Tag:Matt Kemp
Posted on: June 5, 2011 12:16 am
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3 Up, 3 Down: Pujols is back

Albert Pujols

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- You didn't think Pujols would struggle all season, did you? After hitting just two home runs in all of May, Pujols has three so far in June, including two on Saturday. His second -- a solo shot with two outs in the 12th -- gave St. Louis a 5-4 victory over the Cubs.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- Like Pujols, Kemp hit two homers on Saturday -- a solo shot in the seventh and a grand slam in the eighth, tying the game at 7. He finished the game with six RBI, adding another in the Dodgers' four-run 11th inning.

Dillon Gee, Mets -- The Mets rookie improved to 6-0 throwing seven scoreless, while allowing four hits. He walked two and struck out two, toping Jair Jurrjuns and the Braves.


Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox -- Papelbon lost his cool and nearly cost his team the game. Brought in with a 7-3 lead in the ninth, the A's jumped on Papelbon for three hits and four runs. Both Papelbon and catcher Jason Varitek were tossed for arguing balls and strikes with home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo. While Randazzo may have overreacted to the pouting Papelbon, there's no excuse for Papelbon rushing Randazzo and bumping him. Expect a suspension for Papelbon.

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners -- For the third day in a row, Suzuki was hitless, going 0 for 4 in a 3-2 loss to the Rays. He now has 20 hitless games this season. His .261 batting average is his lowest at this point in his 11-year career. Only once, in 2008, has his batting average been less than .300 on June 5.

Ernesto Frieri, Padres -- Heath Bell was set to get a much-deserved night off, having worked five of the last seven days with the Padres leading 6-2 going into the ninth. Frieri walked the first batter he faced and then gave up a single, forcing Bud Black to call on Bell, who picked up his 16th save, and sixth in the team's last eight games.

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Posted on: May 31, 2011 3:44 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 3:49 pm
 

NL All-Star balloting update: Cards lead way



By Matt Snyder


Major League Baseball has issued a press release with the first All-Star balloting update of the season, and the NL starting lineup would include three Cardinals if the voting ended right now. The leaders by position (including three outfielders, of course): Albert Pujols, Brandon Phillips, Placido Polanco, Troy Tulowitzki, Buster Posey, Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman. (Full ballot update at MLB.com)

A few things immediately jump out:

- Jose Reyes is the most qualified candidate at shortstop, despite Tulowitzki's hot start. Reyes leads the NL in hits, doubles, triples and stolen bases and is hitting .335 with an .876 OPS. He doesn't even have half the votes Tulo does. Oh, and Jimmy Rollins (.265 with a .698 OPS) is second. At least Reyes is in third, but it's odd to see a player in New York so under-represented in the voting.

- The starter at first base has gotta be Joey Votto over Pujols. It's not even close this season. Votto is second, trailing by about 182,000 votes. Prince Fielder (third) and Ryan Howard (fourth) should also be ahead of Pujols. Remember, it's for the 2011 season.

- Speaking of which, Chase Utley is third in voting at second base.

- Dodgers outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp have very strong cases in the outfield, and they check in at spots four and five in the voting, respectively. Still, who are you going to bump between Braun, Holliday and Berkman? Maybe we can petition to move Braun to third base in order to maximize the offense?

- The biggest snub appears to be Jay Bruce. The young Reds' slugger was been an absolute man-child in May and leads the NL in home runs, RBI and total bases. He's 12th place in votes for outfielders. Looks like Reds fans need to get over to MLB.com and support their team. Phillips leads at second because there aren't many good candidates, but Votto and Bruce should be starting and aren't yet in that position.

- Obviously, Posey can't start because of his season-ending injury and NL manager Bruce Bochy will name a replacement if Posey wins the voting. So the catcher voting -- at least as long as he's at the top -- is irrelevant.

Voting continues on MLB.com through June 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET. There will be an update on AL voting Wednesday.

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Posted on: April 1, 2011 12:04 pm
 

Unheralded opening day star: Matt Kemp

By Matt Snyder

It's easy to focus on the masterful job Clayton Kershaw did in Thursday night's victory over the defending champion Giants, but the Dodgers saw something from another young star that was very encouraging. Matt Kemp was 1-1 with three walks, two runs scored -- the Dodgers only scored twice, by the way -- and a stolen base. The second time he scored was after coaxing an errant throw to third base from catcher Buster Posey.

Admittedly, the hit was a bit dubious, as a Tim Lincecum fastball rode in on his hands and he inside-outed a Texas Leaguer to right field. The hit, however, is not what I'm talking about. We know Matt Kemp can hit. Even if that ball was caught, this would have been a big game for Kemp.

He was a disappointment last season when it was thought he'd be an MVP candidate. He walked only 53 times in 668 plate appearances. He stole 19 bases, but was caught stealing 15 times. He only scored 82 runs, despite playing in all 162 games. Those percentages aren't acceptable from someone expected to be a star.

Thursday night, we saw what the 26 year old can do, in addition to seeing him work the count on a two-time Cy Young award winner. If his plate discipline has really improved this much and he's back to instilling fear in the opposition on the basepaths, we're about to see a really big season from No. 27.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 29, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 9:58 pm
 

Five players to improve, five to decline for 2011

By Matt Snyder

Well, it's almost opening day, which means it's time for all us writers to put ourselves out there and make some predictions. In the end, every season is unpredictable and we're bound to be wrong on several of these. That doesn't make it any less fun. It's supposed to be fun, remember?

In this entry, we'll take a look at five players sure to improve upon what we saw in 2011 and five that are going to regress.

Five players who will improve upon 2010

A.J. Burnett, Yankees. He was pretty brutal last season, but it's a new one. Opening day is time for rebirth and we have to turn the page. His xFIP and strand rates from last season both show us he wasn't nearly as bad as his 5.26 ERA showed. His stuff wasn't sharp at all, either, as his lowest K-rate since 2001 illustrates. There are many instances where spring stats don't mean anything (like CC Sabathia, to name a different Yankees hurler), but for someone needing to turn the page like Burnett, it's important to throw well. He did this spring, putting together a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings. More importantly he struck out 11 and walked zero.

Derek Holland, Rangers. The youngster hasn't fared well in the majors thus far, but he's still only 24. He has lock-down dominated the minor leagues since being drafted in 2006. Last season in Triple-A he was 6-2 with a 1.87 ERA. He's 23-9 with a 2.47 ERA in his minor-league career with an outstanding 3.68 strikeouts for every walk. It's time to start showing this potential at the MLB level, and I believe 2011 will be the first step toward doing so.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers. He's refocused after a step backward in 2010. Which is weird to say, considering he had a 107 OPS+ and 28 bombs as a 25 year old -- but it really was a step back from his 2009 season, in which he won both a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove. He's having a solid spring and seems to be happier under Don Mattingly. Expect to see improvements in nearly every category -- except games played, since he appeared in all 162 last year.

James Shields, Rays. The traditional stat categories looked awful for Shields in 2010 -- 13-15, 5.18 -- but he really wasn't that bad. His strikeout rate was the highest of his career, balls in play were hits far too often (.341, as compared to a .308 career mark) and his xFIP was 3.72. If you don't like all the sabermetrics stuff, that's OK, but all of it says he's going to have a huge regression to the mean this year. In layman's terms, expect more 2008 (14-8, 3.56) than 2010.

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks. He appeared headed for superstardom in 2009, but took a step back in 2010. Still, like Kemp, he's awfully young (23) and his OPS+ was still good (111). This season, expect Upton's walk rate to continue to rise, as such he'll run more. Also, his power took a significant dip last season and he wasn't fully healthy. He is now, so look for a big step forward in '11.

Five players who will decline from 2010

Jose Bautista, Blue Jays. I once worked with a guy who liked to say, "just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's not true." Just to clear the air, I don't think Bautista cheated nor do I think last season was anything other than a continuation of his last month in 2009, which resulted from a new swing. I do not, however, think he's ever going to hit more than 40 homers in a season again. He hit 54 last year. Even if he comes through with another big season, he's going to see a huge regression. Think about it, if he hits 35 bombs, that's a whopping 35 percent less than last year.

Mat Latos, Padres. His shoulder issue right now is concerning, as are the giant leaps in workload the past two seasons. Plus, he began to falter down the stretch last year anyway -- going 0-5 with a 8.18 ERA and 2.00 WHIP in his last five starts. And his team is now worse. Basically, I hope you let someone else draft him in Fantasy.

Josh Hamilton, Rangers. Led the majors in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. Won the MVP. Are those things going to happen again? Technically speaking, it's pretty easy to say he's going to regress even if he has a solid season. If you wanna dig deeper, OK, his BABIP was a stupid .390, his isolated power flew off the charts and his ability to stay on the field must be questioned -- he couldn't even do that last season.

Buster Posey, Giants. His numbers were pretty insane last year in a short time. He struck out at a much lower rate than he ever did in the minors and didn't lose any of his power. There's a reason the "sophomore slump" term has hung around for a while, and it's not because guys automatically just play worse in their second year. It's because advance scouts, pitchers and pitching coaches have a large sample of at-bats to study and can start to find small holes in a swing. Some guys are immune. If Posey is, I'll be wrong in this pick -- and I'm fine with that. He's a very likeable guy.

Jayson Werth, Nationals. I do like that Ryan Zimmerman is his protection, but he's still going to a worse team in a worse lineup in a less homer-friendly ballpark. And now instead of playing behind Halladay/Lee/Oswalt/Hamels/Blanton he has to face them. Then, instead of facing the Nationals' pitching staff 19 times a season he's playing behind them. And he just got a huge, almost inexplicable, contract. It's hard to see him getting better.

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Posted on: March 23, 2011 10:22 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/23: Seven strong for Shields



By Matt Snyder


3 UP

James Shields, Rays. Roy Oswalt getting clocked in the head overshadowed this outing -- and rightfully so at the time -- but Shields threw a masterpiece against the Phillies Wednesday. It wasn't against scrubs either, as names like Rollins, Howard and Ibanez were in the order. He went seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and one walk. He struck out four while lowering his spring ERA to 1.88.

Carlos Silva, Cubs. With Randy Wells nailing down the No. 4 spot in the Cubs' starting rotation, there's only one opening remaining. Silva had been brutal so far this spring, but he made a case to remain in consideration Wednesday. He threw six innings and coughed up just one earned run. In fact, he only allowed three hits and walked none. I still like Andrew Cashner for that job, but reports had Cubs' skipper Mike Quade very pleased with Silva's outing.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers. The 26 year old continued his torrid spring, crushing a three-run bomb off John Danks to highlight a 2-4 day. He's now hitting .320 with a 1.072 OPS this spring. He has five home runs and 15 RBI in only 50 at-bats.

3 DOWN

Matt Cain, Giants. He entered the game with five scoreless innings under his belt in the spring. He left with a 5.63 spring ERA after giving up seven hits and five earned runs in three innings. Good thing the spring games don't count.

Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks. The promising young arm for the Snakes couldn't get through three innings after allowing eight hits, two walks and seven runs. Only one of the runs was earned, but a Hudson throwing error was what helped open the door for the huge Rangers' third inning.

Ryan Doumit, Pirates. An interesting case, as you could glance at the box score and see Doumit collected two hits in four at-bats. But look deeper, as his ineptitude in everything but handling the stick was illustrated Wednesday. He allowed his third passed ball of the spring and was picked off on the basepaths -- twice! As the Pirates reportedly continue to shop him, efforts like these won't help.

BONUS -- YOU MAKE THE CALL

Francisco Liriano, Twins. He struck out nine hitters in three innings. Yes, every out he recorded was of the punch-out variety. Of course, he needed 76 pitches just to get through those three innings and along the way he walked three guys and gave up four hits. The one earned run isn't awful (it would be a 3.00 ERA), but a walk per inning is, just like the WHIP of more than two. Still, love seeing nine K in three innings. So would the outing be listed in up or down? You make the call.

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Posted on: March 18, 2011 10:33 am
Edited on: March 18, 2011 11:18 am
 

Pepper: Kemp has something to prove



By Matt Snyder


Prior to last season, the common sentiment was that Matt Kemp was headed to stardom. It made sense. He was only 25 and was coming off a season where he hit .297 with a .352 OBP and 26 homers, 101 RBI, 97 runs and 34 stolen bases. Though he did hit two more home runs last season, he regressed rather significantly. His average dropped 48 points and OBP was a poor .310. He stole 19 bases, but was caught stealing 15 times. And the stat-line wasn't the worst part. His love life and butting heads with coaches made more news than his actual play.

But the proverbial page has been turned this spring.

"He seems great. I shouldn't say 'seems,' because he's been great," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told the Los Angeles Times .

Kemp came into the spring with that cliche of being in the best shape of his life. So far, it's coming through on the field, as he's hitting .316 with three home runs and three stolen bases. He's looking for it to carry over into the games that actually matter, and there's an extra motivation at play.

"Last year was a very disappointing season, personally and team-wise," he said to the Times. "I felt like I failed in some way. This year, I'm going to try to make sure that doesn't happen again, that we get back to the playoffs and get to where we should be."

HEILMAN ON THE HILL: Aaron Heilman hasn't started a game since 2005, but he's making a strong case to break camp as the Diamondbacks' fifth starter. Two of the three between Heilman, Barry Enright and Armando Galarraga will join the D-Backs' rotation, and Heilman became the first Arizona pitcher to toss five innings Thursday. He allowed two runs -- coming on a Matt Kemp homer, coincidentally. (MLB.com )

ABOUT FELIX'S NO-TRADE CLAUSE: A popular topic this week on the interwebs has been this list of teams Felix Hernandez has on his no-trade clause. Specifically, he can block a trade to the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Phillies and two still-unnamed teams. Now, upon first glance, it might seem he's scared to play in a large-market, high-pressure situation. Quite the contrary, however, as this is actually a savvy move by Hernandez and his agents. Reports indicate these are the teams they felt were most likely to try and acquire King Felix and would be able to offer financial incentives to waive the clause. While we're here, Yankees fans, Felix is not going to be traded this year. It's time to turn the page. (FOX Sports )

NICE CATCH:
Yankees legend Yogi Berra was speaking with Rays manager Joe Maddon Thursday when Berra tripped and began to fall. Maddon caught him. "It's one of those things, you just see it and he's going down. There's Yogi Berra falling right in front of me," Maddon said. "I try to catch him. It might have been my best play as a professional." If not for Maddon's steady hand, it would have been the second fall this spring for Berra. (TBO.com )

OUTFIELD DEFENSE: The best defensive outfield? The Mariners, followed by the Rangers, Giants and Yankees. (MLB.com )

BIG DAY: Kendrys Morales is either going to play Sunday or start the season on the disabled list. He did say rather definitively that he plans to play, but words can only carry you so far. If he's not fully recovered from last season's broken leg, he's just not ready. Mark Trumbo would be the Angels' starting first baseman if Morales can't go. (MLB.com )

ROLEN FOR HALL: This is interesting to me because I rarely consider a Hall of Fame case for a guy who has yet to retire, but Fangraphs.com takes a look at the possible Hall case for Scott Rolen. He probably doesn't pass that gut feeling test -- you know, when people say you should be able to hear the name and automatically just say "Hall of Famer!" if he belongs in -- but it does look like his numbers will merit strong consideration. Fangraphs does warn Rolen is in danger of becoming Ron Santo 2.0.

DEFUNCT LOGOS: This is a fun one. SBNation's Beyond the Box Score takes a look at its top 30 defunct MLB logos. I'm partial to the No. 5 logo, but there are some good ones in there.

LASTINGS IMPRESSION: It's easy to forget that Lastings Milledge is only 25. After all, he was a first-round draft pick in 2003 and was in the majors in 2006. Since then, it's been mostly disappointment, but he is raking this spring with the White Sox -- hitting .314 with four home runs and nine RBI. He hit two bombs in Thursday's win. The biggest plus might be seeing the humility. "Whatever production they get out of me is a plus. I’m not a key piece," he said. (Chicago Sun-Times )

A SIX-YEAR HIATUS? How about a Darren Dreifort comeback? He hasn't pitched since 2004, but threw a bullpen session this week at Dodgers camp. He's 39, but had severe injury woes in his career and retired at age 32. I'd say don't hold your breath. It's spring and sometimes people are just trying to file any story even remotely interesting. (MLB.com )

ON CONTRACTION:
The New York Post has a theory on what the majors could do with the Rays, A's, Mets and Dodgers. The Rays and A's would be contracted while the respective ownership groups would take over the messes that are the Mets and Dodgers. In order to curb the complaints of the player's union, major league rosters would be expanded to 27 players, thereby not eliminating jobs -- it would actually very slightly increase the number of major-league players. It's decent fodder for this time of the year, when we're killing time until the regular season begins, but I just don't ever see contraction happening.

SOUTH KOREAN IDOL: Shortstop prospect Hak-Ju Lee has fully embraced life in America, as he's become a huge fan of KFC and Papa John's, for example. He's also a big American Idol fan and sings really well -- according to himself. (TampaBay.com )

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Posted on: February 22, 2011 12:04 am
 

Getting to know the Dodgers

Matt KempTEAM MVP

Matt Kemp didn't have the best 2010 -- he was called out by his general manager, benched for not hustling, saw his batting average drop nearly 50 points and had a public split with girlfriend Rihanna. Is Kemp, 26, the breakout superstar of 2009 or is he the talent-wasting malcontent of 2010? The Dodgers need him to be the vintage model for their season to be successful.

 

PLAYER ORACLE -- Sandy Koufax to Clayton Kershaw

Sandy Koufax played with Claude Osteen for the 1966 Los Angeles Dodgers

Claude Osteen played with Jerry Mumphrey for the 1974 St. Louis Cardinals

Jerry Mumphrey played with Greg Maddux for the 1988 Chicago Cubs

Greg Maddux played with Clayton Kershaw for the 2008 Los Angeles Dodgers

 

POP CULTURE

Better Off DeadIn the capital of America's entertainment industry, Los Angeles, the Dodgers are no strangers to pop culture -- from celebrities at the ballpark to ballplayers in movies and TV shows.

There's no shortage of movies and TV shows that have used Dodger Stadium as a backdrop, but my favorite is probably 1985's Better Off Dead (a CBS Production!). It's one of the mid-80s John Cusack classics, with Cusack playing sad-sack Lane Meyer, who falls in love with French foreign exchange student, Monique Junot (Diane Franklin). Monique came to the United States just to see Dodger Stadium -- "What else is there of interest but the Brooklyn Dodger?" 

The end of the movie shows the two kissing, sitting on the hood of Meyer's 1967 Camero parked at home plate.

Other movies using Dodger Stadium as a set:

Mask (1985)

Fletch (1985)

Naked Gun (1988)

Sandlot (1992)

Strange Days (1994)

Life (1988)

Matchstick Men (2002)

Be Cool (2004)

Rocky Balboa (2005)

Star Trek (2007)

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Category: MLB
Posted on: December 28, 2010 3:17 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2010 3:17 pm
 

Cards GM likes club's defense and more

In another impossibly slow day in between Christmas and New Year's, we bring you a roundup of the latest news, a term to be used loosely...

  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak admitted he sacrificed defense in favor of offense this offseason by adding Lance Berkman and Ryan Theriot. Berkman is impossibly being asked to play right field when he has no business being back in the outfield while Theriot was moved to second by the Cubs for a reason -- and dumped onto the Dodgers who then dumped The Riot on the Cards. Ah, but --

    "I'm of the belief that the defense question is being overstated," Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Overall, the idea that we've lessened our club that much defensively I guess I understand from the comment that we traded Brendan. But I don't see the big change. I think this is going to be a good defensive club, if not better."

    Hogwash. Remember this quote when the Cardinals are falling apart on defense, move Berkman to left and go on the hunt for a better middle infielder to replace either Theriot or Skip Schumaker, expected to man second.
  • The Nationals saw Cuban defector Yunesky Maya named as the Dominican Winter League's pitcher of the year. Maya posted a 1.32 ERA in eight starts, whiffing 42 batters in 41 innings as MASN reports.

    Maya had a 5.88 ERA in five starts for Washington at the end of the season but will be looked upon to help deepen a rotation that will be without Stephen Strasburg for most, if not all, of 2011.

    The Rookie of the Year award, meanwhile, went to Eury Perez, who played at Class A in 2010 and is evolving into a possible leadoff man for the Nats in a couple years.
  • SI.com's Jon Heyman reports the Red Sox are still looking at left-handed reliever Brian Fuentes, who reportedly wants three years and around $15 million. No wonder he's still on the market.

    Also no word on if Fuentes is intimidated by the length of time the Red Sox have spent staring at him, which has been all offseason. Would creep me out.
  • Jeff Francis has received plenty of interest, but no contract offers as the Canadian tells the Vancouver Province.

    There is rumored interest from the Mets, Yankees, Rangers, Nationals and Pirates, but Francis is keeping his cool.

    "It's exciting for people to read because they think there's lots of things happening," Francis said, "but it's not as fast-paced as it's all made out to be. Teams are interested, but that's about it at this point."

    Jeffrey Franchise helped lead the Rockies to the 2007 World Series but has been plagued by injuries since, having surgery to repair a torn labrum in 2009 and struggling to produce in 2010.

  • A sad Christmas for Matt Kemp, who split up with singer Rihanna just before the holiday after an 11-month romance as the Toronto Sun reveals. Perhaps Kemp's focus will be improved in 2011 after questions around his desire and relationship with Rihanna surfaced as questions in his inconsistent 2010. Of course, if he continues to not produce, there will be those who say he's taking the breakup hard.

-- Evan Brunell

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com