October 25, 2014

Our Take on Dodgers’ Prez Dennis Mannion’s Comments

Maybe it’s just me, but I was hoping to be a little more inspired after reading the Q&A that Bill Shaikin conducted with Dodgers President Dennis Mannion for the Los Angeles Times.  On the plus side, Mannion did say that Colletti was free to sign players to big contracts, and knowing Ned’s philosophy on such things, it doesn’t surprise me that he’s waiting to see how the market shakes out over the course of the winter.  I’ll be patient….the last thing anyone wants is some ridiculous contract on the books for the next four to five years, right?

However, one portion on the interview brought back bad memories of comments made by Jamie McCourt last year – the exact thing that I’m sure the Dodgers wanted to avoid:

Since Wolf probably would have signed a long-term contract somewhere else even if the Dodgers had offered him arbitration, how worried were you about the millions it might cost to sign the draft picks you would have gotten in return?

You’re dealing with a very fluid situation. Those millions that are potentially in play, they can manifest themselves where the opportunity is. If the opportunity is in buying more portable concession stands, then that’s what you do. If the opportunity is buying some international talent that you have a very good handle on, that’s what you do. In this particular world, you’re making those assessments on a daily basis.

We have heard many times from teams that say they have allocated money from one part of baseball operations budget to another, say, from major league free agents to scouting or player development. Are you saying your choice could be between spending on amateur talent and spending on portable concession stands?

I’m just saying you have to have that kind of a fluid mind. That’s an absurd example, to tell you the truth. I just used it to show you should be able to cross over budgets when necessary. Let’s face it, our main imperative is to win games and win a championship. So you can tell who’s going to win that battle when it’s fought.

While it is absurd to compare dollars for players to dollars for portable concession stands, as a PR guy, I actually find it even more shocking that Mannion would make such a comparison in light of Jamie McCourt’s comments from last year (where she suggested the possibility of taking money designated for players’ salaries and instead using it Little League parks).  I know he’s trying to make the point that the Dodgers on-field and off-field operations are now one, but if I were him I would have stayed away from such comparisons at a time when many Dodger fans are holding their collective breath, waiting to see if the team is going to make a significant move in improving the quality of play on the field for the coming year.

Side note: I did have a chance to meet Dennis Mannion in passing at Spring Training last season, and I came away thinking that he was an enthusiastic guy who really cared what the fans thought about the team and the facilities.  I will not pass judgment on him after reading just this interview, and I hope we have the chance to hear from Mannion about his master plan in the months ahead, but what I’m personally looking for is a long-term strategy for the future of the Dodgers and how this team will continue to compete, contend and win for years to come.

An Attempt to Make Sense of the Dodgers’ Off-Season Decisions

This morning I picked up my Magic 8 Ball, gave it a good shake and asked “Will the Dodgers sign an impact starting pitcher before Spring Training?”  The answer?  “Outlook not so good.”  And while I hate to say it, I agree with my Magic 8 Ball.

Now I’m not a true numbers guy, but I’m going to attempt my own financial analysis of the Dodgers’ current situation (feel free to disagree).

First, let’s look at attendance:

Year     Dodgers Attendance       Overall MLB Ranking

2009    3,761,669                               #1

2008    3,730,553                               #3 (Yankees were #1, Mets were #2)

2007    3,857,036                               #2 (Yankees were #1)

2006    3,758,545                                #2 (Yankees were #1)

For the decade as a whole, the Dodgers ranked second in overall attendance with 30,735,479.  Only the Yankees pulled in more fans with 34,061,693.  Not bad!  So it’s safe to say the Dodgers are still consistently pulling the fans through the turnstiles and generating income for the team, even if season ticket prices have been frozen recently.

Now let’s look at payroll.  The Dodgers average payroll for 2006-2008 was $119.57 million, which ranked them fourth in the majors behind the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets.  Their 2008 Opening Day payroll was $118,536,038 (their final payroll in 2008 was $125,864,496).  Their starting payroll in 2009 was $100,458,101.  The average payroll for all MLB clubs decreased by 1.7 percent from 2008 to 2009.  Using the above  numbers, the Dodgers payroll decreased 15.29 percent from Opening Day 2008 to Opening Day 2009.  That’s a big, big difference from 1.7 percent, especially given that the Club was running very strong attendance numbers.

Their 2010 payroll right now stands at roughly $92,791,000 according to Jon Weisman (as of December 17, 2009).  That’s an approximate decrease of 7.7 percent from the Opening Day 2009 payroll.  Things are obviously not moving in the right direction financially, and Phil Gurnee at True Blue LA does a great job of summarizing the financial dilemmas currently facing Dodger ownership.

Given all of this, are the Dodgers moves this off-season really a surprise?  First, they didn’t offer arbitration to Randy Wolf or Orlando Hudson.  Either way you look at this, those draft picks and/or pro salaries would cost money.  Then they trade Juan Pierre for two young pitchers, saving more money in the process.  Next, Ned Colletti signed utility infielder Jamey Carroll for two years and $4 million.  They offered a handful of minor league contracts to older guys hoping to catch on during Spring Training.  Now we have the rumored George Sherrill for Aaron Hurang trade.  Now this makes me really, really nervous from a baseball perspective, but financially, it seems to fit the pattern, right?

However, hope still exisits.  By this point last year, Ned had signed Casey Blake (December 9th) and Rafael Furcal (December 18), but didn’t sign other prominent free agents until well after the first of the year, including Randy Wolf (February 6), Orlando Hudson (February 21) and Manny Ramirez (March 4).

I’m going to ask my original question to the Magic 8 Ball again in mid-January.  Ned does like to make value deals late in the off-season, so I’m hoping for a new answer…something  like “Signs point to yes.”

dodgerfan.net Celebrates Second Anniversary

It’s hard to believe, but dodgerfan.net is celebrating it’s two-year anniversary this week.  As such, we wanted to pause and give thanks to all of the great people and moments that have made the past year so successful.

In terms of numbers, dodgerfan.net grew at an extremely rapid pace and we more than quadrupled our readership over the past 12 months, with readers from every state and an additional 94 countries.  While that’s a fantastic accomplishment for the two of us that run this site, we really owe our success to those that have read our work, supported us and challenged us with their own great content and perspective.  As a result, we feel more like veterans of the Dodger blogger community every day.

We definitely owe a huge amount of thanks to Josh Rawitch, VP of Communications for the Dodgers and his team of professionals.  Josh’s forward-thinking approach to social media over the past several years has exponentially enriched our coverage and joy for what we put into this site.  That approach seems to also spread throughout the organization, so our appreciation also extends to Ned Colletti, Joe Torre, Dennis Mannion and the rest of the Dodgers organization who put up with us throughout the year.

We also want to thank our fellow Dodger bloggers and members of the media we’ve either met in the press box at Chavez Ravine, or just had a chance to get to know better this past year.  There simply are too many folks to name here, but some of the people that supported us, given us poitners on proper locker room etiquette, or have just influenced how we cover the team in 2009 include Dylan Hernandez, Diamond Leung, Ken Levine, Tony Jackson, Eric Stephen, Orel and Sax, Josh Suchon and Jon Weisman.   There’s a great sense of community among Dodger bloggers, writers and readers, and you all make that possible.

Finally, there were a number of great moments for us this past year (most notably the organization credentialing bloggers for the press box), s0 if you’re up for a trip down memory lane, check out the following:

- The Opening of Camelback Ranch

- Blogger Night, Part II

- Bloggers in the Press Box

- dodgerfan.net on TV (scary stuff!)

Finally, thanks again to all of you that read and comment on our content.  We started this site out as lifelong Dodger fans wanting to experiment in social media, and while it’s been far more time consuming than we could have ever expected, we’ve gained far more than that as we provide our take on the team, both on and off the field.  We look forward to continuing that dialogue with you in 2010 beyond, and can’t wait to discover what the future holds for dodgerfan.net, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Dodger fans everywhere. 

Thanks again!

Chris and Alex

Matt Kemp Shows His Hoops Skills

Great story from fellow Dodgers blogger Roberto over at Vin Scully Is My Homeboy on Matt Kemp’s charity hoops game last night.

Wish I was paying more attention, as I definitely would have checked this out…nice job Roberto with the pics and video!

Photo Credit: Harry How, Getty Images

ESPN Los Angeles Launches Dodgers Coverage

ESPN Los Angeles launched this evening, and as previously reported, Tony Jackson is on board with his first story.  Welcome aboard Tony – we’re happy for you and look forward to continuing to enjoying your coverage of the team!

That said, it’s interesting and somewhat conspicuous to see that as of tonight there is no blogger coverage for the Dodgers on the site.  The Kametzky Brothers are on board with the Land O’ Lakers blog (which at a passing glance looks like a thoroughly entertaining series of posts).  There’s also a Clippers blog and a USC blog.   But why no Angels or Dodgers blog?  I suspect timing is to blame, with these additions coming very soon.  Nevertheless, the Dodgers coverage seems lacking when compared to the Lakers – off-season or not.

Food for thought: do the Raiders deserve a slot on the site?  After all, they were the last NFL team to reside in LA, and we know the passion for the Silver & Black runs deep in So Cal.  Hell, if ESPN is going to include the Angels and the Ducks, shouldn’t they also include Raider Nation?  Full disclosure: I love the Raiders and always will.  I know, I know.  My friends and family can’t understand it either.  Let’s just say I owe it all to Lyle Alzado.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing what ESPN Los Angeles brings to the table and how they contribute to the greater conversation among Dodger fans everywhere.