Kemp, Donnie meant you but singled out Ethier
Another case where 140 characters on twitter isn’t enough…
Today was an interesting day. The Dodgers played the always exciting daytime getaway game in Milwaukee and beat up on a guy named Wily Peralta who has an ERA over 6.
More interesting was Donnie, perhaps getting wind he’d be fired tomorrow, lashing out at his Frankenteam of comfortable millionaires, noting it takes “grit”, not just All-Stars, to win baseball games.
In his attack, Donnie singled out apathetic right fielder Andre Ethier, whose only emotion the past few years is when he argues incessantly with home plate umpires over balls and strikes.
Ethier was once one of my favorite Dodgers, but now he’s a non-factor. He seems genuinely bored, or unhappy, to be playing baseball for millions of dollars and his modus operandi is a hot month here or there sandwiched by months of sleepwalking. This season it’s been mostly sleepwalking thus far.
In fairness to Ethier, as inconsequential as he’s been, he’s not THAT far off his usual performance to date. Donnie clearly made him a scapegoat because he was an easier target than the guy he probably wanted to call out, pretty boy movie star good looking Matt Kemp.
Girls all over the twitterverse swoon over Matt’s dreamy eyes, well planned stubble and captivating eyes, but if Ethier is being paid $85M to hit home runs and drive people in, Kemp is paid close to double that. Ethier is also having the better season – albeit slightly.
Imagine the backlash if Donnie took on the team’s most popular player? Even with one foot out the door, Donnie didn’t want to go that far. So he took on the sweaty looking guy who most people don’t have strong feelings for anyway, except for whatever remaining groupies he still has left.
I’ve previously blamed the troubles of the Dodgers on management and the construction of the team, and noted the bullpen as the number one shortcoming. Think about all the blown saves; how many has there been? Eight? Nine? With the team 6 games out of first, in spite of their performance, do the math and figure out what a better bullpen would mean.
As braindead as Donnie has been at times, making questionable choices and mostly refusing to be creative with his lineup, it’s not entirely his fault. His points make sense. The team does lack fire, urgency, leadership, guts, whatever you want to call it.
I think it’s bad when a manager goes to the press and says that, it sounds like he’s giving up and wants to fire one off before he’s kicked to the curb. That could be Donnie’s motive, or it could be he wants to publicly embarrass his team and inspire them to set aside their Patek Philippe watches and find some fire deep inside long since buried by rich food and disinterest.
Since fans need some optimism, I will say that as hard it is to admit, I think the soon return of Hanley Ramirez will inspire the team and right the ship to some degree. Hanley is a chaaracter and his still potent bat will push sluggish Kemp and Ethier down in the order, thus giving the team an actual chance to drive in some of the guys who routinely get on in front of the meat spots of the order.
Hanley with his childish “I See You” antics, until his next injury, can infuse some life into this slumbering Frankenteam. So, while we wait for that, hopefully Donnie (or whoever replaces him) understands the offensive woes stem from those critical heart of the lineup spots not being able to do the job. Playing Scott Van Slyke today and allowing the revamped slugger to bat in an important position worked. What do you know?
Hopefully his presence becomes more routine as he gets to do what I earlier in the year had hoped would be the fate of Yasiel Puig, cobbling together regular playing time as the three outfielders are rested. Is Van Slyke can get in there while he’s hot, it would be much more beneficial to the team’s chances of winning than going with the very definition of insanity and putting Kemp and Ethier back to back every game and expecting different results than what we’ve seen.
I will end this with what Donnie couldn’t say today – Matt Kemp is a mess right now and if not hurt, or off “vitamins” of some sort, he’s just lost his ability to hit the baseball – and is somehow slower of foot too.
I’m not sure what’s wrong with him, but I predict some point this season, or when it’s over, we’ll hear how he didn’t want to say anything, and bravely soldiered on the best he could in spite of agonizing pain from his off-season surgery. That’s all well and good, but playing through that won’t land him on any hero list of mine. These games, that spot in the order, could have been given to Van Slyke, Puig, or Joc Pederson.
Donnie, I read between the lines, so here, for your benefit, because you were such an amazing first baseman in your playing days and surely a Hall of Famer before a bad back sidetracked that, I am listing every major league player that currently has more home runs than $160M “slugger” Matt Kemp. They’re in order, and you will see names you’ve never heard of, players who have been released by their clubs, bench players, nobodies – and James Loney!
Enjoy the show. Oh, and in case you are wondering, the list is 203 major leaguers long.
Alejandro De Aza
*Scott Van Slyke