Should Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier lead the Los Angeles Dodgers into a new era of baseball?
It is hard to imagine the future of Dodger Baseball without the two players who have led them over the recent years, outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. But as the Dodger organization will be starting anew with a different owner, one has to wonder if it may be a good idea to start with a fresh attitude. A attitude clear of controversy. A attitude free of celebrity rumors. A attitude free of inconsistency. The decision will have to made this offseason because both players are in their last year of arbitration eligibility.
This may be blasphemous speaking of the great Kemp and Ethier in this way and I’m prepared to take my hits from the “Dodger Nation”. But before you decide to corner me in Chavez Ravine and hurl baseballs at my head please hear me out about the Great Debate of Kemp and Ethier.
Ethier: Ethier has been a great player for the Dodgers over the years. In fact, many regard him as the greatest move Ned Colletti has made in his tenure as Dodger GM. Ethier has been known within the Dodger community as a gritty player who has the knack of getting the big hit when the team needs it. It was Ethier who gave me one of the my favorite memories as a Dodger fan when in 2009 he hit a bases loaded double against the Philadelphia Phillies to win in the bottom of the ninth. Good memories. Allot of good memories and success with Ethier. So why is he so chappy?
Many people speculate Ethier’s “Chappyness” or “Attitude” is the reason why he is able to rise to the occasion with the big hit. He is able to focus, bare down and crush the ball when no one else is able to do so. That is what sets him apart from the rest. So what happened last year?
Ethier was injured allot last year and that may have been a factor in his production decline. After all if you cant physically play, you cant produce, right? But that doesn’t hold water with me because Ethier has played injured throughout his career. If injury wasn’t the reason why his production slipped then what was the reason? My best guess is his attitude or you could say, emotions.
Out of the whole team it was clear the Dodger ownership situation effected Ethier the most. You could see it in his body language and it was reflected in his play as his power numbers quickly disappeared. He started flipping off media members. Then there was rumors that he wanted to go play for the Boston Red Sox with his friend Justin Pedroia, what?! No one knows if it was true but it did leave a empty feeling in my stomach in regards to Ethier. Thanks for backing the organization that gave you a chance to begin with Andre.
Do the Dodgers need to have player so emotionally unpredictable as Either? Is it wise to entrust the future and stability of the team around Ethier? Should they trade Ethier? Should they sign him? I will conclude later.
Kemp: Kemp was clearly the MVP during the 2011 season. There was no player more productive, consistent or dominant than Kemp. And unless the MVP voters have a brain aneurysm Kemp will win the award. He did everything right during the year and had arguably the best season ever by a Dodger. Then what is the debate? Why don’t the Dodger sign him to a 5 or 6 year deal?
True Kemp had a monstrous year and is clearly the most talented player in the league without question. But it wasnt long ago Kemp was running into walls and forgetting to wear his sunglasses during day games. It also wasn’t long ago he would swing at “ANYTHING” the pitcher threw in the direction of home plate. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago he couldn’t buy a stolen base dispite his blazing speed. Didn’t it seemed like yesterday he couldnt concentrate on his career because he was under the umbrella of Rihanna? How quickly we all forget.
Kemp is extremely talented and could be a Hall of Fame player. He could fulfill his potential but he needs to have his mind focused on baseball which is something he has done for only 2 seasons,2009 and 2011. And in those years he wasn’t the focus of attention because in 2009 Manny Ramirez was the team leader and was suspended because of steroids. Then in 2011 the media was focused on Frank McCourt and the ownership issues. No one visited Kemp those two seasons and he went on with his business and played great.
In 2010 Kemp was the focus of media attention because of his large contract given by the Dodgers and his relationship with Rihanna. With the added pressure Kemp floundered and his career took a nosedive. He stopped producing, started crying that the coaching staff was too “hard” on him and focused more on his relationship with Rihanna than his relationship with his career. It was a mess.
Should the Dodgers entrust Kemp to lead the Dodgers despite his unpredictability? Should they thrust him in the spotlight one more time despite his failures in the past? Should they trade him?
Conclusion: Either is a solid player with a solid resume. A resume that can receive allot of attention on the trade market. The Dodgers should trade Ethier for a power hitting third baseman. It is clear Ethier is over Los Angeles and he will leave after the 2012 season. Trade him now and receive value. Plus the team can start anew without a potential bad attitude with Ethier has shown he possesses.
Kemp, sign him now to a 5 year 90 million deal and cross your fingers. True Kemp has been immature throughout his career and he has been inconsitant in both attitude and production. But Hall of Fame players rarely come so sign him now and hope Davey Lopes can guide him in the right direction. Lopes was a tremendous help to Kemp in 2011 as he helped Kemp focus and keep his mind on baseball. The results were phenomenal so sign Lopes to 5 years to.
If the Dodgers do these moves they will be stable for years to come. A veteran third baseman will help solidify the infield and give the Dodgers power in a power position. Jerry Sands can get a shot in right field as the new young guys guide the team for years to come.