August 31, 2014

Is Matt Kemp “an Issue in the Clubhouse” for the Dodgers?

If you trust the sources of ESPN LA’s Tony Jackon, then yes.  According to the transcript of an online chat from earlier this week, Jackson had the following exchange with a Dodger fan named Earl:

Earl (LA, CA)

Wow, if Kemp gets traded for anyone, I would be bummed.Do you feel that would be a big mistake for the Dodgers to trade Kemp for a frontline starter, despite what Colleti thinks about him?I think Colleti exaggerated the issues of Kemp, personally.

Tony Jackson (6:41 PM)

Earl, I have it on good authority (NOT from Colletti, from others) that if anything, Ned UNDERSTATED the issues with Kemp. This kid is really full of himself, to the point that it is becoming an issue in the clubhouse. I’m not saying they WILL trade him. I still think there is less than a 50-percent chance that they will. I’m just saying that if they do trade one of their core young players, he probably will be the one, not only because of these issues but also because he would have the most value.

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Earl (LA, CA)

Wow, Tony, didn’t know that about Kemp. I just don’t think you can afford to let a talent like his go. Do you think its just a simple case of immaturity?I mean a lot of ball players start out cocky, but mature and settle down with age. Kemp could be no different.

Tony Jackson (6:50 PM)

well, if it’s immaturity, he has had plenty of time to outgrow it. Based on what I’m told, he hasn’t outgrown it yet. None of this is terribly surprising, just judging from the way he handles himself with the media. He is difficult to deal with, and I’m told that isn’t limited to the media.

After reading the full transcript, as well as the reflections of my blogging brethren over at Memories of Kevin Malone and Vin Scully is my Homeboy, I found myself thinking a lot about this exchange and found it really interesting for a number of reasons.

First, like many Dodger bloggers and fans, I really enjoy and respect Tony Jackson as a writer and his perspective on things related to the club.  He’s with the Dodgers day in and day out, and he knows his beat.  So if Jackson says he has sources that indicate that Kemp is “really full of himself” and “becoming an issue in the clubhouse” then I’m going to pay attention.  That said, I’ve personally covered a handful of games over the past year, and (in my very limited interactions) I’ve always found Matt Kemp to be a straightforward guy.  For example, I was at the second home game of the season when the Dodgers lost to the Diamondbacks in a five hour marathon.  Kemp had a couple bone-headed fielding plays, including one that allowed the eventual winning run to score.  Yet there he was, being a man and answering the difficult questions in the clubhouse after the game.

I am, however, surprised that Tony Jackson’s comments aren’t a bigger deal.  Saying that one of the Dodgers’ biggest young stars has issues is newsworthy, but I’m guessing that as long as it doesn’t divide the clubhouse or cause problems on the field, then there’s no reason to make a mountain out of a mole hill, right?  I’m probably most surprised that this came out in a chat on ESPN LA, rather in one of Tony’s regular articles.  Jackson seems to know what he’s talking about here, and I’d be curious to know why it wouldn’t be a bigger story, either at ESPN or in the eyes of other mainstream media outlets.  Food for thought.

Chance to Chat with Dodgers Beat Writer Tony Jackson

Just an FYI that ESPN Los Angeles’ Tony Jackson will be conducting an online chat on ESPN SportsNation on Thursday at 12:00 p.m. PT.

This is Tony’s first season with ESPN Los Angeles.  He previously covered the Dodgers for five years with the Los Angeles Daily News for more than five seasons.  While this online chat is great, I’d love to hear a podcast of Tony and Jon Weisman discussing the 2010 Dodgers and hear their in-depth thoughts on the upcoming season.  How cool would that be?