I’m still processing the ruling in the McCourt case. One thought occurred to me, however: if I were Jamie McCourt’s lawyer I’d make a point to screw with the Dodgers, starting today, in order to force a favorable settlement.
The judge just issued a ruling that Jamie has an ownership interest in the Dodgers. It’s not actually full ownership yet — the team is merely now presumed to be community property — but she has a much greater interest in the team today than she did under the once-presumed-valid post-nuptial agreement. In light of this, she should try to protect her interest.
How? Oh, by maybe filing for a temporary restraining order preventing the Dodgers from making substantial expenditures without court approval until the case is ultimately resolved. Make the argument — with tons of purple prose — in which she says that it is now winter, teams hand out millions of dollars in contracts in the winter, and the very future of the Dodgers is at stake. A contract could be signed tomorrow that simply kills the team (see, Rodriguez, Alex)! Please, judge, do not let Frank do this to OUR asset! Make him take all potential contract offers to you so that you can approve them!
Even if it’s unsuccessful, you could make the pleading up in such a way so that it would play like gangbusters in the press. Frank and Ned Colletti would have to answer questions about it. People would wonder if the team would be able to do anything without 50 lawyers getting involved. It would be a glorious thing. At least that’s what my vestigial lawyer’s evil conscience thinks at the moment. And hey, it could make Frank offer a really favorable settlement to Jamie.
Now, keep in mind that I’m operating from ignorance right now in that we haven’t seen the judge’s actual order. It may preempt all of this and put in place a plan of interim management pending the outcome of the case. But if it doesn’t, and if it’s a plain jane order in Jamie’s favor, I’d run down to the courthouse and start making Frank McCourt’s life miserable. Like, ten minutes ago.
On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”
Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”
Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.
The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.
When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.