Own a team, roll out the dough

3 12 2009

Here’s a wild idea: If you’re going to own a professional sports team, then be prepared to spend money. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt seems strangely foreign to that idea lately. The Dodgers stupidly refused to offer arbitration to any of their free agents, including Type A guys Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf. (If a team offers their Type A free agent arbitration and that player turns it down to sign with another team, then the arb-offering team gets a first round pick from the signing team [unless the signing team has a top-15 pick, in which case the offering team gets the signing team’s second round choice] as well as a supplemental draft pick supplied by MLB between rounds 1 and 2.)

(Right to left) Frank McCourt: "Who wants to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame!?", Jamie McCourt: "I'll lip-synch it only if you pay me $2,000 a month for the next three years", Tiger: "Frank, do it! Huge. Jamie, that's a familiar name. Who wants to road trip to Vegas? Vegas!"

One of the leading theories on why the Dodgers didn’t offer Hudson and/or Wolf arbitration is that they might — get this — ACCEPT IT. God forbid our All-Star second baseman or 1.10 WHIP-rocking southpaw choose to play for us again at an increased salary. And God forbid McCourt sign off on arbitration so as to at least give the Dodgers the benefit of high-round draft picks in the event that Hudson and/or Wolf were to sign elsewhere. It couldn’t have been GM Ned Colletti’s choice to not offer arbitration. No way. That man is familiar with the current predicament of the Dodgers’ once-vaunted farm system. He understands the value of attaining draft picks.

See, the way the Dodgers have acquired veterans like Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake and George Sherrill the past couple years is through the tapping into their farm system time and again to send prospects to the teams holding those veterans. Why, you might wonder. It’s because McCourt is a cheapskate/poor bastard and has refused to absorb more salary. So if the Dodgers are going to go to the Red Sox or Indians or Orioles and ask that team to hand over a veteran player AND pay most or all of his salary, then the BoSox or Tribe or O’s are going to ask for something else in return — young’ns, as Fabolous so eloquently stated in some song earlier this decade that I ashamedly rocked out to.

Adam LaRoche, Bryan Morris, Carlos Santana (a STUD catcher who could’ve replaced the oddly fading Russell Martin), flamethrower Jon Meloan, slugger Josh Bell and Steve Johnson have all been jettisoned to bring in the older guys. Now, the trades have worked out well so far for the Dodgers. Manny, Blake and Sherrill have been successful in Dodger Blue. But the problem is we might not have had to give up Santana or Bell — two guys we could surely use in future years — if McCourt had been willing to take on salary. We could’ve sent lesser prospects had McCourt signed off on increasing payroll.

Instead, we have an increasingly irritating owner who’s fighting over control for the team from his ex-wife, who somehow needs over $400K per month just to get by. I’m getting completely disillusioned by the sad state of Dodgers ownership. The writing is on the wall. Unless this team is sold soon, they’re going to become MLB’s version of the Phoenix Suns. A team which was so promising and had so many possibilities yet were ultimately decimated because of a blood-sucking owner who decided to lock up his wallet like it was the freaking vault to the Federal Reserve.

At least I have the Lakers and Jerry Buss. God Bless that man.



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