Combination of file photos of MLB commissioner Bud Selig and Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt

MLB: Frank McCourt would personally benefit from his proposed financing


At the moment, the big issue in front of the court handling the Dodgers bankruptcy is how the Dodgers’ operations will be financed for the next several months while the legal process is played out.  Frank McCourt has obtained a private loan and wants to use it to run the team.  Major League Baseball counters, offering its own financing to run the team.  He who controls the spice controls the universe, so whoever wins this financing battle is going to have a way bigger hand in the future of the Dodgers than whoever doesn’t. It’s a big deal.

To that end, Major League Baseball filed a brief yesterday explaining why Frank McCourt’s proposed financing is not in the best interest of the Dodgers. Their biggest beef: Frank McCourt stands to personally benefit from the loan he obtained:

“Clearly, Mr. McCourt has not allowed these bankruptcy cases to change the practice of using the [Dodgers] as his personal piggy bank”

The brief is redacted for some reason, so the exact amount McCourt is allegedly skimming off the top of his loan is not explicitly stated. The brief makes further allusions to just how much McCourt has looted the Dodgers over the years. These numbers are redacted too, but the L.A. Times spoke with a source who says that the number is closer to $200 million than the $100 million which has been widely reported over the past couple of years.

As we’ve noted before, on its basic terms, the loan McCourt wants to use is pretty poor. High interest and a big up-front fee that Major League Baseball’s proposed financing doesn’t call for.  Frank’s only apparent objection to baseball’s financing is that, well, it’s not good for Frank. Pity, that.

There will be a hearing on all of this next Wednesday and, if form holds, a pretty quick ruling.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.