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Tag:Matt Kemp
Posted on: November 22, 2011 4:19 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 4:23 pm
 

Kemp shoots for 2012 MVP ... and 50-50

Matt Kemp fell one home run short of 40-40, and he fell just short of winning the Most Valuable Player award in the National League.

His solution?

"50-50," Kemp said on a conference call Tuesday. "I'm going to go 50-50. You all created a monster."

No player in baseball history has ever had 50 home runs and 50 steals in the same season. Alex Rodriguez came the closest, with 42 home runs and 46 steals with the Mariners in 1998. Only three other players have had a 40-40 season: Jose Canseco with the 1988 A's, Barry Bonds with the 1996 Giants and Alfonso Soriano with the 2006 Nationals.

"Anything can happen," Kemp said. "I'm going to set my limits high. Yes, I'm serious. I know you're thinking I'm crazy, but I'm going to take it to another level."

Kemp said finishing second in the MVP vote would serve as motivation, but he didn't criticize voters for selecting Braun, and said that he felt Braun was a deserving winner. Braun received 20 of the 32 first-place votes, with Kemp getting 10 and Prince Fielder and Justin Upton splitting the other two.

"I'm happy for Braun," Kemp said. "He's one of my favorite players. He's a great player."

Then, referring to his new eight-year, $160 million contract with the Dodgers, Kemp added: "I've got eight more years in LA to try to win one."

Kemp led the National League in home runs and RBI, and finished third in the batting race behind Jose Reyes and Braun. But Kemp's Dodgers were a non-factor in the pennant race, at 82-79, while Braun's Brewers won the NL Central.

"I respect the decision," Kemp said. "I just have to have an even better season next year, and make the playoffs, so I can make the decision easier for them."

And 50-50 wouldn't hurt.



Category: MLB
Posted on: November 22, 2011 2:04 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 3:40 pm
 

On the final day, Braun got my vote

As I wrote on the final Sunday of the regular season, the National League MVP race was so close that I wouldn't decide until the season was over.

When it was, I picked Ryan Braun over Matt Kemp.

So did the majority of the voters, which is why Braun is this year's NL MVP.

Kemp had an outstanding season. So did Braun.

Braun had a huge impact on the pennant race. Kemp, basically through no fault of his own, did not.

The MVP is an individual award, but baseball is a team game. Everything you do is affected by your teammates.

And in my mind, it's hard (but not impossible) to be the MVP when your teammates aren't good enough to help you contend for a championship.

Would my vote have been different had Kemp won the Triple Crown, as he had a chance to do in the final weeks of the season?

It's possible it would have been. You'll never know, because I'll never know. I never had to make that decision.

I had to decide based on what did happen, and what happened was that Braun's great season helped his team to a championship, while Kemp's great season kept his team from losing more games than it won.

My ballot:

1. Braun.

2. Kemp.

3. Prince Fielder. For the first part of the season, he was even better than Braun. For the whole year, Braun got the edge.

4. Albert Pujols. He started slow (for him), and then he was hurt. But he came back strong, and so did his team.

5. Lance Berkman. Without him, the Cardinals would have been buried early.

6. Roy Halladay. The Phillies were the dominant team in the regular season, and their starting pitching was the reason. The problem was that it was hard to separate out one starter.

7. Justin Upton. Great year, great story, but his home-road split (1.033 OPS at home, .767 on road) held him down.

8. Cliff Lee. Based on June (5-0, 0.21) and August (5-0, 0.45), he was the MVP. For the full season, he just makes the ballot.

9. Joey Votto. Didn't repeat his 2010 season, so he won't repeat as MVP.

10. Carlos Ruiz. His numbers are nowhere near MVP-worthy. I gave him a 10th-place vote because of the impact he has on the Phillies pitching, which was so good that if I could have voted for the rotation as a whole, they would have been the MVP.


Posted on: November 14, 2011 5:22 pm
 

Kemp signs, and 2013 free-agent class takes a hit

MILWAUKEE -- Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder made it to the free-agent market.

Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez didn't.

It's always fun to look a few years down the line to see who what treats each year's free-agent marketplace will offer.

And it's always important to remember that those treats may or may not reach the market.

Matt Kemp could have been a free agent next winter. Jered Weaver could have, too.

Kemp and Weaver chose to take the big money upfront and stay in Southern California instead.

For now, Matt Cain and Cole Hamels remain on the list of possible 2012-13 free agents. In fact, right now Matt Cain and Cole Hamels probably top the list of 2012-13 free agents.

Hamels may not make it to the market, either. The Phillies would like to sign him to a long-term deal this winter.

Cain may not make it there, either. And it wouldn't exactly be shocking if Zack Greinke (another potential 2012-13 free agent) stays in Milwaukee.

The 2012-13 class was never going to match this winter's class. There wasn't a Fielder, and there wasn't a Pujols. There wasn't a Verlander or a Felix, two ace starters who would have been free agents this winter if they hadn't signed long-term deals with their own teams.

With Kemp and Weaver, though, the class would have featured a potential MVP and a potential Cy Young winner.

Without them, it just doesn't look as good.


Posted on: November 14, 2011 5:01 pm
 

With Kemp deal, post-McCourt Dodgers have arrived

MILWAUKEE -- So this is what the Dodgers will look like without Frank McCourt.

This is what the Dodgers should look like.

The McCourt Dodgers were a team with a lower payroll than the Twins. The McCourt Dodgers were known for the people who stayed away, the people (fans and players) who left.

The post-McCourt Dodgers will be a big-market team again.

The post-McCourt Dodgers will be the Dodgers again.

We suspected that already. We have more proof of it now, and it doesn't matter that it was McCourt who appeared with Matt Kemp on Monday, after the 27-year-old star outfielder agreed to one of the biggest contracts in baseball history.

McCourt is on the way out, and this contract is just another reminder that he'll soon be gone.

The Dodgers could sign Kemp for $160 million because anyone who would even think about owning the Dodgers could easily afford a contract like that. The Dodgers could sign Kemp for $160 million because it makes sense for a team like this to keep a player like this.

Baseball understands that it makes no sense to keep teams working through bankruptcy (and through court-supervised ownership changes) to continue operating at a high level. It's why the Rangers were able to trade for Cliff Lee in 2010, even as their sale was in progress.

And it's why the Dodgers were able to commit to Kemp, even though Frank McCourt hasn't yet officially left the building.

It never made sense that the Dodgers would have trouble keeping star players they wanted to keep.

It still doesn't make sense that the Mets aren't able to bid seriously on Jose Reyes, and that they could well lose Reyes to the formerly low-budget Marlins.

Someday, the Mets will rejoin the ranks of the big-market clubs.

The Dodgers just did.

They signed a guy who will finish in the top two or three in Most Valuable Player voting when the award is announced next week. He might even win it.

They signed a guy who would have been a free agent after the 2012 season, which is why he had to be signed this winter (and why the Dodgers couldn't wait until a new owner took over).

It's the biggest contract the Ddogers have ever given out, the biggest contract any National League team has ever given out. Five years from now, we may be saying it's a bad contract -- but we could be saying that about any long-term deal.

That's the risk of doing business, the risk of playing with baseball's big boys.

It's a risk that teams like the Dodgers have no choice but to take, but it's also a risk that teams like the Dodgers can afford to take.

Under Frank McCourt, the Dodgers became a franchise that gave away any big-market advantage it had. They were a team that preferred to give away prospects rather than to spend a few extra bucks in a trade.

They were a team that wasn't in on the big free agents, and was no certainty to even keep its own free agents.

They weren't what they should be. They will be again.

The change won't be complete until the new owner walks in the door, and McCourt finally walks away.

But change is coming, and Monday was a sign of what the Dodgers will look like when it does.


Category: MLB
Posted on: September 25, 2011 11:03 pm
 

NL MVP? Give me a day (or three)

I see Scott Miller went with Ryan Braun over Matt Kemp for National League MVP.

Today I agree with him. Yesterday I didn't. Friday I did.

He had to decide today, because our editors demanded a column. I have until Thursday, the day after the regular season ends.

Braun or Kemp?

Their numbers are similar. Braun took his team to the playoffs. Kemp played in a tougher ballpark, and with much less support in the lineup.

I've heard the arguments. I've heard from Kemp fans who say I'm crazy to even consider anyone else, and from Braun fans who want to know how I could vote for someone whose team hasn't played a meaningful game in months.

Normally, I wouldn't. Until last week, I barely considered Kemp as MVP.

He's having a special season. He deserves to be considered.

As of today, I'm not voting for him. Tomorrow, maybe I am.

All that matters is what I think Thursday. And we're not there yet.

As for the other awards:

AL MVP: An equally tough choice, but Scott's right, it's Justin Verlander. No single player has dominated this season the way he has.  I was a Curtis Granderson supporter when September began, I've been swayed by Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury, but it's Verlander who should (and likely will) win.

NL Cy Young: I hate to go against Roy Halladay, but I love to go against Scott. So it's Clayton Kershaw, in a very, very close call.

AL Cy Young: I love to go against Scott, but I'm not crazy. It's Verlander, and it's not close.

NL Manager of the Year: Kirk Gibson, and with apologies to Ron Roenicke, who did a fantastic job, it's not close.

AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, whether or not his Rays end up in the playoffs.

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson.

NL Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel.


Posted on: September 23, 2011 11:40 pm
 

The hit that won the division -- and maybe more

It was the hit that clinched the Central.

And maybe the MVP, too?

It sure felt that way, as Ryan Braun stood there with his bat held high in the air. It felt that way, as Braun's blast hit the center-field scoreboard, and as the Brewers celebrated their first division title in 29 years.

It felt as if Braun had done something special, and he had -- even if his three-run home run simply clinched a division crown.

The MVP race will go on for a few more days. Matt Kemp could still win a Triple Crown, and that would make him hard to ignore.

The National League Central race is over, over because Braun's three-run eighth-inning home run gave the Brewers a 4-1 win over the Marlins, while Alfonso Soriano's three-run homer gave the Cubs a 5-1 win over the second-place Cardinals.

It's over, and you can bet that title means a lot more to Braun than even an MVP would. He's been a Brewer since he was drafted in 2005, he went through the wild-card season in 2008 and he signed a contract that runs through 2020.

He knows how the fans have responded, knows how owner Mark Attanasio has responded. He knows that the Brewers could have traded free-agent-to-be Prince Fielder last winter, and that instead of doing that, they traded for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum.

General manager Doug Melvin went all-in, trading prospects, just as he had to get CC Sabathia in that wild-card season.

That year, the Brewers won just one playoff game, losing to the Phillies in the first round. And no one complained.

This time, they're no doubt aiming higher, and no doubt believe they can get past the Phillies and everyone else in the National League.

They'll note the similarities in the way they clinched, with a Braun home run giving the Brewers a win, and then with everyone staying around to watch the scoreboard before the celebration could begin.

But that team wasn't as good as this one. All the Brewers who were there will tell you that.

Braun was good then (in his first full big-league season), but not as good as he is now, when he's leading the league in hitting and near the top in home runs and RBI.

He may be the MVP. He may have clinched it with the dramatic home run Friday night.

We don’t know that yet. We do know he clinched the division crown.

And that's not bad.
Posted on: June 28, 2011 8:50 pm
 

Braun: At this point, Prince is MVP

NEW YORK -- Prince Fielder is already set to hit the free-agent jackpot this winter.

Imagine if he hits the market as the National League's Most Valuable Player.

Fielder has huge numbers, and teammate Ryan Braun set the MVP campaign going Tuesday, saying, "At this point, Prince has probably been the MVP in the National League. The only other guy in the conversation is probably Matt Kemp."

Mets fans would likely argue on behalf of Jose Reyes (but who knows if he'll even be in the National League by the end of the year). And with half a season to go, any number of other players could merit consideration.

But Fielder entered play Tuesday with a 1.037 OPS (second to Kemp), 21 home runs (one behind Kemp) and 68 RBI (leading the league). He had 41 extra-base hits and 44 strikeouts.

"He's been incredible," Braun said.

Brewers people say that Fielder has been able to avoid talking about free agency, in large part because the Brewers are in first place, but also because there's no real hint of an attempt by the team to sign him.

It's basically a given that Fielder will play elsewhere next year, but it's also a certainty that Fielder has given his all for the Brewers this year.

"He's had a great attitude and a great outlook," general manager Doug Melvin said. "He hasn't lost any focus. I talked to [agent] Scott Boras this spring, and we agreed that the best thing for the team and for Prince was to just worry about [the contract] later."

Boras will have plenty of time to make his case. And by then, perhaps the binder will include an MVP award, as well.


Posted on: April 28, 2010 1:53 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2010 9:06 pm
 

The Dodger problems -- and a Kemp problem

NEW YORK -- The Dodgers have problems.

That's easy to see.

How much of their problem is a Matt Kemp problem? That's a lot harder to say.

The statistics say that the 25-year-old center fielder can't be held responsible for the Dodgers' less-than-impressive 8-13 start (including today's 7-3 loss to the Mets). As of this morning, he was tied for the National League lead with seven home runs, and also tied for the lead with 20 RBI.

And yet, as Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti rightly said today, "I know that I don't see the same player I saw at the end of last year."

In a radio interview Tuesday, and again in a session with reporters at Citi Field today, Colletti said similar things about the Dodgers' team as a whole. He said that he didn't mean to single out Kemp, and said he only talked about Kemp on Tuesday because he was asked directly about him.

But Colletti didn't mention any other players by name, either in the interview with the Dodgers' flagship station, KABC radio, or today. Also, in responding to a question about Kemp, Colletti himself raised the possibility that Kemp's lapses on the bases and in the field could be traced back to the two-year, $10.95 million contract Kemp signed over the winter.

Kemp, who was eligible for arbitration for the first time last winter, saw his salary rise from $467,000 last year to $4 million this season.

Colletti obviously did feel a need to mend fences with Kemp. He met with the outfielder in the Dodger clubhouse after today's game, and later told Tony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles that Kemp "has a chance to be the best Dodger in the history of the franchise. He has the ability to do that."

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times earlier today, Kemp said the contract was not an issue, and also referred to how early he gets to the ballpark and how much work he does.

That's fine, but a Dodger coach said Kemp does work hard -- at hitting. Left unsaid was that the Dodgers believe Kemp doesn't put enough effort into the other parts of his game.

And when manager Joe Torre was asked about Kemp today, he said, "He is here early. He gets a lot of work. That's the physical stuff. A big part of this game is mental."

Kemp was a Gold Glove outfielder in 2009, but one scout who watched him regularly said, "He won the Gold Glove because he hit .300."

His defense this year has been so bad that it has caught the attention of scouts who follow the Dodgers. His defense and baserunning lapses in the Dodgers' doubleheader loss to the Mets Tuesday were severe enough that Keith Hernandez took him to task on the Mets telecast.

In the radio interview, which aired before the doubleheader, Colletti said of Kemp, "The baserunning's below average. The defense is below average." He also said, "Some guys, I guess, think that they're better than they are. They think the opposition's just going to roll over and get beat by them."

So is the Dodgers' problem a Matt Kemp problem?

Not totally.

As Colletti pointed out today, the Dodgers were among the top three teams in the National League last year in runs, ERA and fielding percentage. Through 20 games this year, they were tied for second in runs scored, but 12th in ERA and dead-last in fielding percentage.

"And if they had a category for execution, we'd be at the bottom in that, too," Colletti said.

Another issue: In the first six games after putting Manny Ramirez on the disabled list, the Dodgers have scored just 13 runs (with Kemp going 5 for 26 (.192) with no RBI, and Andre Ethier going 4 for 20 (.200) with 1 RBI).

That continues a trend that has been evident ever since Ramirez joined the Dodgers. Over the last two years -- not even counting how good Ramirez was after the Dodgers acquired him in July 2008 -- the Dodgers are 64-46 with Ramirez in the lineup, averaging 5.3 runs a game. They're 39-34 in games he hasn't started, and they've averaged 4.2 runs a game.

As one scout said, "When Manny plays, it's a heck of a lineup."

The Dodgers had hoped that by playing the way they did when Ramirez was suspended for 50 games last year, their young players would realize they can do it without him. They hoped that all their young players would be maturing and improving, from Kemp and Ethier to catcher Russell Martin and pitcher Chad Billingsley.

It's not all Kemp.

"When you have the best statistics, you're going to get the most attention," Torre said. "Matty has been like a lot of young kids have been. They're still finding their way. I think he's still learning. I don't think this problem is terminal."

And yet, Matt Kemp is a problem -- just one of the Dodger problems.


Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
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