June 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier (16), right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) and center fielder Matt Kemp (27) following the 6-1 victory against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kemp and the Other Outfielders Aren’t Going Anywhere


Day three of the GM Winter Meetings is here, and the Dodgers haven’t pulled any big trades despite all the speculation and outrageous scenarios concocted by fans and the media alike. Last winter many fans were clamoring for Andre Ethier to be traded, and I knew that wasn’t going to happen. If he had been dealt last offseason we would have had Skip Schumaker in center field most of the season after Kemp’s three tiered 2013 disability tour kicked off. This offseason it’s the same old situation. The Dodgers seem to have one too many outfielders, yet it’s most likely that other than Puig, the other three won’t play in all 162 games or even be on the field at the same time during Spring Training.

With Kemp still in a walking boot as his surgically repaired ankle slowly heals, his ability to run come Spring Training is already in question. That means the Dodgers can’t trade Andre Ethier unless they plan to go with Joc Pederson in center field or move Yasiel Puig to center during the Spring. I know a lot of you do not like the idea of playing Puig in center, and you have legitimate concerns regarding that idea. Puig only appeared in center field for 11 games last season, so even though his time in center was anything but pretty, it’s not like he couldn’t man center if need be. He has the speed, the range, the arm, and the bravado to play center. He just needs more experience. Like I have mentioned before, I see the Dodgers playing Puig in center a lot this Spring in order to create a failsafe to back-up Kemp.

A few clubs have shown interest in Kemp including Seattle, but do we really want any of Seattle’s players in return?

Having four star outfielders isn't really a problem, is it? Photo: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Having four star outfielders isn’t really a problem, is it? Photo: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

What could we possibly get for Kemp right now which would be worth giving up on a MVP caliber player? It just wouldn’t be a smart move at all. The Dodgers could trade Ethier, but then if Kemp should have more health issues, the Dodgers would be forced to play Puig in center or Pederson. As much as I want to see Pederson a Dodger, I just don’t see the Dodgers giving him a shot right now. I know many feel that Pederson could break camp this Spring and even make the Opening Day roster. That would have to preclude a trade of one of the four outfielders or an injury preventing one of them from starting the season. It could happen, but as of right now Joc is blocked.

Don Mattingly spoke at the Winter Meetings in Florida and had this to say about the outfielder situation:

“It’s a good problem to have for me. I think we can make that work.”

Colletti responded to the outfielder trade speculations with this short answer:

 “We’re fine without doing anything there.”

Sounds reminiscent of last winter, doesn’t it?

If it was my choice, I’d trade Carl Crawford out of the four if I had to trade one of them. CC has a weak arm, barely runs anymore, and he can’t play center field. Yet the question of what we can get in return for him is unclear. His long, albatross of a contract will most likely loom over the Dodgers for quite some time.

Ned Colletti basically said he has other work to be done this winter rather than trading one of the outfielders, and the gaping hole at third base is the most critical right now. If the Dodgers should not sign Juan Uribe, then it’s possible that they could trade for a hot corner man. Otherwise the prospect of Michael Young playing third base will become a reality, and none of us want that. No, no we don’t.

 

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Take everything Matt Kemp‘s agent (Dave Stewart) says with a grain of salt. Matt Kemp won’t be going anywhere unless there’s some fantastic trade offered to Colletti which he couldn’t refuse. Matt Kemp is a very complicated case, and while some fans have become frustrated with his two years of being injury riddled, you have to consider that it isn’t all his fault. I question some of the medical advice and rehab he received after he injured his shoulder the first time. That’s for another post. I don’t know if he will be able to regain his 2011 form again, but I sure hope the Dodgers don’t give up on him just yet.

Even if the Dodgers don’t trade anyone this winter, they could very well do so in Spring when they can gauge all four outfielders and how their health stacks up and where they can play. Joc Pederson, if not traded, could be the catalyst which spurs a Spring trade, but I wouldn’t get to excited about Joc taking over for any of the other four outfielders just yet.

Right now there are bigger concerns for the Dodgers. Trading away one of their star outfielders doesn’t seem like the right thing to do right now unless they can’t shore up third base that is. Third base. I’m terrified of the possibilities. Is Casey Blake still out there?

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Tags: Don Mattingly GM Winter Meetings Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Kemp Ned Colletti

  • AaronKnuckleCurve

    Crawford can still go first to home the 2nd fastest and he can still steal a bag. Ethier on the other hand has really slid in terms of batting. Remember how well Crawford hit in the post season? Not Ethier. Crawdad’s arm isn’t Juan Pierre weak but it aint too strong :) I’d part with Ethier, though i’ve loved his energy and spirit for a long time.

    • Stacie Wheeler

      You’re right about CC’s late season/postseason burst. I saw him hit two three-run HRs in person (one in late Sept and the other in the NLDS). I wish he’d steal more like he used to. His arm is terrible though, Ethier’s is much better.

      • AaronKnuckleCurve

        But Ethier is not a better hitter nor can he cover as much ground in the outfield. Crawdad is a pretty amazing hitter despite not being able to hit a slow curve to save his life. :)

        • Stacie Wheeler

          Ethier is a great hitter vs. righties and he played admirably in CF. CC is talented no doubt but his health is a recurring issue. I guess it would depend on the individual trade scenario and what the Dodgers could get for either of them.

        • LasordasLair

          Not really Aaron. Ethier just had a down year power wise, but his batting and on-base skills have always been at least above league average. normally. Crawford’s good in brief spurts because he can never stay healthy. He had one of his spurts in the NLDS. I like them both.

  • Quasimodo

    The plan has taken root and really been a long time coming. Four star outfielders is NOT one too many. Even if all stay healthy its still a very-very good idea that far outweighs settling for less. I’m glad this situation fell into place. Whats better than two proven right handed and two proven left handed? I’ve really had a hard time seeing how the more conventional three OF and a lesser bench is better. Its about time this happened. Come the dog-days of summer this will all make more sense. I really hope all stay healthy to prove four outfielders is smart baseball.

    • LasordasLair

      Its true Quasi. and we know that they all wont stay healthy. at least one of them is going to get hurt at some point, and then we’ll be happy we kept everyone.

  • Christopher Luke Jackson

    There is nothing Quasi about this assessemnt. It is spot on. You really have to maintain maximum competitive edge by having 4 hi caliber outfielders ready to go. Late inning switches, big bats off the bench, regular rest forthe guys who play all out is essential to long term health and success of the team. i would like to see the same approach taken at the catcher position. The teram should have two starting catchers. each of them can play 80ish games, come off the bench to pinch hit (or if your lucky play first base), et al. It is a long season and it is grueling. The cather’s position is the toughest and we alsways see catchers wear down by the end of the year….. I think the Dodgers are beginning to realize the winning stratagy really involves 25 of the best players they can get.

    • Stacie Wheeler

      I agree, and I think they should give more starts to FedEx this season to rest A.J.

      • Quasimodo

        Sure, as A.J. is as well a catcher’s catcher as he is a pitcher’s catcher, maybe he’s taught FedEx enough so FedEx too can bring out the best in pitchers. But that explains why A.J. plays so many games. You can put money that A.J. will be wearing a Dodgers uniform long after his catching days end.