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.

Brett Lawrie will take a pay cut to avoid arbitration with White Sox

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 12: Brett Lawrie #15 of the Chicago White Sox fields a ground ball during batting practice before the start of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 12, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.

The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.

Cubs sign LHP Brian Duensing to a one-year, $2 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Brian Duensing #50 of the Baltimore Orioles throws a pitch in the eleventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.