26 September 2007

The Kemp Rumor

Foxsports.com is currently "reporting" a rumor that the Dodgers are considering a trade offer of Johan Santana for Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.

I don't know if getting back Johan Santana could make losing Matt Kemp any easier. I just don't know. Santana is the best out there. Yes, this season he's been mortal, not quite his usual dominating self. It appears to me this is mostly because he's allowing about 50% more home runs than usual. If this year's home run rate is merely some bad luck, then he's still the best. His strikeout rate is still above a batter per inning.

Santana is the best. Santana is the best. That's what I have to keep telling myself if the Dodgers trade Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw away for him. At least this rumour isn't one of those insulting rumours, such as Betemit for Proctor. Yeah, I know that one happened. It was still a horribly insulting rumour to read. At least this time the Dodgers are getting something good in return. Something really good. They're getting the best player in the rumored deal, really.

But then I'm stopped short. The best player, right now. Who knows what the future holds? Baseball is an uncertain sport, especially for prospect pitchers. If Kershaw gets injured he'll go down the Kerry Wood and Mark Prior path, or worse. But if not, there's a very good chance he's headed down the Johan Santana path. Except he's younger, and cheaper, and as an added bonus, more electric and exciting for the fans, because he's new. Wouldn't Kershaw starting a Hall of Fame career with the Dodgers be so much more special and meaningful than Santana finishing his career with the Dodgers?

But do I assume too much? For Santana to do anything like finish his career with the Dodgers he'd have to agree to a contract extension. Will he do that? Would Colletti make the deal even if Santana refused to sign an extension? I'm already ambivalent about this trade if Santana is with the Dodgers long-term --- if he's only with the Dodgers for one year, it's a horrible, awful trade.

Then I realize that emotionally, this would be a horrible trade no matter what happens with Santana's contract or Kershaw's career. I don't want to lose Kemp. He's so talented, so fun to watch. Already so productive. How good might he be next year? Two years from now? What about when he's 27? I don't understand why he's held to a higher standard than a 39-year-old player. No one seems to care if the 39-year-old player makes lots of baserunning blunders, or is bad defensively. But when Kemp dares to do it, he's a bum. Shouldn't the older player be held to a higher standard, both in terms of his play and his attitude? But that's not the way it works, and now Kemp is apparently being shopped around, and I'm seriously thinking of chucking the whole Dodger fan thing.

But maybe he's not really being shopped around. Maybe there's nothing to the rumors. Maybe Colletti and McCourt aren't swayed in the least bit by Plaschke's absurd and mean-spirited attack piece on Matt Kemp. Maybe, maybe. A few days ago I was confident that Dodger management truly understood how valuable cheap young players were. I'm much less confident now. I fear Kemp is a goner, and I feel about this the way I felt during those awful few days when Piazza was rumored to be on his way out.


There might be a cure for this sick feeling, though. Johan Santana. Johan Alexander Santana. Supernatural. He's the best.

Don't the Dodgers dare settle for anything less if they trade the away Matt Kemp.

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