Dodgers Are Left In Limbo

Divorce fallout will carry over into 2010 season





DENVER —Are the Dodgers' hopes, along with the marriage of owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, on the rocks?

Publicly, all the right things are being said. Actions, however, say more than any words.

And the Dodgers have done nothing this off-season to rekindle fans' hopes.

While the Dodgers are coming off back-to-back National League West titles under the direction of manager Joe Torre, they haven't been to the World Series since 1988. That's the longest World Series drought in the NL West.

The Mariners, Rangers and Nationals have never played in a World Series. The Cubs haven't played in one since 1908. It's been since 1979 for the Pirates, 1982 for the Brewers, 1983 for the Orioles and 1985 for the Royals.

And then there are the Dodgers, who haven't been back to the World Series since their upset of the Athletics that was headlined by Kirk Gibson limping around the bases after his game-winning, pinch-hit home run in 1988.

A franchise that folks used to hate out of respect has become the butt of jokes, the latest of which has been the public battle of the McCourts.

Now, general manager Ned Coletti claims the marital problems of his bosses is not affecting the Dodgers. But what else can he say? A franchise which already had to toe the financial line because the McCourts don't have deep pockets now has its hands tied because the only thing the ownership can agree upon is they don't want to hang around together anymore.

Jamie McCourt has even challenged the validity of a 2004 agreement that states Frank is the sole owner of the franchise. If she wins her claim of being an ownership partner, most people think the Dodgers will have to be sold because neither McCourt has the resources to buy out the other.

Courts are not scheduled to hear the case until May. That creates a franchise in limbo.

It's why the team could shed more than $40 million in salary from 2009, and celebrated the holidays with two major holes in its rotation, a major question at second base and deficiencies in its bullpen.

The offseason so far had consisted of shipping Juan Pierre to the White Sox—which came only when the Dodgers agreed to pick up $8 million of the remaining $18.5 million that Pierre will earn in the next two seasons—and the signing of versatile Jamey Carroll to a two-year deal worth less than $4 million.

Rest Of The West

It's not like the rest of the NL West has been shaking up the baseball world.  

But the needs are minimal in Colorado, where the Rockies' success or failure rests on the ability of homegrown players like catcher Chris Iannetta and third baseman Ian Stewart to evolve into foundation players. Lefthander Jeff Francis also has to bounce back after missing 2009 due to a shoulder injury.

San Francisco needs more offense, but the Giants had the same need last year and competed for the playoffs all season thanks to a dominating pitching staff.

The Diamondbacks added righthanders Edwin Jackson from the Tigers and Ian Kennedy from the Yankees in December, but gave up righthander Max Scherzer, their first-round pick in 2006, and lefty reliever Daniel Schlereth, their first-rounder in 2008. They also added righthander Aaron Heilman to the bullpen.

The Padres are not a factor for 2010 and don't pretend to be.

Then there are the Dodgers, knocked off by the Phillies in the NL Championship Series in each of the past two years and now burdened by the McCourt soap opera.

The Dodgers can be confident their offense is capable of handling its end of the bargain, but the pitching staff needs work. It was such a mess last year that Vicente Padilla, picked up after being released by the Rangers in August, started three of the Dodgers' eight playoff games and was arguably their best starter.

Lefty Randy Wolf, whose 11 wins ranked second among Dodgers starters last year, signed with the Brewers after the Dodgers didn't make a serious bid to re-sign him. Padilla, Wolf and righthander Jon Garland, an August addition from Arizona, were three-fifths of the Dodgers rotation down the stretch, and each became a free agent in November.

The Dodgers do have six pitchers ranked among their top 10 prospects, but none is ready for the big league rotation. The upper levels of the farm system have been depleted by trades the last two years, and from the looks of things the Dodgers won't be able to buy their way out of this mess.DENVER —Are the Dodgers' hopes, along with the marriage of owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, on the rocks?

Publicly, all the right things are being said.Actions, however, say more than any words.

And the Dodgers have done nothing this off-season to rekindle fans' hopes.

While the Dodgers are coming off back-to-back National League West titles under the direction of manager Joe Torre, they haven't been to the World Series since 1988. That's the longest World Series drought in the NL West.

The Mariners, Rangers and Nationals have never played in a World Series. The Cubs haven't played in one since 1908. It's been since 1979 for the Pirates, 1982 for the Brewers, 1983 for the Orioles and 1985 for the Royals.

And then there are the Dodgers, who haven't been back to the World Series since their upset of the Athletics that was headlined by Kirk Gibson limping around the bases after his game-winning, pinch-hit home run in 1988.

A franchise that folks used to hate out of respect has become the butt of jokes, the latest of which has been the public battle of the McCourts.

Now, general manager Ned Coletti claims the marital problems of his bosses is not affecting the Dodgers. But what else can he say? A franchise which already had to toe the financial line because the McCourts don't have deep pockets now has its hands tied because the only thing the ownership can agree upon is they don't want to hang around together anymore.

Jamie McCourt has even challenged the validity of a 2004 agreement that states Frank is the sole owner of the franchise. If she wins her claim of being an ownership partner, most people think the Dodgers will have to be sold because neither McCourt has the resources to buy out the other.

Courts are not scheduled to hear the case until May. That creates a franchise in limbo.

It's why the team could shed more than $40 million in salary from 2009, and celebrated the holidays with two major holes in its rotation, a major question at second base and deficiencies in its bullpen.

The offseason so far had consisted of shipping Juan Pierre to the White Sox—which came only when the Dodgers agreed to pick up $8 million of the remaining $18.5 million that Pierre will earn in the next two seasons—and the signing of versatile Jamey Carroll to a two-year deal worth less than $4 million.

Rest Of The West

It's not like the rest of the NL West has been shaking up the baseball world.  

But the needs are minimal in Colorado, where the Rockies' success or failure rests on the ability of homegrown players like catcher Chris Iannetta and third baseman Ian Stewart to evolve into foundation players. Lefthander Jeff Francis also has to bounce back after missing 2009 due to a shoulder injury.

San Francisco needs more offense, but the Giants had the same need last year and competed for the playoffs all season thanks to a dominating pitching staff.

The Diamondbacks added righthanders Edwin Jackson from the Tigers and Ian Kennedy from the Yankees in December, but gave up righthander Max Scherzer, their first-round pick in 2006, and lefty reliever Daniel Schlereth, their first-rounder in 2008. They also added righthander Aaron Heilman to the bullpen.

The Padres are not a factor for 2010 and don't pretend to be.

Then there are the Dodgers, knocked off by the Phillies in the NL Championship Series in each of the past two years and now burdened by the McCourt soap opera.

The Dodgers can be confident their offense is capable of handling its end of the bargain, but the pitching staff needs work. It was such a mess last year that Vicente Padilla, picked up after being released by the Rangers in August, started three of the Dodgers' eight playoff games and was arguably their best starter.

Lefty Randy Wolf, whose 11 wins ranked second among Dodgers starters last year, signed with the Brewers after the Dodgers didn't make a serious bid to re-sign him. Padilla, Wolf and righthander Jon Garland, an August addition from Arizona, were three-fifths of the Dodgers rotation down the stretch, and each became a free agent in November.

The Dodgers do have six pitchers ranked among their top 10 prospects, but none is ready for the big league rotation. The upper levels of the farm system have been depleted by trades the last two years, and from the looks of things the Dodgers won't be able to buy their way out of this mess.