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Be happy Dodgers fans, but Magic Johnson is no panacea


I understand that enthusiasm about Magic Johnson’s ownership group buying the Dodgers. Frank McCourt is leaving. Magic is awesome. L.A. loves him. The Dodgers are in the pits. He shall save them.  Woo-ha!

But I think it’s possible to blow this up a bit too much.

For one thing, Magic is not the controlling owner. That’s a man named Mark R. Walter and a company called Guggenheim Baseball Management. Magic is pretty rich himself and likely has a lot of his own money in the game, but let’s remember how quickly the nominal head of the Texas Rangers ownership group — Chuck Greenberg — was cast off after that team was sold.  No, I’m not saying the same thing will happen to Magic, but let’s not pretend that he is totally in control here. There are a lot of chefs, and if they don’t want to do what Magic Johnson wants to do, they’re gonna win.

For another thing, this is a huge amount of money being invested in the Dodgers. So much so that, no matter how optimistic the projections are regarding a TV deal and future revenues are, there are likely to be some financial restraints in play, aren’t there?  I mean, you can’t spend $2 billion on a team and then expect to have no limit on payroll, can you?  The current Yankees ownership group invested something like $10 million originally, they have higher revenues and even they have a budget.

I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer here. It’s great that Magic Johnson is buying the Dodgers.  He’s the perfect man to invigorate the fan base. And of course, it’s great that Frank McCourt is leaving.

But this is still a business. Thanks to McCourt, it’s still a franchise that has to do a lot to bring the people back to the stadium and fix the product on the field.  So hold off on the champagne and wait and watch what the new owners do before popping the corks.

Michael Cuddyer not shining in left field early in NLDS Game 1

Michael Cuddyer
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.

Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.

With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.

Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.

Mets take lead during NLDS Game 1 with Daniel Murphy’s solo homer

Daniel Murphy
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek
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Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning, belting a solo home run to right field at Dodger Stadium off of starter Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw threw a 2-0, 94 MPH fastball and Murphy didn’t miss it.

Both teams’ starters are pitching quite well overall. Kershaw has allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jacob deGrom started off the game with six consecutive strikeouts and has struck out seven total while blanking the Dodgers on three hits and a walk in three innings.

Kershaw doesn’t have the most impressive post-season track record, owning a career 5.12 ERA across eight starts and three relief appearances spanning 51 innings. Aside from the homer, the lefty appears to be putting that notion aside.

Qualifying offer for free agents set at $15.8 million

Jason Heyward
AP Photo
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Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal reports that the value of a qualifying offer for free agents this off-season has been set at $15.8 million. That represents an increase of a half-million dollars over last year’s value.

This is of particular interest with regards to the big-name free agents, including Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Yovani Gallardo, Jordan Zimmermann, and Jeff Samardzija.

Teams that make a qualifying offer to a player that ends up being rejected receive a compensation draft pick in the upcoming draft. The team that signs the player who rejected a qualifying offer gives up their earliest non-protected draft pick.

Free agents who had been traded mid-season aren’t eligible to receive a qualifying offer. This includes Yoenis Cespedes, David Price, Johnny Cueto, and Ben Zobrist, among others.

A player has yet to accept a qualifying offer since the QO system was implemented.