With news that the Magic Johnson-led group is going to purchase the Dodgers, many fans are wondering what this means. There's still a lot we don't know, but here is what we do know:
--Chicago-based financial services firm Guggenheim Partners is essentially the owner of the Dodgers. Yes, CEO Mark Walter plans to stay in the background while Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten run the team. But how this impacts the team down the road, we can't say. Should Guggenheim's leadership want to make a change to the Dodgers in the future, then they would theoretically have the power to do so.
--The statement announcing the sale says: "Mr. McCourt and certain affiliates of the purchasers will also be forming a joint venture, which will acquire the Chavez Ravine property for an additional $150 million."
It's unclear how much control over the parking lots McCourt will have. But does anyone else think McCourt is crazy for wanting any stake in the land? Is he still unaware of how truly hated he is? Any plan for developing the land with McCourt being front and center will have little public support and face significant hurdles in gaining the necessary political approval. Dodger fans don't want to pay a "McCourt Tax" every time they park their car at Chavez Ravine. And no one wants to think the Dodgers are spending $14 million a year on rent to a McCourt group instead of using that money on players.
Again, I don't know what kind of a stake McCourt will still have. But if I were advising him, I'd tell him to take the billion or so dollars he's making off this sale, leave Los Angeles for good, and start his life over some place else. He may be richer than ever, but his reputation has been ruined here.
--While Magic Johnson is the viewed as the public leader for the team, Stan Kasten is going to be the main person in charge of business operations and he will decide the direction of baseball operations.
Kasten was a two-time executive of the year in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks, and then became president of both the Hawks and Atlanta Braves. He also later served as president of the Atlanta Thrashers. Kasten brought in John Schuerholz from the Kansas City Royals to be GM of the Braves in 1990, and then began one of the most successful organizational runs in MLB history.
He resigned in 2003 after an ownership change and then took over as president of the Washington Nationals in 2006. He resigned in 2010 for reasons that still aren't clear to me. While Kasten got Nationals Park built in Washington, his teams there did not have as much success. He inherited MLB-appointed GM Jim Bowden, and then surprisingly kept him. Bowden resigned in 2009 after he and special assistant Jose Rijo were part of an FBI federal investigation into the skimming of signing bonus money from Latin American baseball players. Mike Rizzo was promoted to the GM position shortly thereafter.
One thing that we know about Kasten is that he understands the importance of building a quality farm system. Atlanta had one of the best organizations under his watch, and Washington's organizational ranking improved dramatically under Kasten as well. The Dodgers farm system is now ranked 24th by Baseball America and is in sore need of an overhaul.
We also know that Kasten isn't afraid to spend on free agents if he thinks they're the right fit. His biggest free agent signings included Greg Maddux and Andres Galarraga. He also traded for Fred McGriff and Denny Neagle, among others. His record isn't as great in Washington, but he did sign Adam Dunn and left before the disastrous Jayson Werth deal.
So what does this mean for Ned Colletti and the rest of the Dodgers baseball operations team? If Kasten's tenure in Washington is any guide, Colletti and most of his team will probably stay in their jobs. But you can expect more resources devoted to improving the farm system and the baseball operations organization on the whole. You can also expect a Kasten-led Dodgers to compete actively for top free agents, although it's not in Kasten's character to build a team entirely of free agents and outside acquisitions. He's also not the type to "over-spend" on players either, just to make a statement.
At the end of the day, I think Dodgers fans have to be fairly pleased with how this turned out. A beloved sports hero is owning the team, and unlike McCourt, Magic understands the Los Angeles community. One would expect him to quickly repair the local damage wrought by years of McCourt leadership. Dodger fans also have a proven baseball executive calling the shots in the front office.
There's still a lot that we don't know, and many questions need to be answered. But my initial reaction is positive.