The debate rages on about whether the Padres acquiring Matt Kemp before the 2015 season was a good idea, even after he was traded to the Atlanta Braves. He is still getting talked about by team management. Even his new team.
I’m not sure exactly why Kemp is such a polarizing figure, especially for the Braves who essentially traded for him just to get rid of their own disastrous contract with Hector Olivera. Did they not watch him play right field at all?
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As Padres fans, we watched when the original Dodgers/Padres trade went down and a physical nearly derailed the whole thing. We watched him play right field like Carlos Quentin played left and held our breath every time a line drive was hit his direction.
But…he did show up every day. He played games. He hit home runs and drove in runners. He did exactly what we knew he was going to do. There were no surprises. So why did the Braves think they were going to get anything different?
Braves GM John Coppolella said the other day: “A big part of why he isn’t real good in left field is because he’s out of shape,”Coppolella said. “If he gets in shape, he’ll be much better.”
Right. We knew that. You didn’t?
We all remember what Padres Chairman Ron Fowler said about Kemp after trading him:
“We made a conscious decision to ship them out because we want people that are prepared to improve. If you’re making a lot of money and you think you’re already there, you’re not going to get better. … They had a bad attitude. You saw Kemp’s letter. Talk about a bunch of b.s.”
Kemp has hit fine with the Braves and shown overall this year that he still has a lot left in the tank, at least in the power department though watching him run the bases can be as painful as seeing him range to his left or right in the outfield. He had over 100 RBI last year with the Padres and if he wasn’t on the Padres and Braves this year likely would again this year.
Baseball executives need to know when to address players privately and when to make headlines publicly. Kemp hasn’t been with the Braves long enough in my opinion for Coppolella to make such statements. I still think Fowler was wrong to publicly call him out the way he did too. What do you think? Does Kemp deserve to be called out like Pablo Sandoval? Or do his numbers silence those critics?