Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Late to the party II

As can happen, life intervened yesterday afternoon. I'd still like to talk a little about Jon Weisman's extensive interview with Frank McCourt (available here and with every header). Let's take it one quote at a time, split over a couple days' posts here:

On Randy Wolf:
To me this is one really good baseball debate, in terms of 'Do you or don't you.'
Is that true? Can that be true? I'm not sure it can. The very worst thing that could happen would have been Wolf accepting arbitration and ending up with something like $10-12 million. That's a lot of money, no doubt. But the Dodgers will pay Vicente Padilla $4.025 million anyway, so the extra money for Wolf would seem to have been well-spent. And, of course, that analysis doesn't factor in the extreme unlikelihood that Wolf would have accepted. But we've had this conversation. Let's move on.

On criticism for not spending on young talent:
[T]he organization is much better off in terms of our development, our ability to meet our goal to have the finest development system in the game by having Camelback Ranch. To me that's much more tangible evidence of our commitment to [development] than not offering Randy Wolf arbitration.
Jon tiptoed around this, but I won't. Building Camelback Ranch is about money. Whatever ancillary benefits it might offer, its most important function should be to generate revenue that is reinvested in the club. I don't buy for a second that the presence of Camelback Ranch makes up for being a complete non-factor in amateur free agency and only slightly more aggressive in the Rule 4 draft. And also:
I think anybody can pick one or two examples and jump to a conclusion.
Frank was speaking about Hudson here, but it goes both ways. You don't get to say that Camelback even makes up for the two lost draft picks if you say that conclusions drawn from the Hudson non-offer are meaningless. Camelback, I'm sure, is wonderful. But it's not about development. It's about revenue. 

On holding on to young talent:
I think that the pressure on the organization has probably been greatest in terms of moving young talent for the quick short-term fix, and I think for the most part we've resisted doing that, and it's paid off in a huge way.
Carlos Santana and Josh Bell say hi. that Jayson Werth waving from somewhere in the back? I also don't buy that the pressure to win now has been greater on the Dodgers than on every other team in the majors. It's simply false. And finally, it's important to remember that it's not like the Dodgers have a ton of young talent they could have moved last year. You're not going to move Kershaw in a Halladay deal; that's a net negative. Same with Kemp/Holliday. There's just not all that much young talent to protect anymore. It either graduated, fizzled, or was traded away. And, as we know, it sure wasn't replaced.

On the Dodgers' resources:
Generally speaking, we do spend at that level just below the Yankees and the Red Sox.
Mmhmm. Two factual problems with this statement. First, nobody spends like the Yankees. Not the Red Sox. Not the Lakers. Not the Cowboys. Not Texas football. Not North Carolina basketball. Hell, not even corporate America can spend like the Yankees any more. The Yankees are such an outlier that to pair them with the second-highest spending team is like an actor saying, "Generally speaking, I am at that level of popularity right behind George Clooney and Colin Farrell." Just doesn't compute.

The Dodgers, conceptually, should have no excuse for not having the capacity to spend as much as any team other than the Yankees. Of course, the Dodgers can't cash flow like the Yankees, Mets, or Red Sox because of those pesky television networks. Frank can't have one because it's what Fox kept in exchange for such a low selling price. And it's that low selling price that allowed Frank McCourt to lever himself into the owner's box. This isn't going healthy places. Let's continue.

On Dodger Stadium and public money:
We're very committed to Dodger Stadium. We're committed to actually doing more at Dodger Stadium, (but) there's no help out here whatsoever in terms of investment in a stadium. It's all done by the owner's checkbook. And it's not like getting the city of New York or the state of New York to build a new stadium, or one of these other cities or whatever.
He has a point here; California's probably more broke than Frank's direst filings. And I can't begrudge Frank the notion that the Dodgers' ticket prices are lower than their "comparable" teams. Of course, McCourt also can't deny that Dodger Stadium holds significantly more parking-spot filling, beer-drinking, Dodger Dog-eating, souvenir-toting, ticket-paying fans than just about every other stadium. Can the Dodgers cash flow like the Yankees? No. But each winter's spending should certainly not depend on that offseason's season ticket renewal rates.

Still to come: Frank's philosophies on free agency, trades, and the draft.


  1. I think they should have offered Wolf arbitration, but I don't think it's crazy to think he's not worth $6 million more than Padilla.

  2. That's a fair point, but you have to consider the totality of things; it's not just comparing Wolf at $10M to Padilla at $4M. I think you have to factor in the relative likelihood of Wolf accepting arb in the first place. From there you can discount the Wang values of the picks.

    So the equation becomes something more like:

    [(Wolf @ $10M) X (% of $10M Wolf would likely have settled for)] > [(Padilla @ $4M) + (value of prospects) X (% likelihood of Wolf accepting arb)].

    Or <, of course. That's the question.

    My gosh, that's ugly. I hope it makes sense.

    Wolf and Padilla are both flawed in their own ways...I do think Wolf's been placed on a pedestal to an undue degree. But I'm also nearly certain we've seen the best Padilla has to offer.