Oct 24

A Fielder of dreams


Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesFuture teammates? (In Los Angeles, we mean.)

If the Dodgers lived in a world of riches and roses, they would sign Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, get as much value in exchange for James Loney as they could, and greet the 2012 season with high hopes.

Now let’s talk about the world they actually live in.

It’s a world that I’ve believed does not include any realistic possibility of Pujols or Fielder coming to Los Angeles except in the visitor dugout. Even if the imminent hearing on Frank McCourt’s ability to auction off the team’s TV rights results in the final blow to his ownership, I’ve felt there would be too much chaos this winter to allow the Dodgers to commit, if I’m low-balling it, what would be a minimum of $150 million for a Fielder signing.

Plus, there’s an argument that even if all was normal with the Dodgers – and by normal, I’m referring to the Dodgers as they’ve been at their best, as opposed to the Dodgers spending like the Yankees – the team shouldn’t be pursuing Fielder or Pujols, much less aging, gimpier players like Carlos Beltran (35 in April) or Aramis Ramirez (34 in June).

The Dodgers will have no more important long-term signings to pursue than Matt Kemp before the end of the 2012 season and Clayton Kershaw before the end of 2014. Each of those players will require contracts that, at some point, are paying them more than $20 million annually. In the middle of this decade, the Dodgers could be spending more than $40 million a year on those two players alone. And I hope they do, because both Kemp and Kershaw are great bets to make good on the deals, and because the Dodgers are long overdue for some great, homegrown players to spend a solid decade or more with the team.

So, is it really sensible to turn that into $60-plus million per season on three players? It’s hard not to notice, for example, that neither of the two teams playing in the World Series have devoted that much of their payroll to so few players.

  • St. Louis paid Matt Holliday $17 million this season and Pujols (in the last year of an eight-year contract signed before he could become a free agent) $16 million. Chris Carpenter made $15 million, but no other hitter who started the season with the Cardinals made more than Lance Berkman’s $8 million.
  • Texas paid Michael Young $16 million and Adrian Beltre $14 million in 2011. Josh Hamilton, like Kemp a potential free agent after the 2012 season, made only $7.25 million.

You can look at those bullet points two ways, actually. On the one hand, you don’t need a $20 million player to make the World Series. On the other hand, spending even $30 million on two guys doesn’t guarantee you’ll have enough to fund the rest of a championship team – Texas and St. Louis were anything but locks to play in the season’s final week.

Pujols will be 32 when he starts his next contract and near 40 when it ends. Fielder is younger than Pujols, but would be closer to 300 pounds than perhaps any Dodger ever. (Beats Frank Howard, right?) Even if the Dodgers were in the best financial shape of their lives, doesn’t part of you imagine that if Pujols or Fielder signed with Los Angeles, somehow, some way, something would go wrong? Horribly wrong?

So guess what. The Dodgers should sign Prince Fielder.

Betcha didn’t see that coming.

Here are the reasons:

  • Fielder, who is only 4 1/2 months older than Kemp, might not play until he’s 40, but no one’s going to give him a 12-year contract. The big first baseman should be good for the next several years easily. For all the concerns about his physical condition, he has averaged 160 games per season since 2006.
  • He is truly awesome, not only supplying mammoth power (that admittedly would decline some playing regularly in Dodger Stadium) but also the mammoth on-base percentage that made Manny Ramirez so valuable during his Los Angeles heyday. Fielder’s lifetime OBP is .390, including .381 in road games (.386 in 70 plate appearances at AT&T Park, if that sort of thing interests you). That ability isn’t going to go away anytime soon.
  • He would be a bird in the hand. He would be insurance in case Kemp, who might command more as a free agent, proves too difficult to come to terms. His presence could also help entice Kemp to stick around, given how he would feel about having Fielder in the cleanup slot (although at the end of the day, the best contract offer will carry the biggest weight for Kemp, plain and simple).
  • The Dodgers – even the bankrupt Dodgers – can afford him.

That last point is the one I’ve sort of put out of sight, out of mind, out of a belief that it wasn’t even worth thinking about. But then, I started to think about it.  The Dodgers could always backload a Fielder contract so that the hefty portion (pun acknowledged but not admired) comes after the post-2013 local TV contract money can be accessed. However, the Dodgers should be able to afford Fielder even if they pay him the proper amount starting next year.

The Dodgers have a somewhat shocking amount of 2012 payroll commitments: over $100 million. But then you notice that roughly $20 million of that total is allocated for Loney and Andre Ethier: two players coming off mixed seasons, two players who themselves will be eligible for free agency a year from now and unlikely to be resigned. If you replaced those two players with Fielder and an up-and-coming minor-leaguer, the Dodgers might be better off, if not next year, than as the decade goes on.

Let me reiterate that a Kemp-Fielder combo doesn’t get the Dodgers automatically credentialed into the 2012 World Series, any more than a Ryan Braun-Fielder combo did for Milwaukee in 2011. With or without Fielder, the Dodgers are an ownership-challenged team with holes at second base, on the bench and, pending what happens with Hiroki Kuroda, in the starting rotation.

Essentially, those problems will exist even without Fielder. Signing Fielder might even help solve one of them, by allowing them to trade Ethier. At any rate, I’m confident a Fielder signing wouldn’t mark a repeat of Andruw Jones.

If it’s a choice between Kemp, Kershaw and Fielder, then Fielder is the lowest priority for me on that list. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be a choice.

It won’t be heartbreaking if the Dodgers don’t sign Fielder as a free agent, and it certainly won’t be surprising. It could, however, be very, very cool.

Oct 22

Cardinals and Cardinal roll

Wrapping up a crazy World Series night that, above all, means that I won’t be seeing clips of Reggie Jackson in the 1977 World Series nearly as often  …

  • Congrats to Bill Shaikin of the Times for his election to the presidency of the Baseball Writers Association of America – and to my former Stanford Daily colleague, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, for winning the vice-presidency. Slusser is poised to eventually become the group’s first female president in its century-plus history.
  • The Baltimore Orioles will interview Dodger player development exec DeJon Watson for their vacant general manager position, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Casey Blake is having some pre-Halloween fun, according to the Des Moines Register.
  • Bud Selig is thinking of moving the All-Star Game to Wednesdays in the hopes that more rest will encourage more stars to give their all. Learn more at MLB.com.
  • The Wall Street Journal entertains some baseball proposals with the number “9″ in them.
  • Here’s a fun little story from former Stanford and major-league pitcher Jeff Austin, who now works for Google.
  • Howard Cole of the Register wants Colorado to move to the American League instead of Houston. I respectfully disagree, but see what you think.
  • A few tidbits about my Stanford Cardinal football team. (Hey, when the Cardinals win by more than a touchdown in the World Series, I’m allowed.)

    1) Stanford scored 65 points tonight. The Cardinal scored 127 points in the entire 2006 season.
    2) Stanford has become the first team since the so-called poll era began in 1936 to win 10 consecutive games by at least 25 points.
    3) Andrew Luck threw for only 169 yards as Stanford rushed for a school-record 446 yards.

  • After Albert Pujols’ postseason-record-tying night of three home runs and 14 total bases ended, Fox’s Ken Rosenthal asked the slugger if, going into tonight’s game, he had a “special purpose.” Rosenthal should have been asking Steve Martin. …

Oct 22

Remembering 2011: Jay Gibbons


Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireJay Gibbons (27)

The setup: When Gibbons hit his fifth home in about a month with the Dodgers late in the 2010 season, it seemed clear that the power-starved team would be signing him up for 2011 – and sure enough, that’s what happened. Having OPSed .819 in his short 2010 spurt, Gibbons was expected to begin the season as part of a left-field platoon. Then, in March, word began to surface that Gibbons was having eye problems, and then some. His comeback story detoured into a season-opening journey to the disabled list.

The closeup: Gibbons eventually returned to active duty in April with Albuquerque and OPSed .832 in 49 April at-bats, convincing the Dodgers (to at least hope) he was ready for major-league pitching (as his platoon partner, Marcus Thames, went on the disabled list). From May 3 to June 3, Gibbons played in 24 of 28 Dodger games, starting 15, with a .323 on-base percentage and .345 slugging percentage – including a .359/.432 surge in the last 12. Though those weren’t dominant numbers, they were good enough on a struggling team and heading in the right direction that it came as some surprise that the Dodgers designated Gibbons for assignment on June 6. Technically, Gibbons’ departure made room for the return of Thames (who himself was eventually cut loose for Juan Rivera) but effectively, Gibbons’ role as a left-handed hitting reserve outfielder was taken by Trent Oeltjen, who was called up June 9 and remained on the team for the rest of the year.

Gibbons cleared waivers and finished the year with the Isotopes, for whom he ended up with a .403 on-base percentage and .456 slugging percentage. His entire Dodger career consisted of 61 games, 142 plate appearances, six home runs and a .755 OPS.

Coming attractions: Gibbons, who will be 35 in March, is a free agent.

Oct 21

Remembering 2011: Lance Cormier


Nam Y. Huh/APLance Cormier (26)

The setup: Signed to a minor-league contract in February, the 30-year-old Cormier was coming off three straight adequate years in the American League in which he pitched in 158 games with a 3.71 ERA. He walked four batters per nine innings in that time, so he was no one’s idea of a savior, but he was coming off a better year than, say, Mike MacDougal.

The closeup: Um, yikes. Thrust into a mop-up role, Cormier kept spilling the bucket, allowing 11 runs (nine earned) in seven innings over his first four appearances through April 15. He pitched only three games in the next month.

On May 18, the Dodgers rallied from deficits of 4-0 in the fifth inning and 5-2 in the eighth to tie the Giants, 5-5. But they had used three relievers in the process, and three others were unavailable (Vicente Padilla had forearm stiffness, while Kenley Jansen had pitched four of the past five days and Matt Guerrier the past two). So they turned to Cormier, who hadn’t pitched in a game closer than three runs all season. With two out and two on, Cormier allowed a three-run, game-winning home run to Cody Ross.

Cormier pitched one more game for Los Angeles, giving up two runs in two innings to lower his 2011 ERA to 9.88 in 13 2/3 innings. On May 24, he was designated for assignment, making room for Rubby De La Rosa. Cormier returned to the Tampa Bay organization, spending the rest of the year in Triple-A Durham with a 5.51 ERA, allowing 80 baserunners while striking out 25 in 47 1/3 innings.

Coming attractions: Cormier faces an uphill march trying to get back in the majors, but with relievers, you never know.

Oct 21

Remembering 2011: Dee Gordon


Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireDee Gordon (25)

The setup: Many branded Gordon the Dodgers’ shortstop of the future, but not without reservations. He had a .332 on-base percentage and .355 slugging percentage with 53 steals in 73 attempts and 37 errors for Double-A Chattanooga at age 22. This prediction from January rather accurately laid things out:

… In different circumstances, 2012 might seem to be the earliest Gordon would reach the majors, with a starting job not in sight for at least another year after that. However, 2011 likely marks the end of the six-year Rafael Furcal era, and by now it’s safe to expect that that era will include at least one more trip to the disabled list for the otherwise talented Dodger shortstop. While Jamey Carroll has shown he can fill in for Furcal, a prolonged absence conceivably could compel the Dodgers to accelerate Gordon’s timetable, allowing him to reach the majors this summer. …

The closeup: Yep, that’s what happened … not that it wasn’t still something of a shock when Gordon got the call to the majors June 6. Playing for Triple-A Albuquerque, he had a .361 on-base percentage and 22 steals in 25 attempts, but there was still the fear that this promotion was coming too soon and that the majors would eat Gordon up.

After making his debut as a pinch-runner (and scoring) that night in Philadelphia, Gordon got his first major-league start the next day. It certainly helps calm the naysayers when you get hits in your first three at-bats, as Gordon did. Gordon’s speed and defensive range and overall sparkle became immediately apparent, so much so that it encouraged one to be patient with his weaknesses.

That patience would be necessary. After starting out 14 for 43 (.326) with one walk and eight strikeouts in his first 10 starts, Gordon went into a 5 for 39 slump that left his OPS at .530. Nine steals in 12 attempts couldn’t make up for that. He would have games like this one on June 13 in which he’d electrify the offense in one moment and then make a critical error on defense in the next.

On July 1, Gordon became the first Dodger in 83 years to steal second, third and home in the same inning. But a few days later, when Rafael Furcal was activated from the disabled list, and Gordon was sent back to Albuquerque, it was easy to understand. The kid still had things to work on, and he needed to play every day.

Gordon came back to Los Angeles after St. Louis traded for Furcal, but his second stint was short-lived. He hurt his shoulder making an awkward tag on a rundown play August 6, aggravated the injury a few days later and ended up missing the rest of August. Again, as disappointing as this was, there was some upside in the possibility that Gordon might learn to take better care of his body.

In September, Gordon gave the Dodgers a treat. Playing 26 games in 28 days, Gordon had 42 hits — most in the National League — along with 12 steals in 16 attempts, seven doubles and a triple for an .850 OPS. He finished the 2011 major-league season with a .325 on-base percentage and 362 slugging percentage, and his 24 steals (in 31 attempts) tied for the most by a rookie in the NL. Of the 48 Dodgers who suited up in 2011, Gordon finished ninth in Value Over Replacement Player. For all his foibles, it’s hard to call this anything but an impressive debut.

Coming attractions: Gordon eliminated all doubt that he’ll be the starting shortstop when the calendar turns to 2012. Now, that doesn’t mean he has put the minors behind him forever — he could struggle with the bat as pitchers exploit his lack of walking ability and find himself back in training mode. But the best guess is that you’re looking at the Dodgers’ 6-man for the next several years. If he improves his defensive fundamentals and maintains that wonderful speed, the Dodgers can live with his offense at shortstop.

Oct 21

Familiar defeat

Having won the 2006 World Series, I’m not sure St. Louis can be haunted by postseason defeat the same way the Dodger fans have been in recent times, but losing two Game 2 one-run leads in the ninth inning in the past three years – one against the Dodgers in 2009, one against the Rangers on Thursday – has to smart.

Oct 20

Walter O’Malley congratulates Don Larsen

Walter O’ Malley can be seen receiving a signed baseball from Don Larsen after the Yankee pitcher’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, in this unpublished Life Magazine photo. I found it after looking through this unpublished photo gallery of candids from the 1961 Yankees, that I visited thanks to a link from Baseball Musings.

Elsewhere …

  • Former Dodger Tracy Woodson, who can be seen bear-hugging Kirk Gibson after his 1988 World Series home run, is now the baseball coach at Valparaiso. Phil Stanton of College Baseball Insider has an interview with him. If you want more, here’s a 2008 conversation with Woodson.
  • A left oblique strain ended Alex Castellanos’ Arizona Fall League season, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Gurnick now writes that the Dodgers have considered moving Castellanos to first base, which seems more feasible but less sensible all at once. Not sure what to make of that.
  • Former Dodger executive Kim Ng will interview for the Angels’ general manager job. Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com makes the case that she would be a great hire for the Angels.
  • Bronx Banter founder Alex Belth published a guest piece from his brother Ben on playing ball with his son in the suburbs.
Oct 19

Remembering 2011: Hiroki Kuroda


Norm Hall/Getty ImagesHiroki Kuroda (24)

The setup: Amid much speculation that he might sign elsewhere, namely Japan, Kuroda returned to the Dodgers on a one-year contract he signed in November for $12 million, one-third of which was deferred. He was coming off his best of three seasons as a Dodgers: a 3.39 ERA with 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

The closeup: Despite turning 36 in February, Kuroda topped himself yet again, turning in his best ERA as a Dodger (3.07, ninth in the National League) in a career-high 32 starts and 202 innings with 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings. At the start of July, it was Kuroda, not Clayton Kershaw, who was leading the Dodgers in ERA.

Kuroda was also one of many symbols of the Dodgers’ woebegone first four months: At the end of July, even as he was cruising with a 3.11 ERA, Kuroda had a 6-13 won-lost record and was threatening to become the unluckiest starting pitcher in Los Angeles Dodger history. But after choosing to stay with the Dodgers rather than be traded to a contender, he finished the year winning seven of his final 10 decisions (with a 3.00 ERA).

Kuroda’s 16 losses were still the most by a Dodger since Orel Hershiser in 1987, but only Kevin Brown has ever had a better adjusted ERA for a season in Los Angeles at the age of at least 36. In exactly 25 percent of his starts, Kuroda pitched shutout ball for at least six innings, and his 22 quality starts were tied for 11th in the NL. And he was just a lot of fun to have on the team.

Coming attractions: No one’s expecting Kuroda to sign anywhere on this continent except Los Angeles for 2012, but no one’s saying which continent he’ll choose. Ned Colletti told Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com that the Dodgers might not have an answer until after free agency begins. If Kuroda returns, it might be asking too much to hope he would duplicate his 2010 or 2011 performances, but expecting that he would be a useful (not to mention joyful to watch) member of the starting rotation doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Oct 19

No offense, but they need offense

Twenty-three years since the World Series last began with the Dodgers …

  • Don Mattingly gave an interview to 710 ESPN’s Mason and Ireland in which he said the Dodgers’ biggest need was “offense, no question” but added that he wasn’t confident the team would sign a big-time slugger.
  • Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy posted a 2012 Dodger schedule with preliminary game times that put the start of Opening Day at 3:35 p.m. in San Diego. Clayton Kershaw pitching in Petco Park with shadows starting to spread across the field? Intriguing …
  • The Left Field Pavilion Blog posted a fantastic picture of Carl Furillo’s great catch in Game 6 of the 1952 World Series for the Dodgers.
  • It’s the 30th anniversary of Rick Monday’s Canadian clout – the pennant-winning home run in Montreal, notes Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times.
  • Also from Jaffe: a piece on the 10 weirdest career-ending performances of all time.
  • David Ogden reviewed the ballpark at Dodger minor-league affiliate Ogden for Stadium Journey.
  • Satchel Price of Beyond the Boxscore picked a 2011 all-National League West team, with Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and … Jamey Carroll earning spots.
  • Kershaw won the Warren Spahn Award for best left-handed pitcher in baseball in 2011.
  • For Variety, I wrote two pieces looking at the World Series from a TV ratings angle: a main story and a blog post that, among other things, note that much more important to Fox than the teams in the World Series is the length. Game 7s in the past 20 years improve the audience that watched a Game 6 by approximately 50% on average.
  • Bob Timmermann defends the all-Midwest World Series at L.A. Observed’s Native Intelligence.
  • Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News has a piece on why Fox doesn’t believe in a live strike-zone pitch-tracker.
  • With a new book coming out on the 60th anniversary of the Shot Heard ‘Round the World, Ralph Branca gave an interesting interview to the Platoon Advantage.
  • Josh Fisher, Esq. of Dodger Divorce answered some questions about the McCourt divorce settlement at ESPNLosAngeles.
Oct 18

Remembering 2011: Ivan De Jesus Jr.


George Gojkovich/Getty ImagesIvan De Jesus Jr. (23)

The setup: De Jesus spent 2010 trying to come back from the broken leg that ruined his 2009. The results were uninspiring: a .740 OPS with Triple-A Albuquerque. It was the wrong direction for a player who in 2008 put together a .419 on-base percentage in the Southern League at age 21. That left his prognosis for 2011 decidedly mixed, though there was definitely the possibility of him winning a spot somewhere on the major-league roster.

The closeup: Thanks to Dodger injuries, De Jesus started two of the team’s first three games, going 0 for 7 with a walk and five strikeouts. He made a round trip on the Albuquerque-Los Angeles shuttle, coming back April 12 when Rafael Furcal punched his buy-12, get-one-free card for the disabled list. De Jesus got his first major-league hit in his ninth at-bat of the season, then hardly played for the next week. At the time, one might have spotted pockets of a “Free De Jesus” movement building hither and yon.

De Jesus got five starts in late April and early May and went 5 for 17 with a walk, but the infrequency of his playing time illustrated that the Dodgers just weren’t ready to commit to him — especially with Aaron Miles around. On May 13, De Jesus was replaced on the active roster by none other than Juan Castro and managed only one at-bat in the majors the remainder of the season.

His final totals: a .235 on-base percentage and .188 slugging in 35 plate appearances — not much, though still more productive than Eugenio Velez. In the minors, De Jesus did show improvement, with a .389 OBP and .432 slugging. But for the second year in a row, he watched others from Albuquerque get a September callup, while he put his glove and bat away.

Coming attractions: The fact that Justin Sellers has surpassed De Jesus on the Dodger depth chart says a lot about the latter’s standing with the franchise. As was the case in 2011, De Jesus will begin Spring Training in the running for a major-league spot, and it’s certainly not too late for the 24-year-old to make a positive impression. But the likelihood is for him to begin the season in Albuquerque with the hopes of working his way out.

Oct 18

Remembering 2011: Josh Lindblom


Kirby Lee/US PresswireJosh Lindblom (22)

The setup: The second-round draft pick from 2008 has had Dodger minor-league watchers excited about his potential for some time, especially with a 2.54 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 39 innings for Albuquerque in 2009, but his star dimmed in a rough 2010 (6.54 ERA with the Isotopes). As with Scott Elbert, the Dodgers’ indecision about whether to make him a starting pitcher or not didn’t seem to help, but as with Elbert, the team committed to making him a reliever in 2011.

The closeup: Lindblom began the year in Double-A Chattanooga and thrived in three stints down there, totaling a 2.13 ERA, 54 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings with 48 baserunners allowed. He came up to the big club on May 29 when Kenley Jansen went on the disabled list for what figured to be a temporary stay, but he made a decent first impression with a 1.69 ERA in 10 2/3 innings, though he struck out only five and allowed three of four inherited runners to score. Lindblom went back to Double-A after Jansen returned to active duty, allowed two runs on 11 baserunners in 17 innings while striking out 18, then came back when Jansen had his cardiac arrhythmia at the end of July.

From that point on, except for a one-week roster-crunch detour to the minors in late August, Lindblom was pretty much a Dodger to stay. Though his season ERA with the Dodgers rose to 2.73, he was actually more convincing the second time around, stranding nine of 11 inherited runners and striking out 23 in 19 innings while allowing only 20 baserunners. His highlight: September 14, when he was suddenly pushed into a game against National League West champion Arizona after Clayton Kershaw was ejected and struck out the side in the sixth inning and two more in the seventh.

Coming attractions: One of the Dodgers’ bright young firebrand firemen, the 24-year-old righty should join Jansen, Elbert and Javy Guerra as one of at least four 26-and-under pitchers in the 2012 bullpen.

Oct 17

Remembering 2011: Tim Federowicz


Mark J. Terrill/APTim Federowicz (21)

The setup: A 24-year-old catcher who had a .745 OPS with Boston’s Double-A affiliate Portland in the Eastern League, Federowicz came to the Dodger organization on July 31 with Juan Rodriguez and Stephen Fife in the three-team deal that sent Trayvon Robinson to Seattle. Despite praise for his defensive skills, almost every fan who cared was annoyed – a tidbit Federowicz quickly became aware of. Federowicz adapted to Triple-A Albuquerque easily enough, with a .431 on-base percentage and .627 slugging percentage in 102 plate appearances before getting a September promotion to Los Angeles.

The closeup: After making his debut in the eighth inning of a September 11 game against the Giants and striking out in the ninth, Federowicz reached base three times in his first career start September 15, on a hit-by-pitch, a single to center and a walk. He singled and walked in his next start two days later, then went 0 for 7 for the remainder of the season to finish 2 for 13 with a .313 on-base percentage and no extra-base hits. He threw out two of five runners attempting to steal.

Coming attractions: Federowicz has a big ally in Dodger general manager Ned Colletti, who moved Trayvon and earth to acquire him. The signing of a veteran catcher would probably mean that Federowicz starts the next season with more seasoning in the minors, because A.J. Ellis is finally out of options. Either way, Right Said Fed figures to be sexy enough to play in 50 to 100 games for Los Angeles in 2012.

Oct 17

Frank and Jamie McCourt reportedly agree to divorce settlement

Jamie McCourt would receive approximately $130 million from Frank McCourt in exchange for any claim to the Dodgers in a divorce settlement that the two parties have agreed to in principle. The pending settlement was first reported by Bill Shaikin of the Times.

The importance of the settlement is that it would remove Jamie out of the ongoing Dodger ownership dispute, essentially meaning that the hearing beginning October 31 as to whether Frank can sell the Dodgers’ post-2013 television rights (over the objection of Major League Baseball and Fox) will truly be the granddaddy event that determines whether he can retain control of the team.

More background from Shaikin:

… It is uncertain whether the Bankruptcy Court would allow McCourt to use money from a television deal to satisfy a divorce settlement — Selig would not — or whether the net proceeds of a sale of the team would exceed $130 million.

The McCourts previously reached a divorce settlement on June 17, but that agreement was contingent upon the approval of a proposed television contract between the Dodgers and Fox.

Selig rejected the contract three days later, noting in part that almost half of an immediate $385-million payment from Fox would have been diverted from the Dodgers.

On June 27, Frank McCourt took the Dodgers into bankruptcy, without notification to Jamie McCourt, who had asked the divorce court to order the team sold. She subsequently lined up behind Major League Baseball and Fox in asking the Bankruptcy Court to reject Frank McCourt’s bid to auction the Dodgers’ television rights. …

Oct 16

A bit of thinking out loud on an October night

The Remembering 2011 series is a byproduct of my not wanting to do a final Dodger Cogs and Dogs rankings for 2011, because after Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, the whole exercise just seemed too tedious. Instead, I decided it would be more interesting to reflect on every player individually, be it Kemp and Kershaw or Eugenio Velez and Lance Cormier. In the past, I’ve dispensed with year-in-review reflections in one massive effort, such as last year’s online baseball cards, but this time I’m just kind of going all in. Hope you’re finding the posts worthwhile.

I’ve ducked in and out of the baseball playoffs. With the Dodgers eliminated and with no particular dog left in the postseason fight, it’s been a time for me to exhale as far as watching games on a nightly basis, but I do keep aware of what’s going on, and certainly there’s been enough drama where I’m going, “Man, what am I missing?” And I race to find a TV or radio. But again, the compensation for not having your team in the playoffs is the relief you get from not stressing over the outcome.

I’ve been trying to watch as much Stanford football as I can each weekend, since the Andrew Luck-led Cardinal is the best Stanford gridiron group in my lifetime and then some. It’s quite a change from watching the Dodgers – Stanford has won its past nine games by at least 25 points, and there I am, totally enjoying it – yet seeing all the flaws.  The team has given up zero points in the first quarter this season and only a total of six in six third quarters, yet I still see weakness in the defense that has me concerned for the Oregon game in November. The Dodgers should be so flawed.

I even made plans to watch a regular-season NFL game for the first time in ages. I got curious about San Francisco-Detroit because of them being two upstart teams, one of them coached by Stanford’s recent leader Jim Harbaugh. It was kind of fun, but at the same time, overflowing with penalties. Ultimately, I went to a family lunch at the end of the first half, and then, instead of watching the second half on my DVR, decided I shouldn’t sit on my butt any longer and worked on cleaning out the garage. It wasn’t until after dinner that I learned that Harbaugh is still Harbaugh.

Lunch today included Grandma Sue, who has passed the halfway point between 101 and 102. She is in a wheelchair, can’t hear anymore and doesn’t know who everyone is – only a few people closest to her seem able to converse with her. But she looked lovely, and she just keeps pushing along. At Jerry’s Deli, ate 1 1/2 hot dogs and some eggs – quite a meal.

My kids, as usual, have been alternately vexing and dazzling. And, predictably I suppose, in some ways it has gotten easier, but in some ways it has gotten harder.  It was around this time, with my youngest at 3 1/2 and my oldest at 9, that I thought there might be a window of relative ease – no toddlers or teenagers – but it hasn’t quite played out that way. Still Crazytown. But I hug ‘em every night.

My blogging at Variety suffered for a two-month stretch as I focused on Emmy and Fall TV Preview duties, but I’ve recently been making a concerted effort to post every weekday. Hope you’ll check it out. At the same time, it’s also time for me to get knee-deep into the film scene as we rev up for Oscar season. The best picture I’ve seen since “Moneyball” was “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” an intense drama starring Elizabeth Olsen.  I still definitely spend too much of my time in front of screens – TV, movie, computer.

St. Louis center fielder John Jay just made a wild catch in center field with two out in the bottom of the ninth at Milwaukee.  That would have been a heck of a final out.

It’s so quiet on the Dodger front. I looked back at my posts from the past two non-playoff Octobers – 2010 and 2007 – and even though the Dodgers were sidelined, it seemed newsier. This month, other than some McCourtroom droppings, it’s really just been a waiting game for things to happen. I’m not complaining, but I do occasionally imagine a tumbleweed blowing from first base to third in Dodger Stadium some mornings.

Let me know how your offseason is going. No detail is too mundane tonight …