April 28, 2010
If he doesn't already, Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti is going to regret criticizing slugger Matt Kemp.
Given a chance by reporters to retract, back off or even mildly soften his assertion that Kemp was slacking after getting a raise in the offseason, Colletti did not. He stands by what he said in a talk-radio rant Tuesday.
"First of all, I didn't single Matt Kemp out,'' Colletti said. "I was asked a question by the radio station. They singled Matt Kemp out."
Check out the entire interview from KABC's Peter Tilden Show, starting at the 16:25 mark. Here's what Ned said when asked if Kemp was one of the players he "grabbed one on one" for a chat:
"The baserunning's below average, the defense is below average," Colletti said. "And you know, why is it? 'Cause he got a new deal? Can't tell ya'. But you know what? It's below average. If this was the last day of the season and people were voting for the Gold Glove, his name's not on the ballot. It's a shame he'd go from where he was a year ago to revert back to, when the ball's up in the air, we're not sure where it's going. Or if it's going to get caught. And that's not right."
If Colletti really believes his own semantics, I have a hair for him to split. Technically, he is right: He also "singled out" Chad Billingsley. So let's call it a double.
Dodgers blog Vin Scully Is My Homeboy has been all over this story. The latest: Colletti has spoken with Kemp.
Asked if it was a two-way conversation, Colletti said it was. Asked if everything was fine between him and Kemp, Colletti simply said, "It's fine with me."
Kemp came into Wednesday leading the league in homers, runs scored and RBIs with a bangin' adjusted OPS of 150. He also leads the league in being caught stealing — five times, compared to two stolen bases — which speaks to Colletti's baserunning criticism.
I haven't watched enough of Kemp on defense this season to know what to make of Colletti there. But are we to believe he's slacking on defense and baserunning, but not at the plate? It probably happens.
Bill James has a saying that goes something like, "Bad teams often focus all of the blame on their best players." That's what Ringmaster Ned is doing, right or wrong.
My question: If Colletti had a meeting with Kemp, where all of this was articulated "one on one," why is he complaining about him, again, to us? If his meetings are "clear" and to the point as he claims, why whine about the player in public afterward?
Kemp didn't want to comment at first, but later said: "It doesn't matter to me. It's all good. People can say what they want to say. I just work hard and try to help this team win."
Kemp's never going to forget being called out like this, of course, and there might be consequences down the road for him staying in L.A. Further, Colletti is putting his own reputation in jeopardy by his two-faced approach to discipline. It's not going to be effective.
For a guy who got his start in public relations, Colletti is creating quite a nightmare through his comments in the media.