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Matt Kemp Powers Dodgers Past Diamondbacks & A Look Back at Ned Colletti’s Free-Agent Mistakes

 

Matt Kemp just keeps doing things that just seem ridiculous. He hit his 25th Home Run of the season tonight, a 3-run shot, and in the process became the 5th fastest player in the history of the National League to reach 25 Home Runs and 25 Stolen Bases. Kemp also added 2 more RBI with a bases-loaded single giving him 80 for the season, which is tops in all of the N.L.

He accounted for as many runs as the entire D’Backs team, as the Dodgers beat Arizona 9-to-5. Ted Lilly started for the Dodgers and did what he does best, allowed Home Runs, two on the night, including one to Willie Bloomquist which was just his 16th  career homer in over 2,000 at-bats.

Lilly’s ERA is now over 5.00 on the season, he has allowed more hits than innings pitched and gave up his 22nd and 23rd homers thus far this year, which ranks him 4th in all of Major League Baseball. The $33 million dollars Ned Colletti gave the 35 year old Lilly is continuing to look like another terrible free-agent contract for the Dodgers GM.

Colletti handed out over $90 million in free-agent contracts this off-season to Lilly, Juan Uribe, Matt Guerrier, Rod Barajas, Dioner Navarro, Tony Gwynn Jr, Marcus Thames, Vicente Padilla, Jon Garland, and Hiroki Kuroda. With the exception of Kuroda who has gotten next to zero run support, and Tony Gwynn Jr, Colletti’s signings have all been major disappointments.

Factor in Colletti’s other free-agent sinings, Manny Ramirez, Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, who the Dodgers are still paying almost $20 million and it’s not hard to figure out why the Dodgers have spent less in the MLB draft than any other club during the Frank McCourt/Ned Colletti era.

The aforementioned Lilly at $33 million is the worst, especially when you factor in he will make $22 million at the ripe age of 36 and 37 years old. However, one could make a strong argument that Juan Uribe is the worst signing considering  he’s batting a paltry .204 with only 4 Hr’s and has missed over %25 of the Dodgers games.

Matt Guerrier was given $12, a steep price for a 32 year old reliever who pitched in 340 games the past 5 years, which is among the most for all MLB pitchers and clearly there is concern that Guerrier would have a hard time matching what he accomplished the past 3 seasons. He’s on pace to have an ERA over 4.00 for just the 2nd time in his career, and with the emergence of so many young Dodger relievers this year, $12 million to Guerrier looks like another mistake.

The catching duo of Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro were given nearly $5 million. They have combined to hit just over .200 with 12 homers and only 34 RBI’s while striking out 71 times. Defensively they are not nearly good enough to warrant just awful offensive stats so yet again another mistake.

Tony Gwynn Jr has actually been a pleasant surprise, considering he’s batting only .254. But he’s been terrific defensively, saving a couple games with diving catches and has stolen 14 bases and been the best of a mess of left-fielders the Dodgers have used this year. At $675,000 he’s a bargain compared to his other left-field mate, Marcus Thames who is no longer on the team. Thames hit 2 home-runs, played in only 36 games and hit under .200. For the $1 million he was paid he is clearly another Colletti free-agent bust.

Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland were given $8 million to give the Dodgers rotation depth, even though other clubs raised red flags over the condition of Garland’s long-term health. Both players are out for the season, and gave the Dodgers a total of 62 innings pitched, 1 win and 3 saves. Not exactly what you were hoping for at an $8 million price tag.

Hiroki Kuroda was paid approx $12 million and has to be the best 6 win and 13 loss pitcher in baseball. He sports an impressive 3.11 ERA, has made all of his starts and really likes playing in L.A. He is clearly one of if not the best starting pitchers available as the trade deadline approaches, but he has a full no-trade clause and Dodgers fans have to wonder if he will be moved and if so what the Dodgers will get in return. Clearly they won’t get someone the caliber of Carlos Santana, who the Dodgers traded to obtain Casey Blake, a move that looks worse and worse as the 38 year old Blake continues to battle injury after injury.

Unfortunately the bad news in regards to Colletti’s free-agent signings doesn’t stop with the players who have suited up  this season. Back in 2008 the Dodgers gave Andruw Jones $36 million for a 2 year deal making him the 4th highest paid player that season in terms of average salary. The team got a total of 3 homers and 33 hits in 75 games played before the Dodgers simply just asked Jones to go away. The Dodgers severely overpaid for Jones who was not being courted by any other teams besides the Dodgers, but the worst part is the Dodgers restructured Jones’s deal in 2009 to pay him $15 million dollars over the next 6 seasons. Jones is still being paid $3,375,000 million per year and will be until 2014. It’s hard to imagine a worse free-agent signing than Jones.

Manny Ramirez might be close though. Manny came to the Dodgers at the trade deadline in 2008 and absolutely took the town by storm and had a phenomenal 2 months. The Dodgers were in a tough spot after the season, even though they were bidding against no other team but themselves, they caved to Scott Boras and Manny’s demands and gave him $45 million over 2 years. Manny would go on to get suspended for 50 games for taking a women’s fertility drug, and was eventually dealt to the White Sox. He never matched the production he gave the Dodgers in 2008 and eventually retired in 2011, after getting suspended a 2nd time for performance enhancing drugs. For the Dodgers the bad news just keeps on rolling along. They owe Manny approx $20 million through  2013. Yet another bad free-agent deal.

Speaking of bad free-agent deals Ned Colletti gave Jason Schmidt $47 million over 3 years even though everyone else in baseball seemed to know Schmidt had serious health issues. Schmidt would go on to pitch in only 43 innings for the Dodgers, about a million dollars per inning pitched and win a grand total of 3 games. Oh by the way the Dodgers paid Schmidt $1.5 million this year, thankfully the last year they owe him any money.

It can certainly be argued the Dodgers overpaid for Juan Pierre. Pierre actually played pretty well for the Dodgers. But in what has become a disturbing trend the Dodgers paid Pierre $3.5 million this year and owe him $3 million next year, while he plays for the White Sox. That sure makes a lot of sense doesn’t it.

But in all of this the worst deal during the Colletti era, in my opinion, came last July when the Dodgers traded away a former top prospect Andrew Lambo, who has gone on to do nothing, and a promising young 25 year old pitcher James McDonald for Octavio Dotel. What made the deal even worse is the Dodgers turned around 6 weeks later and traded Dotel to the Rockies for a player to be named later, who turned out to be a 26 year old career minor leaguer named Anthony Jackson who was a career .250 hitter. McDonald was very successful for the Dodgers as a reliever but he struggled as a starter, like most young starters do.

However he has turned it all around over the past few months and now sports an ERA under 4.00, has not lost in any of his last 8 starts and has better numbers across the board than Ted Lilly. And he is only being paid $443,000 this year. In essence the Dodgers gave away a talented young arm, who was still learning his craft at the age of 25, for Dotel who they kept for 6 weeks. Oh and they also had to pay Dotel $125 K this year. The move just makes no sense whatsoever and sadly turned into another bad decision by Colletti.

With all of the Dodgers financial problems and with a laundry list of poor decisions from their GM I truly hope the Dodgers don’t miss out on the opportunity to lock up Matt Kemp to a long-term deal. Their division rivals have done just that with their young talent, but the Dodgers have been stuck paying millions of dollars to players no longer on their team that they have been unable to lock up Kemp thus far.

Dodger fans saw Mike Piazza sent packing during his prime, let’s just hope that Kemp is not the next great Dodger to suffer the same fate.

Topics: Andruw Jones, Carlos Santana, Casey Blake, Dioner Navarro, Hiroki Kuroda, James McDonald, Jason Schmidt, Jon Garland, Juan Pierre, Juan Uribe, Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Ramirez, Marcus Thames, Matt Guerrier, Matt Kemp, Mike Piazza, Ned Colletti, Octavio Dotel, Rod Barajas, Ted Lilly, Tony Gwynn Jr., Vicente Padilla

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