LOS ANGELES, September 9, 2013 — The Los Angeles Dodgers are in a tailspin that may end up knocking them out of the playoff hunt. Not really, but the Dodgers have lost four games in a row after being swept by the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend.
The Dodgers’ magic number is ten. Los Angeles needs a combined number of ten Dodger wins and/or Arizona losses to clinch the National League West pennant. One player who will probably not be a factor in this year’s pennant race is Matt Kemp.
It was revealed that Kemp had aggravated his hamstring while trying to rehabilitate his injured ankle. The recent hamstring flare up puts into jeopardy a possible return for the Dodger centerfielder. Before this recent issue, one had to wonder where Matt Kemp was going to fit, as the Dodgers have Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig already playing well in the outfield.
Matt Kemp’s year has been plagued by injuries. He played in 51 games to start the season, 49 of which he was the starting centerfielder. Kemp was highly ineffective, however, at the plate due to a weakened shoulder that had not yet fully recovered from offseason surgery. He batted .251 with just two homeruns and 17 RBIs. In those 51 games, Kemp struck out 60 times compared to just 14 walks.
At the end of May, Kemp hit the 15-day disabled list with a strained hamstring. Kemp suffered some setbacks during his recovery, which caused him to miss 24 games before being reinstated from the DL on June 25. Once back, Kemp was able to stay healthy for only ten games. For these ten games, Kemp’s numbers did improve a little. He batted .273 at the plate and doubled his homerun total for the year with two more homeruns.
On July 8, Matt Kemp returned to the DL, this time he reinjured his shoulder while swinging at a pitch that he missed. Kemp was returned July 21 for a game against the Washington Nationals. Kemp had a great game, going 3 for 4 with a homerun. Unfortunately, he had a base running snafu that resulted in an awkward slide at the plate and an injured ankle.
The ankle injury initially was not anything that was considered too serious. As with the rest of Kemp’s season, this too did not go as planned. The ankle took longer to heal and when Kemp did start playing in rehab games, his production was dreadful. The Dodgers decided to have Kemp play in some more rehab games before being activated.
While running the bases, Matt Kemp felt tightness in his hamstring. The Dodgers have shut him down indefinitely, which this late in the season means Kemp may not be back this year.
The Dodgers signed Kemp to the extension after his 2011 MVP season. Well, it could have been his MVP season had Ryan Braun not been taking steroids. We’ll never know. Kemp batted .324 with 39 homeruns, 126 RBIs, 115 runs, and 40 stolen bases while finishing second to Braun in MVP voting.
The Kemp extension was done under the Frank McCourt reign, but at a time when all transaction over $1 million had to be approved by MLB. The Dodgers had no choice. The fans in Los Angeles, who were already fed up with McCourt, may stormed the gates at Chavez Ravine if the Dodgers did not do the deal.
Matt Kemp will earn $20 million dollars this year. In 2014 and 2015, he will earn $21 million. Then the Dodgers will pay him $21.5 million in each of the final four years of an eight-year, $160 million deal. The Dodger owners have to be at least a little nervous about the investment they inherited at this point.
Los Angeles signed Kemp to an amount of dollars and years that show the Dodgers thought they were getting a Hall of Fame caliber player heading into the most productive years of his career. What Kemp has given them looks more like something you would see from a broken down player at the end of his career.
This was not like the Anaheim Angels signing a 31-year old Albert Pujols, with his power numbers already in decline, to a ten-year deal. Kemp is a player in his prime. It remains to be seen what will become of Matt Kemp when he returns in 2014 and beyond. Even in hindsight, the contract appears to have been the right decision at the time. The Dodgers had to lock him up and they had to pay him a lot.
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