Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kasten Interview On MLB Channel, The Transcript and then Analysis

Stan Kasten was on MLB TV’s Clubhouse Confidential today.  Though nothing earth shattering was said, I found it to be quite interesting.  We get a bit of insight in the mindset of the Dodger trust.  A full transcript follows:

Image Capture for the MLB Network, Clubhouse Confidential 

Brian Kenny:  We showed you this on Tuesday, the new world in baseball.  These are the projected payroll leaders.  It’s by no means final.  It’s still in the off-season here, but the Dodgers are at about $215 million dollars, well above the Yankees at $193.  Then there’s a big drop to third with the Phillies, Tigers and Giants in the range of $140 to $150 million dollars.  The Dodgers though have catipulted to the top with their new ownership group.

(Video clip was played of Zach Greinke's introductory press conference) 

Greinke: I don’t want to make his head too big but I thought that Stan Kasten was like the smartest guy I’ve ever talked to.

Image Capture for the MLB Network, Clubhouse Confidential
Brian Kenny: Well now that’s nice to hear.  We have him in the Clubhouse Confidential Executive Suite right now, and he’s been a very busy man.  Let’s bring in Dodgers Team President, Stan Kasten.  Stan, that’s nice to hear from Zach Greinke, right?”

Stan Kasten: (laughter) Well that proves how smart he is, huh?

Kenny: There you go, good answer.  Give us an idea of the process on targeting Zack Greinke and going after him.

Kasten:  We looked at what would be available for starting pitching, ‘cuz you know I always believe that’s where it starts.  In our minds, Zack was the best available starting pitcher this year and also over the next few years.  It might be our last best chance to get a pitcher who can pitch at this level.  By now everyone knows that he came in and met with us privately, all by himself with me and Ned and Don.  It was a great three hour meeting.  We just really enjoyed talking baseball with him, and we also talked a little basketball.  We got to know each other.  So we were committed to do our best to get him.  The process took about ten days or two weeks, but it was a happy ending for us and Zack I think.

Kenny: Stan, your payroll is now over $200 million dollars.  What are your thoughts, what’s the philosophy on the luxury tax?
Image Capture for the MLB Network, Clubhouse Confidential

Kasten: Well for right now that’s kind of a secondary issue for us.  This is the phase that we’re in for now, catching up to what kind of team this market should have.  We’re also spending an awful lot of time in re-building our scouting and player development.  Particulary internationally.  We’ve done a ton of hiring this off-season as everyone knows, we’ve also made a commitment with a pitcher like Ryu Hyung-Jin.  To go into that process of bringing players to the major leagues so that in a couple of years we won’t have to be facing free agents every year.  We’ll go back to the roots of the Dodgers where they have a pipeline that is producing players for the Major Leagues year in year out.

Kenny: Stan, what kind of payroll are you willing to have?  What’s the ceiling?

Kasten: I don’t know.  You know we don’t focus on that so much, we don’t focus on numbers because again we’re at just a phase of what is a much larger picture.  Whatever our payroll is this year, it’s not what I expect it to be year in year out.  Right now we’re focusing on what moves we can make.  We’re trying to be mindful about buying wise.  I know it doesn’t look that way to everybody but so far no one that we’ve signed is on a contract that will have them pitch beyond the age of 36  for instance.  So we’re trying to watch those things and if we’re spending a little more in some areas than others, so be it, but for us we think it’s a short term investment while we build a longer term picture.

Image Capture for the MLB Network, Brian Kenny of Clubhouse Confidential

Kenny:  Stan, I know you have a philosophy on this and we’ve talked about this before but you have seven contracts with at least five years left on those deals.  What’s the philosophy there, with all those long term deals and will that limit you in the next couple of years?

Kasten:  Well, first of all we have those contracts with those players that we really value highly and we think we’re going to get good productivity out of all of them.  Age-wise we don’t think it’s going to be a big problem, as I said I don’t think of them as limitations.  Soon enough we’re going to be able to produce home grown players, that’s the goal I think of every successful franchise.

Kenny: Stan, I appreciate you taking the time in the busy holiday shopping season.  Thank you very much Stan.

Kasten:  Thank you very much Brian, good talking to you.

---------------end of interview-----------------

A few things I got out of this short interview:

First, Dodger management is spending on a group of core players that they expect to perform for five years because it'll take some time to build up the depleted farm system.  Hearing that is reassuring as that is what I would expect from a storied franchise like the Dodgers.  Kasten insinuated that he expects the big signees to perform and hold the fort until the franchise is able to build from within.

Second, Kasten and the Guggenheim group believes that the spending is warranted for a market the size of Los Angeles.  Again, reassuring to hear considering what we have been experiencing from the McCourt ownership over the last several years.  The fans come out and support the club, thus they deserve a team that battles for a championship.

Third, scouting and player development is of high priority in the organization, especially in the international front.  We have seen a number of additions to the scouting department this off season with the hiring of Gary Hunsicker from Tampa Bay, and Bob Engle and Patrick Guerrero from the Mariners.  All thought of highly in nearly all Major League Baseball circles.  The Dodgers have proven that they intend to grow via international markets with the Puig and Ryu signings this past six months.

Fourth, Kasten isn't about to let the world know what the Dodgers payroll ceiling is.  He's not exposing the full plan, which is smart.  I have a hard time believing that he doesn't know how far they'll go with expenditures and he kind of hinted to that by saying that he expects the high payroll to not last forever .  As younger players develop, things will level out.  But there is no doubt that this ownership group will spend and with the revenue streams that will be coming in via the mega-TV deal they inevitably will sign, the Dodgers will be a force each year and a true contender.

In my opinion, the hardest thing about following this Dodger team will be maintaining our composure and remaining patient for the season to start.  This is going to be an exciting year.


  1. We hear much from baseball executives but Stan Kasten seems to be a bit different. He tells it as it is and explains well. He inspires a bit of confidence that there is a long range plan. He did so with Zach Greinke.

    Not satisfied to take a few years to get competitive annually, the team went on a spending binge for guys signed for a few years. For quite some time the Dodgers have had a yearly turnover of players. That is ending with some certainty at a number of positions for a few years. Another interesting part will be to see when some of these parts are traded down the road a ways as they are roughly the same age.

    As you pointed out, the plan is not to continue to just buy, which is not the secret to continued success, but to build. Some time is needed to do just that, reload the farm system. That will become more difficult with the new rules regarding international signings, limited signing bonus money and without high draft picks. (Draftees may well see the Dodgers as a good place to be now.) Scouting has to be the best and uncovering gems not found by other teams. Somewhere along the line, trades may bring young minor league prospects.

    I am looking forward to the season, which I have always done. I definitely am not going in with the mindset that this Dodger team will win 110 games and is a shoo-in to get to the WS. Regardless of the roster, a whole lot of things have to fall in place. One would be that these additions perform in accordance with their contracts and another is the remain healthy. In between, a whole lot of smaller things have to happen.

  2. I honestly started writing this piece thinking that Kasten had said nothing exciting. It seemed to be the same old cliche's but then as I re-heard the interview and transcribed it, his words seemed to
    resonate. "This guys has a plan and if you read between the lines, he's letting us know what it is."

    I think you're spot on about the Dodgers not having a yearly turnover of players. Fact is, this time next year will probably quite boring to us, because I don't think there'll be a need to re-load and re-stock.