Thoughts: Kemp continues to struggle
April, 16, 2013
By David Schoenfield | ESPN.com
Quick thoughts on Monday's games ...
- The Blue Jays' lineup on Monday included just three players who finished the game with an OBP over .300, and one of those was ex-Mariners backup infielder Munenori Kawasaki, playing shortstop for the injured Jose Reyes. Sure enough, with J.P. Arencibia hitting third, Mark DeRosa sixth, Emilio Bonifacio leading off and Kawasaki playing, the Jays beat the White Sox 4-3 as Mark Buehrle delivered his first good start. The Jays are still missing Brett Lawrie and Jose Bautista was unavailable for this one, but how did the Jays get into a situation where they have to use Kawasaki (.459 OPS with the Mariners last year) and DeRosa (.578 OPS over the past three years)? Contending teams need better emergency plans than this.
- With Giancarlo Stanton out with a sore left shoulder, the Marlins fielded this lineup: Juan Pierre, Chris Coghlan, Placido Polanco, Greg Dobbs, Justin Ruggiano, Rob Brantly, Adeiny Hechavarria, Donovan Solano. I mean ... the Marlins are 2-11, are hitting .203 and have two home runs while averaging fewer than two runs per game. In case you're wondering, no, the Marlins don't play the Astros this year.
- Catch of the day and maybe the season so far: Ben Revere with a diving catch in right-center. Later in the game, he did this.
- It was up to 38 degrees in Minnesota! Hometown hero Joe Mauer wasn't bothered by the cold and lashed out four hits in the Twins' 8-2 win over the Angels. Joe Blanton struggled again, dropping to 0-3 with an 8.59 ERA. Blanton just isn't very good; he had a 4.79 ERA the past three seasons in the National League. That translates to something over 5 in the AL. Yes, he throws strikes (he walked just 34 in 30 starts last year), but he gives up hits and home runs. We'll give him a reprieve on this one with a 16-mph wind blowing out to center, but I suspect the Angels will be looking for a rotation upgrade at some point.
- Carl Crawford had three hits to bring his average to .396. Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .396. Matt Kemp had two hits in the Dodgers' 6-3 loss to the Padres, but that only raised his average to .196 and he's still looking for his first home run of the season. When Kemp had his monster April last year -- .417/.490/.893, 12 HRs, 25 RBIs -- he was showing good selectivity at the plate (he drew 13 walks against 21 strikeouts). This April he has three walks and 15 K's. In April of 2012 he swung at 43 percent of all pitches and had a chase percentage of 22 percent on pitches outside the zone. This year, those figures are 49 percent and 28 percent entering Monday's game. That's not the entire reason for his early struggles (and no doubt he started getting pitched around last April), but keep an eye on Kemp's discipline.