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Kemp, Tanaka, Lasorda, “Cheats” and More

January 22, 2014

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Random Tuesday night comments…

I wonder if Stan Kasten’s nose grows or the last three hairs on his head fall off when he lies like he did the other day about Matt Kemp being 100% healthy? Of course there’s NO WAY Kemp is healthy, considering he recently underwent another shoulder operation and leg surgery, and his hamstrings are pieced together with duct tape, but Kasten sold it on MLB Network Radio. Today, Kemp’s dummy of an agent, former big league ace Dave (nicknamed “Smoke”, as in smoke screen, apparently) Stewart, already is setting expectations low, saying his client will not be ready for opening day for the Dodgers. We’re months away – already predicting that? Can’t be good. I laugh at Kemp and modern prima donna athletes who are continuously hurt, small things or large, and marvel at iron men like Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Steve Garvey and how they somehow managed to stay healthy each and every day. I get Kemp’s problems stemmed from a hard play against a wall in Colorado, but the chronic hamstrings and leg/ankle are something else. While it’s possible – somehow – Kemp can stay “healthier” than in 2012 and 2013, it’s unrealistic to assume he will be the Kemp of old. It will be parts of three baseball seasons since his big year in 2011 and to assume he can play every day, much less patrol centerfield – where all that wear and tear and stress will pound down on his body – is foolish. The Dodgers need to admit this and start thinking about Joc Pederson for centerfield. Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, or some combination of them can eventually be moved – with the Dodgers paying a chunk of salary in order to get a return in young players back, but the reality should be that health and durability need to be a factor in deciding the Dodgers’ future outfield. I wouldn’t be surprised if someday not long from now the outfield is some new face in LF, Pederson in CF and Puig in RF. The “four outfielders for three outfield spots” thing has gotten old.

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Tommy Lasorda vented about “cheats” in baseball, and as angry old men tend to do, said they should be kicked out and hit by pitches. Tommy may be right, I guess, but to suddenly lash out against something Bud Selig has allowed to occur for decades is silliness. Bud is constantly honored and revered by baseball when in fact he’s allowed the game’s integrity to be shaken and records to be trashed. Tommy and others suddenly talking tough is hysterical. These are the same folks who have said Bud’s a great commissioner for years. Also, each and every team is guilty of allowing cheats to play, and that includes the Dodgers. The notion too that the recent BioGenesis scandal is an unfortunate event and anomaly in some way is ludicrous. The game’s been dirty since the mid-90s and hasn’t stopped being so. Baseball writers and radio and TV guys are all part of the problem. When someone comes to spring training 20 pounds heavier than he was a few months prior, it’s made to sound as if the player has been hitting the gym continuously. When guys slam home runs, get a massive contract and then appear thinner and lighter, start getting a ton of injuries and no longer can hit home runs, the industry makes it seem like it’s unusual. The big elephant in the middle of the room is ignored. I’ve been reading all winter about players gaining weight, losing weight, etc. Bryce Harper is touted for gaining 45 lbs or so of muscle. Umm – that doesn’t sound natural to me. The season ended in Oct and now it’s Jan. Gaining 45 lbs of muscle seems extreme. Harper is beloved by all due to his lack of education, mullet and snotty Justin Bieber-era attitude that young folks admire so much. He may be the cleanest person in the league, but with the pale that’s been cast across the game we all love, if he has a monster breakout with his linebacker physique, we all have to roll our eyes. I prefer guys like DiMaggio, Williams, Josh Gibson, Campanella, etc., etc. I know they weren’t doing anything but hard work and studying pitchers. Bud’s toxic and for anyone to celebrate him and for Tommy to act shocked and angry that innocent A-Fraud was cheating, is an insult to any fan’s intelligence. Tommy actually said he felt all those homers A-Fraud hit were legit. A) I don’t believe Tommy thought so for a moment and B) if he did, he’s a damn fool.

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Baseball’s geniuses who act shocked by players up and down weight and big production before massive contracts and lack of afterward are now saying Mashiro Tanaka has narrowed his list down to a handful of teams. Question – was it really ever more than a handful of teams? From the beginning we heard Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs, Diamondbacks, and perhaps the Halos. For laughs they mentioned the Astros, and a few other implausible scenarios. We will learn perhaps tomorrow which team Tanaka chooses, but the fact of the matter is no one knows. “Reliable sources” said the Cubs had the inside track. Then the Dodgers or Yankees. No one knows. Pundits always act like they know but they don’t. I guess you have to expound hot air to fill time on the air or words in a blog or article. Let’s put it this way – Tanaka might be all about the money, but realistically the money shouldn’t be that different from team to team. It comes down to where Tanaka envisions himself for 6-7 years. To me, since LA is closer to Japan than the other spots, the weather is great year round, his wife has said she’d like to live out West, and with a supportive Asian community around her, and the Dodgers easily have the most buzz of any team in baseball, the answer is simple. If Tanaka chooses the Cubs or Yankees over the Dodgers, he’s an idiot and I wouldn’t want him on my team anyway. If he wants to be part of the Cubs rebuilding process that could take several years, perhaps getting hurt before the prize prospects are ready anyway, go for it. If he wants to pitch for the famous NY Yankees, I could understand that. Except that the Yankees are barely the Yankees and are no shoo-in for the post-season. The Dodgers are the safest gamble if Tanaka wants to win and pitch in October right away. Perhaps he could extract a little more money out of the Cubs or Yankees – I don’t know. But living in Beverly Hills or Bel Air isn’t so shabby, nor is playing with the most exciting team right now, with a brand new TV network, superstar roster and the best pitching staff in the game. Besides, the Dodgers know a thing or two about Japanese players. Sure the Yankees have Hiroki Kuroda – but where did he come from? The team that brought Nomomania to the forefront, ushered in Takashi Saito and Kaz Ishii, not to mention Kuroda, certainly must be an organization a proud Japanese player would want to be a part of. If Tanaka isn’t a Dodger, he’s a moron and dead to me. It will be a boring off-season, watching the American baseball World Series from Japan in his Cubs or Yankees Snuggie.

And that’s all he wrote.

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