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This is Moneyball, L.A. style

Dodgers' new owners are unapologetic of their spending spree, which added $260 million in payroll in one trade, and team President Stan Kasten says he doesn't see a limit to the spending.

August 25, 2012|By Bill Shaikin
  • Dodgers President Stan Kasten and the rest of the team's new management have been busy rebuilding the roster as the season has progressed.
Dodgers President Stan Kasten and the rest of the team's new management… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

If the Dodgers can add $260 million to their payroll in one trade, and close to $500 million in four months, is there a limit to their spending?

"Somewhere, I suppose," Chairman Mark Walter said Saturday.

And where might that limit be?

"I haven't found it yet," President Stan Kasten said. "I'll let you know when we get there."

As Adrian Gonzalez put on his Dodgers uniform for the first time, the new owners let it be known that they saw no reason to choose between paying the price to win now and paying the price to win later.

"We want to win now," Magic Johnson said. "We understand that you have to spend money to be good in this league."

Said Walter: "I don't think of it as a spending spree. We were in a position to make the team better."

Kasten declined to discuss criticism from rival executives wondering why the Dodgers would surrender any prospects to the Boston Red Sox, let alone four of them, rather than challenge the Red Sox to find another team willing to swallow $260 million in salaries.

"We're very comfortable with the result," Kasten said.

Yet, Kasten emphasized the Dodgers had not wavered from their commitment to revitalize their scouting and player development operations, even with the loss of prospects such as pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster from an already thin minor league system.

"This will not detract from any of our long-term plans," he said. "That's the real Dodger tradition I'm hoping to restore."

Kasten noted the Dodgers had spent $42 million on Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig before baseball's new limit on international spending took effect last month. Kasten said the Dodgers would spend the maximum $2.9 million permitted for international signings this year.

"That's a critical part of our plan," he said. "We want to win now. But, for us to have a chance at sustained success, we need scouting and player development."

Booster shot for the Rocket

Roger Clemens was the only player to mount a significant challenge to the Mitchell Report, testifying to Congress he had not used performance-enhancing drugs and beating the feds when they charged him with perjury.

That was Step 1 in trying to rehabilitate his reputation before he stands for election to the Hall of Fame.

Step 2, and a brilliant campaign tactic, is to pitch in the major leagues this season. That would delay his Hall of Fame eligibility until 2017, when voters might have made an uneasy peace with the steroid era. Clemens almost certainly wasn't getting in this year, even with his record seven Cy Young awards. He has nothing to lose by waiting, and perhaps a Cooperstown plaque to gain.

Neither do his hometown Houston Astros, desperate to divert fans from a team on pace to lose 111 games.

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