Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dodgers Report [Print without images]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Dodger lineups, with Kemp and without him

By Mark Saxon

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Rumors continue to swirl that the Dodgers are listening to trade offers for outfielder Matt Kemp. His own agent, Dave Stewart, has told several reporters he thinks something is going to happen.


But the Dodgers continue to say they’re excited about what Kemp could bring to their team, if he’s healthy. Tuesday general manager Ned Colletti said Kemp should be physically ahead of where he was at the beginning of spring training 2013 when he reports in February. He has been lifting weights for more than a month.


It all figures to boil down to this: Will the Dodgers be blown away by another team’s offer? They’re not as interested in unloading most of Kemp’s $128 million contract as they are in restocking their farm system with prime talent.


In the meantime, let’s take a look at a hypothetical lineup with Kemp and another without him.


With:

Yasiel Puig RF
Carl Crawford LF
Hanley Ramirez SS
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Matt Kemp CF
Juan Uribe 3B *
A.J. Ellis C
Alexander Guerrero 2B
Pitcher


Without:


Carl Crawford LF
Yasiel Puig RF
Hanley Ramirez SS
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Juan Uribe 3B *
Andre Ethier CF
A.J. Ellis C
Alexander Guerrero 2B
Pitcher


*I’m assuming Uribe re-signs, because, A, I think he will and, B, it makes the exercise easier.


The first lineup has ideal left-right balance through the first five spots and more power than the latter, presumably because Kemp should provide more pop than Andre Ethier, whose home run power has been in steady decline. It also uses, in my opinion, Carl Crawford in a spot that better suits his skill set. Look at the numbers. He’s a better No. 2 hitter than leadoff guy. Once Guerrero settles in, if he’s getting on base, you could consider moving him into the leadoff spot and batting Puig anywhere from second to fifth, depending how he and Kemp are hitting.


All in all, the Dodgers look like a better team with Kemp than without him. It all hinges on his health and the Dodgers’ (and other teams’) perception of it.