Frank McCourt on the Dodgers, money and remaining competitive

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Frank McCourt sunglasses.jpgJon Weisman of the newly-relocated Dodger Thoughts sat down with Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt for an extended interview recently. Most of it was spent talking about how, despite doing things like not offering Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf arbitration, the Dodgers are all about winning and not cost-cutting these days. But with responses like these, McCourt doesn’t do a lot to put the questions to rest:

“I, by the way, can see both sides of this debate, very, very clearly.
To me this is one really good baseball debate, in terms of ‘Do you or
don’t you.’ I think, like I was saying before, what would have happened
(if we had offered arbitration), maybe Randy Wolf knows, but I don’t.
And I don’t think the downside would have been bad for the
organization, because he’s a good pitcher and a good guy, but I think
that the judgment was made that we (could) do even better for the
club.”

That’s the baseball equivalent of starting a book report with “This book raised many important questions that are very important to consider . . .” without really ever getting to what those questions really are.  What’s the upside, Frank?  How does not getting picks for Randy Wolf make the team better? How does going into the season with question marks in the rotation make the team better?  I’m willing to believe that there was a real competitive reason, as opposed to a purely financial reason for not offering arbitration to these guys, but I’ve still not heard what it is.

Weisman makes an excellent observation later in the interview: that McCourt seems really good at talking about the smallest of baseball-side details when he wants to, but then he gets vague and defers to the Colletti and others when the questions get hard.  Maybe this is simply a means of not throwing specific people under the bus on controversial decisions. Maybe the real answers would cut against the whole “this divorce is not harming the Dodgers in the field” campaign the Dodgers have been running for a few weeks.  It’s really hard to say.

If I were a Dodgers fan, however, nothing McCourt has to say here does anything to alleviate my concerns about the team going forward.

Joe Girardi won’t use Masahiro Tanaka in Game 7

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The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.

Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.

Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.

Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.