Nov 02

O’Malley, Orel and others in owner roulette

Favoring us with a link-filled summary of all the potential ownership bids that emerged just in the first 24 hours following the Dodger sale announcement is Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness.

… Maybe Peter O’Malley will come back. Former Dodgers Steve Garvey & Orel Hershiser are reportedly preparing a bid, which must mean that a competing bid from Chad Fonville & Wilton Guerrero is just around the corner. Former owners and players not enough? How about former GM Fred Claire, who says he’s putting together a group with former A’s exec Andy Dolich. We could hold out hope that Mark Attanasio wants to ditch Milwaukee to come back to Los Angeles. Or perhaps Dennis Gilbert, long thought to be a top suitor. Maybe Fox or Time Warner want to buy in order to get the television rights. We could see Mark Cuban try again for MLB approval. Or if not him, perhaps other billionaires like Alec Gores, Eli Broad, Ron Burkle, or Larry Ellison. Or maybe that Chinese money will find its way back around.

And that’s just in one day. The point is, over the coming weeks and months, you’re going to be hearing the names of every egomaniacal Angelino with a heartbeat and either a fat bank account or friends who do floated in rumors about possibly acquiring the team. It’s going to be fun, and more than a little bit crazy. …

Here’s more from Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (and still more here). Bill Shaikin of the Times answers some questions you might have here.

Nov 02

Dodgers add Silverio, Van Slyke to 40-man

In the soothing quiet of a slow news cycle, the Dodgers have made two more roster moves. From The Associated Press:

The Los Angeles Dodgers added outfielder Alfredo Silverio and first baseman-outfielder Scott Van Slyke to their 40-man roster.

Silverio batted .306 with 16 home runs and 85 RBIs lastseason with Double-A Chattanooga, and earned selection to the All-Star Futures Game in July.

Van Slyke won the Southern League batting title with a .348 average and had 20 homers and 92 RBIs for Chattanooga. He was named the Dodgers’ minor league player of the year. He is a son of former All-Star outfielder Andy Van Slyke.

I wrote in August about Van Slyke as an emerging 2012 roster option. The 25-year-old had a .427 on-base percentage and .595 slugging percentage in 2011 for Chattanooga, adding up to a 1.022 OPS that was second-best in the Southern League behind Paul Goldschmidt (who then had a 117 OPS+ for Arizona down the stretch) .

Silverio, 24, finished his year with a .340 OBP and .542 slugging, as well as this bizarre combination: 18 triples, 11 stolen bases, 12 caught stealing.

Nov 02

The Dodgers’ new owner checklist

I woke up itching to compile a To Do list for the Dodgers’ new ownership. I’ll start it up, and if I’ve missed anything important, I’ll update it with some of your suggestions in the comments.

In no particular order:

  • Overall fiscal responsibility, which implies knowing when and where to spend as well as when and where not to spend. Responsibility means neither miserliness nor excess.
  • Long-awaited renovations to the beautiful but aging Dodger Stadium, with particular attention to the medieval restrooms.
  • Retention of the best personnel in the Dodger front office integrated with a pursuit of the best personnel outside the front office.
  • An expert analysis of Dodger Stadium security and enactment of a forward-thinking plan.
  • A reevaluation of Dodger food, parking and concession prices. No one’s saying the place should become a 99 Cent Store, but there has to be some sense. Fans shouldn’t have to pay for Prince Fielder with every hot dog.
  • Matt Kemp. Clayton Kershaw.
  • The post-2013 local TV deal, of course.
  • A reevaluation of Dodger Stadium fan atmosphere, including signage and music (including a restoration of Nancy Bea to proper prominence).
  • Anything Vin Scully wants or needs. If he wants coffee, you get it for him.
  • Better wireless access in the stadium. In 2012, fans shouldn’t be struggling to get a signal.
  • Elimination of “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” from the eighth inning and in “God Bless America” from the seventh inning except on the rarest of occasions. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” will suffice.
  • Remove the restrictions on routes for exiting the parking lot after games.
  • Do not insult the intelligence of the Dodger community.
Nov 02

Could Fox buy the Dodgers again?

From CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell:

…I think Fox which sold the team, stadium and parking lots to McCourt for $421 million in 2004, could — and might have to — throw its name in the hat again.

Why? For the same reason they bought the Dodgers in 1998 for $311 million. They want the team’s future television rights, which would begin in the 2014 season. A spokesman for Fox Sports could not immediately answer whether the speculation, which has been floated by some bankers, is rational.

What is clear is this: Fox Sports West and Fox-owned Prime Ticket is in a very tough position. After this season (if there is one) they lose the Lakers to Time Warner, which signed the team to a 20-year deal reportedly worth as much as $3 billion. And they lost USC and UCLA games to the upstart Pac-12 Network. If they don’t get a deal for the Dodgers, the network is basically worthless.

The reason Fox sold the Dodgers is that they thought buying TV rights were a better financial move. They were reportedly losing tens of millions of dollars managing the team. But now, that just might be the cost of doing business in a marketplace that is much more competitive than it was just seven years ago. …

Few in Los Angeles will be eager to see a return of the Fox ownership. At a minimum, the idea that the bidding of Fox could increase the money Frank McCourt receives in the sale would be ratified by the Irony Committee.

Perhaps what happens is this: Fox ends up a minority stakeholder in the team, as it essentially was when it helped finance the McCourt purchase nearly eight years ago, but working with a new, improved owner.

Nov 02

An early history of McCourt concerns

Several people remarked online Tuesday that they were worried about the possibility that the next Dodger owner could be awful as well. There’s no guarantee that won’t be true. But as I wrote Tuesday, that widespread wariness at the outset of the process, from the commissioner’s office on down, should make a disaster much less likely.

Back when Fox was first selling the Dodgers, wariness was a relatively lonely place to be … though it did spread. From the Dodger Thoughts archives:
Continue reading

Nov 02

Juan Rivera expected to return to Dodgers on one-year deal

In a move reminiscent of Rod Barajas 2010-2011, the Dodgers are close to a one-year contract with Dodger second-half helper Juan Rivera for 2012, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The contract would have a 2013 club option.

Rivera will get $4 million next season, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. You can evaluate the worth of the signing by reading more about Rivera here in his Remembering 2011 piece.

Nov 01

Setting sale: McCourt surrenders, will auction Dodgers


Paul Spinelli/MLB Photos/Getty ImagesHome, where my thoughts escape, at home, where my music’s playin’
Home, where my love lies waitin’ silently for me

We have worried, we have raged, we have sulked, we have sworn, we have screamed, we have sighed, we have yearned, we have cried. Outside we have tried to fight, and inside, more than a little, we have died.

But now, deliverance. Deliverance to what, we don’t know. But deliverance nonetheless.

Here is the joint statement from Major League Baseball and the Dodgers, released Tuesday night:

“The Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball announced that they have agreed today to a court supervised process to sell the team and its attendant media rights in a manner designed to realize maximum value for the Dodgers and their owner, Frank McCourt.  The Blackstone Group LP will manage the sale process.”

Tony Jackson of ESPNLA.com has more:

Owner Frank McCourt reached an agreement with Major League Baseball on Tuesday night to sell the Los Angeles Dodgers, along with Dodger Stadium and the surrounding real estate, a decision that brings to end not only a six-month legal battle with Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig but also a 7½-year ownership that was simply never embraced by the team’s fan base.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times first broke the news:

Frank McCourt agreed Tuesday to sell the Dodgers, abruptly surrendering the team after fighting to retain it over two years and in two courts.

McCourt and Major League Baseball have agreed to seek approval from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for an auction of the Dodgers. The sale is expected to include the team, Dodger Stadium and the surrounding parking lots, a package bought by McCourt for $421 million in 2004 and likely to sell for two to three times as much now.

The league hopes a new Dodgers owner can be in place by opening day. …

Opening Day? Won’t tomorrow feel a little like Opening Day?

The cloud that’s been over the Dodgers was no ordinary cloud. Southern California or not, Dodgers fans are used to walking through some rain. But this cloud was toxic. It wasn’t that Dodgers fans couldn’t stay dry — it was that they had trouble breathing.

But now, we can breathe again. Now, we can have normal problems. Problems like everyone else. Will you have ever been so happy just to worry about what happens next with the team?

We know all too well from the end of the Fox era that a sale of the team doesn’t guarantee anything. But this is the kind of second chance that galvanizes you. Everyone, I’m confident, will be smarter this time around. Not perfect. Just smarter. Can you ask for more?

The news seems to call out for something longer, something epic. But it’s not really all that complicated, is it?

My friends, it’s time to have some fun.

An informal rally has been scheduled by Save the Dodgers at 6 p.m. at Dodger Stadium to celebrate.

Nov 01

Gold Gloves: Kershaw, Kemp, Ethier all win

I hoped Clayton Kershaw would win a National League Gold Glove award, though I wasn’t counting on it. As for Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, I didn’t even hope.

But all three of them won the prizes in the first annual Rawlings Gold Glove award show broadcast by ESPN – a record haul in one year for the franchise.

And the funny thing is, if there was any Dodger I would have picked for a Gold Glove, it would have been James Loney. But he got shut out. Yep – Andre Ethier won a Gold Glove, and James Loney did not. In any case, congrats to the winners, and don’t think too hard about the selection process.

Nov 01

Remembering 2011: Tony Gwynn Jr.


Greg Fiume/Getty ImagesTony Gwynn Jr. (34)

The setup: Gwynn’s defense and speed have never been in question, but his bat always has been, especially after a .591 OPS with San Diego in 2010 at age 27. The Dodgers risked only $675,000 on the possibility that he could help the team nonetheless. Reasons for optimism included his recovery from a broken hand and his dad’s recovery from cancer.

The closeup: It was a season of ups and downs for Gwynn, who could have two extra-inning hits in one game, then go for a month without a hit to the outfield. He entered June with a .230 on-base percentage, .277 slugging percentage and the threat of an early release, but he went .377/.389 with 10 steals over the next two months, including a 7-for-11 batting spree over two days in late June, followed by a July 1 game in which he reached base in all six plate appearances.

He finished 2011 with a .308 on-base percentage, a career-high .353 slugging percentage and 22 steals in 28 attempts. The guy whose biggest worry was his bat ended up sixth on the Dodgers in plate appearances. Though he was forced to play out of position, he provided in left field the best defense of any Dodger player, subjectively if not statistically.

Coming attractions: Gwynn’s future as a Dodger has been little-discussed. Though he was signed on the open market, that came after San Diego non-tendered him in December 2010, and he is eligible for salary arbitration with the Dodgers and won’t be a free agent unless they choose to let him go. Working off such a relatively low 2011 base salary, Gwynn’s 2012 figure doesn’t project to be much more than $1 million. With the Dodgers’ 2012 bench wide-open at this point, it seems logical that he could return in the same role.

Nov 01

Progress toward a sale or posturing?

Not getting too excited about this, but let’s just say I’m hoping it’s one more roll of the boulder downhill …

  • Frank McCourt might be closer than he’s ever been to selling the Dodgers, according to Bill Shaikin of the Times.

    … McCourt has long vowed not to surrender the Dodgers. In April, as Commissioner Bud Selig appointed a trustee to oversee the team and attendance plummeted at Dodger Stadium, McCourt insisted he would not sell.

    However, analysts suggested McCourt now might be willing to sell for a simple reason: Even if he won in court, he could lose.

    Based on figures McCourt submitted to the Bankruptcy Court, he would be hard-pressed to sell the Dodgers’ television rights, settle his divorce and be left with enough capital to renovate Dodger Stadium and restore the team to prominence.

    “I don’t know that there’s a way for him to win,” said Marc Ganis, president of the sports business consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd.

  • Shaikin also writes that if Fox Sports loses local rights to the Dodgers when the current contract expires following the 2013 season, it could lead to the consolidation of the two Fox Sports cable channels into one.
  • How will Prince Fielder age? One day at a time — and here’s one analysis of how those days will go, from Ryan Campbell of Fangraphs.
  • Hardball Talk has begun its review of the 111 free agents on the market this winter. Here’s something about two 34-year-old players that might amuse you:

    Marcus Thames, 2010: .350 on-base percentage, .491 slugging
    Andruw Jones, 2011: .356 on-base percentage, .495 slugging

  • Dodger prospect Allen Webster gets an evaluation, with video, from Mike Newman of Fangraphs.
  • Matt Kemp is scheduled to be a guest on “Last Call with Carson Daly” in Thursday late-night programming, which really means Friday morning.
  • Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. went the extra mile in looking at the Dodgers’ Gold Glove finalists.
  • Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness presented his 15-point plan to make the Dodgers the best they can be in 2012.
  • Bob Timmermann shared some great old baseball photos on Twitter on Saturday, including Vin Scully getting stats from Allan Roth, Dick Enberg in a Valley State (now Cal State Northridge) uniform and Willie Davis’ bad day.
  • Former Dodger Tom Goodwin was named first-base coach for the Mets.
  • Best headlines of 2011 has to include this from Alex Belth of Bronx Banter on CC Sabathia: “The Stay Put Marshmellow Man.”
  • In case you’re curious, Sabathia’s new deal pays out in the following manner: $23 million each of the next four seasons (as had already been in place), $25 million in 2016, $25 million vesting option in 2017 or $5 million buyout. More from ESPNNewYork.com.
  • Across town, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said he doesn’t expect to trade third baseman David Wright.