Ned Colletti has determined that the best way to light a fire under the Dodgers is to rip Matt Kemp. After criticizing Kemp’s baserunning and defense to Peter Tilden of 790-KABC, he said:
“Why is it? Because he got a new deal? Can’t tell you. But you
know, it’s below-average. If this is the last day of the season and
people are voting for the Gold Glove, his name is not even on the
ballot. It’s a shame that he would go from where he was a year ago to
revert back to when the ball goes up in the air and you’re not sure
where it’s going, or if it’s going to get caught.”
I’ll grant that Kemp hasn’t been as stellar on defense this year as he was all last year, but if Ned Colletti thinks that the team is 8-12 because Kemp isn’t running everything down he’s nuts. The Dodgers are 8-12 because the only team with worse pitching in the National League is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who at least have the excuse of being the Pittsburgh Pirates. But even the Pirates didn’t place their hopes and dreams in Vicente Padilla and every Tom, Dick and Harry Ortiz who wandered into Camelback, Arizona between February and April. That’s all on you, Ned, so if you want to rip someone, take a long look in the mirror.
And when you’re done doing that, remember that no GM who calls himself a professional rips his own players in the media, let alone his best player. His best player who decided to go year-to-year though arbitration rather than sign a long term deal and thus could very well bolt in a couple of years if he decides that getting called out by the boss on a radio show is not the sort of franchise for whom he wishes to serve as a cornerstone.
This is low rent behavior from an organization that has been called a lot of things in its history, but never low rent. Colletti ought to be ashamed of himself.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.