Breaking up is hard to do; unless you get $130 million to do it. According to reports, that is the amount of money Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has promised to give his soon-to-be-ex-wife Jamie in order to end both their marriage and dispute over who owns the Dodgers. The deal brings to an end at least the preface of what has been an ugly book of battles the last two years.
McCourt’s bitter dispute with his wife over team ownership was making him look worse than Mel Gibson. Then, over the summer, Frank appeared to extend the olive branch when he admitted he did indeed use Dodgers revenue to sustain an extravagant lifestyle instead of putting resources back into the team. “It was unhealthy, and unsustainable,” McCourt said. “I became a caricature of myself, and I became a caricature of somebody who was uncaring, unfeeling, excessively living, bad guy. And that’s just not who I am.” Now, he has gotten Jamie off his books, his back, and out of the way so he can finally start his battle with Bud Selig totally unencumbered.
This sudden settlement seems to beg a couple of question. First, I wonder if this “pay off” will be the last Dodgers dime Jamie gets from Frank. Given the woman claimed she needed almost $12 million a year for support when the divorce proceedings got underway, an amount covering a bit more than a decade of her living expenses sounds awfully low. It is estimated the Dodgers would bring a minimum of $650 million in a sale, let alone the billion dollars offer McCourt reportedly got a few months ago. Her payout sounds like chump change when compared to 50% of those numbers. So far, there has been no announcement as to whether or not Mrs. McCourt would be in the mix when the team is sold. On the other hand, is it possible Jamie’s lawyers have her convinced that if Selig does indeed find a way to wrest control of the Dodgers, she will be the odd man, er uh, woman out and come up empty? Maybe she figures this is the best she can do given MLB’s ability to sway judges in their favor. No matter, we can only hope Jamie McCourt can somehow survive on her paltry settlement.
Keep in mind this settlement is still listed as an agreement to be fulfilled and no money has changed hands…yet. Of course, most Dodgers fans are hoping Frank goes through a second divorce; this one from the team.
Another signing bust?
One of the biggest free agent busts of 2011 had to be infielder Juan Uribe. The Dodgers stole him away from division rival San Francisco and expected him to play a crucial role not only with his bat(24 HR in 2010) but also to stabilize a somewhat shaky and aging infield. What the Dodgers got was 77 games and a .204 batting average.
Naturally, when a free agent falters, there is usually the notorious “if such-and-such can bounce back then next year we’ll be better” talk that gets tossed around. Uribe’s name will undoubtedly be in those conversations. Yet what if two years go by and the bounce never happens? Case in point, starting pitcher Chad Billlingsley.
The Dodgers began 2011 by inking Billingsley to a contract extension that would keep him in a Dodgers uniform through at least 2014. It seemed like management was not blaming Billingsley for going 15-19 between July of 2009 and the end of 2010. After all, the Dodgers had a woeful offense that was preventing him from winning. Billingsley didn’t get much help from the bats in a season that saw him finish 12-11 with a 3.57 ERA. The team scored one run or less in six of his losses.
Still, Billingsley, who was 35-19 in his first three seasons(2006-2008) as a Dodger, seems to be a man that has stagnated. He matched his 2010 record in 2011 but with an ERA almost a run higher(4.21). And, just as he did in 2009 when he went 3-8 after the All-Star break, Billingsley faltered as the season wore on. He was plagued by inconsistency and went just 2-3 over his last 11 starts. His innings and strikeout totals have fallen the last three years and his hits and walks per nine innings have risen.
Is it possible this signing may go down as yet another bust? This bounce back thing is starting to gray a bit.