|Needing to do more with less|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on February 26, 2010
A bad economy, a messy divorce and uncertainty about the future of ownership all will serve as a backdrop as the Dodgers aim to repeat as Western Division Champions.Â The overall team payroll will be slashed by as much as 20%,\ and that meant that the Dodgers were essentially non players in the free agent market this offseason.Â They lost a lot of depth, when they traded away Juan Pierre and his $10 million dollar salary and their pitching took a hit too when they opted not to re-sign Randy Wolf.Â Â The players they replaced them with are nowhere near as productive and leave the team with far less depth in 2010.
It could all be hype, or it may not be, but clearly the Dodgers are a profitable entity and if McCourt is pulling money for his divorce and private investments from the team, his ability to manage and own the team will come into question.Â No doubt there will be plenty of ink given to that issue as the McCourt's hearing in court (sometime in May) draws near.Â Especially since both Frank and Jamie want to end up with ownership of the team.
Even if the divorce is settled quickly and doesn't become a long, drawn out property battle, there will likely be a reassessment of the ownership, either to confirm a new ownership group, or to be reassured of the financial strength of the victor in court.Â That is likely to mean that the purse strings aren't going to be opened anytime in season, no matter how desperate the Dodgers are for major reinforcement, or if they need an extra piece to make a playoff run.
Tight purse strings have already been evident.Â When the Dodgers failed to make an attempt to re-sign Randy Wolf it also undermined the team's greatest strength, the pitching which finished first in ERA last season.Â While Wolf was hardly an ace, he posted a outstanding ERA of 3.23, ate 214 innings and racked up 11 wins by being among the most consistent pitchers that the Dodgers possessed, and the Dodgers don't seem to have anyone in the wings who'll come anywhere close to that.
With both the pitching and hitting suspect going into the season and a severe lack of depth, Dodgers fans have reason to be worried.Â Their best hope is that the ownership situation works itself out quickly and that money flows back into the team payroll.Â Otherwise it seems likely that the other competitors need to just sit back and wait for the Dodgers to crack.