The Danger of Veteran Entitlement

Dave · September 24, 2007 at 1:49 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

One of the main themes of the 2007 season has been the divergence of opinions on the value of veteran happiness, especially as it pertains to clubhouse chemistry. As we’ve talked about many, many times, we were in favor of putting the best players on the field in an effort to have the 2007 season result in a playoff appearance, while the Mariners were extremely reluctant to make any roster moves that would result in the veterans on the club feeling disrespected.

The Mariners bent over backwards to make sure that Raul Ibanez, Jose Vidro, Richie Sexson, Jeff Weaver, and Horacio Ramirez were given leashes that would cross the Atlantic ocean, despite all having significant struggles for long periods of time that undermined the teams ability to win games.

All the while, the fans were fed a continuous line of defense of this please-the-veterans strategy from most of the local media. They had a track record. They had earned the right to fight out of the slump. The team owed it to the guys who got them in the playoff race in the first place to go the whole season with the same group. You’ve heard all this before.

Well, about 1,000 miles south of Seattle, we’re seeing the danger of an organization enabling their veterans to, essentially, have free reign over the clubhouse culture. The Los Angeles Dodgers have fallen apart in September, and it didn’t take the old players long to start telling the fans why the team wasn’t able to stay in the race:

Jeff Kent:

“I don’t know what it is, especially when you have a lot” of young players, said Kent, whose double Thursday raised his average to .298 to go along with a team-high 20 home runs and 78 runs batted in. “It’s hard to influence a big group. We’ve got some good kids on the team. Don’t get me wrong, please don’t misinterpret my impressions. [But] it’s hard to translate experience.

“I don’t know why they don’t get it.”

Asked what they don’t get, Kent said: “A lot of things. Professionalism. How to manufacture a run. How to keep your emotions in it. There’s just a lot of things that go on with playing 162 games.

“But I think experience can help more than inexperience. And it’s hard to give a young kid experience.”

Derek Lowe:

It’s become increasingly apparent in the last few days that the Dodgers have more problems than their lowly station in the standings, or as Derek Lowe put it, “The tension here is getting to the point where we have two different teams in [the clubhouse].”

Lowe, after spending a good deal of time criticizing his own inconsistent performance this season, added, “The last two or three weeks we haven’t been on the same page as a team, and you can see what happens when that’s not the case.”

The Dodgers’ collapse down the stretch, Lowe said, “wasn’t because of a string of bad luck; it’s just not a lot of people pulling together in here.”

Or, as Lowe put it, “you can’t have young players thinking they are bulletproof. No one should be bulletproof around here, walking around believing they don’t have to listen to anybody.

But “historically teams with a lot of young players don’t win championships right away,” Lowe said. “That’s something everyone around here is going to want to know — are we going to be playing young players so that they can have the time to develop and really be good in two years?

“What about next season? I’m going to be 35 . . . that’s a little unsettling for some guys who are under contract here. Do they already know the team they’re going to field is not going to be competitive next year?”

More than that, Lowe said, when it comes to mixing young players with a new crop of veterans next season, there has to be two-way respect.

“This has to be settled going into spring training,” Lowe said. “If there has to be a knockout, drag-out fight, so be it. But it cannot carry over where we’re having this same conversation. We can’t have the young players believing they are bulletproof.

“We’re also going to have to be very careful as an organization what kind of people are brought in next season,” he said. “If you listen to people here, the vision is to get even younger. You’re going to have to bring in players who are going to be all right with limited playing time.”

Luis Gonzalez:

“Look at the back of his bubble-gum card, and all those numbers compiled over the years, which tell you how consistent [Kent] has been,” Gonzalez said, “and consistency is what gets you respect in this game.”

The targets of most of this criticism? James Loney and Matt Kemp, both of whom were called in for a closed door meeting with both manager Grady Little and GM Ned Colletti. Earlier in the linked article, they discuss how Kemp showed bad teammate abilities by failing to properly meet Tony Abreu at home plate for a high five after he hit a home run to give the team a 1-0 lead the other day. In their eyes, this was simply more evidence that Kemp and Loney are not doing enough to help the Dodgers win the NL West.

James Loney: .331/.381/.528
Matt Kemp: .333/.367/.515

Loney in September: .395/.441/.721
Kemp in September: .358/.386/.507

James Loney and Matt Kemp have been, without question, the Dodgers two best hitters this year. They have literally carried the Los Angeles offense that was been dragged down by the poor performances of highly paid veterans Juan Pierre, Rafael Furcal, Nomar Garciaparra, and Luis Gonzalez. And yet, when you hear the Dodgers veterans tell the story, the reason this team didn’t make the playoffs is that they had too many young players.

Lowe actually outright states that he’s worried the team is rebuilding by giving so many at-bats to “developing” players such as Loney and Kemp, worried more about the future than winning immediately. Because, clearly, James Loney and Matt Kemp’s presence on the roster is about playing for the future…

Keep in mind that both Loney and Kemp began the year in Las Vegas, having been given no chance to compete for a job in spring training thanks to the offseason acquisitions of veteran players to play the positions they have ended up taking by force after the veterans failed.

The Dodgers, through their heavy pro-veteran entitlement, have enabled bad players to publicly blame good players for the team losing. Think about that – the guys who are actually responsible for the Dodgers struggles are taking aim at the guys who have kept them in the pennant race. And, thanks to the ridiculous gang of writers who cover the Dodgers, the pro-veteran story will be written without challenge, and the 2007 Los Angeles Dodgers will be held up as an example of what can happen when you tinker with team chemistry by promoting kids from the minors in the middle of a playoff race.

Congratulations, Los Angeles – you’ve officially gone from dysfunctional to embarrassing. If you want to unload noted troublemakers Kemp and Loney, there are 29 other franchises who will gladly take those young punks off your hands. Good luck winning with your highly entitled, overpaid, and essentially useless veteran core.

But at least they’ll high five each other at home plate.

Comments

82 Responses to “The Danger of Veteran Entitlement”

  1. Typical Idiot Fan on September 24th, 2007 1:51 pm

    First DMZ calls for the kids, now Dave posts this. A reply of sorts? A theory? A depressing piece of reality?

    Meh. I hate baseball.

  2. tgf on September 24th, 2007 1:58 pm

    The Dodgers should banish those disrespectful punks to some isolated, remote place like Siberia. They don’t have a team? Well just find the MLB team closest to Siberia and trade them there. See if they have any veterans with track records that they can send you in return.

  3. Jeff Nye on September 24th, 2007 1:59 pm

    Jeff Kent always struck me as kindof a jerk.

    I’m glad to see my offhanded impression confirmed in print.

  4. HamNasty on September 24th, 2007 2:02 pm

    I wish Kemp and Loney were our problems, just like Adam Jones should be.

  5. pdb on September 24th, 2007 2:04 pm

    Jeff Kent sez:

    “But I think experience can help more than inexperience. And it’s hard to give a young kid experience.”

    Uhhh, no it’s not, Jeffy. All you gotta do is let them play regularly, and the experience just sorta, y’know, follows from there. That’s kinda what they mean by “experience”.

  6. hub on September 24th, 2007 2:04 pm

    When ‘hi-fives’ are more important to a clubhouse than ‘base-hits’…something is seriously wrong.

  7. Sports on a Schtick on September 24th, 2007 2:08 pm

    The Dodgers must be the NL doppelgänger of the M’s.

  8. fortysixntwo on September 24th, 2007 2:09 pm

    Does anybody get the sinking feeling that the M’s FO is going to start trading for these has-beens? I mean, look at all that leadership they’re exhibiting.

  9. HamNasty on September 24th, 2007 2:09 pm

    It almost sounds like the Dodger front office likes youngsters enough to go with them. At the start of the season they were not sure what they had in Kemp and Loney though. For baseball’s sake I hope they realize it and dump a few vets and keep with that young core. For M’s sake I hope we ship them a few of our vets and we take some young talent off that team.

    I wonder how Jeff Kent got all that experience?? With his attitude no rookies would ever play and get a chance to gain that experience. Eventually you have a bunch of geriatrics using a cane to leg out an single.

  10. carcinogen on September 24th, 2007 2:10 pm

    I don’t think Grady Little should get off the hook here. By saying nothing, he’s essentially hanging his young players out to dry. Great way to motivate them for future years…

  11. ConorGlassey on September 24th, 2007 2:16 pm

    I like how Kent talks about the need for “professionalism” as he publicly rips his teammates…

  12. Colm on September 24th, 2007 2:18 pm

    That is a spectacularly blind piece of hypocrisy. Larry Craig award of the week to Jeff Kent!

  13. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on September 24th, 2007 2:20 pm

    Here’s the one aspect of chemistry that is ABSOLUTELY true in sports as in the real world (I happen to discount the talk dealing with the translation of most aspects of chemistry to baseball)- people who are performing poorly enough to lose their jobs and who are faced with others who do the job better will often lash out if they don’t accept the situation as a challenge to perform better (if that’s possible).

    In short, if one is being shown up by a newbie in the office, and one can’t manage to match his intensity and ability, a likely outcome is for the underachiever to start trying to get others to believe there is something wrong with the newbie, to have him written off before folks start noticing how the newbie is actually better at the job than the underachiever.

    This story doesn’t really demonstrate anything about how Kemp and Loney are bad teammates. The story makes clear, however, the lengths poorly performing and aging veterans will go to save their own asses (and that of their friends who walk the lonely road to irrelevance in front of them), even going so far as to try to give rookies reputations for being bad in the clubhouse. Kemp and Loney may not be best buds with the old guys (they may even be jerks), but if they really were strutting around the clubhouse giving the finger to the aged, you’d think there’d be a few better examples than the high-five incident cited, and you’d think some of the details would have surfaced much earlier.

  14. Colm on September 24th, 2007 2:23 pm

    The http://www.dodgerblues.com take is particularly, and accurately, pithy:
    “Jeff Kent can sit there stroking his moustache and criticize the rookies all he wants, but they’re not the ones to blame. In fact, the young guys have done nothing but help. The Dodgers are in the position they are because of Grady Little and Ned Colletti, period. I think it’s safe to say that Little cost the Dodgers at least five games (maybe even ten) with awful game decisions, and Colletti fucked the team from the start by committing $108 million in the offseason to injured pitchers, over-the-hill veterans, and centerfielders who couldn’t throw out so much as the trash if the fucking can was two feet away.”

  15. Uncle Ted on September 24th, 2007 2:24 pm

    Imagine how good the Indians would be if they just got rid of all those young players.

  16. scareduck on September 24th, 2007 2:25 pm

    This is a T.J. Simers article. Recalling that the Dodgers’ have the team’s worst OBP consistently batting leadoff of the 1-8 slots is beyond him. Serious analysis of any kind is beyond him. Why people take Simers seriously for this kind of thing is beyond me.

  17. Jon on September 24th, 2007 2:26 pm

    I suspect there is far more to this story than what we’ve learned so far.

    One possibility, among many, is that Loney and Kemp are punks. [Please don't misinterpret what I just said.]

    Youth vs. experience is an interesting debate, but it is not always black and white.

    Kent may be a horse’s patoot, but that doesn’t mean that he never has a valid point.

  18. bermanator on September 24th, 2007 2:27 pm

    I agree that Kent is kind of a jerk, but I also think this shows why clubhouse chemistry is important, even if it can’t be objectively measured and even if a lot of people here will roll their eyes and scoff at the notion. You get a team with a mix as stark as the Dodgers, which has a lot of old guys as well as a lot of younger players, and you get finger-pointing when things go sour.

  19. beckya57 on September 24th, 2007 2:28 pm

    That Jeff Kent is a jerk isn’t news; that has been an open secret in MLB for years. The Dodgers’ apparent organizational attitude is what matters here, and yes, this does sound a lot like the M’s. I couldn’t agree more with the Grady Little comment above. Players take their cues from leadership (as is true with the workers in any organization), and both the FO and the field leadership appear to be saying that the young players are to blame for the team’s collapse, not the underperforming veterans. (Doesn’t the Diamondbacks team that is winning the Dodgers’ division have a lot of young players?) I’m old enough to remember Tom Boswell’s priceless description of the California Angels team of the late 1970′s as the “California Malingerers.” That team was assembled from a lot of very high priced, well-known free agents, who came to California and spent their time riding the bench with minor injuries, underperforming and complaining. Sounds a lot like the current versions of the Dodgers and the M’s (though the veterans in the M’s case are generally not true past stars, unlike those on the past Angels or the current Dodgers, which makes their pampering even more inexplicable).

  20. Jeff Nye on September 24th, 2007 2:29 pm

    Sure, they MIGHT be punks, but we have no evidence to support that at this point; on the other hand, we DO have evidence in the media that Kent and Lowe are willing to slag their teammates publically.

    Combine that with the fact that the alleged punks have been productive where the veterans have not, and I am prepared to take the side of the kids until someone shows me that Loney spit chew in Kent’s hat or something.

  21. scareduck on September 24th, 2007 2:29 pm

    I should also add that while Simers draws you to infer that Kemp and Loney were hauled into a closed-door meeting for their failure to high-five their teammate, he never actually says as much. God knows what the real reason was. Both are prone to gaffes like failing to run out dropped-wild-pitch-strikeouts (Kemp, on Friday IIRC) or defensive mental lapses (Loney, several times this year).

  22. Mike Honcho on September 24th, 2007 2:29 pm

    Jon – If those “punks” put up the numbers they did in September – I’ll gladly take them on my team.

  23. thefin190 on September 24th, 2007 2:35 pm

    Very well written article Dave. Just amazing. Goes to show how corrupt the media really is. Thank god for blogs to show us the truth. As for the vets, it looks like they are hating on the youngsters because they are looking out for their own asses. But their is overwhelming evidence that playing younger guys with talent, as mentioned before, helps win games. They dodgers do sound almost like the NL version of the Mariners, trusting their veterans over their young players. Hopefully Mariners FO will open their eyes one day and see they need to start playing talent over veterans. Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks, and even the Colorado Rockies are starting to show how playing young people can impact the game. Heck, even the Yankees know to play their rookies over their vets if the vets aren’t playing well.

    Maybe Jones, Kemp, and Loney should get together to discuss what they learned from “veteran leadership”.

  24. beckya57 on September 24th, 2007 2:35 pm

    Boy, Colm (#14): just substitute Bavasi and McLaren in that quote about LA, and you’d have a perfect description of the M’s problems also. Weird.

  25. Mike Honcho on September 24th, 2007 2:38 pm

    September stats:

    Kent: .319/.373/.464
    Lu Gonzalez: .245/.351/.449
    Garciaparra: .333/.371/.485
    Pierre: .385/.467/.385

    Huh. The vets are exactly hitting like crap either.

    Pitching?

    Derek Lowe: 7.08 ERA, .909 OPS against
    Loiaza: 8.53, 1.048
    David Wells: 5.96, .860

  26. Mike Honcho on September 24th, 2007 2:39 pm

    edit: The vets “aren’t” exactly hitting like crap…

  27. beckya57 on September 24th, 2007 2:42 pm

    #21–rookies do make those sorts of mistakes. Anyone learning a craft is going to make mistakes. The cure is to keep playing them (assuming they have talent and are contributing), give them guidance, and let them learn. Look at the 1991 Atlanta Braves. Smoltz and Avery had terrible records at one point. The Braves kept letting them pitch, and look at the results. Teams like the M’s and Dodgers, on the other hand, are so fearful of upsetting their veterans and getting pillaged by the media, that they let their young players languish on the bench or in the minors. Then they keep playing their “proven” veterans, even when what the veterans are “proving” is that they no longer have any range in the field, can’t get around on a fastball anymore, have lost 10 miles an hour on their fastball, etc.

  28. gwangung on September 24th, 2007 2:45 pm

    Not as well as the rookies, though. Which means that they STILL don’t have much a case to be slagging on them. Even if the fielding was atrocious (and I doubt it was), they were being damn productive at the plate…

    But Lowe has absolutely NO reason to be bitching about ANYONE….

  29. joser on September 24th, 2007 3:10 pm

    this shows why clubhouse chemistry is important, even if it can’t be objectively measured

    Oh, but it can. It’s right there in the Dodger’s W-L record this month. To the extent it doesn’t show up there, it’s not important.

    BTW, Dave, are we sure there are 29 other franchises who will gladly take those young punks? It seems there’s at least one other one that values veterans as much as the Dodgers do.

  30. nathaniel dawson on September 24th, 2007 3:17 pm

    Many of you are making an incorrect statement about Kent and Lowe. They both have performed extremely well this year, and have through most of their long careers. Did you not even look at their stats, both current and historical?

    I’m not familiar at all with the Dodgers situation, but at first glance, it looks to me like two veterans are taking a leadership role in taking the youngsters to task for not focusing and/or not giving their best effort. Maybe that’s not accurate, maybe this whole incident is driven by personality struggles, but to me, that’s what it looks like. Like I say, I’m not too familiar with the Dodgers’ situation. But judging by your mistaken notion about Kent and Lowe’s play this year, I’m guessing there are few of you who are either.

  31. Max Power on September 24th, 2007 3:31 pm

    I’m not too familiar with the Dodgers’ situation.

    I haven’t followed them too closely since I left California but I think this is should be read more of as an indictment of the LA Times sportsdesk & LA Dodgers management than of Kent/Lowe.

    Kent & Lowe are going to say what they are going to say, and it’s pretty standard veteran-y stuff – they’re not paid to have well-formed opinions on talent evaluation after all. The question is how this got to be an issue in the first place.

    Prior to the season, LA had a pretty impressive stockpile of young talent. Instead of putting that talent out on the field to see what they could do, Colletti & crew threw money at LuGo, Juan Pierre and Schmidt.

    I didn’t read the article, so I’m going to make an assumption (based on my prior reading of Simers’ crap) that he didn’t point out that the front office created this mess by paying tons of money to declining veterans who were less talented than the players already in the farm system.

  32. nathaniel dawson on September 24th, 2007 3:32 pm

    I want my veterans to take a leadership role. I want them to mentor the young players, and if that occasionally means calling guys out in the press, then so be it. That method is one that’s been used over and over again in the history of sports, both by management and players. You could certainly question if it’s the best method, or perhaps its propriety, but it’s certainly far from novel.

    People also seem to be making an assumption that it’s Kemp and Loney that they are calling out. How do we know this is true? How do we know it’s not more of a general message to all the young players on the team that they still have some things to learn about Major League baseball? Nothing I read in the interviews from Kent or Lowe stated any names.

  33. gwangung on September 24th, 2007 3:37 pm

    I want my veterans to take a leadership role.

    And what Kent and Lowe did was anything BUT leadership.

  34. msb on September 24th, 2007 3:41 pm

    and today:

    Asked if it bothered him to be criticized by one of the team’s leaders, Loney said of Kent, “Who said he was a leader?”

    Said Kemp: “If you take the younger guys away, do you have a team?”

  35. msb on September 24th, 2007 3:42 pm

    dang. here.

  36. msb on September 24th, 2007 3:49 pm

    more speculating:

    “But there have been obvious issues at times with several of the club’s younger players, and those issues weren’t emanating exclusively from Kent.

    Outfielder Matt Kemp has repeatedly come under fire for his questionable baserunning decisions, which might have cost the Dodgers runs on several occasions. Third baseman Andy LaRoche, who hit his first big-league home run in the seventh inning, isn’t known to have offended any older players, but manager Grady Little’s decision to start LaRoche in a must-win game on Tuesday is believed to have ruffled some veteran feathers – LaRoche went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and is hitting .213 – even though Nomar Garciaparra clearly wasn’t healthy enough to play both games of that day’s doubleheader. “

  37. Jeff Nye on September 24th, 2007 3:53 pm

    Only bad “leaders” attempt to lead by making their teammates look bad.

  38. Mike Honcho on September 24th, 2007 3:53 pm

    Perhaps Kent was just frustrated after the Colorado series because the rookies didn’t hit well against the Rockies:

    Kent OPS in Col. series: .749
    Garciaparra: .637
    LuGonzalez: 748

    Loney: .930
    Kemp: .857

    Nope…

  39. galaxieboi on September 24th, 2007 3:59 pm

    I work in an industry that very few young people want any real part of: auto mechanics. Seriously. 40% shortage of qualified techs. Anyways, I’m not informed 100% of all the events going on inside Dodgertown, but I know this tune. Kemp and Looney work their asses off in the off-season and spring training. Then, they’re told there’s no room, Luis Gonzalez is a better option. You KNOW you’re better at your job than that washed-up old fart is, but your boss doesn’t care. ‘Ol Gonzo has put up “bubble gum” numbers for goodness sakes! Then, when they do get called up I’m sure neither of them got a real warm reception from some guys. Makes you kinda bitter. In case you can’t tell.

  40. Goose on September 24th, 2007 4:01 pm

    Luis Gonzalez whining about the kids and his playing time is nothing new. He did it in Arizona as well, and it’s what got him run out of town.

  41. galaxieboi on September 24th, 2007 4:09 pm

    I should have also added that I’ve now been working in shops for more than 10 years and STILL deal with age-ism. I’m not saying Kemp and Looney are blame-free by any means either.

  42. Churchill on September 24th, 2007 4:10 pm

    Point, Glassey.

  43. John in L.A. on September 24th, 2007 4:12 pm

    #30 –

    You say:

    “Many of you are making an incorrect statement about Kent and Lowe.”

    Who? I read the whole thread. Show me the “many” that are making that statement.

  44. bat guano on September 24th, 2007 4:26 pm

    Watch the M’s trade Lopez for Jeff Kent.

  45. Sports on a Schtick on September 24th, 2007 4:38 pm

    Speaking of the Mariners, I was at the garbage dump today. There were lots of scrappy, gritty veteran appliances lying around.

  46. Teej on September 24th, 2007 4:49 pm

    Many of you are making an incorrect statement about Kent and Lowe. They both have performed extremely well this year, and have through most of their long careers.

    Huh? I don’t think anyone said anything about Kent or Lowe’s performance (other than someone mentioning that Lowe has sucked this month). Lowe is good. Kent is hitting well. He can’t play second, but whatever. I think people in the thread are making allusions to Pierre, Furcal and Garciaparra, who have been disappointing if not terrible this season.

    Let’s look at the OPS+ of the main starters:

    C: Martin, 118
    1B: Loney, 131
    2B: Jeff Kent, 122
    SS: Furcal, 77
    3B: Nomar, 80
    LF: L. Gonzalez, 102
    CF: Pierre, 77
    RF: Ethier, 106
    ??: Kemp, 124

    Now tell me, if you’re Jeff Kent, and you’re looking for someone to criticize on this team for “not manufacturing runs,” why do Furcal, Nomar and Pierre get a free pass and the two best hitters on the team get ripped? If the young guys weren’t playing well in September, maybe it would be defensible, but the kids are still smacking the ball late in the season. And if he’s bitching about mistakes in the field, I hope someone reminds him that he’s Jeff Kent.

    I sense frustration from guys who know they don’t have many opportunities left to win it all, lost another chance, and know they can’t take out their anger on established veterans, so they pick on the kids who can’t really defend themselves because the media will side with the vets.

    It’s B.S., and it’s ridiculously unfair. So is pretending that it’s “leadership.”

  47. Karen on September 24th, 2007 4:50 pm

    Jeff Kent is the guy who lied about a motorbike injury in one of his past offseasons (riding motorbikes is a no-no according to his and most players’ contracts), and he got into a fistfight with Barry Bonds back in 2002: “it began with Kent yelling at third baseman David Bell over a play at second, then Bonds standing up for Bell. One thing led to another, a lot of bad language was used and pretty soon there were the National League’s past two MVPs going toe-to-toe and mano-a-mano in the “Slugout in the Dugout.” San Francisco manager Dusty Baker eventually had to separate the two, with Kent shouting that he didn’t want to be on the team anymore.”

    I’m more than a little suspicious of guys like Derek Lowe and Jeff Kent, who talk so freely to the media about problems that should be settled in the clubhouse before it’s open to the media. Derek Lowe has a little history while he was a Red Sox, too (he’s famous for “the Derek Lowe face”).

  48. Teej on September 24th, 2007 5:11 pm

    Says Luis Gonzalez: “consistency is what gets you respect in this game.”

    Says logic: “scoring runs is what gets you wins in this game.”

  49. Greg08 on September 24th, 2007 5:19 pm

    Love the way you ended the thread, Dave.

  50. all4ms on September 24th, 2007 5:31 pm

    #2 – “The Dodgers should banish those disrespectful punks to some isolated, remote place”

    I agree. To a place like Seattle :)

  51. kmsandrbs on September 24th, 2007 5:34 pm

    “there are 29 other franchises who will gladly take those young punks off your hands”

    Given our front office, shouldn’t this be 28?

  52. jlc on September 24th, 2007 5:35 pm

    50 – I thought that was implied. Aren’t we the team closest to Siberia?

  53. Colm on September 24th, 2007 5:36 pm

    Nathaniel – I disagree that Kent and Lowe are showing leadership. They’re bellyaching in the press. That’s an appalling management strategy and no way to mend the divisions that have hurt the team. Praise your players’ success in public, criticise their failings constructively in private, not the other way around.

    The Dodger’s FO should carpet Kent and Lowe for such unprofessional behaviour, much as the M’s FO should have told Jose Guillen to shut up about Adam Jones earlier in the season.

  54. Oly Rainiers Fan on September 24th, 2007 5:38 pm

    I agree with 17 and 18. It is simply not black and white.

    It is also not as simple as looking at their stats (and I love the reference to BA and ERA to prove value of youth or non-value of pitchers despite the fact that both have been discredited to varying degrees on this very site. Or, quoting Kemp/Loney ‘good’ stats while omitting Kent ‘good’ stats from the initial post, expecting (or perhaps testing) how many of the acolytes would even bother to go look them up before weighing in with opinions.

    This is one area where the beat reporter does have an advantage, in that they have access to the clubhouse and to the players directly. This gives them additional information to consider, and yes, originating from/relying upon a different epistemology than the empirical, measurable, quantifiable Karl Popper variety.

    I’m not saying the reporters are right. I’m not saying youth shouldn’t be served. I’m saying that an organizations’ overall performance is an outcome of more than the sum of its parts (individual stats) but also relies on the interplay between and the culture within the organization itself.

  55. thefin190 on September 24th, 2007 5:38 pm

    Oddly enough, Derek Lowe was drafted by the Mariners before the whole infamous trade thing with the sox 10 years ago. Kind of ironic, he would’ve fit right in with the clubhouse culture if he was here today.

  56. Zero Gravitas on September 24th, 2007 5:43 pm

    I wonder how much the MLBPA union has to do with fostering this attitude in baseball. In the NFL every player seems to understand that a younger teammate can come in and take their job at any time based on performance. There also happens to be a much weaker union and the players have fewer rights in the NFL than in MLB. In baseball, many veteran players have pretty cushy contracts, and there’s a lot of entitlement that goes along with that. They’d be justified to ask why the team committed so much money/so many years to them if they’re going to be benched whenever some kid starts raking in AAA? Plus the high embarrassment factor and potential conflict it creates if the manager wants to bench an underperforming player who recently re-signed for big bucks. It’s a total disincentive to manage properly. When I think of the NFL (my favorite team being the Eagles) I am amazed at how ruthless they are at ditching popular veteran players for younger, “unproven” talent. And the players may bitch about it, but it works. Being an MLB/Mariners fan and an NFL/Eagles fan, I can’t help but notice the huge difference in philosophy about how to evaluate, what to pay for, and when to cut loose talent, and the differing results. I’m usually a lot happier during football season than baseball season.

  57. bergamot on September 24th, 2007 5:45 pm

    “teams with a lot of young players don’t win championships right away”

    This is sorta true, but mostly because (a) most teams don’t win championships, and (b) most MLB teams don’t have a lot of young players.

    If we wanted to generalize from the Dodgers and M’s, we could state that teams with veterans who whine about playing time given to young players don’t win championships.

  58. John in L.A. on September 24th, 2007 5:59 pm

    54- “Or, quoting Kemp/Loney ‘good’ stats while omitting Kent ‘good’ stats from the initial post…”

    Huh? This post wasn’t about Kent’s performance. Who said they should play instead of Kent? Was that the point?

    Are people just making stuff up that they can be against?

    Good stuff.

  59. James T on September 24th, 2007 6:03 pm

    The Dodgers don’t deserve players like that. They should trade Loney, for one, to a disrespectful orgainization like my favorite team, the Red Sox. I’m sure the Sox can find some good veteran to give them in return.

  60. gwangung on September 24th, 2007 6:06 pm

    I agree with 17 and 18. It is simply not black and white.
    It is also not as simple as looking at their stats (and I love the reference to BA and ERA to prove value of youth or non-value of pitchers despite the fact that both have been discredited to varying degrees on this very site. Or, quoting Kemp/Loney ‘good’ stats while omitting Kent ‘good’ stats from the initial post, expecting (or perhaps testing) how many of the acolytes would even bother to go look them up before weighing in with opinions.
    This is one area where the beat reporter does have an advantage, in that they have access to the clubhouse and to the players directly. This gives them additional information to consider, and yes, originating from/relying upon a different epistemology than the empirical, measurable, quantifiable Karl Popper variety.
    I’m not saying the reporters are right. I’m not saying youth shouldn’t be served. I’m saying that an organizations’ overall performance is an outcome of more than the sum of its parts (individual stats) but also relies on the interplay between and the culture within the organization itself.

    While this is true in general, this situation is still an example of a failure of leadership from the front office and the manager; that kind of intra-team sniping is a failure of personnel managment from the top. Not that Kent or Lowe are blameless–a true team leader would be a lot more circumspect in their statements. Basically, they burned any bridges they had with the young players—they sure as heck won’t have any influence over them in the future (and with those kind of numbers, those youngsters WILL be with the team in the future).

    I find THAT kind of chemistry problem, THAT kind of leadership problem to be more serious than anything among the players. At worst, the rookies could be seen as arrogant—but they backed up a lot of any arrogance with performance. And that sort of performance buys a lot of time for patience.

  61. Teej on September 24th, 2007 6:11 pm

    Are people just making stuff up that they can be against?

    I’m starting to get that feeling.

    Seriously, no one has said anything negative about Kent’s performance this season. Well, actually, I made fun of him for being a shitty fielder in my previous post, but still, he is and always has been a pretty good hitter. But that’s not the point of the post.

    The reason Loney and Kemp’s stats were posted is to show that they are not the ones who deserve to be the focus of Kent’s misplaced ire. Dave didn’t say Loney and Kemp are awesome and Kent sucks at baseball, and neither did anyone else here.

  62. jlc on September 24th, 2007 6:11 pm

    A couple of weeks ago, some people disagreed when I suggested that there was a difference between chemistry and leadership because leadership is a skill. This year’s Dodgers seem to me to reinforce that. The Dodgers of the 1970s had players who couldn’t stand each other, even got into fist fights (not a sign of good chemistry), but they were able to come together and play as a team under Lasorda (though they got to the Series, they could never win it. Sigh.).

    This team probably has enough talent to get to the playoffs, but there isn’t enough leadership from players or coaches to get there. Or maybe there isn’t enough talent and that’s why they fell apart at the end. Even so, teams should not be turning on each other in public.

    I don’t have a metric to measure leadership, but I don’t see how a group of highly egoistic (a characteristic necessary for their jobs) human beings can coexist without some of it. Sometimes, teams need a manager who’s mostly a coach and supporter, other times, they need someone to knock heads together, and it can be anything in between.

    20 years from now, not many people will remember this outburst/split and the Dodgers will be remembered as a team that placed 4th in their division. I’d be pretty surprised if anyone thinks about whether they should have taken the wild card this year if they hadn’t spent so much time bashing teammates in the media. So the lack of leadership kind of shows up in the statistics, but not in a way we can measure it.

  63. Oly Rainiers Fan on September 24th, 2007 6:21 pm

    58: Sorry, my reply was more about the rhetoric and framing used in the initial post. Rhetoric, framing, overreaching harms the points Dave is trying to make.

    It quotes 3 players (Kent, Lowe, Gonzalez) as examples of ‘bad’ players, players responsible for Dodgers failure this year.

    “The Dodgers, through their heavy pro-veteran entitlement, have enabled bad players to publicly blame good players for the team losing.”

    Meantime, when I pull up stats on the Dodgers, I’m shown that Jeff Kent leads the team on batting average, home runs and is 2nd on the team in RBI. I’m shown that Derek Lowe is 2nd on the team in wins, 2nd in ERA and 1st in strikeouts. Luis Gonzalez is 3rd in HRs, 3rd in RBIs. That Kemp and Loney have played in over 40 games fewer than Gonzalez and Kent (so the implied but unstated assumption is that the smaller sample size just extrapolates, right?) That Kent has an OPS that’s 10 points lower than Matt Kemp’s, but over the course of 40+ more games.

    To say that they are bad players is incorrect and overreaching. To imply that the Dodgers would be better off, still in the race, if they weren’t so reliant on vets, when some of the vets have been pretty stinking valuable to the success they did have this year is false.

  64. joser on September 24th, 2007 6:35 pm

    “teams with a lot of young players don’t win championships right away”

    Baseball Reference gives the ages for position players and pitchers separately, and weights them according to their appearances (so the rookie who shows up for a couple of the games at the end of the season has much less effect on the average age than the vet who is there for most of the 162)

    Average age (position players, pitching staff)

    2002 Angels: 28.3, 30.2
    2003 Marlins: 27.7, 26.3
    2004 Red Sox: 30.5, 32.5
    2005 White Sox: 29.2, 29.6
    2006 Cardinals 29.6, 28.6

    2007 LA Dodgers: 29.8, 31.1

    So, of all the WS champions over the last 5 years, all but one of them (the ’04 BoSox) was younger than this year’s Dodgers. And in the case of the ’03 Marlins, quite a bit younger.

  65. Teej on September 24th, 2007 6:39 pm

    Nice find, Joser.

  66. MKT on September 24th, 2007 6:54 pm

    16. Why people take Simers seriously for this kind of thing is beyond me.

    They don’t take Simers seriously. Simers’ column exists for just one reason: to make ridiculous comments that get a rise from readers who write or email furious tirades. If the LA Times was the internet, Simers would be a classic example of a troll.

    In his few non-trolling columns, Simers reveals that he’s actually a reasonably intelligent guy, and he occasionally even writes stuff that is positive rather than insulting or sarcastic. But that’s only maybe 5% of his writing.

    One of the more interesting baseball postings that I’ve seen on the web was one several years ago from a contributor to I think it was BaseballPrimer.com (now part of BTF), who’d won some sort of contest to have a date with one of Simers’ daughters. (Simers looks like the stereotypical past-his-prime sportswriter, so readers of the LA Times were blown away when the Times showed a photo of one of his daughters competing in a celebrity 3-point basket shooting contest, which she won — she was actually pretty attractive.) It turns out that Simers in person is a lot like Simers the columnist, always wisecracking and needling. But they got along fine.

  67. fetish on September 24th, 2007 7:06 pm

    Wow, these two Dodgers kids must be real assholes if they’re the best players on the team and everyone STILL hates them.

    I mean, let’s not confuse “Veteran Leadership/Consistency” and “Chemistry”. There can be now doubt when the guy is talking about “two clubhouses” there is definitely no chemistry going on. Also, I think we can add guys like Felix, Ichiro, Beltre and Guillen as guys who were given trans-atlantic leashes.

  68. Oly Rainiers Fan on September 24th, 2007 7:09 pm

    64: Okay, I’ll play. I’ll even throw in 4 more years for comparison (all 4 of which the WS winners were older than this years’ Dodgers).

    ’98 NYY (30.4, 30.2) beats SDP (31.2, 29.8) (younger batters beat younger pitchers?)
    ’99 NYY (30.8, 31.2) beats ATL (29.6, 28.6) (oops, older wins series)
    ’00 NYY (31.3, 32.0) beats NYM (30.4, 31.0) (oops, older wins series)
    ’01 AZ (31.9, 30,9) beats NYY (31.1, 30,9) (virtual tie, both teams older than this years’ Dodgers)
    ’02 LAA (28.3, 30.2) beats SFG (32.1, 29.2) (again, younger batters beat younger pitchers?)
    ’03 FLA (27.7, 26.3) beats NYY (30.3, 33.6) (youth triumphs)
    ’04 BOS (30.5, 32.5) beats STL (30.7, 30.1) (again, younger batters beat younger pitchers)
    ’05 CWS (29.2, 29.6) beats HOU (30.2, 30.3) (youth triumphs)
    ’06 STL (29.6, 28.6) beats DET (29.3, 28.8) (older batters beat older pitchers?)

    Also, 2007 Seattle Mariners (29.9, 28.1) – hey baby, why aren’t we in the WS, we are SO young….

    Wait, 2006 Seattlel Ms (28.6, 28) – whoa, we ARE getting ancient in a hurry, but wait, our W-L last year was worse than this year.

    C’mon, hasn’t Dave taught you how to make better arguments or at least how to frame what you’re arguing better?

  69. John in L.A. on September 24th, 2007 7:22 pm

    64 – You know as well as I do what Dave’s point was… and it wasn’t that you should fire anyone over thirty.

    68 – Aren’t you in a mood today.

    And again, you seem to be making up arguments to be against.

    No one, not even the post you replied to, said a younger team always beats an older team.

    The point was the quote ““teams with a lot of young players don’t win championships right away””

    A quote your stats did nothing to support.

    Come on.

  70. Mr. Egaas on September 24th, 2007 7:23 pm

    Really doesn’t have to do with anything, but I am such a huge James Loney fan. They should have given him the job out of spring training and kicked Nomar to the curb.

  71. jlc on September 24th, 2007 7:28 pm

    I’ve been a Nomar fan for years. It was so sad when the media talked about his getting hurt was the best thing he could do for the team because it let in a youngster to replace his aging, nonproductive self. Sad because it was true. You can hardly argue the Dodgers put the kids ahead of the vets for no reason this season.

  72. Oly Rainiers Fan on September 24th, 2007 7:48 pm

    69: Yeah, in a mood. Let’s just say my current assignment at work stretches my patience beyond thin, and by the time I come home, I’m on a zero tolerance rampage for miscommunication or poor process because I’ve dealt with it all day long, in countless areas.
    Apologies.

    Still, it is interesting to note that baseball reference age weighting (measurable, quantitative) shows a result of a fairly young team, when there’s been an assumption all year that we are, in fact, a fairly old team.

  73. John in L.A. on September 24th, 2007 7:55 pm

    72 – Cool, man. I’m taking work out back and shooting it today myself.

  74. JMHawkins on September 24th, 2007 7:57 pm

    “Who said he [Kent] was a leader?”

    Classic. Being a leader and being around a while are not the same thing.

    BTW, if you’re really just missing Dave Sims’ voice on this off-day, you can hear him calling MNF on KJR right now…

  75. Teej on September 24th, 2007 8:30 pm

    I used to read Simers when I was in college because he made me laugh. Not much of a sports expert or anything, but he has his moments. He’s one of those guys who I like to read here and there, but sometimes I’m stunned that they he has a job at such a large paper.

    I work at The San Diego Union-Tribune. Simers was a sportswriter here long before I arrived, and I still hear stories about him occasionally. Obviously it’s all hearsay to me, but to summarize: He was fun because of his smartassness, but obviously not everyone got a kick out of his personality.

  76. Crushgroovin on September 24th, 2007 8:56 pm

    The Ken Rosenthal on the Rockies shows a sharp contrast to what is happening in Seattle and LA.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/7260534

    It is just disgusting to see a bunch of never really have been veterans with their hands around the throat of an organization. I believe that that the M’s as an organization need a complete and total house cleaning. It is obvious that from Howard Lincoln on down the corporate philosophy is broken.

    For an example of how things should work please see , oh my god, the Yankees. I believe Melky Cabrera is a rather young player who came in and supplanted a veteran. But I haven’t heard anyone on the team complaining.

    Seriously Good franchises put the best players on the field. They would never let the fate of the franchise be controlled by a 35 year old outfielder who has never been a contributer on a winning club.

  77. terry on September 24th, 2007 9:41 pm

    Gosh what a wonderful piece of writing. It was thoroughly enjoyable….

  78. Gomez on September 25th, 2007 12:25 am

    Is anyone really surprised that this mentality has taken over the Dodgers clubhouse now that good ol’ boy Ned Colletti is the GM?

  79. msb on September 25th, 2007 8:56 am

    FWIW, recent elaboration from the LA Times

  80. Eastside Crank on September 25th, 2007 1:27 pm

    Well if we are going to get all excited about baseball in Southern California then we should also consider how the Angels are getting it done. Check out what Ross Newhan has to say:
    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-angwin25sep25,1,6631787.column?coll=la-headlines-sports

    Remember that the Angels took off as a franchise after Bavasi left. Bavasi loaded the team with young talent but also presided over one of the most divided clubhouses in team history. Scioscia rewards production and shuffles players around to achieve wins. The GM is not afraid to move players if a better one is available and they no longer need the Disney Corporation to approve trades. By the description, the Mariners are very much like the Angels of the 1990′s. Will the Mariners be able to improve while being run like a corporation?

  81. serpentear on September 26th, 2007 12:29 am

    I think you have it all wrong. THey vets in the dodgers article are complaining about attitude, not preformance from the young guys. Nice try though ;)

    Does that excuse the Mariner inability to sit down a slumping player because he is a veteran, no.

    I don’t care who you are, if you don’t preform you sit. WE got lucky with Ibanez and Somewhat with Weaver. Sexson still blows, Ramirez still blows, and Lopez still blows.

    The Mariners have problems in there roots and this is own of them. Things need to be fixed

  82. serpentear on September 26th, 2007 12:30 am

    Howard Lincoln = most unsavy baseball moron

    Do us a favor and quit

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