Tom Schieffer’s to-do list for the Dodgers

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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.

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

astros general manager
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HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves, seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention. They were often able to extend some of their player contracts… he’s got great people skills, excellent communicator and, last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So at the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”