An early soap opera has broken out in Hollywood. The Dodgers, good enough to win the NL West and reach the NLCS each of the last two years, are 8-14, dead last in the division, with a declining payroll and in desperate need of some veteran leadership. And now they're facing a new issue.
In his weekly radio spot on the club's flagship station, KABC, general manager
Colletti's words clearly didn't have an immediate impact on Kemp. As the Dodgers dropped five straight this week, his play worsened in New York during a sweep by the Mets and he continued his defensive slide by misplaying a hit by
Kemp has cleared the air with Colletti, who said in a phone interview that Kemp "has a chance to be the best player in the history of the franchise,'' a history that includes Hall of Fame center fielder
Among the Dodgers' talented corps of kids -- which includes outfielder
While Dodgers manager
But the probable source of the Dodgers' woes remains unspoken in this entire episode. Kemp's inconsistent attention span and the the team's surprisingly poor start are directly attributable to their disappearing payroll, which has gone from $122 million two years ago to $100 million last year to $83 million (plus a few deferred dollars for
The Dodgers' payroll is not reflective of a major-market team -- not one that expects to contend, anyway -- and is now actually lower than that of the small-market Brewers (which is owned by Los Angeles investment man
With no money to spend on veteran stars, the Dodgers appear to have a leadership gap in their clubhouse now, which could prove problematic for a team that relies so overwhelmingly on young talents. But that's no excuse according to one Dodgers official, who said, "These players have been around a few years and been to the playoffs the last two."
Nevertheless, the departures of Wolf, Hudson and
What's left is the tranquil
Two of their most prominent veterans, Hall of Fame-caliber slugger Ramirez and Opening Day starter
Perhaps coincidentally, Kemp is off to a Manny-like start, carrying the team offensively at times while occasionally appearing nothing short of spacey in the outfield and on the basepaths. Even if Ramirez didn't say those very words, he's a living, breathing, $25-million-a-year-making example of the kind of money one-dimensional greats can make. Kemp signed a $10.95-million, two-year deal this winter but it's hard to believe that contract has adversely affected his play, especially since he was turned down for a much longer deal (he is believed to have used Nick
In that phone interview, Colletti expressed faith in the ability of the team and Kemp to turn things around. "We're going to be fine,'' the GM said. "We're still a good club, and they'll figure it out. And Matt Kemp will end up having a great year all the way around.''
• There have been an unusual number of players having great comeback seasons, but perhaps the most surprising of all is
• The D-backs are suffering from an unusual number of injuries.
• The Rockies are really stung by injuries, with starting pitchers
• Giants manager
• Velocities are down all around baseball. It's the talk of scouts everywhere.
• The Red Sox recall
• It's odd that the Red Sox sought offensive improvement at shortstop, and so far are getting less from what turned out to be a switch with Toronto.
• The Yankees are worried about
• The Mets went from last to first in four days. Remarkable.
• Congratulations to Detroit's
• Reds rookie
• The Orioles are unwatchable. That may explain their disappearing attendance.