Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last two seasons, Yasiel Puig was what Matt Kemp used to be for the Los Angeles Dodgers — a promising outfielder capable of being a franchise cornerstone. However, for the former teammates, their arrival to the Majors was much different.

The Dodgers selected Kemp in the sixth round of the 2003 Draft and let him marinate in the Minors before debuting with the Dodgers in late-May 2006. Conversely, Puig was signed to a seven-year, $42 million contract in July 2013 as an unknown the size of Bo Jackson. Already teammates, their paths crossed once more last season when Puig eventually took over in center field.

Coinciding with the move, Kemp was placed in right field after a failed experiment in left. While the Dodgers managed to win 94 games and repeat as National League West division champions, rumors swirled of clubhouse disconnect.

When asked if he had issue with Kemp, Puig didn’t admit to such, but said he disagreed with Kemp’s claim to being the best outfielder in baseball, via Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:

(Matt Kemp) stated he’s the best outfielder in the league, but I think there are better outfielders in this league.”

As he’s done since being traded at the Winter Meetings, Kemp passed on the opportunity to be critical of his former team:

That’s fine. I wish him all the best.”

Kemp and Puig were involved in a dugout shouting match during a September game at Coors field — though it was Kemp doing the yelling while Puig walked from one end of the dugout to the other.

With Kemp now gone, more pressure has been placed on Puig. As for Kemp’s penchant to lay claim to something, he said the San Diego Padres have the best outfield in baseball.

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About The Author

Matt is a journalist from Whittier, California. A Cal State Long Beach graduate, Matthew occasionally contributes to Lakers Nation, and previously served as the lead editor and digital strategist at Dodgers Nation, and the co-editor and lead writer at Reign of Troy, where he covered USC Football. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mmoreno1015

61 Responses

  1. dave

    No doubt Puig is the more complete player… if he could only learn to run the bases…

    Reply
    • Michael N. Norris

      Has not shown he has Kemp’s power….and his discipline at the plate is highly questionable

      Reply
      • dave

        Puig struck out less than Kemp, walked more, and had a higher OPS. He’s more of a doubles hitter, but he can still improve in that area. Whereas Kemp has peaked…

      • Michael N. Norris

        That remains to be seen. Before his injury in 2012, Matt Kemp was the complete player. While he may never be as good in the OF, He is still only 30. An age when most ballplayers reach their peak performances. I think most of his problems were because of his injury. He looked much better the second half, and outplayed Puig the last 2 months by a huge margin. Kemp struck out a lot less in the 2nd half after he adjusted his batting stance. Yasiel with all his tools still makes dumb base running and outfield decisions. He did so again yesterday in a spring game….While there is room for improvement….He is still not in Kemp’s league. He may one day be that player…he is not yet.

      • Albert Cruz

        Dodgers proved in 2013 they can make the playoffs without Kemp, Kemp was a waste of money as is Ethier

      • Michael N. Norris

        They did not win though did they?

      • Albert Cruz

        Pitching is the problem, I want world series titles, you seem hung up on one player

      • Michael N. Norris

        You seem to think you know what I am thinking..and you are wrong, I am not hung up on Kemp. The discussion is about Kemp and Puig, not the pitching..we all know the problems there.

      • Albert Cruz

        Kemp is not better than Puig, Kemp had ONE good year some fans want to live on, Puig is the whole pkg and a much better defensive player and not far off on offense.

      • Michael N. Norris

        Albert quit showing your ignorance. Last year was a good year…he was good in 2012 and 11. You want his career stats? He is a career .292 hitter…..with 182 homers. His homer totals climbed every year until he got hurt in 2012. 2010 was the only year he had a batting average under the .287 he hit last year. and he still hit 28 homers that year with a .249 average….you want a comparison? Ethier hit .249 last year and had 4 dingers. 2009 he had 101 ribbies and 26 HR’s and a .297 average…..Puig has 5 tools and the ability to be a better player than Kemp, but he is not there yet…..So he had more than 1 good year…like I told you before….go root for the Giants….they need butt heads like you…

      • Albert Cruz

        Haha thank god Kemp is gone his attitude and self absorbance was holding the team back… Dodgers will be better without him, maybe your clueless butt should find another team?

      • Michael N. Norris

        You are so full of hate for the guy you fail to see the good things he did…you are dumber than a bag of hammers..

      • Albert Cruz

        No but it showed that the Dodgers didn’t need to waste all that money on Kemp..

      • Michael N. Norris

        Oh by the way….Puig’s OPS was barely higher than Kemps…862 to 853. Most of Kemp’s K’s came before the all star break when he made the adjustment in his batting stance his K’s went way down, whereas Puig was LOUSY in the 2nd half…..they won in spite of him…

      • dave

        Dude you are grasping for straws. His OBP was 40 points higher and he is supposedly undisciplined. I like Kemp and he is a very good hitter, but his knees are shot and he is by every metric the worst fielding outfielder in the majors. Puig is still raw and has a ton of room to grow. Kemp is one dimensional and has peaked. His K’s didn’t go “way down”, they decreased to roughly his career rate, which is still really high. You wouldn’t actually take him over Puig would you? If so, you don’t know baseball. Puig was actually fantastic in July, horrible in August, and decent in September all while still playing elite defense. If Kemp isn’t hitting home runs, what good is he? I wish him the best, but I’d be shocked if he played over 140 games this year.

      • Albert Cruz

        Puig is much better all around then Kemp, Kemp can’t stay healthy and he’s not the best outfielder on the league lol, he was jealous of Puig who is the best outfielder on the Dodgers and plays balls out everyday.
        Mattingly pulling Puig in the last game of the LDS last season was a joke as is Yankee Don.

      • Michael N. Norris

        You sir are a typical Matt Kemp hater and not much of a stat fan. Puig is a kid…He is far from being an accomplished OF or hitter. Kemp before he was injured was a pretty good base stealer, a skill Puig has not come close to mastering, Kemp is not as fast as he once was, nor as good a fielder as he once was, but he is NOT injury prone, and he was HEALTHY all last year. He has more power than Puig, and drives in a lot more runs….read the stats moron before you shoot your mouth off, and Puig was benched because he was not hitting …..

      • Albert Cruz

        Please dude Kemp is injury prone and not worth the money.

      • Michael N. Norris

        Please dude….get your info straight….prior to crashing into the wall in 2012……..at Coors. Matt Kemp was leading the league in consecutive games played…..well over 300. The shoulder injury he got was his first trip to the DL as a major league player. His season in effect was ruined by his all out hustle trying to catch that fly ball. Next, he tried to come back, but his shoulder was not strong enough so his stats went south. He still managed to hit .303 with 23 dingers in 106 games…In 2013….the only season that he was truly shelved by multiple injury’s, he was coming off major surgery to his shoulder. He suffered a hammy pull and the ankle injury that year limiting him to 73 games. In that off season he had 2 major surgeries, one for his ankle and 1 for his shoulder again, which still was not 100 %. In 2014(last year) He played 150 games…….other than the first 7 days of the season, he was not on the DL at all. He placed in the top 10 in 5 batting categories’ last year including HR’s RBI’s 2B’s OPS< and slugging. He has absolutely no reason to be jealous of a kid who has never done any of that……so have a little respect, get your facts straight and learn to read the stats….

      • Albert Cruz

        And what did his accolades get us? It’s a TEAM sport

      • Michael N. Norris

        Kemp got hurt being a team player in 2012….and I bet you were rooting for him like crazy until it happened……..and you probably cheered every time he hit a homer last year….if you didn’t, you are not only an idiot, but no Dodger fan…

      • Albert Cruz

        I always cheer for the Dodgers and whoever wears the uniform but fact is we’re log jammed with talent in the outfield and his contract was ridiculous, getting Grandal and that contract was good, this team needs a better bull pen and a better manager, Kemp was expendable and I’m not concerned with what Kemp can do for SD…
        As solid of numbers he had it didn’t help in the playoffs.

      • Michael N. Norris

        You ever managed in the big leagues? Who are you to criticize anyone? The only people who said Kemp had an attitude was the media. Yeah, he is gone, the trade is done, so it is a moot point, but do not judge people by what others say if you have never met them,. You have no clue what Kemp is like.

      • Albert Cruz

        I have had plenty of experience in baseball, I played in H.S. college, my cousin is Jacob Cruz who played with SF in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, a good friend of mine who I played Baseball with Terry Pendleton is a coach with The Atlanta Braves, maybe you know him. So please don’t try to belittle me, Yankee Don is an awful manager and will be gone after this year count on it. The guy couldn’t manage his way out of a paper bag.

      • Michael N. Norris

        Does not make you an expert there amigo…….Donny might not be the greatest in game strategist, but neither was Lasorda. Baker wore out his pitching staff. And if DM is gone the reason is that he is not the new FO’s pick. So a good friend of yours played baseball with TP..great for him. You didn’t. I am just quoting stats, and you are just ranting. You do not like DM, fine, that’s your deal, you do not like Kemp…that’s ok too….But saying things about his attitude, when most of his team mates did not have a problem with him..only the rookie…..come on get real. He is an exe Dodger now, but the article was about him and Puig having a problem….you used to belittle him as a player……when you obviously did not check his record…

      • Albert Cruz

        Here’s a Stat for you,Kemp as a Dodger =0 world series appearances or titles.

      • Michael N. Norris

        You can say that about every player on the Dodger roster Albert….and despite what some people think, it takes a HUGE amount of luck to get to the series…..why just pick on Matt.?? Ernie Banks spent his entire career and never saw the series. Ted Williams saw one. Hanley does not get his ribs broke in 2013 and the Dodgers go to the series. The Giants won last year, not because they were the best team….They were extremely lucky to get there. They beat a hot Pittsburgh team that suddenly went cold at home. They beat Washington who all of a sudden could not hit in the clutch. Same with the Cardinals in the NLCS……then Bumgarner pulled a Orel Hershiser and single handedly won the series for them….luck..that is the main ingredient in a championship team…

      • Albert Cruz

        Luck? They’ve won 3 of the last 5.
        Hardly luck.

      • Michael N. Norris

        So? You have to be lucky to do that. How many times in the entire history of the game has that happened? Especially since there are now 30 teams. And the Giants were far from being the BEST team. That’s the way it is in pro sports now. The BEST team does not always win.

      • Albert Cruz

        KEMP was expendable, all the stats in the world don’t matter because the Dodgers got rid of him and I agree with management on this.

      • Albert Cruz

        Yep and all this happened right after he signed that ridiculous contract. Again a waste of money

      • Michael N. Norris

        Like I said butt brain……him signing the contract was not why he got injured…and he was up there with the leaders when he got hurt..so go pick on your own worthless butt….you just hate the guy….

      • Albert Cruz

        Buttbrain? Listen I don’t hate no one but I’m not surprised he’s gone, Either is next if we can get rid of his awful contract.
        Quit taking it so personal, it’s just my opinion.

      • Michael N. Norris

        I apologize for that…it was rude…but assuming the contract was the reason he got injured is a little lame don’t you think? He got hurt busting his tail..at least give him credit for that…oh by the way…he was hitting almost .360 when he hit that wall…….

      • Albert Cruz

        I don’t hate Kemp Mike, I may come off like that but with the log jam in the outfield I saw this coming, I think Puig is better all around and you think he has the potential to be that’s fine. Bottom line is I want the Dodgers to be the best.
        Sorry if my comments upset you but they’re just my feelings on it.
        I never said I was right. I hope so though.
        Because this is what we have now.

      • Michael N. Norris

        Hey, I have been a Dodger fan my whole life. I know they had a huge logjam in the OF. You did not upset me either. I liked Matt, and I know he has huge faults. But he was a Dodger and I think most people just did not look beyond the injury and what it did to his swing, his power and probably his confidence. After the all star break he was the best player on the team. If he, Crawford and A-Gone had not stayed so hot after the break, they would not have won the division. When I quoted their OPS the stats I got were straight of the baseball register site, so Puig was far from being 40 points higher. I like Yasiel, he is an exciting player, and when I was home in California last year, he was fun to watch. But in my opinion, you do not trade a player of Matt’s caliber in your own division. They could have traded him anywhere else and I would not have cared at all. I also think they dumped the wrong guy. I am not impressed with Grandal. His defensive skills are weak to say the least. He might be a great pitch framer, but I do not watch baseball to see him setting up for the pitch. I think the front office over rated the guy because they were desperate to get what they consider an everyday C. But other than his power, he is not as good a C as AJ. But like you said , we shall see,…..Have a good day…

      • Michael N. Norris

        Go root for the Giants……they need more nut jobs like you.

      • Albert Cruz

        LMFAO at you Kemp nut huggers. .
        The Dodgers problems are that idiot Mattingly and pitching

      • Michael N. Norris

        Nut huggers? Leave it to a moron like you to come up with a juvenile retort like that. I was quoting statistics, and you make generalizations with no backup. Kemp is a Padre so it does not really matter…But I will guarantee you that Mattingly knows a hell of a lot more about baseball and the Dodgers than you do……We all know about the pitching…..you got a bitch there??? Talk to Freidman and Zaidi…..they put this bunch together….

      • Michael N. Norris

        Puig has never had more than 69 ribbies….he is young and HOPEFULLY he will get better……..

  2. larryball

    Kemp was Mantle /Mays like when he first got comfortable. But his body is now a bit broken. If he doesn’t run into walls like he used to he can still be a monster because of his bat. His fly balls often leave the park. In the outfield he’s rated near the bottom by the Sabermeters – They don’t know Jack except that they DO know you don’t spend millions on a celebrity who used to be good.

    Reply
    • Alex

      Most of the best teams in baseball use a lot of sabermetrics: Red Sox, Giants, Cardinals, A’s, Ray’s, and now the Angels and Royals. In fact, every team uses it nowadays to some degree.

      Reply
      • larryball

        Of course they do. It’s another look at the inscrutable through numbers much like Pythagoras tried 2500 years ago on a different subject. The problem with stats though is that on any given occasion the slate is clean. Playing to anybody’s form is never so certain on any specific play – with the exception of Yogi Berra who never, ever made an out with runners in scoring position as my old memories of the Tigers vs. Yankees in the 50s reminds me. ;=)

  3. Tmax

    As long as Kemp stays healthy he will have a great 2 or 3 years. He played as well as anyone in baseball the second half. He was finally healthy. Puig has huge upside. McGuire says Puig will be as great as he decides to be. He believes Puig can be an MVP candidate for several years. For the Dodgers it is a question of Pederson, Grandal, McCarthy, Anderson and how the BP shakes out. I think we are much stronger defensively. Grandal scares me he does not handle the low sinking ball well, his mechanics are terrible. I really think we have the possibility to be a better team this year than last. But many teams are better in the National League so not sure how many wins that will equate to. We were under 500 against good teams last year I think we perform better this year. Anderson threw today and looks really strong. If he can stay healthy what a 5th starter Oh My..
    Listened to interview with Friedman it was a good 45 minutes. He sounded very logical and they have a plan for this year and into 2018 so far. SO they are thinking ahead and making moves for the future. It sounded very encouraging. So far so good….

    Reply
    • Michael N. Norris

      My point exactly. I have said consistently since all the winter moves that there are a ton of question marks on this team and almost every move they made needs to work, or the whole thing is on shaky ground. Pederson needs to win the starting CF job, which puts Ethier on the bench. CC and Uribe need to stay healthy along with Rollins all year. Rollins needs a re birth at the plate. McCarthy and Anderson need to pitch well, not great, but well. And both need to stay healthy. Grandal not only needs to improve his defense, he needs to hit for a better average and prove he is a real power hitter, not just a guy with POTENTIAL>…..tall order for someone who hit .225 last year. The bullpen, oh yeah the bullpen, we all know what it needs,,,,,,and there are a ton of guys trying to be the ones to fix that. but among all those guys they signed, there is in reality one open spot. Hatcher, Howell, League, Peralta, Nicasio, are LOCKS> and you need to have a spot for Jansen when he comes back..so 2 will make it out of spring……my guess…..McGowan and Adams. but then you only have one lefty in the pen……so that means one has to go. And what about Aardsma, Santo’s, Baez, Frias, Bolsinger, Huff, Columbe……..it is a huge mish mash out there……and finally……the spare parts on the bench. Ellis, Turner and SVS are locks. Means 6 guys fighting it out for 2 spots, one of which will go to Ethier if he is not cut or traded……and Guererro says he will not go to the minors………and the final thing….Chicago, Washington, San Diego and St Louis are all improved and not just a little…..they will not lay down for the Dodgers….

      Reply
      • Hoffman

        You, sir, are a BULLY and an arrogent know-it-all with far too much time on your hands.

  4. Taylor Rose

    What really sucks is that Matt should of had an MVP, but thanks to the cheat Ryan he was denied, then he met a pop star, lost focus, got injured, developed an even larger ego and realized that in fact there is another Bo Jackson in the world(Puig). Im sorry but the maturation of Kemp is going backwards… the guy should of become more of a team player looking for rings.. I would be surprised if Matt plays more then 130 games this year… his old body is giving into his jealous ways 😛

    Reply
  5. Rob Honer

    Kemp can be a great player if he can stay healthy something he has been unable to do I am sad to see Kemp leave the Dodgers he had and still has potential to be a major asset to the team he plays with. I do think the Dodgers made a major mistake letting him go knowing he would end up playing in San Diego where he has had amazing stats.

    Reply
  6. Just sayin'

    Yeah, I didn’t like Kemp leaving the blue, however we have a plethora of talent that needs to be allowed to grow and mature in our system. We have a nice problem developing again in the Dodger organization, that being our farm system. We were ALWAYS the team most revered for the talent we developed through it. Along the way, we lost that and got sidelined with buying players for the moment. Fortunately we have started going in the right direction again in my opinion, and hope it continues. Yes we need to always be ready to grab a great NOW player if it doesn’t mean giving up the farm. (literally)

    IF we stay healthy this year, and we actually have some reliable guys coming out of the pen….. we have a shot at the golden ring!

    Go Dodger Blue!!!

    Reply
    • Albert Cruz

      People get too hung up on individual players…lol
      I wish the best for Kemp but money wise and with the depth we have in the outfield I’m not surprised he’s gone.

      Reply
  7. Tmax

    As I stated a couple of weeks ago in this blog. Kemp is a great baseball player. Right now Kemp is a better hitter than Puig. But Puig is much younger and hopefully has learned patience at the plate. Kemp was an Iron man before he hit the wall in Colorado. He came back from that and then injured his ankle. Not his fault. He was finally healthy the 2nd half of last year and was the best hitter in baseball. Puig will have his time, this is his 3rd year, it takes a little time. The trade of Kemp will IMO go down as one of the Dodger worst. Like the Piazza trade. I am not impressed with Grandal. But we will see. The buying of Olivera will add another dynamic bat this year or next. Offensively if you look at this team. Defensively and Offensively it is a helluva Team. It all depends on the pitching…

    Reply
    • Albert Cruz

      Bullshit if his ankle wasn’t his fault, he half asses it to home on that injury.

      Reply
      • Albert Cruz

        Glad we got rid of the Kemp baggage…
        Watch the Dodgers take off after they dump Yankee Don

      • Michael N. Norris

        And watch Matt Kemp rake for the Padres…….they are going to be tough, and right now their pitching looks better….

      • Albert Cruz

        Kemp will probably get hurt again

    • Michael N. Norris

      T, do not argue with this nut case…..he doesn’t know crap…

      Reply
      • Tmax

        Thanks Michael. Never argue with an idiot. Puig may become a great player but not there yet. He has not made any headlines this off season so that is a step in the right direction. It has been reported he is showing up early for workouts and games so that is also an improvement. The culture shock has to be enormous to go from Cuba to the Major Leagues and not speak the language and be so young and all of a sudden rich. Guererro looks like a different player this year. I am hoping having some countrymen on the team will also help them all acclimate. Olivera looks to be another line drive hitter but with some pop. Colletti said yesterday he sees him mostly at 3rd. I think all real baseball fans wish Kemp good luck. He played his heart out for us when he was here and is a real talent. It will be a very close race with them as their pitching, right now, is better than ours overall 1-12 IMO. I really like Shields.

      • Michael N. Norris

        I am not sold on this pitching staff….the injury’s are piling up, and they are banking a lot on 2 guys with iffy pasts….but we will see. I think they overpaid for Olivera, I just cannot see blowing that kind of money on a 29 year old rookie…unless his name is Jackie Robinson,.

      • Tmax

        Yes I think anyone that follows baseball has to wonder how the gambles that were taken with the signing of the pitching staff and not signing Shields when he went to them to see if they would sign him pans out. It is a long season. I am also curious if Lee straightens himself out in the minors and who they break camp with on the pitching staff and who accepts assignment to Okie City. Saw Colletti on the Dodger post game show. He said that they were “very impressed” with Olivera and he thought he would play 3rd in the Majors. I read that he has battled for the batting title in Cuba and has been in the top 5 for several years. His father was a Batting Champ for Cuba and taught Olivera and Puig how to hit. So we may have a Cuban fight over 3rd with Guererro and Olivera. If Guererro keeps hitting and plays 3rd well they could slot Olivera at 2nd. If he hits as advertised they would have a very offensive infield with Gonzo, Olivera, Seager and Guererro. It would also in 2016 dollars very inexpensive as these things go. Curious how the Cuban pitcher turns out. Scouts say he is throwing in low 90’s and has 4 plus pitches with control. We will see’

    • Albert Cruz

      I’ll still take Puig’s talent and 110% effort over Kemp.
      We have plenty of talent in the outfield, our concern should be the pitching and manager.

      Reply
    • Albert Cruz

      The piazza trade was a totally different issue, Murdoch was a idiot owner and letting Russell Martin was a dumb move too.

      Reply

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