Ask a Dodger fan what they want in a new owner, and the answers will vary. But they likely have one idea at the heart of their desires: Spend more money on free agents.
It was not easy for the Dodger faithful to sit and watch the Angels scoop up Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson. Wilson even said his main preference was the team that actually plays in Los Angeles. Losing out on Prince Fielder did not make things better, even though the team worked around its in-flux status to make a bid. So it’s only natural that an ownership hopeful would pledge to spend as much as it takes to field the best team possible. But is that wise?
Increased cash flow certainly has sex appeal. What could be more satisfying than seeing someone like Magic Johnson wave around a checkbook, promising oodles of years and dollars to Cole Hamels and Joey Votto(right)? But those big deals have consequences. Having Prince Fielder is great right now, but Detroit is on the hook for nine years of Prince. When he’s 36 years old with a .700 OPS, Tigers fans will be counting down the days until his contract is off the books. The last thing the Dodgers need is to one-up that ridiculous deal, especially without a DH safety net.
The Dodgers need to spend smart. And that begins with sensible contracts that don’t shackle the team for years to come. There needs to be patient analysis of market trends that leads to efficient dealing. The team needs to find players to satisfy holes in the lineup that cannot be adequately filled by in-house candidates.
It’s not just in the traditional free agent market either. As Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness pointed out a month ago, the money spent on international players has dropped considerably. That’s a massive pool of talent being avoided like the plague. Fans may not think about international player development when following their team, but the Dodgers didn’t get Fernando Valenzuela by throwing piles of cash at him when he became a free agent after years in the league.
I doubt the remaining prospective owners are reading this post, but if they are, I hope they remember this nugget of wisdom: Sex sells, but smarts succeed.