Frank McCourt pleads poverty. Relatively speaking.

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Frank McCourt — who owns a baseball team worth close to a billion dollars, multiple luxury homes and eats out at fancy schmancy restaurants seven nights a week — claims that he’s got a cash flow problem:

Mr. McCourt’s filing paints the picture of a man who, relative to
his lifestyle, is operating without much of a cash cushion. In the
filing, Mr. McCourt said his liquid assets consisted of a bank account
with less than $1.2 million.

His filing said Mr. McCourt wouldn’t see any significant income
until next year — possibly as late as March — when he expected a
quarterly payment of as much as $1.25 million from the partnership that
owns the Dodgers. He said payments from the partnership were “my only
source of personal cash flow” other than checking-account interest. Mr.
McCourt said his liquid assets recently fell as low as $167,000, after
paying about $700,000 in expenses for his wife, who filed for divorce
last month. He said the Dodgers don’t pay any of his personal expenses.

Jamie McCourt’s lawyer says that’s “baloney” and says that Frank should “be ashamed of himself” for pleading poverty like this.

I think the truth is somewhere in between. Even if you believe Jamie McCourt’s previous filings which seek to paint the couple as loaded (and her as entitled to much of that wealth) they also show severe indebtedness.  Indeed, the McCourt’s whole empire, the Dodgers included, is based on leverage, much of it tied up in homes that aren’t likely worth what they paid for them, and the bills continue to come due.

It’s exactly this sort of situation — minus the divorce, mind you — that has led to Tom Hicks’ ownership of the Rangers to near damnation. Throw in the divorce and you have Padres’ owner John Moores.

The more I see of this case, the more certain I am that the Dodgers will be sold in the not too distant future, and that until that sale comes, they’ll be cutting expenses wherever they can.

And hey, look! Higher ticket prices!

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.