The Matt Kemp Experiment

An experiment is a procedure carried out to support, refute, or validate a hypothesis. Experiments provide insight into cause-and-effect by demonstrating what outcome occurs when a particular factor is manipulated. Make no mistake, the Dodgers are going to carry out the Matt Kemp Experiment… and it is truly an “EXPERIMENT.” We did  a few experiments in high school chemistry class, some of which caused violent explosions, but some were pretty cool.I still hear and read that the Dodgers are trying to trade Matt Kemp. Recently, another blog had a piece called: “Getting a Team to Buy Into Kemp Remains the Best Scenario.” People who say that just don’t get the concept or understand the forces at work.  Matt Kemp was traded by the Dodgers for financial and clubhouse reasons.  Matt was not the best teammate at that time (I am being very kind) and when he went to SD and ATL he often moped, got fat… maybe he was depressed!  But, he still was not a good player.  Deep in his heart-of-hearts, Matt Kemp was a Dodger and part of his heart was left in LA, whether he would admit that or not.Every GM in baseball knows and understands this: If they trade for Matt Kemp, they may very well get the fat, depressed version, not the one you are seeing today.  Matt Kemp showed up to Spring Training 40 pounds lighter and a week early (as did almost the entire team – these guys are on a mission) with a cheery attitude.  I believe he understands that this is his last best chance.The Dodgers understand that they owe him $43 million dollars and NO TEAM is going to trade for him.  NO TEAM! If you believe some GM will trade for Matt Kemp in light of what has happened and what is happening, then you surely also believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny!  Matt Kemp will either make it big with the Dodgers or he will be released… and then some GM will take the risk… but not now.  I doubt that any team will take on just $5 million of the $43 million he is owed.Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo are playing very well and they deserve a shot – they will get it, but not today.  There is no platoon in LF.  If Matt Kemp is healthy, he is the starting left fielder!  PERIOD!  Matt Kemp was once a superstar and he can be one again.  Look, I have never been a Kemp fan, but I am a Dodger fan and Matt Kemp has the ability to still put up MVP-TYPE numbers in LF.  He can, but will he?  We are going to find out.The Dodgers will not be able to trade Matt Kemp unless there is Christmas at Easter!  He will either play or get released, so first they are going to let him get through Spring Training and then, they are going to let him play. It could be very, very good… or it could be bad, but this experiment is happening!  Matt Kemp is a Dodger and is in the running for the NL MVP!Maybe the wheels will fall off, and the laboratory will blow sky high, but the Matt Kemp Experiment is happening… like it or not. I have no idea how well Matt will do, but the Dodgers HAVE to find out.  He could be a game changer. Barry Bonds won an MVP at age 40.  Willie Stargell won an MVP at age 39. Mike Schmidt won one at age 37.  Matt Kemp is 33 -it’s not that big of a stretch.  What IF he is the NL MVP? Wouldn’t that be a hoot… and change everything?  The experiment has to happen! It’s Risk vs. Reward.  Right now, there is no risk… just reward, or cut him.  It’s that simple. You need to understand that is reality!Great article about KempHERE.  Watch the Kemp interview with Kevin Millar.

Rants and Raves

  • How do you keep Chase Utley over Jake Peter?
  • This is a free preview of the 2020 LA Dodgers – Peters, Verdugo, Toles, Estevez, Smith, Diaz, Ruiz, Farmer – WOW!
  • Buehler, Hill, Ryu, Cingrani  and Jansen are all being slow-walked so that they can be fresh at the end.  It’s by design.
  • Too bad for Tom Kohler.  I read on another blog that “FAZ was stupid for signing him.”  What is stupid is signing a pitcher for $100 or $200 million – but $2 million?  What are you thinking?  Oh, yeah – you are not! Man, I don’t understand some people…
  • Yimi Garcia, Tony Cingrani, Scott Alexander, JT Chargois, Pedro Baez, Ross Stripling, Brock Stewart, Adam Liberatore, Corey Copping, Wilmer Font, Justin DeFractus, Dylan Baker, Henry Owens and Pat Venditte are all in the mix for a couple of spots to be decided.  Who knew about Brandon Morrow last season at this time (except AC)?
  • Toles and Verdugo will likely go to OKC, but they will be back.
  • How long before Keibert Ruiz takes over behind the dish?  The clock is ticking!

This article has 30 Comments

  1. Hey Mark, on the last thread I was talking about Joc’s struggles so for this spring. How much time to you guys think the Dodgers are going to give him this year before they pull the plug? Does he go to OKC or do they package him in a trade? I don’t think he can afford to have a slow spring given the heated competition in left. What’s the end game?

    1. Roger,

      Joc has options, but there may be team willing to take a flyer or him. He may just need a fresh start.

  2. I completely agree Mark. Matt either plays with the Dodgers or someone else only after he would be released. The Dodgers are the ones who may be in a bind with Matt but not other teams, although I don’t think they are. Other teams can simply wait it out or ask for the entire Dodger farm system as legal tender along with Matt. I am a believer in second chances, having received more than one in my lifetime.

    He may well really surprise us and we are pleased with what we see thus far – conditioning, attitude, the smile is back, performance. It certainly is way too early to consider doing something else with Matt other than letting him show what he has left. In a strong lineup he may well continue to surprise us.

    I trust FAZ implicitly and wouldn’t be surprised to learn that their plan was never to just dump him but saw him as value added as one of their projects in progress, even at age 33. Getting the budget under control was a bit of genius work. A strong productive Matt Kemp would be a big bonus and would be totally genius on their part. I expect a strong season from him would not surprise them.It might even be expected. He didn’t arrive 40 pounds lighter by accident. He is driven but not by contract.

    “How do you keep Jake Peter over Chase Utley?” I expect you meant, how do you not keep him? Ditto Matt Kemp.

      1. I actually thought you were being facetious. But since you have changed it, as big of a fan as I am of Chase, I agree that Jake Peter is deserving. But we all know it is not going to happen, at least initially.

  3. Matt Kemp was drafted as a Dodger, was developed as a Dodger, and in my mind won the MVP as a Dodger. But his remarks about LA not being a baseball city and thusly denigrating the organization that did draft and develop him does not sit well with me. Build up the fan base for the team you are going to , but do not disrespect your former team. But I am a believer of second chances and if he can be that game changer he will be welcomed. I am also a believer in the saying, Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.
    I think Toles’ time may in fact be now. I cannot see how Joc gets the nod over Toles right now. There are still 3+ weeks to change that impression, but Joc is not playing as one of the 25 best. That actually saddens me, because Joc is a life long Dodger as well.
    I am not sure how many caught it, but Hill is pitching on the back fields in simulated games and minor league games. He threw a 3 inning sim game last week. He acknowledges that it is not the same as against ML hitters, but he also acknowledges that he does not do well in ST games and he just might get more work in this way. He will start against an ML team in Spring, but he does like his new approach to Spring. Remember how many wanted him gone after last year’s spring? Now Ryu is another story. He may be slow-walked by design, but he also was hit by the virus. How many ST games does a pitcher never expected to last more than 5 innings actually need?
    Since he was traded to the Dodgers in July 2015, I was a lonely advocate for Alex Wood. Last year I was a lonely advocate for Brandon Morrow. This year I am a NOT SO LONELY advocate for J. T. Chargois and Wilmer Font. I know both Bobby and Mark (at least) have written very positively about one or both. But then again I was also an advocate for Mitch Hansen.
    I too like Keibert Ruiz, admittedly not as much as Mark. But I am also a fan of Will Smith, because I think he is the best defensive catcher in the system and possesses one of the best catcher’s arm in all of baseball. To me, defense is more important than offense at catcher as long as the catcher is not a Mendoza line hitter. Ruiz is the better contact hitter, while Smith has more power. Smith’s offense does not allow for a permanent transition to third, but he will be an outstanding catcher. Maybe Ruiz should become the Dodgers version of Craig Biggio and look to play more 2B. His footwork and arm should suit him defensively at 2B. The Dodgers up the middle defense could be outstanding with Smith, Seager, Ruiz, and CT3. It will never happen, but that is probably the only way the Dodgers keep both Smith and Ruiz.

  4. Mark said: “Matt Kemp is healthy, he is the starting left fielder! PERIOD! ”
    Reminds me of Sean Spicer on size of the inauguration crowd.
    As long as the Dodgers can stay under the $197M penalty threshold there is no reason to trade Kemp especially if they only save less than half of his contract.
    If the Dodgers want to reduce payroll to add a player, IMO Grandal would be traded before Kemp.

    1. Can’t trade Grandal with Barn s having a bad throwing arm. I’m not going to jump to any conclusions about guys after one week of hitting off of minor league pitchers and big league pitchers trying to find their stuff in AZ of all places.
      However at this point Toles would be my guy in LF with a platoon with Kemp or Kike. I’m doing everything possible to deal Kemp still though. Kemp being able to have a MVP type season is unrealistic to say the least.
      I didn’t care for the Koehler signing and now they’re going to get nothing out of him which might be better than what they got out of him if he weren’t injured.
      Chase won’t jump on the sword as Mark suggested. They will have to pry a bat out of his dead cold hands before that happened. Let us not forget the start he had last year before finding his swing and then fading again down the stretch. Peter will have to be ready to bounce back and forth from OKC and then try to win a spot on the playoff roster. FAZ would have to be the one to cut ties with the team Dad.
      Ruiz will be ready when he doesn’t throw balls into LF that he should have eaten. I would like to see him start at AA but they have to be fair to Smith and his development. Their placement will be interesting.
      I may be in the minority but I think Wood going to no wind-up is dumb. His goofy windup made it tough on hitters and he threw with more velocity. He’s not Strasburg. He doesn’t have that type of stuff. I haven’t seen his windup vs stretch numbers but they guy just had a career year. If it’s not broke don’t fix it.

      1. Hawkeye

        Look at Kemp’s numbers, the last time he was on the Dodgers, especially in the second half.

        That was the last time Kemp was on a good team, in a good line up.

        And I know the Padres tried with all those trades the first year, but they were still not a good team, and that is why the GM started getting rid of all the players, he traded for.

        And look at Kemp’s advanced numbers in 2014.

        1. I think his body would be best served platooning with spot starts vs righties. Toles brings more to the table for me if he’s given a fair shake.

    2. This has been a very odd year with free agency and trades, so nothing would surprise me with any trade the Dodgers (or any team) may or may not make. But it would be very odd for a team not named the Nationals to acquire a catcher during spring training, at a time when the catchers and pitchers are expected to gel. It is highly unlikely that any team would trade for Yas with this being his walk year. That is especially true with Lucroy still available. I also do not see FAZ moving Grandal without knowing the true health of Austin Barnes. FAZ will also not trade Grandal at the deadline because no rebuilding team will want him for a couple of months, and FAZ is not about to trade him to a contending team they may have to face in the playoffs.
      Doc has named his first five relievers; Kenley, Baez, Cingrani, Alexander, and Stripling. That leaves three spots open with about 60 candidates.

      1. I know what Doc says, but I would send Stripling to AAA to stretch him out as a starter in case someone goes down. My pen (at this minute) would be Kenley, Baez, Cingrani, Alexander, Chargois, Liberatore, Font and Fields.

        Garcia and Stewart go to AAA and close… waiting for a callup.

  5. Barnes is going to start on Monday. I hope his arm problem is behind him. Some decision will have to be made at the catcher’s position. Grandal, Barnes, Farmer, Smith and Riuz. Smith and Ruiz will go down. It is a nice problem to have.

    I think the bull pen will be in good hands. Just a matter of evaluating each pitcher.

    As I said in the other post, I can see Toles in CF and CT at second.

  6. If Kemp wins the LF job, I suspect that he will still be sharing it with someone, be it Toles, Joc, etc. it may well be that the 40 pounds lost will reinvigorate his career, but I also think that he will require days off periodically during the season to stay on top of his game, and be strong entering the post-season. Let’s not forget his leg problems, and most of all those arthritic hips.

    In trying to figure out what this team will look like as the season progresses, I’m reminded of last year when Chris Taylor and Brandon Morrow opened the season at OKC, and it took an injury to Toles for Cody Bellinger to get the call as early as he did.

    In what is a very long season, it’s just nice to know that we have depth, and lots of options to figure things out as the season progresses. And with this team seemingly being head and shoulders above the rest of the division, I think that there is plenty of wiggle room for the Dodgers to figure things out.

    1. This is all an experiment. Matt has to be healthy. He has to hit. He has to play defense (and I believe he can be above-average in LF, minus 40 pounds). If he does all that, he won’t start 162 games… maybe 135-140.

      I see the same for Justin Turner.

    1. Roberts has already said, there won’t be a strict platoon in left.

      He also said he wants every player to have regular days off, to stay fresh.

      And that will also help the players on the bench, stay somewhat, sharp too

  7. Not sure who Brian Moran is, but great job getting the 2 Giants’ new “stars” out in that inning

    1. The Dodgers signed him from the Independent League last summer. He’s not a fireballer but could be a LH specialist!

    2. Adding to what Mark said, after being picked up from Bridgeport of an Independent League, he was assigned to Tulsa. He is a 29 year old LHRP. His Tulsa numbers were pretty impressive, even for a pitcher friendly Texas League. In 19 games, he pitched 19 innings recording 27 K, and only 3 BB. He had a 1.89 ERA, and avery impressive .79 WHIP. He was very important to Tulsa’s drive to the Playoffs last year.
      Brian has a brother, Colin, who was the centerpiece prospect the Pirates received in the trade of Gerrit Cole to the Astros. He also has 2 uncles who played in the ML, BJ and Rick Surhoff.
      He will probably be assigned to OKC and have a chance to prove he can be an effective LHRP.

  8. The point is Kemp doesn’t have to have a MVP season to out produce, what we have gotten out of leftfield, in the last few years.

    But think Kemp could easily do better, especially when it comes to power.

    I don’t think it is to much of a stretch, to say Kemp could hit forty HRs, in a line up, like the Dodgers have.

    He hit 35 HRs on teams that are not blessed with the line up, the Dodgers have.

    And like I have already said, Kemp could provide great protection for Cody in the line up, and that is something we didn’t have last year.

    And Kemp’s protection not only makes our line up much longer, it makes our line up more dangerous, and especially Cody, because Kemp will get Cody better pitches, to hit.

    We have needed right hand power for some time, in fact, since Kemp left.

    We all saw what JD Martinez did for the Dbacks, hitting in their line up, last year.

    Everyone should look at Kemp’s numbers, the last time he was on the Dodgers, especially the second half of that season, when Kemp was just finally feeling somewhat healthy, again.

    That was the last time Kemp was on a good team, and I think this team now, has a better line up.

    I think everyone would be more then happy, if we got those same numbers from Kemp in left, this year, as long as he is decent on defense.

    Because we haven’t got those type of numbers in left, for sometime now.

  9. Yasmani hitting that HR from the right side was nice to see, but even better was the fact that he went with the pitch, and took it to RF. I don’t ever remember seeing him do that from the right side.

    1. I did not realize that JT was still a rookie.

      He can hit triple digits just like Morrow.

      1. I have been doing some research on J. T.’s rookie status and I am not sure that J. T. does qualify as a rookie. Per… *Editor’s note: Chargois pitched 27 major league innings in 2016, shy of the 50 innings required to exhaust rookie eligibility. Also while Chargois has 84 days of major league service time, only 25 of those days were spent on an active roster before September, shy of the 45 days required to exhaust rookie status.
        J. T. was recalled for the 1st time on June 10, 2016, and was optioned back on June 13, 2016 (3 days). He was then recalled on August 10, 2016 and stayed with the team through October 2, 2016, the final day of the season (54 days). He was optioned again on March 24, 2017 (before the end of Spring Training), and was later placed on the 7 day DL and later the 60 day. He never spent one day on the ML roster in 2017. Thus, IMO, J. T. has 57 days of ML service which does exceed the 45 day limit. The editor is correct when stating that time spent on the expanded roster (September 1 through end of season) does not count towards service time to determine rookie status, but my understanding is that this calculation is only if not on the 25 man before being recalled. If J. T. was called up in September 2015, then those days would count as ML service time, but not against rookie status. Since J. T. was on the 25 man in 2016, his September time should be considered since he was not called up with the expanded roster.
        That is my understanding. Maybe DC will have a different interpretation. Or maybe Eric Stephen can provide an answer.

  10. I haven’t read anything yet, I am trying to find the correlation between Santa Claus, a pink Easter Bunny and the second coming of Matt Kemp all on my own…you know, without actually having to read any scripture.

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