T.J. Simers’ interview with the Dodgers owners went about as well as expected

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Yesterday I slammed T.J. Simers for apparently prejudging the Dodgers owners in advance of his conference call with them yesterday morning. He seemed to be doing his Simers thing: looking to pick a fight and put his subject on the defensive, then turn around and say “god, what a bunch of clowns” rather than actually try to learn anything from his subject. Which is what he always does, of course.

And based on the column describing the call, that’s exactly what he did.  Focusing on petty things like the fact that Magic Johnson sat next to Frank McCourt at a game last month, which Simers has been harping on ever since. I guess Johnson could have punched out McCourt — woulda made Simers happy — but it may have presented some problems getting the deal closed.

But beyond a couple of those sorts of things, to the extent this went poorly for the Dodgers owners, it wasn’t all on Simers. It sounded like Mark Walter, Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten didn’t exactly do their best to come off well:

I asked Magic about the owners’ introductory news conference. It appeared he had misled folks or was not aware of the parking-lot lease that will benefit McCourt.

Magic told the media McCourt wasn’t going to get a dime.

“I didn’t say anything wrong,” Magic said.

“I was expecting an apology,” I said.

“About what?”

“About misleading people in thinking Frank won’t get a dime.” I read to him what he had said at the news conference.

“I already told the truth; we’ll move on to the next question,” he said.

As I noted last week, it does appear that Johnson was either misleading or was simply uninformed when he said what he said. And being snippy about it later, even if taunted into being so by Simers, is not the best stance to take. There were several other testy exchanges in which the owners didn’t come off particularly well.

T.J. Simers is likely not an easy person to deal with, but most players don’t take his bait and get into it with him like this. They usually smile and deflect him, probably having been given a briefing about his schtick during spring training.  One would think that the team’s owners would have someone brief them on him too.

Dodgers acquire Matt Kemp in five-player trade with Braves

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The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.

Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.

Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.