Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Kasten no crazy spender

Incoming Dodger co-owner and organization leader Stan Kasten has no history of handing out mega-contracts, despite his teams having money to spend, writes Jayson Stark of

… Well, what do you find if you study Kasten’s past, back in the day when he was the president of the Atlanta Braves (1986-2003) and Washington Nationals (2006-10)? You don’t find a single contract that will remind you of, say, the Prince Fielder deal. We’ll tell you that.

In all that time, Kasten’s teams never handed out a contract longer than five years to any free agent from outside their organization. And the only six-year deal, even to one of their own players, went to Andruw Jones in 2001 — at a time when he was 24 years old.

So do people within the industry see this man suddenly turning into a spend-a-holic who starts firing nine- and 10-year deals at whoever wants to take them? Heck, no.

“That’s not Stan Kasten’s M.O,” said one veteran agent. “I’m sure they’ll be a franchise that makes moves. But I’m also sure that when Stan makes decisions, it won’t be like the kind of decisions Mike Illitch makes.”

“When it looks like a sure thing, it ain’t,” said another prominent agent. “Look at the Nationals. Ted Lerner has more money than God, and look how long it took him to start handing out big contracts. And did he hand them out while Stan was there? No. It happened after he left. So I know everyone anticipates him spending wildly now. But I’m not so sure.”

Is it coincidence that the Nationals stuffed $126 million in Jayson Werth’s pockets a couple of months after Kasten departed? We don’t know anyone in baseball who thinks Kasten would have signed off on that deal. …

… Nobody in baseball has a better feel for that than Kasten’s longtime general manager in Atlanta, John Schuerholz.

“It’s fair to say this group is out to re-establish the great Dodger brand,” Schuerholz told Rumblings. “But how that translates into making decisions to spend big money on big-name free agents, I don’t think that’s automatic.”

Now would Schuerholz be surprised to see the Kasten/Magic Dodgers chasing the most ballyhooed free agents in the game? No, he “wouldn’t be surprised to see them do that,” he said.

“But I don’t think they’ll do it every day,” Schuerholz said. “I don’t think they’ll do it all the time. What I’m sure they’ll do is what Stan has always tried to do — build a rock-solid organization and build it largely around homegrown talent. And at the same time, I’m sure he won’t shy away from the right free agent. But I underline the word, ‘right.'” …

Stark has more, so check out the entire piece.


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  1. This is the best news I’ve read since the sale.

  2. This was a rare informative ESPN article. The rebuilding of the Dodgers must be a two-pronged effort:

    1. They must re-invest heavily in scouting and player development, particularly in Latin America, where the effort has mostly died in recent years.
    2. They DO have to spend money to augment the Major League team on the field. The effort to rebuild the farm system and scouting will not bear fruit for several seasons (particularly position players, where the organization has no one of star quality), and the new ownership group cannot be seen as tolerating mediocrity or as entering a long rebuilding mode.

    The team is not that far away. Upgrades at either 1st or 3rd or both would work wonders. We DO have minor league pitching almost ready to augment the back half of the rotation. Just one bat…maybe two…could make this a 90 win team.

  3. There’s actually a new post below this one, by the way …

  4. Sounds good to me. 

  5. Anonymous

    What Kasten should bring is the ability to retain a core of solid home grown talent. With all the good young arms, this is vitally important to long term success.

  6. I’ve felt like our good farm prospects were being whittled away until we really, really needed to stop, take a deep breath, and replenish… and then the Trayvon Robinson trade happened. 

    I don’t mind in the least if we wind up with a somewhat conservative approach that relies heavily on investment — the farm system — rather than flashy Dice-K style purchases that may or may not pan out. We’ll still wind up with homegrown players like Russell Martin who don’t live up to expectations, but at least the mistakes aren’t as costly as Andruw Jones, Jason Schmidt et alia.

     There have been an awful lot of non-star free agents lately who wound up with contracts I thought were insane. Under those circumstances, I’d love to see the best farm system, bar none, so we can thumb our nose at winter ball stupidity.

  7. Spend or Not Spend?

    It’s such a double age sword?  Not spend and you finish 2nd and get blown out of the playoffs first round. Or do spend and get the fan base back but come up with Uribe, Schmidt, Jones of the world.
    The farm system needs such a over haulling with International signings and college players.
    We might be loaded with young pitchers but will they be #1 starter or 2 or even #3.
    How many bullpen arms do you really need with so many vets signed each offseason.
    Coffey, Wright of the world.
    Bring a smart GM in and a new farm director in who can draft position players that can smack the ball over the fence in Dodgers stadium with those cold night for the first 3.5 months.  

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