Dodgers determined to turn things around
Colletti, Torre hope to get club back on winning track
NEW YORK -- The Dodgers spent the pregame Wednesday reacting to the critical comments issued by general manager Ned Colletti on Tuesday on KABC Radio.
Colletti didn't back down from the comments on Wednesday, saying he wasn't satisfied with his club's "presentation, execution or thought process." Manager Joe Torre said there was plenty of blame to go around, and accepted his share of it, then he held a team meeting.
The Dodgers fell to the Mets, 7-3, later Wednesday afternoon.
Matt Kemp, whose baserunning and defense has particularly annoyed Colletti, defended his effort and commitment.
"You can say what you want to say and think what you want to think," said Kemp. "I'm going out every day, playing as hard as I can. Sometimes you make mistakes and things happen. I'm one of the first people here every day. I get my work in, I work hard, I watch video."
Colletti also asked rhetorically -- and said he couldn't answer -- if Kemp's play was influenced by the two-year, $10.95 million contract he signed early this year.
Colletti met with Kemp after Wednesday's game, calling it "a respectful five-minute conversation."
"No deal is going to change the way I approach this game," said Kemp. "We're losing right now. People can say what they want or make excuses. I'm not making excuses. We're losing as a team, not any one individual. It's just one of those rough spots. We're starting off slow. Some things need to change and we've got to get better. A new deal has nothing to do with anything. The goal isn't to make money; that's not why I started playing the game. I love the game, and I continue to love this game."
The only clarification Colletti made on Wednesday was that his criticism was aimed at the entire team, not just Kemp.
"I didn't single Matt Kemp out," he said. "I responded to a question about Matt Kemp from Peter [Tilden, morning show host]."Nonetheless, Colletti is unhappy with Kemp's play.
"I don't see the same player I saw last year," Colletti said. "Maybe it's early, maybe that's what it is. It's not just Matt. I haven't seen it across the board, with rare exception. I don't want to make this [only about] Matt Kemp.
|"It's time to get better, because with rare exception, it's the same club as last year. And last year, we won 95 games with Manny Ramirez missing 50 of them."|
|-- Ned Colletti|
"Overall, I'm not satisfied with the presentation, I'm not satisfied with the execution and I'm not satisfied with the thought process. It starts with me and goes to the manager and coaching staff and everybody playing the game. Normally I temper my thoughts, but at some point in time, you can't kid yourself either.
"The Dodgers are 8-12. We have more errors than anybody in the league, maybe in baseball. We're last in fielding in the league. This team a year ago was in the top three in hitting, pitching, defense. We're in the top half hitting, the lower half pitching and the bottom defensively. If they had a category for execution, we'd be in the bottom half of that, too.
"It's time to get better, because with rare exception, it's the same club as last year. And last year, we won 95 games with Manny Ramirez missing 50 of them. We had one of our top pitchers, Chad [Billingsley], have a tough second half. Russell [Martin] had a tough time and we still won 95 with basically the same club.
"For me, it's all about presentation and effort. If we were up to standards that we as an organization and Joe [Torre] set and we were 8-12, so be it. But until that gets better, something needs to get better. I see a lack of execution. I think the effort is OK."
Colletti said that considering the nucleus of the current club reached the National League Championship Series the past two seasons, it is not fulfilling expectations.
"The expectations grow when you get to that point," Colletti said. "You don't expect to watch a 20-game stretch where there's not progress. At worst case, you expect the same and some degree of progress. You don't expect to see backward movement.
"Our record is 8-12, and the part that I'm most concerned with is presentation. They don't look like last year, when Manny was suspended for 50 games and they looked around and said, 'Let's go,' and they went 29-21 without arguably the best offensive player on the club."
Before calling a team meeting, Torre addressed Colletti's comments and what prompted them.
|"When you're struggling, you're not as focused. You probably worry about too many things instead of concentrating on one thing at a time."|
|-- Joe Torre|
"There's plenty of blame to go around when you don't play well, that's no secret," Torre said. "We need to improve in a lot of areas, and that's my responsibility. We have to find a way to make things happen."
Torre conceded that his team's focus has wandered.
"When you're struggling, you're not as focused," he said. "You probably worry about too many things instead of concentrating on one thing at a time."
After getting swept in Tuesday's doubleheader by the Mets, Torre said the Dodgers need to put a winning streak together to get back that "conceit." Colletti's comments indicated a concern that the young Dodgers were taking things for granted.
"I don't know about arrogance," said Torre, "but sometimes when young players have success, there's a tendency to think it's easier than it really is. This game has a way of catching up to you and humbling you."
Colletti on the radio said some players weren't hustling, but softened that Wednesday by saying their effort was "OK."
"I'm not sure anybody looks good losing," Torre said. "As I say, we've got to find a way to make all the pieces work together. Right now, you see a lot of frustration. Our young players are not there yet. [In] today's world, we want things to happen quickly. That's the nature of society. Young players have success and think, 'OK, that's how it is.' Then it bites you in the butt.
"I'm not of a mind to think that players don't care, but you get to the point where you get frustrated, and all of a sudden, you lose your discipline. It doesn't mean it's OK to do it. It's my job to reel it in."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.