McCourt: “A Mercenary Team Doesn’t Work”

Dodgers fans aren't pleased that their team's major offseason story has been the ongoing divorce and ownership battle between Frank and Jamie McCourt.  With the stewardship of the team in doubt, the Dodgers made relatively few moves over the winter, none of which seemed to be the type of key addition that would push the two-time NLCS runners-up into the World Series.

Frank McCourt discussed his team's offseason moves and his overall philosophy for the team at a meeting of California businessmen on Tuesday, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.  He reiterated his claim of sole ownership in the franchise and said that "things will get back to normal" once the divorce suit is settled, noting that the team is not for sale.

Shaikin cites the midseason deals of C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Cliff Lee over the last two seasons, plus the Roy Halladay rumors that dominated last summer's trade deadline, as cases where the Dodgers simply weren't willing to deal their young core players for what might have been a short-term rental.  In McCourt's defense, L.A. has certainly made some big in-season moves (the Manny Ramirez, Jon Garland and Jim Thome deals, for example), and the owner himself pointed to the team's four playoff appearances since he took over the team.

McCourt rhetorically asked, "How would we feel right now without Clayton Kershaw or Matt Kemp?" since those two and Chad Billingsley were at the top of any potential trade partner's wish list.  Shaikin notes that these young players are key to McCourt's belief that fans would rather see a team of homegrown stars win a title than a group of free agent imports.  "A mercenary team doesn't work," McCourt said in reference to the big dollars spend by L.A.'s previous owners (News Corp) that never resulted in any playoff appearances.

Every contender struggles with the temptation to go for broke and shoot for a World Series by selling off a young prospect or two at the deadline.  Red Sox fans would've no doubt loved to see Hanley Ramirez play shortstop at Fenway Park for 15-plus years, but since his trade to Florida brought Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett and the 2007 World Series to Boston, Sox fans are probably satisfied that losing Ramirez was worth it.  In McCourt's case, however, the fact that the Dodgers have come so close the last two seasons leaves the team's decisions open to second-guessing.  And, as Shaikin points out, big-market L.A.'s payroll could be less than $90MM this season, leaving fans wondering why the team couldn't shell out a few extra dollars for the final piece of the championship puzzle.

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