Dodger new found frugality not resonating with all fans

This Monday night I had an interesting conversation with an enlightened lifelong Dodger fan who is very unhappy the Dodgers have stopped trying to buy a World Championship.  His season ticket prices have doubled over the past five years and he feels that this is no time for the franchise to become frugal.

This conversation was kick started when I declared how I found this winter very exciting because the Dodgers are actually playing within a rule instead of outside of it. Every move they have made this winter has been about getting below the luxury tax so that the penalties are resetOnce Guggenheim purchased the Dodgers for $2.5 Billion in April of 2012  you had to expect that ownership would go about running the franchise with the goal of winning and providing decent ROI for the investors.  When the payroll hit the quarter million mark within a year I was told the mind-boggling payroll and foreign investment in context to the rest of baseball was needed to repair the infrastructure damage of the McCourt administration.  That eventually the organization would play within the rules and concentrate on using the farm system they rebuilt as a more sustainable way of building a team that would compete for the postseason every year.

It took five years but the Dodger organization after paying $150 million in luxury tax penalties is finally saying enough is enough. They have accomplished their goals.

They have won the NL Western Division every year since 2013.

They have made the farm system the envy of baseball with two straight ROY, with players who are legitimate MVP candidates.

The foreign investment has been spotty but it has resulted in the starting RF for the past five years.

They kept the best pitcher in baseball a Dodger while paying him over $100 million in the past three years.

They rebuilt the scouting and development organizations and you can see how other organizations value what they did by raiding the team this past year.

They found a worthy successor to HOF Vin Scully in Joe Davis.

You can nitpick about some of their choices, but at the end of the day, they came within one game of the ultimate goal, the National Championship.

Their biggest failure was not on the field but in not finding a way for all of Los Angeles to watch the Dodger success over the past five years. This failure may trump everything else they have done, as they lose longtime fans who can no longer follow the team, along with future fans that they can’t cultivate because they can’t watch the team.  That devil deal with Time Warner allowed the Dodgers to spend like no team has ever spent before and is why fans don’t understand why they have stopped spending.  They have the right to ask that question.

I think lost in that question is that the team was purchased by a management group where profit is always the reason for investment not as a social toy for a billionaire like Ballmer of the Clippers. The Dodgers may have been making money at their current spending levels but were they making enough? I have no idea what ROI the investment group was expecting when they spent $2.5 Billion for the Dodgers but I think we have found the answer this winter in that they expect the ROI going forward to be a little more generous than it was from 2012 – 2017.

And I’m fine with it. I’m embracing it. I like it when I can see an actual goal. The goal now is to find a way to win a World Championship while spending as much as possible for one year without getting hit with any luxury tax penalties so that they are reset for next winter.  If the organization can’t do it, they shouldn’t use the lack of resources as a reason.

They simply weren’t smart or lucky enough.






  1. 68elcamino427

    Good one.


    • 68elcamino427

      The Astros payroll for 2018 is currently at $128 mil.

      When Kasten arrived on the scene for the Dodgers one of the first things he said was that the team would implement a method of operations similar to what he used with the Braves in regard to player development and payroll.

      Players like Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Austin Barnes and Chris Taylor are not going to have better performance on the field because they are paid more money.
      With the rules that are now in place, the pay for these players is cost controlled and predictable for their first six years of service time.

      It just makes sense for any team to have a pipeline of talent on the way, ready to replace the players who will command big FA contracts when their time for a big contract arrives.

      The team needs to be good enough to win it all.
      It doesn’t need to be perfect.
      Engineers design a bridge to be strong enough to support a max load scenario, not twice as strong as the bridge needs to be.

      Absent a legal substance that will enhance player endurance, strength, and performance the way the illegal ones like steroids do, it seems like the mega contracts that pay players mega money in the years past the player’s age 30 seasons will become more a rarity.

      The true freaks will still receive contracts like this. For the majority of the players there are just too many possibilities for things to go wrong with their bodies that hamper the player’s ability to perform at a level that justifies the big money the player is due and the team is on the hook for years into the future.

      Ever increasing improvements in analytics will continue to enhance the predictive models the teams use to make better value judgements in regard to players current and future value.


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