McCourt: Club headed in right direction

Chairman says club headed in right direction

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Frank McCourt told the media Friday that his management team is improved from last year, the player roster is improved and his ballpark is improved.

Drawing comparisons between his two years as a new owner with an inexperienced ballplayer still learning his craft, McCourt indicated the owner is improved, too.

"I'm proof positive there's a tremendous amount to be learned about new experiences and situations," McCourt said.

After a tumultuous first two years as Dodgers chairman, McCourt arrived at Dodgertown this week to find his team focused on baseball.

"I heard there's a new attitude and a feeling of optimism, but there's nothing like seeing it with your eyes and hearing it with your ears," he said. "Everybody's on the same page. In part, that's why things are going so smoothly."

McCourt credits new general manager Ned Colletti and field manager Grady Little with instilling confidence from the clubhouse up to the executive suite.

"It's very important our general manager and manager are on the same page," said McCourt, a clear reference to the differing philosophies of their predecessors, Paul DePodesta and Jim Tracy. "Then everybody else gets on the same page, and it's something quite powerful when you're moving in the same direction. You can't be pulling and tugging in different directions."

McCourt said there was a difference between hiring DePodesta one month into his ownership and Colletti after two years.

"Truthfully, as a new owner, I had never been through a search for a general manager before," McCourt said. "Certainly, I thought I hired the right person, and at the time, I verbalized why. The difference is, I had more experience this time and more time to be more deliberate about it.

"The most important point is that I knew what I wanted. We learn from experience, and I feel I learned immensely from the two years I've owned the club. That's what growth is. It's what players go through. You look at failures you have to overcome to become a champion. We all have bumps in the road -- it's how we deal with them. You have to be willing to admit it and fix it."

McCourt said Colletti "has done a masterful job in a short period of time" assembling a team that can win now without mortgaging the future by trading away prospects.

"We're in a really good place right now," McCourt said.

McCourt said he expects the Dodgers to win, this year and every year. And he repeated that he also is committed to upgrading the fan experience at Dodger Stadium, where refurbishing is ongoing.

In addition to this winter's initiative to replace every seat and change the color scheme, McCourt announced that a park and picnic area is being constructed near the left-field entrance to the Loge Level. If fans respond favorably, more concourses will be similarly expanded.

"As attendance increases, we can improve the elbow room," he said. "We need more space. We can do this in other places around the park."

McCourt said he has no regrets about the whirlwind of changes he's implemented in the operation of the franchise, even though it led to a public perception of disarray.

"It took a change of direction to get the franchise headed in the direction where we want it to go," McCourt said. "If things had been perfect, it would be steady at the helm. We were looking to change direction. There was debate, discussion. If it was not done, we never would have achieved the results. Overall, I'm very pleased with what we've achieved. Now we're headed in a great direction. We're in a far better place."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.