Pull up a chair and come sit down at our Lasorda’s Lair roundtable discussion. This new column will feature a different discussion topic each time which our writing staff will have the opportunity to address individually. We also would like for you to participate by answering the roundtable question in the comments below.
If you missed our first roundtable discussion, you can read it here.
Question: Do you think Matt Kemp will bounce back this season? Why or why not?
Kenny Shulsen, Sr. Staff Writer- I am convinced Matt Kemp has a big season this year, maybe not 2011 big but very solid. Remember his shoulder surgery in 2012 prevented him from his usual off-season weight lifting program. I feel like that put more stress him having to use his legs more which led to the hamstring issues. When he came back remember he had a monster game in Washington before his fluke ankle injury which he caused by not running even half speed on the play. The biggest motivating factor for Kemp in 2014, aside from the trade rumors, was him having to be a spectator during the playoffs. If you think about it when in Matt Kemp’s life was he ever left off of a team or not able to contribute. Having the ability to play in the playoffs taken away from him had to make him mad as hell but more importantly humble him. I think he’s spent this off-season with that as a motivating factor and he comes out blazing, and just imagine a what a healthy and productive Kemp adds to the Dodgers lineup. Would you as a pitcher want to face Hanley, Adrian & Kemp with runners on base knowing you can’t pitch around any of them. So yes hopefully Matt Kemp returns to being “The Bison” and effortlessly launches balls halfway up the right center field pavilion, because that is a beautiful sight to behold!
Julian Lopez, Staff Writer- I believe that Matt Kemp will bounce back this year if he doesn’t rush back from his ankle injury and lets it heal. When Kemp played in September last year, he reminded me of the vintage 2011 Kemp where he hit the ball all over the field and only struck out once in every five at-bats. It sounds like Kemp’s shoulder is fully healed which has bugged him for the past year and a half. Fans can’t expect him to have a repeat of his 2011 season because that was something special. He became just the 18th major leaguer to record 30 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a season. During the 2nd half of last season, Kemp saw that he didn’t always have to swing for the fences and became more of a contact hitter. I think he can become an All-Star again and a realistic expectation this year is a .280 average with 20 home runs, 70-80 runs, and 80-90 RBIs.
Aaron David Gleason, Staff Writer- I wish I could say yes, but the answer is no. This is purely a gut call…well, based on what my eyes have seen. And what my eyes have seen are a great, gifted, inspiring, good team mate, who plays a reckless and mindless form of baseball. 99 percent of guys who play this style, hit a wall. Mr. Kemp, quite literally hit a wall. He still has great baseball in him, but for some reason his injuries aren’t healing. Maybe he doesn’t look after his body in his off time–who knows? So, if he doesn’t mind reinventing his game…I could see him as a .290 hitter, 14 home runs, 5 stolen bases, and 65 RBI guy…more bench time….or play till he burns himself out, and sputter through sporadic starts through the year. Sad, but true.
Lucas Talbot, Staff Writer- I believe Matt Kemp will rebound back because this is the season for Kemp to prove that he is not damaged goods. Kemp will silence the critics and the fans that are complaining that Kemp is done and doesn’t have anything more in the tank. Well, Kemp is not damaged goods, he just has bad timing when it comes to injuries. Kemp will prove that he is the guy that two years ago, that was and is still on top of his game and is one of the best offensive players in the league. Two years ago, Kemp didn’t exactly have this star power around him, he was the lone star on the team and the pressure got to him before reinforcements came. Kemp will prove that belongs in the starting lineup. Now, that Kemp has the right star power around him, he doesn’t have to carry the team by himself now. Kemp has help, he doesn’t have to be relied on heavily to carry the team. If I was Matt Kemp, my goals would be to stay healthy a 100%, to drive in runs and get on base for the next guy. No need to think about absolutely having to carry the team, just contribute and go with the flow. Expect Matt Kemp to be on the rebound season.
Adrian Garcia, Staff Writer- Honestly, I think I made my feeling very clear on Matt Kemp. He’s unbelievably talented, he is past his shoulder issues, so he should return back to the massive power (20-30 home runs) that he had, he plays a premium position, and while it’s true he did have serious ankle surgery, he doesn’t really need his speed too much to be successful, as our favorite SS, Hanley Ramirez has shown. As long as Kemp hits something like .280/.350/.480, I think he’ll be one of the most valuable assets on this team. I look forward to watching Kemp this season and seeing him win comeback player of the year!
Stacie Wheeler, Editor- I’m so frustrated with the Matt Kemp situation, and missing parts of two seasons with constant injuries doesn’t lead me to be very optimistic. I’ve tried to stay optimistic because Matt Kemp has been one of my favorite Dodgers over the recent years. When he’s healthy and in Beastmode he is one of the best players in the game. One worry of mine is that Kemp will not regain his running game after suffering a very serious injury to his ankle bone. That was a part of his game which I really loved watching. Time will tell us which injury will be more of a challenge for him to overcome. Matt says his shoulder feels good right now. Even though Matt was very direct when he said that he couldn’t accept being a bench player, I hope that confidence will be translated on to the field for a redemption season. Bison Blasts have been missed around here.
Scott Andes, Editor- As far as Kemp is concerned, I fear he will have another injury riddled year again, but I hope he won’t. I have no idea how Kemp will hold up this season. I think at this point, it’s like 50/50. The ankle injury he suffered was severe enough to be career threatening. I think it’s possible to come back from such a thing, but it’s going to take more time. I doubt Kemp plays at all until May or June to be honest. The Dodgers will be ok because they replaced Kemp’s production with Hanley’s production, and added Puig. Of course having Kemp back in the lineup and I mean the normal Kemp, would be a huge boost for the lineup. I tell you this though, I can’t take another injury riddled year, a third straight injury riddled year. I just can’t. I love Kemp I really do, but it’s hard to watch him decline like this. I’ve seen it before though. The cortisone injections, the treatments. Once the injury door is opened it’s hard for the body to recover and close the door. But can Kemp at least play in 100 games this year?