…and something called “Paul Oberjuerge” has completely crossed the line on this one. It’s not like we haven’t goofed on writers before, but it’s never been like this. Bill Plaschke gets the brunt of our wrath because he’s a two-faced negativity machine with a bizarre writing style, and most of the national guys we’ve discussed have just obviously never seen a Dodger game.
But I’m glad a friendly reader brought this to my attention, because this piece of crap is actively calling Matt Kemp stupid. Now, I’d never heard of Paul Oberjuerge, and this appears to be his blog, so I was going to ignore the rantings of another blogger. But I did some research, and Oberjuerge was apparently a real reporter at one time – best known, apparently, for being fired from the San Bernardino Sun, calling a transgendered female LA Times columnist “not an attractive woman”, and having a former employee of his write a scathing retort to that insensitivity. Plus, he mostly writes about soccer for the New York Times. So we can see what kind of winner we’re dealing with.
After starting out by decrying the horrific road trip the Dodgers just went on – which is true, we can get on with the fun:
Wait! Bone-headed plays, mental lapses, poor decisions?
That reminds me of Matt Kemp!
Matt Kemp gets lots of love, of late, for his raw talent. He was on espn.com’s MLB home page for most of a day, over the weekend, and was the subject of a fawning profile. “Emerging superstar” comes up a lot. Someone said something about how he will be a “top-five fantasy pick” in drafts next spring. Presumably because he steals bases as well as hit for power. Well and good.
Matt Kemp is, I’ve been saying for months, possibly the best center fielder in baseball, when you consider age, health, salary, and talent. Since when is being an emerging superstar who hits homers and steals bases a bad thing?
But imagine how good this guy would be if he weren’t an utter dolt.
Is there a dumber guy in baseball than Matt Kemp? Not talking real-world IQ (but maybe we could), but “dumb plays involving a guy who no longer is a kid.” Baseball IQ, that is.
And on that scale, is anyone dumber than Matt Kemp?
I’m already thinking that the answer to this question might be “Paul Oberjuerge”.
By the way, is this entire thing really going to be about him getting doubled off of second in yesterday’s meaningless game? This is going to be boring. I’m bored now.
Search your mind, for a moment, and consider how many times you have seen Matt Kemp thrown out on the bases. Yeah. A lot. Not as often as you’ve seen Juan Pierre ground out weakly to second (that’s a number in the hundreds), but a lot. Somebody somewhere must have that stat, Matt Kemp outs-made on basepaths …. and I will bet you $5 that (subtracting caught-stealing) no one in baseball has been tagged out on the bases more often than Matt Kemp.
I’m tempted to go with “if Matt Kemp’s getting thrown out on the bases, it’s in part due to the fact that he’s on base so much,” but instead I’ll go with the even-more-snarky, “My heavens, if only there was a statistic that measured baserunning!”
Oh, wait. There is. It’s called “Equivalent Baserunning Runs“, and it’s defined by Baseball Prospectus as a stat which “measures the number of runs contributed by a player’s advancement on the bases, above what would be expected based on the number and quality of the baserunning opportunities with which the player is presented, park-adjusted and based on a multi-year run expectancy table.”
So where does Matt Kemp rate on the Dodgers? Dead last, I assume. Oh, that’s right. He’s first, by a large margin – nearly double that of the second best, Rafael Furcal. That puts him at 42nd in baseball, which doesn’t sound all that great, but most of the guys ahead of him have speed as their only asset.
Now that you’ve been completely disproven, I assume you’ll apologize and we can move on. Yes?
Matt Kemp tries to take extra bases all the time. And often doesn’t make it. He gets doubled off a base. He strays too far off the bag and gets picked off. He’s just a disaster out there. And this has to do with a really low baseball IQ.
First of all, trying to take extra bases all the time is a good thing. Who wouldn’t want your talented speedster to be aggressive? Sure, he’s going to get nailed now and then, but who’s got a 100% success rate?
As far as blunders go, it sure seems to me that Oberjuerge hasn’t actually watched a Dodger game since 2006, when Kemp was a rookie and was making stupid mistakes. Considering that Kemp ought to be in the running for NL MVP this year, Oberjuerge’s really digging deep to find some nits to pick.
Some Matt Kemp gaffes (including one on defense) from just the past week:
-In Washington on Thursday, bottom of the sixth, lazy fly ball to left-center. Kemp is playing center. Manny Ramirez is playing left. Repeat: Manny Ramirez is playing left.
Kemp jogs over near to where the ball will come down. Manny does the same. Neither player calls for it. The ball falls untouched for a single. The Nationals go on to score twice in the inning to erase a 6-4 Dodgers lead.
This is Matt Kemp’s fault, 100 percent. He is playing next to Manny Ramirez, one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball. (If not the worst.) Any ball Matt Kemp can reach, in left, he should take. Every time. Because Manny doesn’t do defense. Yet Kemp pulled up and, apparently, thought (if he thought at all) that Manny would catch the ball. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Sure, this was Kemp’s fault – though I can certainly understand that you don’t want to run head-first into 200 pounds of Manny Ramirez. That said, what Paul’s saying here is that Kemp should have been more aggressive, despite the 10 preceding paragraphs decrying how he’s too aggressive on the bases. Way to be consistent!
Also, I’m not really sure what the point is here. Did I miss the season when no other player ever made a mistake, ever? ”Oh no, Kemp made a mistake in the outfield! I demand that professional baseballers be held to the same standard I hold myself to, at least when I’m not publicly humiliating transgendered people for their looks! Kemp made a mistake and he’s not hitting 1.000/1.000/4.000, so he must be fired immediately!”
At the end of the inning, Dodgers broadcast analyst/apologist Steve “Psycho” Lyons talked about how playing center field is a learning experience for Matt Kemp. This is the same Matt Kemp who is now 25
27and has played 152 games in center field this year.
No, Psycho, there is no such thing as a learning experience for Matt Kemp. He is a gold fish in the fish bowl that is baseball; every trip around the same small world somehow is a brand-new experience for “Goldy” Kemp.
Sigh. This is not only unbelievably incorrect, it’s just getting mean. As every Dodger fan knows by now, Kemp came late to baseball – spending most of his youth playing basketball – and then was in the bigs by 21. Even then, he was a corner outfielder, not playing center regularly until midway through last year. So yes, he has been learning on the job, and we’ve seen him make marked improvements in the outfield. Plus, I wonder how long PO went with an outright mistake about Kemp’s age up there?
Also, what is with the outright cruelty and insulting of Kemp’s intelligence? This is really getting beyond a few blunders on the field and into something deeper.
-Top seven, same game, in Washington, no outs. Kemp hits a ball to deep left that Josh Willingham tracks to the wall … and doesn’t catch. The ball hits the top of the wall, falls to Willingham’s feet, and he can’t find it. He’s looking everywhere for it, and he’s almost standing on it. It’s almost comical.
Meanwhile, Matt Kemp is running … and as he rounds second base he becomes so engrossed by Willingham’s inability to find a ball lying at his feet (Kemp is staring out to left, as he runs) … that Kemp is no longer running toward third … he is running toward a point somewhere 30-40 feet up the foul line. When Kemp finally looks around to see where he is … he is in short left field and has to make something resembling a hard left turn to get to third base. Arguably, he could have scored if he hadn’t run 350 feet while getting to third base. Just another example of his brain-dead work on the basepaths. Oh, and he was stranded at third.
We can all agree that this didn’t really happen, right? See, here’s the thing about baseball, Paul. You don’t actually run in a straight line from base to base, stop on a dime, and turn 90 degrees to your left. You run in a bit of an arc when you think you might be able to take another base, to keep your momentum. Do I really have to explain this to you? Well, it seems that I do, so here’s a picture from that moment to illustrate:
It’s almost… as though he’s prepared to round third and dig for home. What a jerk!Besides, Matt Kemp crushed a ball and got a triple. Therefore, he must suck because no one else drove him in. Of course.
-Today, in Pittsburgh. Top second, scoreless game. Matt Kemp leading off. He reaches second on the Pirates’ second error of the game. James Loney follows with a shallow pop to shortstop … which turns into a doubleplay when lookie-loo Matt Kemp decides to jog about halfway to third … and can’t get back to second in time to avoid being doubled up.
If he says alive, maybe he scores when the next batter, Mark Loretta, singles, and the Dodgers lead, and perhaps what finished as an 11-1 humiliation goes in some other direction entirely (Pittsburgh’s first five runs were unearned, by the way) and the Dodgers did the champagne in the clubhouse thing today — instead of lugging it all to San Diego for a game tomorrow.
I love this. If Matt Kemp doesn’t get doubled off of second, then Loretta won’t make a killer error and Hiroki Kuroda won’t give up a billion hits. Clearly, Kuroda was all set to throw a perfect game – on 27 pitches, mind you – but then he saw Kemp get doubled off, and he was so crestfallen that he could barely drag himself to the mound to get hammered.
Also, look how far out the Pittsburgh SS had to run to get this:
He then turned, threw across his body, and delivered a strike to second that got Kemp by a whisker. It was a fantastic play, and while Kemp was slightly too aggressive here, it’s hardly what caused the Dodgers to lose. So, shut up, Paul.
I’ve been thinking about this for some time, while watching Matt Kemp play. And marveling at what a complete dope he is. He is a valuable player because he does so many things so easily … hit, hit for power, run. But he could do so much more if he brought, say, the brain of Torii Hunter to the game instead of the brain of Abby Normal. (“Young Frankenstein” reference there.)
Are we sure this guy is a professional journalist? Because calling someone “a complete dope” – multiple times - is hardly professional, especially when he’s got so little to back it up.
Also, nothing against Torii Hunter, who’s an excellent player, and by all accounts an even better person, but it’s hardly as though he’s walking on water out on the field. This is just from the first two pages of Google results for “Torii Hunter baserunning mistakes”:
Torii Hunter was in full mea culpa mode Friday, taking responsibility for Wednesday night’s gaffe, when he forgot there were only two outs, pulled up between second and third base and was tagged out in a rundown against the New York Mets.
The Angels could have put together a game-winning rally three innings earlier than they did last night. But Torii Hunter was guilty of a baserunning decision every bit as bad as Vladimir Guerrero’s ill-conceived first-to-not-quite-third dash in the eighth inning of Game 1.
With Game 3 tied and Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon on the mound, Hunter led off the ninth and lashed a hit down the third base line. Sox left fielder Jason Bay hustled over to retrieve the ball as Hunter rounded first – and kept going.
He was thrown out by a good 10 feet or more at second base, short-circuiting any ninth-inning rally.
This is not smart baseball. They need to get smart about hitting and all other aspects of the game. Torii Hunter often makes stupid baserunning mistakes, strikes out on pitches in the dirt, dives for balls he has no chance of getting etc. Of course he is not the only one! Sometimes being smart means not thinking too much.
The point, again, is not to bash Torii Hunter. It’s just to show Paul Oberjuerge – ah, hell, let’s dispense with the formalities and just start calling him “a complete dope” - that everyone makes mistakes, even long-time veterans.
I have been wondering when was the last time I saw someone with that much talent do so many stupid things, and wondering if Raul Mondesi or Pedro Guerrero could rival Matt Kemp for the sheer volume of bone-headed plays … and thinking, “No. Probably not.”
I have been wondering if the geniuses at ESPN or the LA Times could write such stupid things, and wondering if John Kruk or Bill Plaschke could rival Paul Oberjuerge for the sheer volume of ill-informed, vitriolic writing… and thinking, “No. Probably not.”
Update: Fantastic timing, as Eric Neel has a great article on Kemp’s maturation today at ESPN.com – well worth a read.
The work is working. He leads the Dodgers in batting average (.305 through Sept. 17), runs (90), hits (168) and stolen bases (33). He tops all major league centerfielders in slugging (.504), not to mention assists (13). He has improved his home run rate from every 36.5 plate appearances to 25.3 and his walk rate from every 14.3 PAs to 12.4.