The Dodgers Have Some Secret Weapons

Secret Weapon #1

This is a series that will focus on several weapons the Dodgers have that could make a world of difference to them in 2018.  Today, we will discuss secret weapon #1. This series will run several days – I can’t tell you how many there are because you can’t know (yet) how many secret weapons the Dodgers have.

When the Dodgers traded Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Charlie Culberson to the Braves, it was not because they wanted Matt Kemp… it was just a move to put themselves in a better financial position.  It has been called the “Charlie Culberson Trade” because he might be the most valuable component… or not!

When the trade was made, the Braves immediately released A-Gon,  and practically all of the writers expected that the Dodgers would do the same… except they didn’t!  I was in the minority – I said they would keep him. They didn’t for a reason and that reason is THE GAME IS PLAYED BY HUMANS AND NOT COMPUTERS!

It is not lost on me that Matt Kemp was rated the worst defensive outfielder in baseball last year.  The stats say so.  It is not lost on me that Matt Kemp had a -1.3 WAR last season or that even when he hit 35 HR in 2016, his OB% was just .304.  The stats say so! I know all of that!  I also know (contrary to what Matt says) that he was a negative influence in the Dodgers’ clubhouse when he was with the team before.

All of that is history.  What happens next is a mystery, but when the Dude shows up to Spring Training in great shape, having dropped over 40 pounds, you have to take notice. When he answers questions, even tough ones, you have to take notice.  Clayton Kershaw did.Pedro Moura of The Athleticwrote this:

Kershaw cited the financial considerations behind their reunion, but said he texted Kemp over the off-season to express optimism.

“I’ve seen him at his best,” Kershaw said. “I know he still has the ability to play baseball very well.”

On Tuesday morning, Kemp surveyed the changed landscape around him, the new spring-training hats and the new players. He lumped his goals and the Dodgers’ together, and professed hope for what could come.

“As of right now, this is it,” Kemp said. “This where I am. I’m gonna ride this thing until the wheels fall off. Literally.”

This quote (also from The Athletic) speaks volumes:

“This is the Matt Kemp I remember when he was having that MVP-type year with the Dodgers,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday as spring training dawned.

Seven years ago, Matt Kemp had one of the best seasons ever by a Los Angeles Dodger when he hit 39 HR. 126 RBI with a .324 BA and a .986 OPS.  Baseball-Reference projects him to hit 23 HR with 73 RBI and have a .262 BA in 2018 and while I might take that, I could easily be convinced (and I am in the process) that he could do a lot more.  Matt Kemp could be a secret weapon.  OK, he’s not so secret, but many think he is a horrible defender.  Yeah, 40 extra pounds and playing for a team going no where can do that to a guy!

Many think the Dodgers will cut him because he has no value.  They can say it all they want, but he might have a lot of value. Let me remind you that the game is played by humans and there is nothing so strong as the power of the human spirit.

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF SOMEONE ON A MISSION!

Matt Kemp has taken the right steps.  He has lost over 40 pounds.  He has a clear head and a cheerful demeanor.  He is on a mission for redemption and he wants to win a World Series with the team he loves!  Yes, Matt Kemp loves the Dodgers.  He is a Dodger at heart!  Barring injury, and that has to be a factor, I would not be the least bit surprised if Matt Kemp put up MVP-Type Numbers in 2018.

Some people say he has no value and will be cut… well actually, a lot of people say that!  I say he could put up MVP-Type numbers.  Who is right?  I guess we will find out. The truth may lie somewhere in-between… or not! If I were guessing… and I am, I would guess that Matt Kemp has about 450 AB’s in 2018 and hit .289 with 31 HR and 86 RBI.  That would be HUGE.  Matt Kemp is secret weapon #1.

… stay tuned for secret weapon #2…

In the photo below taken by Jon SooHoo/ Los Angeles Dodgers, it appears that Clayton Kershaw is wearing a back brace. Not a bad thing… or a good thing… but a THING, nevertheless!

 

 

 

Lots of good photosHERE.

 

 

This article has 24 Comments

  1. Matt Kemp
    1 The Dodgers didn’t dump him, but they tried to move him, but there weren’t any takers.
    2 He is still with the team, so the Dodgers only choice is to let him compete for the left field position. If he plays well maybe some team will take a chance on him, or he might play well enough to win the starting position out of spring training. I would think the Dodgers are hoping that either Toles, Verdugo, or Pederson play well enough to win the position, but Kemp plays well enough to get a team to make a deal for him.
    3 What the Dodgers don’t want is for Kemp to play well but not good enough to be the starter and no other team trades for him.That puts Kemp and $21M on the bench, or the Dodgers give him left field and move Toles and Verdugo to OKC where they can play every day. I don’t think the Dodgers want Kemp on the bench where trouble can start, so Kemp starts.
    4 Can Kemp do everything you said, maybe, and if he is the starting left fielder I will root for him to help the Dodgers but I will never like him or respect him?
    5 Matt Kemp loves the Dodgers. He is a Dodger at heart!Really he sure tried to tear the team apart before being traded. If he doesn’t start and sits on the bench watch how much love he has.
    6 The secret weapon might be Toles or Verdugo?

  2. I have always been a fair-weathered Matt Kemp fan. When he did well, I was elated, but Dre was always my favorite. My family disagreed and were huge Kemp fans. They were devastated when he was traded. I did not like losing that big RH bat, but the Dodgers needed a catcher, and Yasmani Grandal was better than anyone the Dodgers had on their ML roster and in the farm. I understood the trade.
    .
    To me he has always had a Jeff Kent attitude. Maybe good for his baseball abilities, but not so good in the clubhouse. To succeed this time as a Dodger, he is going to need to curb the attitude, become a little more humble (maybe a lot more), and accept whatever role he is given. I am not one who believes a player is necessarily done by 33, so I am hopeful that Matt will come in with a little chip on his shoulder; something to prove. If he does, and accepts whatever role he earns in ST, he could be a significant help.
    .
    The supposed rift with Puig has to be buried, by BOTH Kemp and Puig. It is time to bury the hatchet and move towards a common goal…a WS ring. Regardless of the genesis of the rift was, Puig also has to “Man-Up” and accept Kemp as his teammate. He needs to do it on his own, not with Doc as an intermediary. He needs to recognize that he is more of a long term asset than Kemp. These are things that are best solved by players, which makes the Chase Utley signing all the more significant. And I am hoping that Chase is one of your future secret weapons.
    .
    I am open to consider and recognize that Kemp can be a factor. He can be a positive factor either as a LFer, or as someone to trade to an AL team that would like him as a DH. But the Dodgers have built a team with a positive clubhouse in mind, and I think much of their success centers around that premise. Thus, the first moment that Kemp crosses that proverbial line, the Dodgers need to bite the bullet and accept whatever they can get for him in return, even if it is simply to save $1M. But in the end, as a Dodger fan, I do truly hope he will be a Secret Weapon!!

    1. A successful comeback would make a great story… and I love great stories.

      I also root for Andrew Toles. That would be a good story.

  3. A skunk does not change its stripe. I have coached enough to believe players do not change either. It is in their make up. It is in their genes. It is in their DNA. I am not a believer. I am hoping Toles or Verdugo takes control of LF. I hope Kemp does well enough in ST so he can be traded. Sorry, Mark, Kemp does not think the way you and I think.

    1. Do we know for sure that Kemp needs to change? And if so, what specifically does he need to change? Attitude is way too broad and simple.

  4. I’m still trying to find out who coined that phrase ” The Charley Culberson Trade”!!! Clever…
    Thank God Toles worked out his DNA problems and we found him in Kroger market…
    Like AC has said before, we got the ST to figure out what we will roll out in 2018…
    I’ll be wandering around the back fields of Camelback in no time…

  5. Matt Kemp is one of my all time favorite Dodgers. This stems from the fact that he was a home grown talent that hit .342 as a 22 year old. My boy had a once in a lifetime experience of being one of the little kids that got to run out onto the field before the start of the game to meet a player on the field at his position and get an autograph. It was in 2007 and that player was Matt Kemp. When Matt’s head is on straight, he’s the player my son got to meet while hitting .342, or the real MVP of the 2011 season. When he isn’t focused, he’s the fat guy that played for the Braves last year, or the Rianna dating under producer in 2010 that hit just .249. The thing about Toles and Pederson at al in left field is, is that none of them have the talent that Matt has and they don’t have the ability to put an MVP type season like Matt has. It looks like this Matt Kemp is on a mission. Not many people get the chance at redemption that Kemp has this year. He’s gonna make it happen and win the left field job and be an MVP candidate once again and win that World Series that’s long over due. This is gonna be a great year.

  6. Kemp has Osteoarthritis. Doesn’t matter how much rest you get it doesn’t go away. I know. Everytime I go pull weeds my back and hips get achy, real achy. No cure. You know what I’m talking about. Maybe offer Kemp some of your CBD oil. Hope he makes a liar out of me and has a productive season but…..

  7. I like Toles a lot, and I think he will be our outfielder in the long run, but they are going to take it slow with Toles in spring training, because Roberts has already said this.

    And I don’t think Toles is going to get enough in innings in the outfield, to get up to par on defense, and to test his knee.

    So I think Toles might have to go down to AAA, to build up his defense, and to gain confidence, and to really get to a place, where he is not even thinking about his knee, so he is running all out on defense, and on the bases.

    And there is no way I want Toles sitting on the bench being a fourth outfielder, because I want him sharp so he is ready to come up, to help the major league, team.

    And because of this, I see Kemp as our answer in left, because I don’t see any of these other leftfield candidates, out hitting Kemp.

    That is just the truth, so if his defense is not a problem, Kemp could really help this team!

    Like I told Hawkeye yesterday, when was the last time we had an outfielder, that hit 35 HRs, like Kemp did in 2016?

    And I read that Kemp was having one of his hot starts last year too, but then he had hamstring problems, and he wasn’t in the line up,like he was the year before, when he hit those 35 HRs.

    And this year he is coming into the season in good shape, so he shouldn’t have those same injury issues, again.

    In that article about Kemp, he said he regretted not wanting to play left, when he was a Dodger.

    And that tells me, that Kemp was really hurt when he got traded, if he is still thinking about that.

    And we all know, that Mattingly could’ve handled Kemp a lot better, during that time, especially since Mattingly dealt with serious injury issues, in his career too.

    But I think Kemp’s pride, got in his way, so he couldn’t say he was really hurt, when he was traded.

    And remember the last year Kemp was on this team, he started to really break out offensively, in the second half of that season.

    But since then, Kemp hasn’t been on very good teams, but he still has managed to have some pretty decent offensive seasons, and that is hard to do, especially on a team, that is rebuilding.

    With all of that in mind, I just think Kemp can really help this team, because I think Kemp’s power and bat, can not only help Cody to be even better, Kemp can make the entire line up better, especially if he is truly serious.

    That is why I am willing to get Kemp a chance.

    And when was the last time, we really got any real good offensive production, from leftfield, on this team?

    1. Last 35hr outfielder for LA? Matt Kemp haha

      Last productive LF? Andre Either a few years ago (unless we count leftfielder CT3 last season until his move to CF)

        1. Don’t forget Shawn Green who hit 40 HR’s twice with the Dodgers. In 2001 he smacked 49 with 125 RBI’s and OPS’d .970. He followed that up with 42 HR’s, 114 RBI’s, and OPS’d .944 in 2002. He finished 6th and 5th in the MVP voting those seasons and made the AS Game in 2002.

          I would be very happy with a Jimmy Wynn type season who in 1974 after coming over from the Astros hit 32 HR’s, with 108 RBI’s and OPS’d .884. He also finished 5th in the MVP voting and made the AS Game that season. The Toy Cannon was not known for his defense.

  8. I’ve been thinking about how to respond to this. I thought that Kemp would be DFA’d before the season started; now, I’m not so sure.

    Kemp has allegedly lost 40 pounds and is in great shape. If he’s lighter, then he might be able to move in the OF better and cover more ground and not embarrass himself out there. He can hit with power and might be a plus in the OF – I just don’t know what to think.

    He’s saying all of the right things, of course, but I mostly ignore that stuff. Everyone says that they want to help the team win and that they want to be here. It may just be noise. (Remember the scene in Bull Durham where Kevin Costner was telling his young protégé about how to use baseball clichés when being interviewed by the press?)

    Matt Kemp as a “secret weapon”? Maybe. That’s why they play the games.

  9. I hope you guys are right and I am wrong. He certainly can help us if he is right in the head. It is all between his ears. I think there is a lot of wishful thinking going on here. I know, there are some physical problems, but his head is the biggest problem.

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