Dodgers’ GM rips Kemp for defensive effort

While recently appearing on Peter Tilden’s radio program on 790 KABC-AM, Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti had some harsh words for his last place team and even went as far as to criticize star player Matt Kemp.

From the Press Enterprise:

“Why is it? Because he got a new deal?” Colletti said in reference to Kemp’s new two-year, $10.95 million contract. “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.”

Colletti has every right to be upset with the Dodgers’ play so far this season. The defending NL West champs are 8-12 on the year and 3-7 in their last 10 games. They’ve already lost series against the Pirates, Nationals and Reds, and own a brutal 4-10 mark on the road.

That said, he knows better than to try and motivate a player through the media. If he wants to criticize Kemp behind closed doors fine, but to publicly out one of his best players wasn’t smart. Plus, it undermines what Joe Torre is trying to accomplish in the clubhouse.

Motivation can be a great thing when it comes from the right person. But something tells me Colletti isn’t the right person.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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Dodgers interested in Dunn and Abreu, Manny still first choice

The Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly interested in free agents Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu, although Manny Ramirez remains their top priority.

Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times talked to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, who said Manny Ramirez is the team’s first choice. Colletti hasn’t heard from Manny’s agent Scott Boras since Mark Teixeira signed a week ago. As reported yesterday, the Dodgers have interest in Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu as backup plans. Pat Burrell and Garret Anderson are not on the team’s radar.

At this point, I think it would be wise for Boras to sit down with Colletti and figure out a reasonable contract. The biggest spenders – Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Mets – aren’t interested and I doubt Manny’s going to find a better deal than the one the Dodgers are offering him.

Go be an icon in L.A., Manny.

Hot Stove: Shaking Things Up

This is when the baseball season is really interesting—while no games are happening and speculation flies around about who will be changing uniforms and shifting the balance of the sport’s power. It sure beats watching a nine-inning game that goes on for four hours or more.

So the two big names that are free agents and will be courted heavily are CC Sabathia and Manny Ramirez. Forget the fact that commissioner Bud Selig cautioned teams about forking over too much money in a slow economy. Those two guys are going to rake in the cabbage either way, because teams will bid for them at ridiculous numbers. So far, the Brewers, Yankees and Angels seem to be the first in line to make a run at CC, and Manny’s agent, Scott Boras, had a 90 minute conversation with Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti on Tuesday, but that pretty much means nothing. Still, the Dodgers owe their fans an offer to Ramirez, even if Boras is looking for a 5-6 year offer.

On the trading block, would you believe Tigers’ slugger Magglio Ordonez? The Tigers reportedly have enough holes to fill that they are willing to part with one of the game’s premier hitters to do so. That kind of deal has Yankees written all over it.

Two players whose team option was not picked up were the Yankees’ Jason Giambi and Dodgers’ Brad Penny. For all the talk about Giambi and steroids, the guy did hit 32 homers in 2008 and still has some pop as well as the penchant for bad mustaches.

Though the Mets need bullpen help more than anything, they are talking trade with Tampa Bay for starter Andy Sonnenstine. The Mets are also talking like they will not be bringing back Aaron Heilman, which is about as good a move as any trade to acquire a player.

Finally, free agent Ken Griffey may be heading back to Seattle, and pitcher Derek Lowe may be headed back to Boston. Stay tuned…..

Introducing Andre Ethier: The New Face of the Dodgers

Andre EthierAfter getting called up to the big leagues in 2005, Andre Ethier was immediately traded from the Oakland Athletics to the Los Angles Dodgers, in exchange for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez. Though the Dodgers gave up a formidable talent in Bradley, they saw something special in the minor-league right fielder. Simply stated, it was potential. When new general manager Ned Colletti was given the reins in 2005, he focused on creating a starting lineup that depended on its youngsters. Since then, he’s been brutally criticized for signing former stars to bulky contracts that have failed to pan out. However, he should be credited for completing what he set out to do way back in 2005. By dipping into his farm system instead of his check book, Colletti has made Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Andre Ethier into everyday players.

At times, it’s tough to be a Dodger fan. Besides the Yankees, the Dodgers make more transactions involving blue chip players than any other organization. Their starting lineup one day may be completely different the next, as a smorgasbord of future hall-of-famers and one-time greats jump in and out of the lineup. Colletti has taken huge risks in spending enormous sums on big-name players. Manny Ramirez is proving to be his first untainted success after the unfruitful acquisitions of Andruw Jones, Rafael Furcal, Nomar Garciaparra, Juan Pierre, Jason Schmidt, and Brad Penny. Colletti is paying each of these guys at least $5 million a year and is hearing about it every day.

Then there’s Andre Ethier. After signing a one-year $425,000 deal for the 2007-08 season, Ethier has quickly matured into the Dodgers’ most economic star. Actually, forget “economic.” He is the Dodgers’ best all-around player and will soon become the face of their organization if Colletti plays his cards right. Keep in mind, Ramirez came aboard more than two-thirds into the season. At 36 years-old, Manny is a future hall-of-famer with only a few years remaining. As much as the Dodgers and their fans would love to keep the free-spirited slugger, his contract is up at the end of the season, and all signs point to Manny in pinstripes.

Ethier is only 26 and just finishing his third professional season. He has an unbelievable arm, can hit for both power and average, and has avoided injury. On a roster that contains five capable outfielders—Ethier, Jones, Kemp, Ramirez, and Pierre—Ethier has undeniably earned a starting slot. He leads the Dodgers in homeruns (20) and batting average (.299), is tied with Matt Kemp in doubles (36), and is second in RBIs (71) and triples (6). Ethier is a free agent at the end of this season and, as these numbers show, he’s proven more valuable than those other cash cows.

The Dodgers are finally breaking away from the Diamondbacks and are running a blue streak towards the pennant. This current success can be found in the bats of the veteran Ramirez and the youngster Ethier. Next year, the Dodgers are likely to look much different. (Manny Ramirez, Jeff Kent, Nomar Garciaparra, Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, Russell Martin, James Loney, Matt Kemp, Greg Maddux, Chad Billingsley, and Derek Lowe are all up for contract renegotiation.) Hopefully, Ned Colletti will follow those same instincts he had in 2005 and focus on youth by re-signing Andre Ethier.

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