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Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Brief Tenure Of Dodger Executives

Jon passes on the Tim Brown story in the Times noting appreciable changes in the Dodgers front office:
Dodger owner Frank McCourt fired two high-ranking executives and began the restructuring of the organization's top end Friday afternoon after becoming frustrated by what he said were numerous communications failures, both within the organization and with the public.

Team management was notified in a noon meeting at Dodger Stadium that McCourt's wife, Jamie, would assume responsibility for all business operations, Chief Operating Officer Marty Greenspun would oversee the marketing department and that Lon Rosen, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, and Gary Miereanu, vice president of communications, would be let go. Jamie McCourt will retain her title as vice chairman, serving as advisor and confidante for her husband.

As part of the general reorganization, McCourt promoted his 23-year-old son, Drew, to director of marketing, and will hire two new senior vice presidents, for marketing and communications. Baseball operations, headed by executive vice president and General Manager Paul DePodesta, are largely unchanged; DePodesta will continue to report to Frank McCourt on matters of baseball, though now to Jamie McCourt on the business side of baseball operations.

In other moves, John Olguin, director of public relations, was promoted to vice president of public relations and Josh Rawitch succeeded him as director.

For my own reasons, it's difficult for me to be completely objective about this move. Nonetheless, there are a couple points worth mentioning here.

Even though we don't know the real reasons behind this termination, it's fair to wonder whether Howard Fox's agonies at getting his season tickets wasn't in some way partly responsible for the recent shifts. Even if they weren't, I know several people who have season tickets who still (as of Thursday) don't have theirs, which is simply unconscionable, though not directly Rosen's fault; what would have been is explaining why those tickets hadn't arrived yet.

But then there were the changes at the ballpark. Did names leave the backs of the jerseys? Was Nancy Bea dropped to second-class status? Worst of all, did the Dodgers fail to re-sign Adrian Beltre, Steve Finley, and Jose Lima? "[I]ssues in terms of communicating effectively" sounds like a catch-all for a number of things going wrong that the fans didn't like, some of which were addressable only by DePodesta. If that is in part why McCourt cut Rosen, it seems unfair. The Times advances the latter argument with this paragraph:

Instances of fan displeasure periodically appeared in local newspapers, and the team was widely criticized during an off-season in which it failed to re-sign National League MVP runner-up Adrian Beltre, the heaviest blow in a series of unpopular player transactions beginning in the middle of last season.
"Local newspapers", of course, meaning the bitter recriminations that appeared like clockwork in the Times, some of which even I, hardly a supporter of the McCourt ownership, thought unfair and ill-founded. As DePodesta alluded to in Jon's recent, and wonderful, interview, it is but rarely possible for a general manager to feel like a fan. Player decisions are business decisions, and they demand a steely indifference to emotional attachments, especially in today's game. Firing two guys for DePo's legitimate decisions as GM sets the stage for more instability in the front office, if indeed that is what happened.

But perhaps the problem here is one of expectations. I've been guilty of believing the press release version of the Dodgers, the team once one of the best companies to work for in the country, guilty of believing in a smiling and benificent owner at the top and supercompetent, hardworking and cheerful employees below. The world is seldom so clean.

And entertainment is a viscious business.

So these changes give us no more information about the notoriously opaque Frank McCourt than we had before. And I really don't know -- and in some ways, don't even care -- how to evaluate them, so long as they don't take away from my enjoyment of the game on the field and in the park. The glass half-full says the Dodgers have lost a "marketing pinhead", and thus are better off; the glass half-empty says the Dodgers have accumulated a 23-year-old who inherited the job of marketing director by virtue of winning the genetic lottery. This latter feeds my insecurity about the club's long term ability to function; on the other hand, he has grownup supervision, and in any case, how much can the kid screw up? Giving out leftover Adrian Beltre bobbleheads? Handing out bats and complimentary hip flasks of Jack Daniels at a Giants/Dodgers game? For once, color me perversely optimistic on the overhaul.


Comments:
I've had some dealings with Lon Rosen, and found him a gentleman and class act. This sure seems like a sacrificial purge by the McCourts, and I can't imagine it bodes well for Dodger fans.
-Chronicles
 
Chronicler,
I'm sure many of these people are well intentioned and seemingly plesant to deal with, but the thing here is Mr. Rosen was working for these idiots. Yes, I would presume you are right, he is being made a scapegoat to some degree, but I can't help to gush with joy for Ross Porter's sake. He deserved better. Rosen wouldn't give him that decency.

That being, my experiences with Mr. Rosen were when he personally told his assistant that he would return my phone call regarding the Ross Porter debacle and never did. When I called back, those calls too went unanswered.

Therfore I feel the man wasn't doing his job, especially when it comes to his staking his WORD,

I know he is/was a busy man, but a man's word is his bond. It's also his integrity. You can judge a man from all of it.

My judgement is that Mr. Rosen is just another flake working for a once prestigious organization that is being decimated daily by incompetents that have no business owning a major league baseball team.

That being--Rob, I'll admit it to all who read this here, you were right last year.

You were right when you wanted to be critical of this idiot McCourt and I said, grant the man a little leinency to let him try to get the job done. He caught lighting in a bottle last year and got really lucky. It was a great season to watch. But its clear that new owner luck has run out--his mistakes as owner will bring the franchise to the lowest depths of it history.

I'd also like to credit and apologize publicly to Dan Evans who is looking like a absolute genuis compared to this Harvard-fed whiz kid who'll be out of the job in about a year and a half. (My prediction)
 
Tommy -- I will say about DePo what I said when they hired him: his hiring is an anti-sabermetric move. We don't know how he will do, though he did do okay his first year, what with winning the division and all. There was some luck involved with that, but there always is. So I'm leaning on the fence but optimistic. We'll have to hang on and see what happens.
 

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