If at least one person wasn’t going to be moved by Matt Kemp’s mini memoir on The Players Tribune recently, it figured it would be the guy who used to sign his paychecks and just paid the Braves $10.5 million to take him off his hands.
So, yeah. While Kemp wrote, “Hello, Atlanta,” now you can say hello to San Diego Padres owner Ron Fowler.
Fowler met with a reported 350 Padres’ season-ticket holders Wednesday night and, when it seems he got a little emotional when referencing Kemp (who was traded to the Braves for the unfortunate remains of Hector Olivera) and pitcher James Shields (who was dealt to the Chicago White Sox, in another giveaway of a trade, just to get him out of town and at least partially off the payroll).
Little the Padres have done has worked out in the last couple of years, which probably explains why San Diego Union Tribune writer Bryce Miller described Fowler as “the unscripted, unrestrained and unwavering voice of the plan the Padres began selling to ticket holders.”
The soundbites, aimed at Kemp and Shields, follow. Duck.
• “I’ll be damned if we’re going to pay high-priced talent to sit on their butts and not perform.”
• “We made a conscious decision to ship them out because we want people that are prepared to improve. If you’re making a lot of money and you think you’re already there, you’re not going to get better. … They had a bad attitude. You saw Kemp’s letter. Talk about a bunch of b.s.”
• In a general comment about free agents and major acquisitions that didn’t meet expectations, “Most of ’em are gone, thank God.”
So much for Fowler reciprocating Kemp’s relative love letter, particularly this excerpt:
“… There is so much that I will miss about San Diego, and I want to thank the Padres for giving me the opportunity to play in such a wonderful city. While I may no longer be a member of the Padres, San Diego will still be a place I call home, and the city where I plan to start my family. I also want to thank the team’s amazing fans. Thank you for welcoming me with open arms, and for being so friendly. Just yesterday, for instance, a kind lady came up to me in a restaurant in town to thank me for that time I hit for the cycle last August. She wished me nothing but the very best in the future, and it was such a sweet gesture. That’s what San Diego is all about. …”
(Kemp did sort of give San Diego a backhanded slap when he said he liked the trade to Atlanta in part because it was his first opportunity to play in a real “baseball town.” I’ll give him Atlanta over San Diego. Maybe. But he also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers. If L.A. isn’t a baseball town, I guess I must’ve been in the wrong part of town during the near three decades I lived there — so help me Vin Scully.)
To get rid of Kemp, the Padres agreed to take Olivera and the $28.5 million remaining on his contract, as well as chip in $10.5 milllion to help the Braves’ pay down Kemp’s $64.5 million in salary from 2017 to 2019. Even with paying Olivera, it’s still far less than he would’ve had to pay Kemp.
So he’s a happy man today.
Doesn’t he sound happier?
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