The Lerners, with billions, can handle their own business brawls. For now, with their rising payroll still less than $95 million, the Nats’ lack of fresh regional sports network money hasn’t hamstrung them — yet. But it will. Every team needs ammo with La-La Land gone nuts. Some will never get it. The Nats still can.
Kasten’s Frankenstein still has some ugly bolts sticking out of its neck. Manager Don Mattingly must handle stars that arrived with more baggage than you can buy on Rodeo Drive. But when these Dodgers get sorted out, they’ll be what everyone now predicts: the Yankees of the NL.
“We’re playing catch-up,” Kasten said by phone this week. “The Dodgers should never have reached the point where they were a $90 million payroll team. In two, three, four years, we can stop doing this [spending] if we do other things [in player development] as well.”
So, there it is, for the next several years, the Dodgers will play baseball gin rummy, discarding any vast contract that stinks, then buying a new star “card” to fill their pat hand. And they’ll laugh at the game’s 17.5 percent luxury tax on payrolls of more than $178 million.
“The Dodgers invented scouting, player development and international signings. This is in the franchise makeup,” Kasten said. “We just have to get back to it.”
What if Stan’s multi-pronged plan doesn’t work out on schedule?
“We have the money. We could [buy players indefinitely] if we had to,” Kasten said. “But history shows it is not just about buying players. What’s different now [from his five years in Washington] is that we don’t have either-or decisions here — either the farm system or free agents or trades or international. We do not have to make those decisions.”
See, being Dodger rich isn’t really about gluttony. It just means you can order the whole left side of the menu for dinner then order the whole right side to take home in a doggie truck in case you get the midnight munchies.
“This has been a dream come true,” Kasten said. “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. I’m having a ball.”
So while the Dodgers can take a $61.7 million flier on Ryu, the Nats haven’t upped their two-year, $25 million offer to LaRoche to perhaps the three-year, $39 million level that Mike Napoli and Shane Victorinoreceived from the Red Sox.
Should they? A week ago, before the Dodgers got Greinke, that third year didn’t look like Nats money well spent; with their payroll soon headed past $100 million they still live in a world where you must count your cash. Kasten doesn’t reside there anymore.
“I feel real happiness for the people [in Washington] who are still there and succeeding — because I know what not succeeding feels like,” Kasten said. “I have a warm feeling for what they’ve accomplished.”
That’s a sentiment that may turn chilly by this October — or any other October. As far as anyone in baseball can glimpse into the future, the huge opaque cloud that hangs over Dodger Stadium obscures the view.
It’s not smog. It’s money burning.
For previous columns by Thomas Boswell, visit washingtonpost.com/