I love the idea of naming a website/blog after somebody who needs to leave. It speaks of passion. Even if your website is something like FireVinceLombardi or GetRidofRedAuerbach it still gets my credit cause I like Elijah Dukes, and thus I like anger. Kensai doesn’t approve of Ned Colletti. Here’s what the keyboard behind FireNedCollettiNow thinks about the Dodgers in fantasy right now.
FBHS: Matt Kemp has spent the majority of the season so far (8 games) hitting 7th. Is this going to continue? Where do you think Kemp is best suited in the lineup?
FNCN: With Kemp’s recent stretch of torrid hitting, you’d think that Joe Torre would be forced to eventually bat him higher in the order, but there are a number of factors working against Matt.
First, it’s well known that Torre plays favorites with his players, and he’s made it clear in the past that Kemp is not among them. So unless Torre finds another spot for Russell Martin, or Martin absolutely tanks this year, Kemp will be hard pressed to supplant Russell in the 5-hole.
Secondly, Torre has this obsession with staggering his lefties and righties, so either Ethier or Loney figure to be occupying the cleanup role permanently. The only thing that would change this is a move from Manny Ramirez, which doesn’t seem likely at the moment.
Thirdly, Torre loves speed at the 1 and 2 spots. Therefore, Furcal and Hudson seem to be mainstays at the top of order.
Where does this leave Kemp? Well, stuck basically. Sure, there might be an occasional platoon start as the cleanup man when the regulars are resting and a lefty is on the mound, but I highly doubt he’ll see a significant amount of time there. Heck, even the 6th spot seems unlikely, because Torre doesn’t want two righties in a row. In the end, it seems like it’s 5th or 7th right now, and I’m leaning more towards 7th until Torre shows me he can get past his dislike for Kemp.
As far as where I would personally like him to bat, I’ve said before that I want the middle of the order to be Ramirez-Ethier-Kemp, and that was even before Kemp started off the season strong. In lieu of his recent hot streak, there’s no doubt that he should be slotted in there. Unfortunately, Torre and logic are not the best of friends.
FBHS: So it appears that you’ve got some dependable high end options in the rotation with what Billingsley and Kershaw have done so far. What about James McDonald? Is he the Ford Pinto…in 2009?
FNCN: I really like McDonald as a prospect, and I’ve covered him in detail here. However, real life value and fantasy value are different things.
While his minor league strikeout (~26%) and walk (~8%) rates have been solid, he hasn’t been able to duplicate that at the major league level. To me, this was to be expected, because he’s somewhat of a finesse pitcher, but doesn’t currently have the command and polish.
McDonald is also an extreme flyball pitcher (35% GB), and if you combine his lack of refinement with a lot of flyballs, that spells out the potential to give up a lot of bombs. It is just part of the reason that his projected FIP is around 4.88.
Conclusion? He’s worth a flyer in deeper mixed leagues, and he’s certainly worth owning in NL-only leagues, but I wouldn’t drop anybody you like to get McDonald until he shows something greater.
FBHS: Has James Loney hit his power ceiling?
No, but I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way. I don’t believe he has reached his ceiling simply because I don’t believe 15 homers is the best he can do. However, I do believe that the 30 or 40 home run plateaus are now well out of reach.
From the moment Loney was drafted and converted to a field player, scouts have always questioned whether he would develop a home run stroke. There was one group that believed he was a line drive hitter with marginal lift in his swing, and another group that believed he would eventually develop the strength to hit 30-40 home runs.
Watching him play for a while in the minor leagues, and then in stints with the Dodgers, I began to fall in firmly with the side that believed he was a line drive hitter with gap power who could generate a max of 20-25 home runs annually.
The statistics generally back this stance up, as he’s hit 21.1% line drives, 43.5% groundballs, and 35.4% flyballs in his career. Those numbers almost exactly coincide with league averages, and they certainly don’t represent a positive trend for somebody that you expect to have a power breakout from. In fact, his flyball percentage is trending negatively at the moment. So until he shows a significant change in his skill set, he’s just a 20-25 homer upside player, and he might not even reach that level for another few years.
I do hope he proves me wrong though.
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