Frank McCourt, who bought the Dodgers with mountains of debt, mismanaged the team into bankruptcy and engaged in financial conduct which led to a federal grand jury investigation, has amnesia. Or suffers from delusions. Something along those lines anyway. I mean, how else can you explain the characterization of his tenure as Dodgers owner he made today:
“You know what happened with the Dodgers,” said McCourt, who in 2012 sold the Major League Baseball team for a record $2.15 billion to a group that includes executives from Guggenheim Partners. “We took a franchise losing almost $60 million per year and ended up selling it for the highest price ever paid for a sports franchise. We created value there and we plan to do the same thing here.”
Those comments came today when it was announced that he has purchased a 50% stake in the Global Champions Tour, an international show jumping series that draws top riders and horses.
“We created value,” he says. Bollocks. He lucked his way into “value” due to fortunate timing that he neither predicted nor did anything himself to help bring about. He wanted to keep the Dodgers, but was forced to sell due to his divorce and his crushing debt load and because he had totally worn out his welcome in Major League Baseball, which is really, really hard for an owner to do. It just so happened that all of that came to a head when the Dodgers’ TV rights deal opened up and the local rights bubble reached what is likely its apex. Yes, a famous Dodgers executive once said that luck is the residue of design, but in McCourt’s case he was only able to take advantage of his great financial luck due to his enormous incompetence.
So good luck, Global Champions Tour. Here’s hoping that, among the many other things Frank McCourt has been wrong about, he is wrong about his desire “to do the same thing here.” Because while the Dodgers withstood it just fine, I wouldn’t count on it happening twice.
(Thanks to Sarah D. for the heads up)
The Washington Nationals have acquired outfielder Ryan Raburn from the Chicago White Sox. Raburn had been playing at Triple-A Charlotte. He’ll be assigned to Triple-A Syracuse in the Nats organization. The Nationals will send cash or a player to be named later to the White Sox to complete the deal.
Raburn has yet to play in the majors this season. Last year he hit .220/.309/.404 with nine homers in 113 games for the Colorado Rockies. The year before that he hit an excellent .301/.393/.543 in part time play for the Indians. Over the course of his 11 year career the 36-year-old has hit .253/.317/.436, which breaks down to an OPS+ of exactly 100, which is league average. Primarily an outfielder, Raburn has played every position except shortstop and catcher in his career. He’s even pitched twice.
The Nats plans for him aren’t entirely clear, but depth it depth.
Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.
This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.
So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.
The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.