Will McCourt's Separation Effect the Dodgers?

Frank McCourt, the Dodgers' owner, and his wife, Jamie, the team's CEO, are in the middle of separations/divorce proceedings, according to multiple major-league sources. "Frank McCourt and Jamie McCourt confirm that they are separated," the McCourts said in a statement when asked for comment by FOXSports.com.

This is a personal matter and they request that their privacy be respected.

It is never good news when a marriage breaks up and we certainly won't go into any speculation about the why's and wherefores of it, but if past history is any indication, it may be even worse news for the Dodgers organization itself.

A divorce between San Diego Padres owner John Moores and his wife, Becky, led Moores to sell that franchise earlier this year as part of dividing their assets.

After Ms. Moores filed for divorce last year, the Padres slashed their payroll for this season. The team was sold to former Arizona Diamondbacks chief executive Jeff Moorad, who imported his own club president and fired 13 front-office employees in July.

Attorney Marshall Grossman, representing Frank McCourt, said the couple has not filed for divorce and said Frank McCourt is the sole owner of the franchise and is registered as such with Major League Baseball.

"Frank McCourt is the owner of the team. He has always been the owner of the team," Grossman said. "There should be no change at all with respect to anything the public is used to."

Grossman added there was "not a chance" that the team would be put up for sale. "Speculation about a potential sale of the team is rubbish. Frank McCourt is the sole owner. He has absolutely no intention of selling this team now or ever."

All this is reassuring, but in a situation like this, things change rapidly.

A partner at a family law firm that handles many high-profile divorces, said the effect of the McCourts' split on the ownership of the team will likely turn on whether the couple signed a prenup or a similar document. Such an arrangement could spell out a precise distribution of the marital property, he said, but without one, the determination could fall to a judge.

Under California law, courts have a duty to effectuate a 50-50 division of the net community estate.

Forbes in its annual report on baseball's finances, estimated the Dodgers' value at $722 million, behind the New York Yankees ($1.5 billion), the New York Mets ($912 million) and the Boston Red Sox ($833 million).

One baseball source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation, said major league officials do not believe either spouse could afford to buy out the other and still maintain a financial reserve sufficient to run the club without taking on financial partners.

The thought that the club might be sold, sends chills through Dodger fans who can remember when FOX bought the club and cleared out nearly every front office official from the Peter O'Malley ownership.

Most of the veteran on-field staff were also fired or departed, including Mike Sciosica, Mickey Hatcher and Ron Roenicke, who switched to the Los Angeles Angels and reinvigorated the team.

A long and dark period in club history followed and only in the last three for four years has it recovered.

During the confirmation of the McCourts as owners, the Dodgers had a golden opportunity to sign Vladimir Guerreo, but the National League officials took so long to grant McCourt's approval, Guerrero, too, switched to the Angeles.

Managers and general managers came and went as did coaches and scouts and performance suffered along with the fans. No one wants a repeat of those terrible seasons.

The baseball operations staff is probably working under contracts that expire Dec. 31. While manager Joe Torre is under contract for next season. It is uncertain whether all of his coaches would be guaranteed to return.