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Matt Kemp

Trade Analysis: The Dodgers’ big week

Dodgers get: SS Jimmy Rollins, 2B Howie Kendrick, SP Brandon McCarthy, C Yasmani Grandal, RP Chris Hatcher and minor leaguers C Austin Barnes, 2B Enrique Hernandez, SP Joe Weiland
 
Dodgers trade: 2B Sweet Dee Gordon, SP Dan Haren, SS Miguel Rojas (to the Marlins), CF Matt Kemp, C Tim Federowicz (to the Padres), SP Andrew Heaney (to the Angels)
 
The Dodgers–and their new executive team–began a complete makeover this week…and they’re probably not done yet.
 
Even in the midst an incomplete offseason, it’s clear that new President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and his GM Farhan Zaidi are prioritizing defense over everything else.… Read more...

What the hell is wrong with the Los Angeles Dodgers?

In my damn near interminable preview post series, 20 Days of Thinking Blue, I was equal parts optimistic that this Dodgers team would bring home the city’s first pennant in 25 years and concerned that they were headed horrific disaster. It’s still early in the year and neither has come to pass at this point. The Dodgers are merely…fine, bubbling around the .500 mark and playing uninspired baseball.

Why is this happening? At this point, what’s wrong with the Los Angeles Dodgers? And can it be fixed?

Inconsistent hitting

The Dodgers were constructed like the New York Yankees of old—imported veterans with power hitting alongside homegrown players that had grown into All-Stars.  The center of the line-up was supposed to feature the spectacular Yasiel Puig and a resurgent Matt Kemp, with Adrian Gonazalez, Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford forming a devastating front five. Waiting in the wings would be Cuban rookie Alexander Guerrero and top prospects Joc Pederson. The line-up was supposed to be a tough 8 outs…make it 9 when Silver Slugging pitcher Zack Greinke was throwing.

Instead, many of the questions that I asked before the season have already come to fruition.… Read more...

20 Days of Thinking Blue: What makes this team different than last year’s National League runner-up?

The countdown has begun, kids. Actually, it’s a little bit past. The opening series (well, the American version) is here, as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego. To prepare you for the regular season, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a year of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
 
What’s different about this year’s Dodgers and last year’s Dodgers? In other words, what’s changed to win them six more games in the postseason?
 
As I wrote yesterday, I’m not sure the Dodgers could have done much more towards the end of last season other than “be more healthy”. But that’s not necessarily something you say to a guy with a sprained ankle and another with cracked ribs from a stray fastball, is it?
 
The Dodgers were two victories away from a World Series and six from a championship. As the old adage goes, as long as a team makes the postseason, they have as good a shot as anyone to win the World Series. The journey to the chip is a combination of luck and momentum, with an emphasis on the latter. The Dodgers had the momentum last season, but couldn’t overcome a few unlucky injuries to key players and of course, one flukishly bad performance from ace Clayton Kershaw.
 
But the point is to remove as many variables as possible and leave as little room for luck to derail your team. Did the Dodgers do enough of that to make them a true World Series contender this offseason? Theoretically, yes.… Read more...

20 Days of Thinking Blue: What could stop the Dodgers from winning the World Series?

The countdown has begun, kids. Actually, it’s a little bit past. The opening series (well, the American version) is here, as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego. To prepare you for the regular season, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a year of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
 
What is the leading reason why this team may not win the World Series?
 
Last season, the difference between the first Dodgers pennant in 25 years might have been an errant fastball to the ribs and, well, Michael Wacha. Some would say that with a healthy Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers wouldn’t have had the same flaccid offense that kept them four wins away from winning the World Series. Was LA the better team? I’m not sure. But as I wrote last October, it felt as if the difference between a Dodgers win and a Cardinals win was just a little bit of luck.
 
So here we are six months later, with the Dodgers healed up and hoping for better breaks. With dominating starting pitching, a powerful bullpen and a star-studded offense, LA is the odds on favorite to win the West and has to be one of the favorites to win the National League pennant. So what could stop them from what’s considered a very, very possible destiny?… Read more...

20 Days of Thinking Blue: How Much Does Matt Kemp Have Left?

The countdown has begun, kids. Opening Night (well, American Opening Night) is fast approaching as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego on March 30th. Leading up until then, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a season of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
 
Will Matt Kemp ever run again?
 
Well, he’ll run. He ran the other day when he played outfield in an intra-squad game. But if you’re asking if he’ll run well during a Major League game ever again? He will. At what level, I’m not sure.
 
Matt Kemp is part of an outfield quagmire that we’ve covered a couple times on 20 Days of Thinking Blue. He’s the biggest reason why Andre Ethier isn’t on the trade market and why Joc Pederson is just one injury away from being called up to the big show. It’s a situation largely of Kemp’s own doing, as a shoulder injury (from running into a fence in Colorado) and severe ankle sprain (from a lazy slide into home plate in Washington) have left him a shell of the MVP-caliber player he once was.
 
The problem isn’t recovering from those injuries, as hard as it is to believe. He’s still just 29 years old, and given enough time, should heal up from several surgeries. The problem is that he nature of his skill set is going to be severely compromised from the nature of his injuries.… Read more...

20 Days of Thinking Blue: Will Andre Ethier Stick Around?

The countdown has begun, kids. Opening Night (well, American Opening Night) is fast approaching as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego on March 30th. Leading up until then, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a season of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
 
How long until Andre Ethier FINALLY becomes a member of the Red Sox and crushes the Dodgers in the World Series?
 
Anyone that’s been paying even a little attention to the Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason knows the storyline: four outfielders, three spots.
 
Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford combine to make $57 million dollars next season, a unfathomable amount of money for three players who aren’t considered MVP-caliber guys for a multitude of reasons. Crawford and Ethier have three more years on these deals after this one and Kemp with five seasons after this. The monetary commitments to all of these players is tremendous, a fact which would greatly hinder their trade value on the market. The fourth outfielder is Rookie of the Year runner-up Yasiel Puig, a (allegedly) 23 year-old  Cuban wunderkind who is only making $2 million but is by far the least expendable of the bunch. He’s dynamic in almost every way, still learning the game of baseball and could somehow be only getting better.… Read more...

What lies ahead for the Dodgers this offseason?

To date, I still haven’t watched Game 6 of the NLCS. Clayton getting hammered along with the Satan’s Redbirds celebrating in front of their faces isn’t anything I’m tempted to see. Still, as a lifelong Dodgers fan, I still feel compelled to feel the deep, searing pain that my brethren felt that night, like a case of viral meningitis to my Dodger Blue spine.
 
But thus far, I’ve left that noose on my DVR for another day. I’ve been instead looking towards this offseason, hoping that the Guggenheim Group’s second offseason as owners of the Dodgers can put them one step closer to a title—hell, at this point, I’ll be happy with a mere pennant. After all, I haven’t seen the Dodgers win one since I was four years old.
 
LA went into the winter with remarkably few holes. As I noted in my hazy post-mortem piece days after Michael Wacha threw a curveball into my soul, the most frustrating part of the Dodgers’s playoff run was that aside from being luckier, there wasn’t much the team could do to improve upon last year’s team. Without an errant Joe Kelly fastball to Hanley’s ribs, a better bounce off the Busch Stadium outfield and one key pinch running substitution, the Dodgers could very well have gone to the World Series. My bleeding blue heart, it seems, was the victim of a luck.
 
That being said, there aren’t a lot of ways GM Ned Colletti could improve on this team. Many incumbents are staying put, and further salary commitments have finished nailing down most starting roles: first base, shortstop, catcher, all three outfield positions, closer and three starting pitching slots.… Read more...

Dodger Digs: What needs to go right for Don Mattingly to keep his job

Let’s run down the facts:
 
Last place in the NL West, 11th place in the National League. A 19-26 record has the Dodgers with only 6 more wins than the Houston Astros, a squad on pace to be one of the worst in MLB history. Part of the reason is a pitiful offense: LA is 29th in runs scored, 28th in home runs, 28th in slugging percentage and are 23rd in average with runners in scoring position (at .229!). Despite everything, the Dodgers are just 6 games out of first place–but that’s in spite of the fact that they’re in the worst division in either league. Of course, none of this would be terribly bad news in late May, except LA has the biggest payroll in baseball and possibly the greatest expectations in franchise history.
 
Who do you put the blame on? The line-up for under performing, including a disgraceful offense bogged down by awful early season performances from outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier? The bullpen for blowing 8 leads in just 6 weeks when they were supposed to be a bulletproof relief corps? Injuries for absolutely rocking the team, with over a dozen disabled list trips already, including a broken collar bone, pulled hamstrings, torn thumb ligaments and strained calves?
 
Wherever the true culpability lies, there’s little doubt where the ax is going to fall in a rapidly decaying season.
 
In short: it doesn’t look great for Donnie Ballgame.… Read more...

Dodger Digs: The 2013 Dodgers are turning into the 2012-2013 Lakers sooner than imagined

What…the hell…is going wrong?
 
Three weeks before the baseball season ever began, I wrote a post titled “To see how “a potential juggernaut” can go wrong, the 2013 Dodgers must look to the 2013 Lakers“. As Spring Training broke and I began to collect my thoughts for a season preview, I realized that these Boys in Blue–from their star-studded, expensive roster to the championship expectations surrounding them–very, very closely resembled this past season’s edition of the Lake Show. From the post:
 

But as I look forward to this Dodgers season more than any other in the past decade, I find myself cautiously examining the team at hand, rather than missing the obvious pitfalls that have befallen the Lakers.
 
Yes, Don Mattingly is a talented manager who seems to connect with his players based on the mere fact that he was once the best hitter in the Majors. However, like Mike Brown before him, are we expecting too much, too soon from a man who’s overseen two seasons of 7 above .500 ball? Mattingly has largely been excused from criticism until now, seeing as his squads have always been talent-limited and surrounded by ownership disputes. But let us not forget the bungles he’s made on the field, such as simple line-up card mistakes and strategic errors late in games. Most writers and scouts seem to believe that it will all work out behind Donnie Baseball, as his most important attribute has always been player communication, not to mention his ability to think outside the box with his line-up and pitching staff management. However, that’s easy to do when you’re dealing with Juan Uribe, Dee Gordon and Tony Gwynn Jr. Mattingly has openly suggested that if the Dodgers don’t make the playoffs, it’s all on his shoulders; not at all a brash statement. Not in the least.
 
Looking at the team itself, there are too many situations reminiscent of what the Lake Show faced last October. Dwight Howard was coming off of back surgery, while Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant were all on the wrong side of 30. Foolishly, we looked past their age and didn’t examine enough how much the star center’s surgery would limit his effectiveness, or how easily these over-30 stars could get injured. Carl Crawford will come into this year still feeling the effects of Tommy John surgery, while Matt Kemp slowly rounds into form after getting beat down by an outfield wall in Colorado last summer. Many are placing the Dodgers’ expectations on the shoulders (literally) of Matt Kemp and his potential for MVP-level play; is that feasible considering his physical limitations?

Read more...

Lima Lumps: A solid start for the LA Dodgers

(Each and every week, we’ll be running two posts: Dodger Digs and Lima Lumps. Aside from out obvious obsession with alliteration, we’ll look at the most good and bad of our beloved Los Angeles Dodgers. Here is Que-Ese’s maiden voyage into the world of the Lumps. Enjoy.)
 
While my esteemed friend and Washington DC-phobic colleague KOBEsh uses this space each week for his insightful and well thought out Dodger Digs, I plan on keeping things punchy and exciting (and mostly based on what I’m seeing with my eyes).
 
Jose Lima, the man who was once sued for spreading a particularly lumpy disease around Houston, was a starting pitcher who carried the Dodgers to a 2004 playoff victory, remarkably their first since the 1988 Kirk Gibson-led World Series team. I am naming this assortment of weekly thoughts in his honor. Though all Dodgers fans at heart hope for a return to World Series glory, we all know at some point no matter how well we are doing, the wheels will probably fall off. It is with that woeful optimism that I present Lima Lumps.… Read more...