Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's a date.

Today, Commissioner Gordon decided that the trial on the validity of the McCourt post-nup will begin on May 24, reports the Times' Bill Shaikin. The Times' Dylan Hernandez also had it on Twitter. Jon Weisman has an interesting link at Dodger Thoughts, as well. The decision is something of a compromise, as Frank was seeking a February start while Jamie wanted to wait until fall. So today's something of a win for Frank, and I think the decision was perfectly reasonable.

Jamie definitely deserves time to build her case, which won't be an easy one. That said, she's got five months--that should be plenty. What's more, today's proceedings likely put the court (and Frank's legal team) on notice of the type of information Jamie needs to make her case. This, combined with a hard deadline, means that she'll have some judicial remedies should Frank's lawyers drag their feet on document production.

So what's it mean on the field? Well, it's tempting to suggest that Frank may have outright ownership of the team (and certainty going forward) by the time of year when adding a piece or two might be appropriate. But even if Frank wins on the post-nup, does that change the availability of funds for this season? Remember, it's only been a week since honcho Dennis Mannion said that whatever impact the divorce had on club finances wouldn't hit player payroll until 2011. As we've discussed, the Dodgers' financial problems aren't limited to the divorce. Cash isn't flowing, possibly due to ugly debt service.

What I hope is that whatever happens will be done before the season is over. Whether that's Frank solidifying control or some alternative, it's in the club's best interest not to hit next offseason with uncertainty. Because if you can't extend Kemp this winter, next year might be the last chance. And you'll have those Kershaw and Billingsley folks to deal with, too.

Bottom line today: A minor win for Frank, and a potentially significant win for the franchise. May 24: save the date.


  1. http://www.thewrap.com/ind-column/time-out-sports-metaphors-run-rampant-mccourt-hearing-11837

    This is an excellent blow by blow of the trial with direct quotes from their lawyers.

    "“Mr. McCourt,” Wasser said, “suffers from RAIDS -- Recently Acquired Income Deficiency Syndrome.”"

    Keep up the good work! Your site is my favorite guilty pleasure this off season. We all know that there ain't much on the Hot Stove to follow for the Dodgers this year.

  2. This is a great blog, I enjoy the insight you provide. I've been reading since I saw the link on DT and TBLA a few weeks back. Hopefully you keep it up and updated through the proceedings.

    one quick question. If the post-nup is found valid, how would Jamie get anywhere close to 50% of the couple's total value?

  3. Patrick--

    Thanks for the kind words. My understanding is that Jamie would have to get control/possession of assets comprising half the couple's net worth OR equivalent value somehow else.

    That's why many believe that the Dodgers would have to be sold if Jamie wins.

  4. But what if Frank were to win?

    Would that leave Jamie with a bunch of homes and that's it. Or would Frank still have to find that equivalent value?

  5. The properties that the McCourts owned or invested in were around $152 million, with god knows what type of mortgages. We know that Jamie acquired the Lautner house in Malibu with a $16 million mortgage. (Which is around the selling price of the McCourts' Brookline home to John Henry, owner of the Red Sox) they have a 100 acre Cape Cod Property that they or Jamie McCourt has been selling for years, (They want $50 million)

    The problem is that Jamie bought these houses before housing prices decline or crash before the Global Credit Crisis in September 2008. So the mortgages may be worth much more than the properties in Malibu and Holmby Hills.

    The McCourts may have some commercial properties besides the Dodger franchise, (where? I don't know) maybe some REITs, a healthy equity and mutual fund portfolios, and some piecemeal properties here and there. However it doesn't seem they don't have much cash, or they using their assets to get loans and credit line open for them. They don't have assets and revenue to maintain both of their lifestyles, and one of them to buyout the other for controlling the Dodgers...

    I don't think Jamie is divorcing Frank because she found someone else, I think she is divorcing because she want her asset shares, and she sees some of the problems with the Dodgers financing in the future.

    However that doesn't answer her borderline psychotic to borderline neurotic housebuying, in which she or she and Frank buy neighboring properties at premium listings.

    I think there is something going on with the loans that were used to financed their buying from the Dodgers in 2004. Given how they are deferring payments to players, stopped "Next 50" before it even started, and how they are trading prospects for players on condition that the other team pick up salary.

    My spidey sense is that they are or were late on loan payments, which is screwing up their credit, which is hampering their access to short term loans ie commercial paper. They probably are not getting unsecured short term loans. Hence why they seemed to be so cash poor.. In order to get cash for day to day Dodger operations, they may need secure loans, which isn't a way to run a business, maybe into the ground, but not a proper way to run a business.

    However that doesn't explain some of Jamie's wild house spending unless she looked at the Malibu properties as an investment, if they had cash problem for some time.

    Bottom line: the McCourts' assets are the Dodgers, their residential properties and a trust/financial portfolio that pays out quarterly. ($1-2 million?)