On talent, the Dodgers may be top ten. They’re the favorites in the NL West this year (or at least co-favorites with Colorado) with a club built around mostly young talent, including several of the best under-27 players in the game. The core trio of Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, and Chad Billingsley are tough to beat, and they’re surrounded by quality or upside at most spots.
So, why are they 14th? The Divorce. The uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the Dodgers is a big problem. Frank McCourt can talk about how it will be business as usual once everything gets settled and the court gives him control of the team, but that’s not the only possible outcome, and he knows it. There’s a reason they didn’t really spend any money this winter.
The whole thing is a mess. The revelations that have surfaced in the divorce proceedings paint the McCourts in an even less flattering light than before, which is saying something. Any owner that would essentially use his team as an ATM to finance his personal lifestyle is a problem, and that description undersells how the McCourts behaved with Dodger money.
As a Dodger fan, I can only imagine the frustration when you see the team declining to offer arbitration to players who clearly won’t accept it, because of the perceived risk, yet later finding out that the team has both of the McCourts sons on their payroll at a total of $600,000 per year, when neither actually work for the Dodgers. I bet Logan White would love to have another $600,000 to spend on the draft. I can only imagine how much they could upgrade their information systems with a $600,000 per year investment.
Regardless of how it turns out, the McCourts have been exposed as people you don’t want owning your team. Through their own personal issues, they have created a cloud that hangs over the team, and is now affecting the way they put together their ball club.
If I’m a Dodger fan, I’m hoping that the Judge orders a sale of the team. But, no matter what, this doesn’t look like its going to end any time soon, so while 2010 should be an exciting year for LA fans as they push for a playoff berth, it’s all secondary to the drama of the owners.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.