It's worth questioning why the Los Angeles Dodgers ever let reliever Joe Kelly leave in free agency. Not only has LA's bullpen desperately needed reinforcement over the last couple seasons, but Kelly's fiery attitude endeared him to the fanbase.
He brought the energy every time he appeared in a game, but the highlight of his Dodgers career was buzzing Carlos Correa up-and-in with a heater and then mocking him after a strikeout. It was unfortunate that occurred during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season that featured no fans in the stands, or else there might've been even more fireworks (we've already seen what happened when Dodgers fans visited Minute Maid Park in 2021).
But Kelly's actions really spoke to his personality. The fact he was ready to rumble and express his frustrations in such a manner without a crowd means that this wasn't for "show." It was almost necessary for Kelly to do so he could merely exist. Isn't that a guy you want on your team, especially if he has a desire to stay?
And if you ask Kelly now, he would've taken it a step further if he had the chance. In speaking with SportsNet LA's David Vassegh over the weekend, Kelly was more than ready to meet up with the Astros in the 2020 World Series.
Houston came a game away from the Fall Classic that year, but fell to the Rays in the ALCS. Had they made it, Kelly was anticipating Round 2 ... but this time it would've been off the field.
Joe Kelly's Astros trash talk on behalf of Dodgers fans is alive and well
Kelly, in promoting his upcoming book, said that had the Dodgers met Houston in the World Series back in 2020, he would've waited in the hotel lobby for them to seemingly keep the high tensions alive and well.
He also talked about how Major League Baseball was "concerned" about a potential Dodgers-Astros World Series matchup because of what had transpired earlier that season in Houston when Kelly's spat with Correa cleared the benches. Kelly said the league approached his wife at some point, asking if she could convince her husband to keep his cool if the matchup came to fruition.
Think about that kind of edge the Dodgers had with Kelly in the bullpen! The league was scared. The Astros were obviously looking over their shoulders. This is the kind of "intangible" necessary on championship contenders.
Not only that, but Kelly's love for the Dodgers fanbase was reciprocal. Despite being a member of the Chicago White Sox and having played for another World Series champion in the Boston Red Sox, Kelly expressed that the Dodgers still have the best fanbase in his mind.
He was a valuable player from a production standpoint. He hated the Astros, He loved being a Dodger. He had postseason pedigree. Though he had a poor 2022 due to injuries, LA would've surely rather had him as an option for 2023 with Blake Treinen now likely out for the year in addition to the other regressions/injuries that have rocked the bullpen.
At least we'll still have these interviews and soundbytes, right?