Actions speak louder than words, but I'll give them credit for saying all the right things. The trio spoke with the LA Times' Bill Plaschke today and it's hard not to be optimistic about the approach new ownership is taking with the Dodgers.
Magic Johnson started off with an expected Lakers reference:
"You know what this is about?" said Johnson, referring to money guy Mark Walter and baseball guy Stan Kasten sitting next to him. "This is about Jerry Buss II and Jerry West II."
Then came the emotional connection:
"Last night when we found out we won, I cried and I yelled and I screamed," said Johnson. "This is such a great day for our city."
The controlling partner, Mark Walter, followed up with the obligatory remarks regarding continuing tradition:
"We would like to build on what is obviously already a tremendous franchise," Walter said. "We are privileged and honored to be the new custodians of this tradition, and we hope to usher it in for generations to come."
However, a more poignant quote came next:
"I'm a baseball fan, but I'm not qualified to make baseball decisions, and I don't want to pretend to be," said Walter. "I'm here to support and help my people as much as I can. I'm here to cheer as loud as I can."
It's refreshing to hear Walter admit that he has no business running the baseball side of the club. This is an important distinction that he seemingly understands: there's people with the money and there's people with the know-how. We'll see if Walter honors this distinction.
Now comes the important stuff. Walter and Magic on spending money:
"Stan has a very proven formula for building a team that doesn't win one year, but wins 12 years in a row [Atlanta Braves], so for me to tell him how you build that is completely inappropriate," said Walter. "But having said that, we really want to win, and it's OK if, while we're producing the best players in the world, we also have the best players in the world on our field."
In other words, said Johnson, "We are going to have all the resources available to us to put a championship team on the field."
I bolded what I believe are the most important quotes given by the two. Yes, it's important to develop talent from within, which Kasten corroborates later. However, the fact that Magic and, more specifically Walter, acknowledges that the team can't win without elite talent that is acquired from other teams is immensely important.
Now Kasten weights in, with another important note:
"We understand what we just bought, we understand what it needs to be," said Kasten. "We make more money when we win. We are real cognizant of that. While we want to build a long-term plan, we want to have a winner now."
How's that for profit motive? And it's true: making the playoffs increases revenue. You've got to spend money to make money and it's refreshing for ownership to adhere to that sentiment.
Here's my favorite quote:
"I believe in scouting and player development, and a starting rotation," Kasten said. "With both, anything is possible. Without both, nothing is possible."
Scouting? Player development? Yes please! This is my dream: returning to the glory days of the Dodgers where they invested heavily in developing from within. And let's be honest: the Dodgers have not been investing heavily enough over the past 8 years. Hopefully, the removal of McCourt ends the era of skimping on amateur talent.
The organization needs to play to its strengths, which is giving Logan White and De Jon Watson all the necessary resources to continue developing players like Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp. We know Kasten is going to be the club president but we know that the plan must be carried about the general manager. The next question is does ownership trust Ned Colletti to carry it out?
Magic, Kasten and Walter Talk Dodgers
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