Josh Fisher of Dodger Divorce has a guest column up over at ESPN today in which he outlines what the new Dodgers’ Lord Protector Tom Schieffer needs to do in order to restore order at Chavez Ravine.
It’s a pretty exhaustive list. But , for the purposes of the outside observer who is more interested in the McCourt saga as cautionary tale than anything else, the recitation of the details of the McCourts’ mismanagement of the Dodgers Josh provides along the is arguably more important than the next steps. Because, boy howdy, is it easy to forget them when new things keep rolling in day after day. They can kind of all be summed up in this item:
It is clear that the McCourts did not separate their personal finances from club operations, and figuring out how to keep Dodgers revenue inside the organization might be both Schieffer’s most important and most difficult task. Potentially complicating his efforts are the numerous debt instruments encumbering various revenue streams, such as ticket sales.
This is why Frank McCourt’s public statements — which he has amped up this week — are almost all misleading. He and his wife set the Dodgers up to funnel money out of the team and into either into allied businesses or subsidiaries or into his own coffers. Between the holding companies, LLCs and the complex debt arrangements, he is able to make broadly truthful statements about the state of the team which are nonetheless misleading or, at the very most, less-than-illuminating.
Josh notes a particular one: McCourt has been accused of taking $100 million out of the team for personal use. Frank says that’s not true. Josh shows that, yeah, once you figure in the debt guarantees the team has given the McCourts, it really is. In other words: Frank McCourt has zero credibility on this stuff.
Great work by Josh both in breaking this all down and in suggesting how it can be built back up.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.