Friday, December 12, 2014

4 comments Matt Kemp Was On the Trade Block And Steve Dilbeck and Bill Plaschke Were Incredulous This Could Happen; Then Kemp Got Traded And Shit Got Real

I wrote this post about Bill Plaschke and Steve Dilbeck's reaction to Matt Kemp being dangled as trade bait. Then, Kemp got traded the next day so I updated it with Plaschke and Dilbeck's reactions to this trade. You won't believe this, but they are critical of Andrew Friedman.

Matt Kemp is 29 years old. He hit .287/.346/.506 last season with 25 home runs and 87 RBI's. He was part of a four-man outfield that the Dodgers were actively looking to make a three-man outfield, so his name was appearing in trade rumors. Kemp may be the most talented outfielder the Dodgers had (or at least second best depending on your view of Yasiel Puig), so it did and didn't make sense to dangle him in a trade. Kemp is owed $107.5 million over the next five years, so the Dodgers aren't necessarily cutting payroll, but could definitely freed up some payroll by trading Kemp while getting good prospects in return. Still, Bill Plaschke and Steve Dilbeck are not happy Kemp's name had popped up in trade rumors prior to being traded. Full disclosure: These two are going to hate everything the Dodgers do because they don't like Sabermetrics and they think that's all Andrew Friedman is going to use to evaluate baseball players. So no matter happens, they will criticize moves the Dodgers make because they hate the Dodgers' GM and how he evaluates players.

Bill Plaschke goes first on why even mentioning Kemp's name in trade talks is a huge mistake. (This was prior to Kemp being traded)

This column should not have to be written. The truths here should go without saying. Any Dodgers fan will understand it implicitly.

But these out-of-towners are running the baseball operations in Chavez Ravine these days, 

Ned Colletti was from Chicago. He worked for the Cubs and then the San Francisco Giants. He was an out-of-towner too. Carry on with your mindless bashing...

they don't yet know the pulse of the dugout, they haven't learned the heartbeat of the clubhouse, 

Two paragraphs in and we already have the first reference to Friedman sitting high upon a tower of statistics unable to understand what happens in a dugout. Friedman worked with Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay so I really doubt he has no idea how a dugout works.

So listen up, new guys.

You don't trade Matt Kemp.

You do if it improves the team. You don't make players on a team sacred cows. That's how mediocrity happens.

You don't trade the one man whose bat can change the complexion of the team from beige to red. You don't trade the one guy who can transform the lineup from stilted to swaggering.

The Dodgers are definitely not trading Adrian Gonzalez or Yasiel Puig. Don't worry about that, Bill.

(And, of course, you don't trade the only guy willing to publicly call out Yasiel Puig during the middle of a game, but that's another story.)

Yes, Matt Kemp was one of the few Dodgers who was willing to take on the monster that is Yasiel Puig. For that, Bill Plaschke will be eternally grateful. Yasiel Puig isn't a very good baseball player, he is a cancer just waiting to ruin the Dodgers postseason chances.

When Matt Kemp is right, the Dodgers offense is right,

The same can be said about Yasiel Puig.

He had 17 home runs and 49 runs batted in over the final two months of the season, and had a .365 on-base percentage in the second half. In September, he had nine homers and 25 RBIs.

Yasiel Puig hit .398/.492/.731 during the month of May when the Dodgers were 15-15. Obviously this is all his fault. Puig hit .351/.425/.688 during the month of July and the Dodgers were 14-10. It's clear that Puig can't lift his teammates up like Matt Kemp can. By the way, Puig had a .366 on-base percentage in the second half. Just remember this while Plaschke brags about Kemp's second-half revival.

It's easy to blame everyone in uniform for the postseason debacle, but Kemp was not the reason the Dodgers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Matt Kemp didn't bring the Dodgers down when he was struggling in the first half of the season, not at all, he is only responsible for lifting the Dodgers up when he plays well. This is as opposed to Yasiel Puig who brings the Dodgers down no matter what he does.

The new guys will surely talk to players who said that Kemp can be a clubhouse irritant, loud and abrasive.

If only there were a player willing to publicly call out Matt Kemp during the middle of a game like Matt Kemp would do. If only...

But when he's going well, it's a happy, even inspirational noise.

Players say that Kemp is a clubhouse irritant and Bill Plaschke says, "But it's a good irritant and the players who aren't annoyed by Kemp think it's an inspirational noise."

Players say that Puig is a clubhouse irritant and Bill Plaschke says, "This is why Yasiel Puig needs to be benched or traded. When he's going well, it's a happy noise that bothers everyone."

The question isn't what kind noise Kemp makes when he's going good, but what he's like when he is going bad? Isn't that what writers tend to focus on with Yasiel Puig at all times? What a distraction and danger to the Dodgers team he is? Why does Plaschke only focus on Kemp's impact in the locker room when he is playing well? Of course Plaschke has an agenda and wants to separate Kemp from Puig, so this seems to be his attempt to do so.

(I don't mean to keep harping on the Puig comparison, but Plaschke brought it up and he has written many negative things about Puig in the past year. This includes talking about how Puig is a clubhouse cancer and a bomb on the field just waiting to explode and ruin the very existence of the Dodgers franchise)

The team fed off that sound at the end of last season, and there's no reason for the Dodgers to suddenly silence it now.

No word on what would happen to the Dodgers clubhouse if Kemp got injured or started struggling.

Even Kemp's grumbling about playing left field has stopped. His agent, Junior Spivey, confirmed to The Times' Dylan Hernandez this week that Kemp is no longer demanding a return to center field.

Oh, Kemp will be forgiven under the Michael Young Rule? It's fine to demand a trade or complain about your position as long as you eventually take it back and become a team player after throwing a hissy-fit. Imagine if Puig had complained about his position. I doubt forgiveness from Bill would come so easily.

Kemp is a proud man who felt he was being embarrassed in an unfamiliar position, but now that he's hitting again, that embarrassment is gone.

But again, what happens if he stops hitting? Plaschke tries to avoid this issue because he knows it leads him down a road where it's more difficult to differentiate Kemp from a guy who causes a bad atmosphere in the clubhouse. Always with the agendas.

Obviously, the new guys have holes to fill, and Kemp is the easiest way to fill them. He could be used to pick up a top starting pitcher, or a shortstop and a catcher, or any combination of the three with a veteran reliever tossed in. Just as obviously, the Dodgers have an outfield surplus, and Kemp is the most obvious way to try to improve while reducing the clutter.

Yes and yes. Kemp makes a lot of money and he brought a decent return in a trade. Therefore he is the one on the trade block. Other MLB teams don't want Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford, and if they did, the Dodgers certainly wouldn't get the return for these players that they could get for Kemp.

One problem. At this stage in their careers, the combination of Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford can't come close to matching Kemp's impact.

Possibly not, but the hope is that the players the Dodgers get back in the trade for Kemp could improve the Dodgers at another position either in the short or long-term. That was the purpose of dangling Kemp out as trade bait.

And who knows what you're going to get out of the kid Joc Pederson, or even that bigger kid named Puig.

Nice shot at Puig. Who knows what the Dodgers would get from Kemp? Would it be the guy who struggled in the first half of the 2014 season? The guy who played great in the second half of the 2014 season? Would it be the MVP-caliber Kemp or the injured 2012 and 2013 version of Kemp? Plaschke works hard to paint Pederson and Puig as unknowns, but Kemp is an unknown too. The last few years of his career haven't exactly been consistent.

Puig hit four homers with 17 RBIs after the All-Star break last season before striking out eight times in 12 postseason at-bats. There is an equal chance of his upcoming season being either breakout or breakdown.

Guess what? It's the same thing with Matt Kemp. Don't lie and pretend this isn't true. Matt Kemp has been injured in two of the last three seasons, but way to create an alternate reality where Kemp is the picture of reliable.

If Bill wants to talk strikeouts, Matt Kemp struck out 145 times in 541 at-bats this season, while Puig struck out 124 times in 558 at-bats. I like how Plaschke uses the small sample size of the postseason as if it extrapolates over the entire season, but that's just not true.

It's impossible to guess, and the new guys shouldn't try.

Yes, don't even try. Because Puig's performance is unpredictable, like 99% of major league players, so just give him on him. That makes sense.

Kemp hit six homers in 148 at-bats against lefties, a pace that would make him almost twice as effective as the rest of the team's power hitters combined. 

This is impressive compared to the other hitters on the Dodgers' team, but given that comes out to about 24 home runs against left-handed pitchers over 600 at-bats, it's not exactly super power-slugging numbers for a right-handed hitter. Not to mention, the Dodgers shouldn't have turned down a trade offer for Kemp because they are concerned they won't have power against late-inning left-handers. That seems short-sighted.

Pederson isn't included in that first group because, well, in seven plate appearances he is still waiting for his first career hit against a left-hander.

Clearly this is the sign that Joc Pederson is a bust. I guess that's the takeaway from this comment.

There has been talk at this week's winter meetings about Kemp being traded to the San Diego Padres for catcher Yasmani Grandal — seriously — but one of the new guys told reporters Tuesday that this deal was not close.

And Piggy, it's rude to call them "the new guys." Show a little respect or at least use their name as opposed to calling them "the new guys" simply because you are too old and lazy to learn the new information they use as just a part of their player evaluation.

Good. Let's keep it that way.

The new guys

This is going to continuously annoy me. Andrew Friedman is not new at his position. He is new in town, but so was the great Ned Colletti at some point.

certainly cannot be blamed for listening to offers for the 30-year-old Kemp and a contract that will pay him $107 million for the next five years.

Then Bill Plaschke wrote an entire column (this one) blaming the Dodgers and Friedman for listening to offers. In Bill's senile, ESPN-influenced mind I am sure this makes sense. 

"The Dodgers can't be blamed for listening to offers for Matt Kemp. I will now blame them for listening to offers for Matt Kemp."

For most of his nine seasons in a Dodgers uniform, Kemp has pretty much driven everyone crazy, particularly this columnist, who has suggested both that the Dodgers trade him and keep him — sometimes in the same column.

But since a new evil arrived in the form of Yasiel Puig, all of a sudden Matt Kemp is an angel and a great guy to have in the clubhouse when he is playing well. Matt Kemp used to be an asshole in the clubhouse, but Bill can only hate one Dodgers player at a time, so he will wax poetic about what a great clubhouse guy Kemp is in certain situations while bashing "the new guys" and Puig.

The championship window is closing fast on the core of this Dodgers group. 

Speaking of that championship window, here is what Plaschke wrote after the Dodgers lost in the 2014 playoffs. Never forget.

The failure was something much broader, much deeper, and much more evident in the Dodgers words than even their play. This was a 94-win team that was favored by many to traipse through October on its way to the World Series, yet their journey lasted all of five days. This was the ugliest postseason elimination for this franchise in 29 years, since the Cardinals did this to them in the 1985 National League Championship Series.

The team with the richest payroll in baseball history turned out to be a beautifully detailed Cadillac without any tires, a $240-million clunker that couldn't even finish the first October lap.

This is the Dodgers team that Bill claims has a "championship window." The same team he is referring to as a $240-million clunker. Yep, Plaschke can't keep a consistent opinion. 

The failure continues with the baseball people, and that means General Manager Ned Colletti, who sat on a couch in the clubhouse early Friday evening and winced.

The failure continued with the same GM that Plaschke now bemoans was fired and replaced with Andrew Friedman. But yeah, back in October when the Dodgers were underachieving, those were the good old days.

Colletti will take most of the heat here for failure to work within his bosses' philosophical constraints to somehow put together a group of decent relief pitchers.

Rip them when they are here, bemoan their absence when they are gone.

Why does this rich and powerful team so often play selfishly and distracted, particularly under pressure? Why are they, you know, the anti-Cardinals?

This is the "championship window" that Plaschke is now referring to. The same "championship window" that didn't seem to exist two short months ago.

And throughout the series there was a visible lack of Dodgers leadership on the field when pitchers were struggling or Kemp was arguing with umpire Dale Scott, and nearly bumping him, all by himself.

But it was a GOOD arguing and bumping that inspired the Dodgers. Kemp was showing a lack of leadership at the time, but now that he is gone he was a saint in the clubhouse.

And in a too-little-too-late move, he strangely benched Yasiel Puig on Tuesday, which meant Ethier had to make his fourth start in a month in the biggest game of the year. Little wonder Ethier ended the Dodgers' only scoring rally in the sixth inning by getting lost off third base.

Yasiel Puig is in some way partly responsible for Andre Ethier getting lost off third base.

No need to cut up the season, the Cardinals did that for them, once again leaving the Dodgers in sad little blue-stained pieces on their perfectly manicured turf with the arch cut into the outfield, the team that does everything right again triumphing over a team gone wrong.

Does that sound like a writer who believes the Dodgers have a championship window? So as suspected, Plaschke is taking part in some revisionist history. Back to the current day (and column) before Kemp got traded, back when Kemp was a saint and not showing a lack of leadership by arguing with umpires.

Despite his great numbers, Gonzalez appears to be slowing;

And Matt Kemp is three years from being the same age as Gonzalez, when he would start slowing down (especially given his injury history), and have two years left on his contract. I feel this needs to be mentioned.

Uribe is aging; the bullpen behind Kenley Jansen is weathered; Zack Greinke can opt out of his contract after next summer; and who knows how long Clayton Kershaw can physically handle being baseball's best pitcher.

This could be the last season that this collection of players can seriously contend for a title. 

It depends on what your definition of "seriously contend for a title" means. Did the Dodgers seriously contend for a title last year? They didn't make it out of the NLDS. Isn't the fact Plaschke just listed three important Dodgers players who are declining a good reason to trade an asset like Kemp, or at least look into his value, in order to bring on players who aren't declining and keep that championship window open just a little while longer?

If the new guys truly want to win right now, which the Los Angeles market demands in a way that the new guys never experienced in St. Petersburg or Oakland, they will try to win it with Matt Kemp.

So then what was Plaschke's solution for the four-man outfield the Dodgers have? Other than trade Puig of course. I know that's the first option. It's so annoying that Plaschke is pretending like Kemp's performance isn't a question mark, even as he described how Kemp struggled for the first half of the season.

But then, the unthinkable happened, and the Dodgers traded Matt Kemp. Bill Plaschke is very displeased. 

The Dodgers are no longer a reflection of two playoff appearances in two seasons. They are no longer a symbol of a Guggenheim rebirth that led to a league-leading attendance of 3.7 million.

Everything is over now. The Dodgers are rebuilding by opening up an outfield position and upgrading at second base and shortstop. That's definitely the sign of a team not interested in making the playoffs.

They are no longer connected to anything, it seems, but one man who appears intent on blowing them up.

The Dodgers made changes to a team that Bill felt was flawed. Oh my gracious, what will Bill do?

Bringing in Jimmy Rollins to play shortstop was smart. Trading Dee Gordon at the probable peak of his value was savvy. Replacing him with Howie Kendrick was sound.

But the Matt Kemp trade was nuts.

It wasn't the best trade, I will admit that, but it had it's reasons. Kemp couldn't always be counted on to be healthy and he isn't quite the leader (as Bill has admitted) that Plaschke desperately wants to paint him as now.

It is not a trade when you give the other team $32 million to take the guy. It is not a trade when the only proven major leaguer acquired is a .225-hitting catcher who threw out 13% of baserunners and has been suspended for use of performance-enhancing drugs.

It is a trade when you only pay $32 million of a $107 million contract. Grandal was suspended almost two years ago and using only batting average doesn't show what an upgrade he will be for the Dodgers at the catcher position. He's a switch-hitting catcher who has power and gets on-base at a decent clip. He's not Johnny Bench, but Matt Kemp also isn't Roberto Clemente.

it's a salary dump by owners stinging from the losses incurred by that lousy television deal.

It's a salary dump that allows the Dodgers to upgrade at second base, trade for a shortstop, and improve the rotation that Plaschke claims hurt the Dodgers in the playoffs. Looking at the trade purely from the perspective of a single transaction it may not make sense. Looking at the trade as part of a plan, it makes a little more sense. Plaschke isn't interested in doing anything but bashing Friedman though.

The Dodgers obviously felt that at age 30 and with his injury history, Kemp may have peaked. He may never again be an outstanding outfielder. He isn't always great in the clubhouse.

And he was only owed $21.5 million every year for the next five years. Why did the Dodgers dare to trade Kemp? It's certainly a mystery. It's a risk, but contrary to what he would have you believe, Plaschke didn't think the Dodgers were a complete team back in October. He didn't think they were a team on the very cusp of a World Series title.

But didn't we also hear some of those same things back in 1998 about a 29-year-old Dodgers slugger who had also seemingly peaked? Guy by the name of Mike Piazza.

You mean the trade that brought Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, and Charles Johnson to the Dodgers? The same Charles Johnson that netted the Dodgers two really good years of Todd Hundley in a separate trade? Yeah, that ended up being a terrible trade. Gary Sheffield was a bum.

Kemp's numbers will most likely decline in spacious Petco Park, but that won't compensate for the giant right-handed power hole he left in a lineup where the cleanup hitter is now … Kendrick?

Or Adrian Gonzalez or Puig could be the cleanup hitter. Not sure why Plaschke thinks Kendrick would be the guy.

About that defense, Friedman is taking a huge risk that Joc Pederson is ready to play center field after a difficult stay in Chavez Ravine last September.

Buster Posey struggled initially when he was called up. It doesn't mean a hell of a lot in the long run if a young player struggles when initially called up to the majors.

Friedman's other move this week, essentially trading pitcher Dan Haren for free-agent pitcher Brandon McCarthy, doesn't seem to noticeably help a team that seems no better right now than at the end of last season.

You mean the part where Friedman traded a pitcher who may retire and then signed a very similar pitcher who is three years younger? Friedman spent $48 million on McCarthy! Wasn't Plaschke just accusing Friedman of dumping salary?

Impressively, the new guy isn't afraid of the heat. Friedman returned a phone call even though he knew I would be criticizing the Kemp trade.

That is impressive that Friedman isn't too scared to talk to the big scary Bill Plaschke on the phone. Clearly, Bill Plaschke has a much higher opinion of himself than anyone else does. Is Andrew Friedman supposed to be scared of Bill Plaschke or something? Sounds like Bill is pretty self-involved.

He was asked if he understood how quickly the increasingly impatient Dodgers fans will turn on him if the Kemp trade doesn't work.

No Bill, he doesn't understand this. Please explain it to him like he's an idiot. Because obviously Andrew Friedman doesn't understand how to do his job and has zero experience with impatient fans.

He was asked if he understood how, just a couple of months into his journey, he was already treading in the sort of deep water not found off the shores of St. Petersburg.

How condescending. If Plaschke is talking about Friedman treading in deep water in terms of being the one leading the Dodgers to the same place that he has already led the Rays to, then yes, I think Friedman gets it. See, the Rays have had success under Friedman. I'm not sure why Plaschke can't grasp this concept. He seems to think only in Los Angeles is success expected. Friedman comes from an MLB team that couldn't draw a crowd even when the team was a success. Success was essential in Tampa Bay because they were a low-market team that had a hard time drawing a crowd.

"We are incredibly passionate about what we do, and we certainly understand and appreciate the fan's passion, and that's part of the motivating factor for us," Friedman said.

THEN WHY DID YOU TRADE A PLAYER FROM A TEAM THAT BILL PLASCHKE THOUGHT WAS FLAWED BUT HE'S NOW GOING TO PRETEND HE DIDN'T THINK THAT?

The only position that concerns Dodgers fans would be a spot in the World Series for the first time in 27 years.

This being something that Bill Plaschke intentionally didn't mention, but Andrew Friedman has led a team to the World Series. So he has experience getting his team a spot in the World Series.

Two years ago, they were two victories from that spot. With Kemp gone, they're not getting any closer.

As part of his agenda to mislead readers, guess who wasn't a part of that team that was two victories from the World Series? A gentleman by the name of Matt Kemp. So the Dodgers aren't closer to the World Series without Kemp, even though they got close to the World Series two years ago without Matt Kemp. So, the Dodgers can get there without him. But hey, Plaschke has an agenda and he will be damned if reality messes with the fiction he is writing.

Now Steve Dilbeck will become incredulous at the idea of entertaining trade offers for Matt Kemp. Here is what Dilbeck wrote before Kemp was traded.

The Dodgers want to move an outfielder, maybe two, and the one getting the most attention is Matt Kemp? The Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners have all reportedly expressed serious interest in Kemp.

Yes, one of the better outfielders the Dodgers have was receiving interest on the trade market. I know, it's shocking that other teams would want to trade for a good player and not Dilbeck's hero, Andre Ethier, but that's the state of baseball right now. Math nerds running teams want to trade for good baseball players, not slightly above average ones who will be 33 years old next year. 

Now, if you’re the Dodgers, sure, you listen. That’s basic due diligence. But unless they’re just blown away by an offer, there should be no way Kemp is the one moved.

I have a feeling Steve is not going to be impressed with Yasmani Grandal as part of the return for Kemp. Of course, trading Kemp also opened up payroll to improve the shortstop and second base position, along with signing Brandon McCarthy, but everything Andrew Friedman does is wrong so I'm sure those were dumb moves.

The Dodgers “lost” free agent Hanley Ramirez to the Boston Red Sox after the shortstop signed a jaw-dropping $88-million deal. They can’t really afford to lose the only other real right-handed power in the lineup. Certainly you’re not going to count on the streaky Yasiel Puig, who hit exactly one home run in a 54-game stretch from June 5 to Sept. 15?

It always comes back to Puig. Always. The good news is that Jimmy Rollins hit 17 home runs last year and Grandal hit 15 home runs. That's 32 home runs in the lineup right there while two positions have been improved. Great success!

Since ownership is so blindly in love with Puig (corrected: can opt into arbitration after three years of major league service time),

Yes, how dare ownership keep an eye on costs and trade away a 30 year old outfielder with five years left on a $100+ million-plus contract in favor of keeping the young player with a higher ceiling. Dumb move.

What's really funny is that Dilbeck is just like Bill Plaschke. He's going to criticize Andrew Friedman no matter what. If Friedman spends money, they will say that Friedman comes from a small market team and has no idea how to handle big contracts for a "real" team. If Friedman cuts salaries they will say that cutting salary is the very opposite of what a team on the very, very cusp of a World Series title needs to do. Both will forget that the Royals were in the World Series last year and the Dodgers couldn't get out of the NLDS while spending the most money in the majors. If Friedman spends money, he doesn't know what he's doing. If Friedman doesn't spend money then he is going cheap and ruining a title contender.

So if they’re seriously listening to offers for Kemp, they must be finding a nothing market for Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford.

Or a market where the return isn't close to being worth trading either player.

It’s impossible to reject a trade when you unaware of what’s included, but it is unlikely another team is going to include some can’t-miss prospect for Kemp.

Grandal is a pretty good catcher who is only 26 years old. Joe Wieland is young, but hasn't torn up the majors in his limited time and Zach Eflin pitched pretty well in the minors last year and is (depending on who you believe) the #12-#16 prospect for the Padres (of course he's getting traded for Rollins). It's not a massive haul, but the Padres are also eating about $75 million of Kemp's salary.

As excited as fans are over the way Kemp finished last season (.306, 20 homers, 70 runs batted in, 23 doubles in his last 92 games), there are still all those injuries and struggles the previous two seasons.

Right. And there is also the fact that he is the most expensive outfielder the Dodgers have and they have Joc Pederson waiting to play centerfield. So really, the Dodgers had five outfielders and they didn't feel they could rely on Kemp enough to keep him. In fact, Dilbeck himself recently argued for consistency in the Dodgers outfield over a player who has struggled. So now that Kemp is gone, there is only one Dodgers outfielder Dilbeck can hate, Yasiel Puig, which means he can put all of his effort into hating Puig.

So if you’re not going to get some serious phenom in return, why trade Kemp? There’s zero power available in free agency and it’s becoming rarer in this post-steroids era.

I do agree with this statement. Power is becoming a rare commodity. Fortunately, the Dodgers still hope that Puig can find some of the power he lost last year, Grandal has power for a catcher, and Adrian Gonzalez still exists on the Dodgers' roster.

I repeat: The unreliable, typically dour and frequently injured Ramirez just signed for $88 million for four years. Kemp’s owed $106 million over the next five and he’s a year younger. People who assume there is no way Kemp could get an equal contract if he were a free agent now, best look at Ramirez.

So Steve Dilbeck's reasoning for why the Dodgers shouldn't have traded Matt Kemp is because if Kemp were a free agent then a team would overpay for him? Who cares what Kemp could get on the open market? Kemp's value on the open market doesn't mean he is worth $21 million to the Dodgers anymore. The Dodgers didn't trade Kemp because they thought he wasn't worth $21 million, but because they had other options in the outfield and didn't feel Kemp could be relied upon. He was worth more to them as a trade asset to fill other spots on the roster that need improvement, while opening up room in the outfield for Puig, Ethier, Pederson, and Crawford to play.

The real unknown here is the Geek Squad.

You are such a fucking hack. At least pretend like you aren't going to spend the rest of your years writing for the "Times" bashing Friedman and Zaidi for daring to have ideas that you don't have the energy to try and understand.

New President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, General Manager Farhan Zaidi and Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Josh Byrnes all come from small market clubs. They’re playing with real money for the first time in their careers. They supposedly think outside the traditional baseball box.

As I wrote earlier, Dilbeck and Plaschke are going to bash them no matter what they do. If Friedman cuts salary just a little bit then he is trying to run the Dodgers like a small market team, if Friedman signs players to big contracts then he is playing with real money and probably won't know how to handle it. It all goes back to the fact Dilbeck and Plaschke just don't like the ideas (and roster-building strategies) of Andrew Friedman.

But this Dodgers’ team is built to win it all, right now. It won 94 games last year, and it was considered a disappointing season.

So why not take the exact team, minus Hanley Ramirez and a year older at every position, then try to see if that same team can disappoint again? IT MAKES SENSE! Do what was done in the past and hope it gets a different result this time. What could go wrong?

In reality, the Dodgers were a team with flaws. They traded Dee Gordon at the peak of his value, needed more pitching and had too many outfielders. If Friedman had made no changes to the roster then Dilbeck would have written, "Friedman and his Geek Squad was supposed to come in and shake up the roster, but all he delivered was the same results as before." Then Dilbeck would have other derogatory comments about Friedman and how not changing the roster was a mistake. This is what happens when there are sportswriters who write with an agenda.

They want to shed some contract, they’d best do it while remembering their primary charge is to win now. And logic says, that should include Kemp.

Maybe, but logic also says to use a trade asset in a crowded outfield to improve other spots on the roster like shortstop and catcher that needed improving. The Dodgers essentially managed to trade Dee Gordon for a better second baseman. That's a move to win now.

And now here is Dilbeck's reaction to the Dodgers trading away Kemp. 

I'm going to miss Matt Kemp. That may come as a shock to many -- particularly Matt Kemp -- but in truth he became my favorite Dodger.

Kemp became Dilbeck's favorite Dodger just as soon as he learned Andrew Friedman was going to put Kemp on the trade block. A chance to criticize Friedman appeared and then Kemp became Dilbeck's favorite Dodger. Anything to criticize the Geek Squad.

Kemp could be self-centered, but mostly he was upbeat and like a happy kid in the clubhouse. Certainly he had his moments, but I would never describe him as some clubhouse cancer.

I am trying to think of another Dodger who is upbeat, self-centered and like a happy kid, but has been referred to as a clubhouse cancer. Hmmm...I can't think of his name.

Yeah, he enjoyed the spotlight. Loved the attention and celebrities and the whole glamour thing. That’s not the worst thing, though sometimes there seemed too much effort in looking cool on a play and not enough hustling his butt off.

But now the Dodgers have a cheaper, younger version of Kemp in the form of Yasiel Puig! It's a win for them.

He brought excitement to the plate, which is a rare quality these days, and one now missing from the Dodgers lineup.

Again, I would argue Puig brings this. I seem to recall a lot of excitement surrounding Puig when he is at the plate. This quality is still present in the Dodgers lineup.

In truth, Kemp had a problem with me. He refused to explain it. Maybe it was one too many snarky comments or he didn’t like my questions or that I had him second in the MVP voting in 2011 or he just didn’t understand the difference between straight newspaper reporting and the commentary awarded to a blog.

Well Steve, I'm just glad you were able to bring yourself into his story. It's important when reading your take on the Kemp trade that you become a part of the story.

I was not there, and players had nominated several scribes when Kemp announced he knew exactly who he would do a piece on, but struggled to come up with my name. My feelings have recovered. He described me as gray hair with glasses and slightly hefty. The scribes were throwing out various names when one finally said “Dilbeck” and Kemp lit up and said, “Yeah, that’s the one!”

To which my close Times comrade, peer and ex-friend, Dylan Hernandez, shouted: “Why didn’t you just say the old, fat (guy)?”

But see, Kemp didn’t go there. Even for a scribe he would just as soon see transferred to another beat, he could not bring himself to say anything derogatory. And so, he became my favorite Dodger.

So if anyone is ever wondering whether newspaper guys play favorites among players based on their relationship with these players, look no further. Matt Kemp didn't say something about Dilbeck that was derogatory, so regardless of Kemp's play on the field, Dilbeck was willing to overlook Kemp's injuries, slight pouting and mental errors to have his back when the evil Andrew Friedman traded Kemp.

Maybe Yasiel Puig should start to hate Steve Dilbeck, but then refuse to be derogatory behind Steve's back, and Dilbeck will love him forever because of this. 

In the short term, he will likely make the Dodgers pay for this trade. Down the road, maybe he physically breaks down again and the Dodgers look good for this odd deal.

For today, however, I am privately left without a favorite Dodger.

Well, the trade was about you and not the long-term well-being of the Dodgers, so feel free to rip into Andrew Friedman for it.

And six hours after posting this previous column, Dilbeck does just that.

Think the Dodgers have done a masterful job of shaking up a team that won 94 games last season? That the franchise's very own numbers crunchers have put together a team ready to take that step to the World Series?

We won't know until the season begins. You know, like happens every other MLB season.

Unsure, are you? Thinking it best not to be prematurely all judgmental? Have no fear, that’s what bloggers are for.

It's impossible to know how offseason moves will play out. What's ridiculous is Dilbeck isn't really evaluating the moves Andrew Friedman made, he is basically thinking of reasons to criticize Friedman because he doesn't like statistical evaluation of players.

I fear for their future.

But that happened the second the Dodgers hired Andrew Friedman, so it really means nothing.

There’s still another starting pitcher to nab and probably an Andre Ethier still to trade.

But the Dodgers' 2015 lineup appears pretty set and will probably look something like this:

Jimmy Rollins (shortstop), Carl Crawford (left), Yasiel Puig (right), Adrian Gonzalez (first), Howie Kendrick (second), Juan Uribe (third), Joc Pederson (center), Yasmani Grandal/A.J. Ellis (catcher).

That’s a very nice lineup. It just doesn’t look like a lineup for the most expensive team in baseball, 

And fuck winning a World Series title, the title of the most expensive team in baseball is what the Dodgers really need to win.

which is what the Dodgers will probably still be when all this is done.

That's a relief. I enjoy how Dilbeck seems to want the Dodgers to continue spending money, but he is upset that Friedman has spent money on Brandon McCarthy.

Are they better defensively with Rollins and Kendrick up the middle? Absolutely. Will they be improved in center with phenom Pederson, Crawford in left and Puig back in right? No question.

And they’d better be, because they are unlikely to score as many runs with Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Dee Gordon all gone.

Has Dilbeck seen Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins play? Rollins and Kendrick drove in 130 runs and scored 163 runs last year. Hanley Ramirez and Dee Gordon drove in 105 runs and scored 156 runs last year. Matt Kemp scored 77 runs and drove in 89 runs. So the replacement(s) for Kemp would have to score 52 runs and drive in 82 runs in order to replace Kemp/Ramirez/Gordon's production. I think scoring the runs shouldn't be too difficult, but it will be hard to find 82 RBI's between Ethier and Pederson. Otherwise, it's not quite as bad as Dilbeck is trying to make it.

That’s all they could get for Kemp -- Grandal, right-hander Joe Wieland and another pitcher, possibly right-hander Zach Eflin? Plus, they threw in at least $30 million? A part-time catcher who was busted for steroids in 2012, a pitcher coming off two elbow surgeries (including Tommy John) and a prospect they are expected to send to Philly for Rollins?

Grandal was busted two years ago for steroids and his calling Grandal "part-time" is a bit misleading considering he had 377 at-bats last year for the Padres. The return for Kemp isn't massive, but the Padres are also covering about $75 million of Kemp's deal.

And that would be Rollins who has one-year left on his contract. Actually three-fourths of the Dodgers’ infield (Uribe, Kendrick, Rollins) will be on the last year of their deals. Plus, they’re all at least 31. What was this about getting younger?

Steve Dilbeck out of one side of his mouth: "Doesn't Andrew Friedman understand this team is built to win now? These trades don't accomplish that!"

Steve Dilbeck out of the other side of his mouth: "Aren't the Dodgers supposed to be getting younger? Why are they signing all of these veterans in order to win now?"

Can't have it both ways friend. You can't want the Dodgers to compete now while also complaining the team isn't getting younger. With the position the Dodgers are in, it's very hard to do both in one offseason.

Gordon was under their control for the next four years. Kendrick could be gone after next season and Rollins is expected to be a one-year stopgap until Corey Seager is ready. The Dodgers really have no in the system to replace Uribe or Kendrick.

And apparently they have no money either, so they couldn't re-sign either player? After all, Rollins' money is off their payroll next year and the Dodgers just opened up some money by trading Kemp that they could use to find a replacement for Uribe or Kendrick if they choose not to re-sign one or both. It's hilarious how short-sighted sportswriters get when they want to further their own agenda. Dilbeck is acting like trading Kemp didn't free up some money for the 2016 season and the Dodgers won't have the option of re-signing Uribe and/or Kendrick. 

They also signed Brandon McCarthy (10-15, 4.05 ERA, 1.28 WHIP last season, who may be an upgrade over Dan Haren (13-11, 4.02, 1.18), but not a $48-million upgrade. Yet the Dodgers wanted rid of Haren so badly, they sent $10 million along in the deal to cover his 2015 salary whether he retires or not (OK, so a $38-million upgrade)

And for him and Gordon, they got back prospect Andrew Heaney, reliever Chris Hatcher, utility man Enrique Hernandez, and minor league catcher Austin Barnes from the Marlins. I’m so underwhelmed. They’re all fine prospects, but only Heaney was highly regarded, and they flipped him for Kendrick.

It doesn't matter if Dilbeck is underwhelmed. I would bet he doesn't know much about these prospects the Dodgers received.

Hatcher is a 29 year old relief pitcher (which is an area of need for the Dodgers) who appeared in 58 games last year and had a 3.38 ERA and 1.196 WHIP.

Hernandez is a 23 year old utility player who combined for 98 games at AA and AAA last year with a line of .319/.372/.484 and 11 home runs. He walked 31 times and struck out 41 times.

Barnes is a 24 year old catcher, second baseman, third baseman who combined for 122 games at A+ and AA last year with a line of .304/.398/.472 and 13 home runs. He walked 69 times and struck out 61 times.

It seems like it's an underwhelming return for Dee Gordon but Hernandez and Barnes are versatile and can hit, while Hatcher seems to have pitched pretty well last year.

Today the Dodgers look improved defensively. But without a dramatic lineup. Guess all their drama was left in San Diego’s winter meetings.

And that's what it is really all about. Drama. We all know there's no way an MLB team can win the World Series without having a ton of powerful hitters up and down their lineup. Only really powerful teams can win the World Series.

I'd probably be more open to Dilbeck's criticism if he obviously didn't have an agenda against the members of the Dodgers organization he calls "The Geek Squad." 

4 comments:

blackcrowes1 said...

HOMER !!! Awful trade for what we got back in return !!!

Bengoodfella said...

Great point. I'm a Braves fan. Criticize all you want, but I wrote this because it's terrible writing. I don't like the Dodgers.

Savage. said...

update: at current rates of production, Ethier and Pederson, Pederson especially, could together produce 150 RBI post-KempTrade. :-)

Bengoodfella said...

Savage, not such a bad trade was it? I figured it wouldn't be a bad deal for the Dodgers.