Frank McCourt will try — and fail — to work the halls at the owners’ meetings

16 Comments

The quarterly owners’ meetings take place today and tomorrow in New York and, as Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times notes, despite the fact that the state of the Dodgers is not on the meeting agenda, Frank McCourt has a big lobbying job on his hands:

There will be pleasantries. How was your flight? Where are you staying? How about those Cleveland Indians? And then those conversations could turn awkward, the trapped-in-an-elevator kind of awkward, as Frank McCourt pitches his case to a fellow owner in the hallway.

Eight votes out of 30. That is all McCourt needs to tell Bud Selig what he can do with his trustee, all the Dodgers owner needs to keep his team and get his television money and send the commissioner back to Milwaukee a defeated man.

But he’s not going to get them. Shaikin doesn’t believe he’ll get a single one.  I tend to agree.

As we’ve noted before, Bud Selig is many things, but he is not reckless. He would not make what, when you think about it, is an audacious play to wrest control of the Dodgers from Frank McCourt if he didn’t think he had the ammo to do it. His position — and the position of every baseball commissioner — is contingent on the owners’ approval.  He would not have gone after one of them if he didn’t have the OK from the others ahead of time.

About that OK: Shaikin makes mention of the fact that there has not been any memo sent around to owners explaining the strategy related to the Dodgers. This also makes sense in that, given the extreme likelihood of litigation, Selig probably — and wisely — determined that he didn’t need any extra documents lying around which McCourt’s lawyers could use in court or, maybe more significantly, other owners could later use as the basis for some sort of precedent.

But you know phone calls were made. Conversations took place.  Bud Selig knew what he was doing when he set his sights on Frank McCourt and the Dodgers.  Of that you can be sure.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

Getty Images
8 Comments

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.