Frank McCourt has a "slush fund," secret partners and pays his kids to do nothing

14 Comments

John Weinbach of FanHouse reports some more unseemliness from the land of Frank McCourt and the Dodgers:

Over the past 18 months, the Los Angeles Dodgers paid nearly $4 million
in “consulting services” to [the John McCourt Company], an entity that
has done virtually nothing for the club, even as the team has made a
concerted effort to raise ticket prices, trim payroll and acquire
players on the cheap. Moreover, the club paid two of Frank and Jamie
McCourt’s adult sons large salaries — $400,000 and $200,000 per year,
respectively — for services that are undefined and could not be
described by either Frank or Jamie McCourt, according to court documents
filed in the couple’s divorce case.

Jamie McCourt’s attorneys call the John McCourt company a “slush fund” which Frank uses to hide money.  My guess is that she’s less critical of the big salaries her kids make for apparently do-nothing jobs.

In addition, there are apparently two limited partners in the Dodgers — guys no one ever knew about, but who provided considerable funds to the McCourts to buy the team — whose debt gets converted into “sizable equity” in the team if the McCourts default on the loans.

On the one hand this is shocking — and Josh Fisher does his excellent-as-usual job breaking down all of the implications, complete with an apt comparison to the Texas Rangers, who are poster children for what happens when good teams go into bad debts like the McCourts seem to have done.

On the other hand, I would not be at all shocked if multiple teams in Major League Baseball operated in just the same way, complete with family jobs, slush funds, silent partners and all manner of vehicles which, either intentionally or by happy accident, work to conceal the amount of cash a baseball team really earns and where its money is spent.  Baseball teams are almost all purely private companies, most of which are family owned. Despite their antitrust exemption and all of the tax money they consume in the form of public stadiums and the like, we know just as much about their operations as we do the corner gyro shop, and that’s just the way they like it.

The only difference here: we have a divorce case in which these machinations are laid bare.  And however distressing it is for Dodgers fans to see where all the money that should be going towards starting pitching is going, these revelations are educational and useful.

Dodgers trade A.J. Ellis to the Phillies for Carlos Ruiz

Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers
2 Comments

MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that the Dodgers have acquired catcher Carlos Ruiz and cash from the Phillies in exchange for catcher A.J. Ellis, minor league pitcher Tommy Bergjans, and a player to be named later. It was reported on Wednesday that Ruiz and first baseman Ryan Howard both cleared waivers and that Ruiz was drawing interest from a couple of teams.

Ruiz, 37, has served as the backup catcher behind Cameron Rupp. Over 193 plate appearances, he hit .261/.368/.352. He continued to play solid defense and has always had a reputation for handling his pitchers very well. In fact, in a commercial for the video game MLB 2k11, former Phillie Roy Halladay essentially professed his love for Ruiz:

Ellis, 35, is a free agent after the season while Ruiz has a club option for the 2017 season worth $4.5 million. It seems likely that the Dodgers pick up that option and make Ruiz Grandal’s backup next year. Ellis hit a lousy .194/.285/.252 in 161 plate appearances, but the Phillies aren’t particularly concerned with his production since they’re still facilitating their rebuilding process.

Bergjans, 23, has spent the season with High-A Rancho Cucamonga. He’s posted a 4.98 ERA with a 133/29 K/BB ratio in 130 innings spanning 21 starts and three relief appearances. He went to school in Haverford, PA so the Phillies are bringing in a local guy.

Jose Bautista returns from the disabled list

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 29: Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jayshits a two-run home run in the fifth inning during MLB game action against the Boston Red Sox on May 29, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
2 Comments

Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista has been activated from the 15-day disabled list ahead of Thursday night’s game against the Angels, the club announced. Utilityman Ryan Goins has been optioned to Triple-A Buffalo to create room on the roster.

Bautista missed the minimum 15 days due to a sprained left knee. He’s battled injuries throughout the season, limiting him to just 355 plate appearances over 80 games. He’ll resume play with a .222/.349/.444 triple-slash line, 15 home runs, and 48 RBI.

Bautista is in Thursday night’s starting lineup, batting first and serving as the DH.