Heart and Soul: Matt Kemp

Well, that was fun…. and much needed too.  An offensive explosion never hurts a team that is struggling with hitting.  If I had told you  in Spring Training that Matt Kemp would be an All-Star (and maybe the heart and soul of the team), that Max Muncy would be leading the team in HR and OPS’ing over 1.000 and Ross Stripling would be the Dodgers ace, you would have signed a petition to have me formally committed.  Shoot, for all I know that petition is circulating anyway!  I do not agree with the theory that several Dodger players had “career years” last year.  Chris Taylor and Cody Bellingers best years are ahead of them.  They will both have better years…. maybe the second half… maybe next year, but I do not think either of them has had a career year… YET!  Justin Turner may have had his career year… or not.  It’s his age and health that gives me pause on that. I think there is a lot of room for growth and improvement on this team.

We often get impatient and want a player gone only to have that player come back and get red hot.  Let’s face it: baseball is a long, long season and when the Dodgers lost Seager and Turner at the start of the season, it wiped out a lot of offense,  Bellinger, Pederson, Taylor and Puig all struggled, but are now putting it all back together.  This offense is starting to gel and then there is Max Muncy – “Chunky Muncy” or maybeChunky Monkey? What a find! How does FAZ get these guys?

So, here they sit: One and half games out and Arizona is bound to fade fast – notwithstanding getting Pollack back. They have been incredibly hot – it won’t continue.  I hear that they are “ALL IN” on Machado and that very well might happen.  The Dodgers have weathered the storm.  There are still a few questions, but the team is getting healthy and there are positives, even on the pitching staff:

  • Daniel Hudson is looking more-and-more like the 8th inning guy.
  • Caleb Ferguson has shown he can pitch out of the pen.
  • Rich Hill is looking like he did in his first year in LA… minus the blisters.
  • The rest of the starting pitching is solid and while Kenley is not having a “career year,” he still has a 0.90 WHIP.  I’ll take it!
  • Ryu and Urias are progressing… slowly, but both should be factors in August and September.
  • Fields, Cingrani and el Gasolino are due back soon enough.
  • Over the last 30 games, Chris Taylor is hitting .277 with a .349 OB%…. just sayin’
  • Bumsrap stuck with Joc and it’s looking like he was right.  Let’s hope Joc keeps it up… even gets better!
  • When will Rylan Bannon get promoted to Tulsa?  He’s been playing 2B with Lux at SS. To me, Bannon at 2B makes the most sense.  He’s on the small side for a 3B.
  • Kendall is showing a little life, but he teases us like that….
  • Dustin May went 8 outstanding innings for RC last night.  I smell a promotion for him too.

Tonight, CK hopes to turn in about 7 innings.  Let’s hope he is sound and builds on his recent success. Max Muncy has to be the starting second baseman.  He hits LH pitching with a higher BA and OPS than he does RH pitching.  I suppose Forsythe should get a spot start now and then, but why?

HELP WANTED:  If anyone wants to help write about the Lakers or Rams, let me know – I own www.LAlakerTalk.com and www.LA.ramTalk.com.


This article has 53 Comments

  1. Admittedly, I was not in the Kemp will be an All Star in 2018 camp. I thought FAZ was trying to trade him before the season started. IMO it was because of how slow the FA market moved that FAZ was not able to move Kemp, which has turned out to be a blessing for LAD.
    I was grinning ear to ear with another QS for Wood and a 3 inning save for Caleb Ferguson. It does not appear that Alex is ready to give up his starting spot just yet. In his last 4 starts (all wins), he pitched 24.2 innings, 3 BB, and 18 K, with compiling a more than respectable 1.82 ERA. That is averaging 6+ IP per start with a 6:1 K to BB ratio.
    Gavin Lux, Rylan Bannon, and Zach Pop all deserve promotions to Tulsa. Bannon played 2B again last night and there was another Lux- Bannon – 1B double play. That is three in the last two days. Lux went 2-3 with a walk and is now slashing .315/.396/.510/.906. Bannon is .300/.406/.585/.992. Jeren Kendall had a multi-homer game with 2 , giving him 9 on the season. I keep hoping he is going to go on a major hot streak. He needs to just keep putting bat to ball and he could explode.
    Two other middle infielders are doing well at RC; Omar Estevez and Zach McKinstry. At RC, McKinstry is batting .400/.556/.525/1.081. For the season (he started at Great Lakes), Zach is batting .387/.548/.602/1.150. He is playing 3B for RC. Estevez is still only 20 and while not thriving at RC, he is clearly not overwhelmed. He did get his 21st double last night.
    While I am not sure that May will get the promotion to AA, I would think he could compete. In his last 5 games, he has pitched a total 31.1 innings, allowed 4 runs (3 in 1 game, and 0 in 3 games). Last night he pitched 8 innings allowing 4 hits, albeit 1 was a HR to account for his only run allowed last night.
    A couple of names to keep an eye on:
    18 year old 3B Miguel Vargas, from La Habana, Cuba was promoted to Ogden from AZL, and promptly went 3-5 in his Ogden debut. This is his 1st year in professional baseball.
    Ronny Brito is one of the top Dodger prospects (26) from the 2015 International group, and is having a great start to the season. at Ogden. He had a tough start in the US last year, but he seems to becoming acclimated this year. He had another multi hit night (3-5), and is now batting .333/.368/.444/.813.
    19 year old C Ramon Rodriguez struggled this year at Great Lakes, but is doing much better at Ogden. Ramon went 4-5 last night and is now hitting north of .300.
    The Dodgers may have another pitcher on their hands, 19 year old 6′ 2″ RHP Orlandy Navarro from Maracaibo, Venezuela. Navarro dominated the last two years in DSL mostly as a starter. This year in the AZL, all as a reliever thus far, he has appeared in 4 games and has pitched 6.2 innings. He has allowed 0 runs, 2 hits, 2 walks, and 12 Ks. That is almost 2 Ks per inning with a 6:1 BB to K ratio.
    The Dodgers will not succeed this year with Daniel Hudson as the bridge to Kenley. I like Hudson a lot, but he is best at coming in earlier in the game, perhaps in a multi inning situation, and getting to the bridge. Hudson has a rubber arm and can pitch in back to back games rather easily.

    1. “I was grinning ear to ear with another QS for Wood and a 3 inning save for Caleb Ferguson”–Love it AC.
      I was a fan of Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Tony Abreu when they were prospects. Matt is now the only one that is a Dodger. I have defended him during Spring training, even suggested he could some right field this year but admit I also included him in trade packages if for no other reason to reduce payroll. It is fun watching him excel.
      It will be interesting to see where everybody plays when Seager returns next year. Will Taylor shift to second base or return to center field is my biggest question. Another is where will Toles and Verdugo find playing time. I think Puig will be traded sometime before the beginning of the 2019 season and that would open a spot.
      I think Stripling and Ferguson are the real thing.
      I’m liking the prospects for Lux and now have Bannon on my radar.
      With Kemp doing as well as he is doing and with the return of Seager next year, the Dodger offense can do without Machado. Maeda moving to setup relief could mean the Dodgers don’t have to make a trade for that lock down 8th inning guy.
      Things look good after scoring 17 runs.

  2. M.T. Committed!??! Ludicrous I say… He’d have that institution running as smoothly as R.P. McMurphy in Cuckoo’s Nest…
    My hopes for seeing Toles and Verdugo in the Dodger OF are dimming daily… Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good thing for now!!!

    1. The movie was actually even better that the book and the book was outstanding. Just the other day someone asked me what was my favorite part in the movie and that was a tough one to answer because it wasn’t that type of movie. It was the small things in it that brought out the laughter in ugly situations and ugly situations are hard to look at favorably. And we all know how it ended……….

      1. I’ll be honest: I’ve never seen One Flew over the Cuckoo Nest (if that’s what you’re talking about)

        I know; i need to add it to the list

          1. Contrarian opinion alert: I think “hair” is forman’s best film. “Amadeus” was his as well.

  3. It’s not easy to become a hero of baseball through my eyes. Firstly one has to play for the Dodgers, though I admit I’ve admired several Dodger’s villains. I’m not quick to give up hero status from those Dodgers who’ve obtained it with me. I’m betting Russel Martin has regrets he ever left the Dodgers and I believe him doing so harmed his career somewhat. I believed Kemp would contribute before spring training while I think the heart and soul is on more than one set of shoulders. If I were GM the team would likely need wheelchairs to get on the field. But I pat myself on the back for my eyes getting it right earlier than most and their contributes carry on longer through my lens than they do others. Damn! ADD is sometimes rough as I’ve taken quite a different direction with this than started. Sorry..

  4. From The Athletic this morning:
    “There’s the bullpen, which according​ to​ Baseball​ Reference’s​​ Wins Above Average metric is one of two positions in which the Dodgers have a negative value. The group, which sits at a -2.1 WAA — eighth-worst in baseball — will surely be shored up with increased health and a likely move at this month’s trade deadline. The only other negative position? Second base, which at -0.9 WAA ranks 22nd among 30 clubs.”

    This was from an article explaining why Max Muncy is now playing at 2B part time.

    It’s a shame he can’t pitch out of the bullpen to solve that problem too.

    1. I think Muncy should play 2B FULL TIME. With Bellinger at 1B, Turner at 3B and Taylor at SS, the defense is excellent at 3 of the 4 positions. If Muncy plays every day, he will get better, most likely and we can live with a little less D and a little more bat!

        1. I mean we cannot take Muncy out of the lineup now, and he seems to fit perfect in front of JT (and doing an amazing job taking the batting spot of Seager!)

          Belly, Muncy, CT3, JT, Kemp, Joc, Puig with Kike all over the place should be the guys mostly playing now. Shore up that pen, get the injured guys back, and let’s have a fun 2nd half.

    1. he wanted more hr, and we gave him 53 in June! July hasn’t been too bad so far either

  5. I have no idea what FAZ will do this month to make the team better, it looks like their main interest now is acquiring bullpen help, but if the Dodgers have a chance to move Grandal and pick up Realmuto I hope they try and make the deal.

    I don’t agree with Mark on Hudson being the 8th inning answer, but he certainly was right about Kemp. I still have no love for the guy but he is playing great ball, and helping the Dodgers win ball games, and that is all you can ask for from a player. Keeping Forsythe in the lineup as much as he is either by FAZ or Roberts is wrong, he is a bench player and nothing more.

  6. Bob Nightengale continues to report that the Dodgers are “aggressively” pursuing Manny Machado. Rosenthal has tweeted that the discussions are accelerating because the O’s figure they can get more with 3 month of Machado more than 2 months. What makes Nightengale’s tweet intriguing is that he is reporting that the O’s are heavily scouting the Dodgers minor league teams. The one name that the O’s will be insisting on is Dustin May.
    Rosenthal still believes that it is the DBacks and the Indians who are the most involved. However, he makes no mention as to whether the O’s are scouting the DBacks or Indians farm system. That could indicate that the DBacks and Indians are who Rosenthal believes makes the most sense, and that it probably will take 10 minutes to scout the DBacks farm. With Lindor at SS, the Indians are not going to trade for Machado to p___ him off by having him play 3B. Plus 3B Jose Ramirez is having a MVP caliber year. Rosenthal indicates that the Phillies, Brewers, and Cubs are also keeping involved in the discussion, but are not at all likely to pull the trigger. This looks very much like a Dodgers vs. DBacks battle.
    Nightengale also tweeted that the Dodgers are also “aggressively” pursuing Detroit’s Michael Fullmer. I think Detroit would be making a big mistake trading Fullmer (regardless as to how bad 2018 is going). I think if the Tigers are interested in trading Fullmer, it will be the Yankees who will be the biggest pursuers. They need starting pitching more than the Dodgers and they can outbid anything the Dodgers would put up.
    It it conceivable that Machado will be moved before the AS break next week, or just after as Machado will obviously be playing for the AL in the AS game. But then again, with Doc the Manager of the NL, I am sure he could get Machado in the NL dugout.
    I will beleive it when I see it, but Machado obviously makes the Dodgers stronger this year, and if they can get a Barraclough or Treinen, they would be primed for a big run. The only reason that I give it a second thought is because Nightengale has reported that the O’s are heavily scouting the Dodgers and have identified Dustin May as a must, while there are no reports on DBack scouting.

      1. It is also in MLB TradeRumors and on both Nightengale and Rosenthal tweets.

  7. We’ll probably trade for machado and he’ll make an error in the world series to lose it for us.

  8. The Orioles want Dustin Mays included in any deal for Machado. That tells me something about Mays projections. I’m screaming at the top of my lungs. No effing way!!!

  9. Will the Dodgers push the Lakers off the front page of the LA Times? They will need a Machado to do it.

  10. Rosenthal @The Athletic writes:

    *If the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Machado to play shortstop, they almost certainly would need to trade an outfielder — probably center fielder Joc Pederson — to clear a spot for the displaced Chris Taylor.
    The Dodgers are deep in outfielders, … and for good measure, Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo are performing well at Triple A.
    The team’s greater need is pitching — one rival executive predicts the Dodgers will acquire controllable relievers and/or bargain relievers right at the deadline. But Machado is too big a potential upgrade to simply ignore.

  11. My belief is that Arizona will get Machado. The Dodgers are just driving the price up, so that they can gut the D-Bags farm. Just my opinion….

    Joc with a Jack! WOW!

    His trade value is sky high!

  12. NL players with at least 19 HR and 40 BB:
    Nolan Arenado
    Bryce Harper
    Max Muncy
    Arenado and Harper each have 100+ more plate appearances than Muncy.

    1. Bobby

      I had to come over here, and ask you how is your new fav player, Max Muncy working for you?

  13. I have run out of superlatives for muncy. If doc plays Forsythe over muncy vs. lefties or anybody he just isnt trying to win. Forsythe can be a late game defensive replacement. I wonder what team holds the record For solo homers? I got the feeling we better score some runs because I don’t believe Kershaw can hold. He looks like a number 3 starter. He says he is healthy but his reduced velocity says otherwise.

  14. I’m happy for the win and all of that, but shouldn’t they score more than 8 runs with 6 HR? Too many solo HR’s, not enough runners on base.

    1. Hitters are being green lighted on 3 – 0 counts and too often swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. The Dodgers are very aggressive right now. They could be getting more walks but can’t swap solo home runs for singles and doubles in order to have more base runners.

  15. FAZ has to be thinking about who will be on the field for the next 3 to 5 years when they evaluate a trade. Kemp and Puig will be gone in one year. If a team covets power in the corner outfield spots, Joc and Belli would fit into that next 2 to 5 year period. That leaves CF for Toles, Kendell, Verdugo. If Belli goes to the outfield, Muncy would inherit 1st base. If Machado is a one year rental then Taylor would move to second for a couple of years and more if Lux or Bannon don’t move him to the outfield.
    If an outfielder is part of the package for Machado, I think it will be one of Puig, Toles, Verdugo, Kendell, Peters and of those I think it will be Puig. Puig and May for Verdugo with Baltimore flipping Puig.

  16. Very happy for the win last night and hopefully we can get within a half game tonight. But, but Kershaw is nowhere near an ace at this point. 2 strikeouts last night with both being the pitcher. His fastball velocity drop is considerable. As time goes on major league hitters are going to square up his fastball. He cannot win with a slider and seldom used curveball. Maybe his velocity will come back but woods hasn’t, Stewart’s hasn’t, while wood has an excellent change up Kershaw doesn’t. On another subject I hope joc and Muncy are not in the home run derby. True or not I believe this led to jocks reduced performance the last time. Muncy will probably do it but I hope not.

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