers to Ben Berkon at Rising Apple’s Dodger questions:

1. Obviously Andre Ethier‘s streak will come to an end at some point, but more importantly, is 2011 the year he proves his long-term value to the team? I certainly hope so. He was having a terrific 2010 until he injured his hand. He is part of the core group of Dodgers who are all entering their prime together, along with Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, and Clayton Kershaw. They have already locked up Bills long-term I hope the ownership situation doesn’t prevent them from doing the same with Ethier and the others.

2. Juan Uribe and Rod Barajas have both been playing their usual games (lot’s of HR/RBI for their respective positions with a low BA/OB)—but do you think the signings are at all justified? Uribe yes, Barajas absolutely not. Uribe doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his defense as well as the number of different positions he can play, yeah he’s going to hit .250 but if you look at middle infielders he was among the top last year in HR and RBI, hopefully he’s got 3 years left in him. Barajas was a total knee-jerk signing because he played really well for them for 6 weeks after the Mets dropped him last year. He is average at best defensively, and even if they get 20 HR from him you can’t have a regular player who hits .200, with Dioner Navarro as his back-up, catcher is a really weak position for the Dodgers, and it’s sickening for Dodger fans to see Russell Martin playing well for the Yankees as he admitted in the off-season he didn’t put baseball first the last couple years he was with the Dodgers.

3. What kind of production are you expecting out of Jerry Sands? It speaks to the weakness of the Dodgers lineup, and Sands meteoric rise and talents that a player who was in Low A ball last year at this time, is now their 4th or 5th best offensive threat. His average is down right now, but he has a solid approach, looks to take the ball the other way, has a bunch of doubles, and just missed his first HR due to the goofy LF wall in Florida. He probably needed more time in the minors and may struggle this year cause he was called up too early but he has the potential to be a .280-300 AG/25-30 HR/80-90 RBI and 20 steals guy who can play both corner OF positions and 1B and has a solid OBP. He already takes more walks than James Loney. I’d rather see young guys learning on the job than sitting on the bench while 1 year vets play in their place.

4. Are you worried about Jonathan Broxton‘s struggles so far? Yes, Joe Torre ruined him using him last year sometimes 5 days in a row for multi-inning saves. It was obvious to all of us watching that something was wrong with him, as he had lost 5 MPH on his fastball, and yesterday he finally admitted to elbow pain to Dodgers trainers with the MRI showing no structural damage, but bone spurs.

5. If Broxton continues to struggle, who would you tap as the new closer? Brox is shut down and may end up on the DL with bone spurs in his elbow. If you can believe it Vicente Padilla will probably close, but the Dodgers don’t want to use him on back to back days due to the surgery he just came off of, so look for Hong-Chih Kuo to get some opportunities, but he has really struggled with his control so far this year, and potentially Matt Guerrier but he would be the 3rd choice.

6. Which prospect are you most excited about, and when should we expect to see him play in the majors? Rubby De La Rosa. He is in AA right now but only because the Dodgers AAA team plays in high altitude ball parks. He’s got a high 90’s fastball that he maintains late into games, and a filthy slider. Like all young pitchers control is an issue, but he’s being compared to Pedro Martinez. The Dodgers are trying to keep his innings down so they could use him late in the year, most likely as a power arm in the bullpen. If he doesn’t get the call this year he will definitely be in the rotation next year, he’s got legit dominant stuff. If you play in a keeper fantasy league and he’s available go grab him he has the potential to be an ace.

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