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Matt Kemp, benched by Dodgers: “I just want to play, man”

May 27, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

matt kemp dodgers getty Getty Images

Benched yesterday for a fourth straight game, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp told Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times: “I just want to play, man.”

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has been mixing and matching outfielders all season because he has Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier to play and only three spots in which to play them, but Kemp is the first guy in that group to sit out four consecutive games.

He’s definitely been benched and Mattingly has cited his poor defense in center field as a big reason, although there’s always the option of shifting Kemp to a corner spot to keep his bat in the lineup considering he has a higher OPS than Crawford or Ethier. And of course the fact that Kemp has a $160 million contract further complicates matters.

It sounds like Crawford and Kemp may form a quasi-platoon in left field, which is a helluva way to spend $300 million. And in the meantime Ethier is Mattingly’s choice to start in center field despite the fact that he’s very stretched defensively there. Sometimes having tons of money and tons of outfielders isn’t such a good thing.

  1. Kevin S. - May 27, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    Ethier has to be the worst defensively of the four they have. No good options for CF despite spending north of $60 million this year on four guys. #freeJocPederson

  2. greymares - May 27, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Trade Crawford or Ethier to Philly they have plenty of guys to serve as a 4th outfielder Brown,Mayberry, Ruf, Gwnn Revere.

    • Cris E - May 28, 2014 at 1:03 PM

      It says here Boston could use an outfielder. Do you suppose they’d take Crawford back? (At this point BOS probably doesn’t have enough bad contracts to dump for his remaining $60m. I guess the Dodgers were the only ones who didn’t see that coming.)

  3. thetoolsofignorance - May 27, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    It pains me to see Kemp falter like this. He’s a shell defensively to what he used to be. He might consider moving to the American League to a team who needs a DH and he can platoon there and at first base, but otherwise I think his career as an outfielder might be over. I can’t see anyone but the Yankees being able to take on that contract for a 1st baseman/DH type, though. What with Texiera possibly heading for the DL Kemp might be a viable option and they are about the only team that could do this

    • Kevin S. - May 27, 2014 at 11:39 AM

      Even the Yankees aren’t a great fit. They have Teixeira through 2016, with McCann and Beltran eventually needing to slide into the 1B/DH roles as well. Further, the Yankees position player strength in the minors is catcher and OF, creating more of a log-jam as the kids come through and push the older players off those positions. Yanks desperately need infield help, and Matt Kemp simply isn’t the answer there.

      • thetoolsofignorance - May 27, 2014 at 12:08 PM

        Oh. I hadn’t thought of that. The Yankees certainly do have issues of their own. Just once I was hoping to see them make a money move to the betterment of a player I like.

    • gatorprof - May 27, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      Yes, just what the Yankees need….another old, past their prime, expensive, defensive liability, who is best suited as a DH?

      Let’s see, Beltran, Soriano, and add Kemp?

      Why would ANYONE take that contract?

    • spursareold - May 27, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      Depending on their future plans for VMart, if any, Detroit could be a player. They have decently deep pockets and a probable opening at DH.

      • thetoolsofignorance - May 27, 2014 at 12:57 PM

        Now that would be great. I’d love to see Kemp land on his feet on a good team.

      • weaselpuppy - May 27, 2014 at 2:21 PM

        Highly likely with rampant informed speculation thet VMart is going to be resigned. They love him ( and his son) in the clubhouse and it sure looks like he has a few more good years in him at 34. He’ll be a lot cheaper as well, maybe $13-14M/yr.

  4. plmathfoto - May 27, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    Kemp looked horrible in the Mets series, he couldn’t get after the ball and was limping every time he tried to run. The previous post talked about the RedSox looking for outfielders as well.

  5. kaleidoscopictreats - May 27, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    “Sometimes having tons of money and tons of outfielders isn’t such a good thing.”

    How on earth is it a problem to have a solid starting outfield AND a solid backup outfield? This “having too many good players is a big big problem” narrative has got to be a joke, right?

  6. nsauser - May 27, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    It’s really hard to be in tip top shape when you are rehabbing and partying in the club every night. With this guy’s work ethic and injury history, it’s clear that his better days have passed long ago.

  7. hoopmatch - May 27, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    It’s enough to make you fondly remember Steve Kemp of the Tigers.

  8. zdravit - May 27, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    Let the kid play! Mattingly is such a meanie.

  9. elmo - May 27, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    Gotta be playing hurt. Wouldn’t be surprised to see another trip to the DL. Even with the fielding issues, I can’t believe he just suddenly lost his ability to play.

  10. tnmup18 - May 27, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    If you just want to play, then play better Matt, we need you.

  11. koufaxmitzvah - May 27, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    A few thoughts. The Dodgers outfield combination has been hitting the ball quite well. I don’t know the numbers offhand, but they are the reason for most of the offense.

    I really don’t understand the idea that Ethier is a bad centerfielder. Considering he was moved there last year after never having played CF in college or professional ball, he’s done a pretty good job. He doesn’t make mistakes. His routes are good, if not excellent. He’s not as fleet on foot as most CFs, but he’s also got Puig running like a muscle man with his head on fire to the right, and Crawford to the left. Sure he makes $17 million, but find me a 10/5 player not making more money than they’re worth.

  12. grizzlystrike - May 27, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Hate the Dodgers but it’s too bad about Matt Kemp, he was the best outfielder in the game a couple years ago and is still young

    • mkprz - May 28, 2014 at 12:18 PM

      You can’t come back from an ankle injury and be 100% this quick.
      There’s the mental aspect of “What if I stop too hard?” “What if I have to turn around too fast or slide wrong?”
      That is part of the healing. MLB physicality is at such a high intensity, things take time.
      The amount of forced exerted on the ankle is tremendous.
      The best bet is to keep it as is. Play him, rest him.
      His emotions cannot control how a bone with react or heal.

  13. that's the best linebacker i've seen since Joe Montana - May 27, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    Hate the Dodgers…
    really nothing else to say

  14. thekidatbat - May 27, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    If YOU don’t play how can you produce. All YOU Matt Kemp
    haters GET OFF HIS BACK.

  15. El Pollo Loco - May 28, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    McCourts parting shot at the Dodgers.He was still owner when they signed Kemp to that long term contract.Good luck getting anything of fair value on the market for him.

    • mkprz - May 28, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      Be careful Dodgers.
      He might be traded and come back once he’s fully healed and be the Kemp he once was.

  16. mkprz - Jun 4, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    Kemp may want to play, but the fans want winners.
    The fans. You know, the ones who pay for everything!

  17. mkprz - Jun 4, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    Kemp is done for the year.
    He’s hiding his injury from the team.
    It was not long enough to heal properly.

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