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Outfield Surplus May Ultimately Benefit Los Angeles Dodgers

February 11th, 2014 at 5:00 AM
By Jimmy Reynolds
'Matt Kemp' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
 
The best move of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ offseason may end up being the move that they chose not to make. The team had been expected to move one of their four expensive outfielders, which include Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. While all four of the outfielders are well paid, there are no guarantees that all four will be healthy and productive throughout the entire season. The news that Matt Kemp may be behind schedule in his return from injury solidifies the notion that the Dodgers were wise to keep their outfield surplus.
 
Kemp, along with Puig, is currently in Glendale for Spring Training, but manager Don Mattingly indicated that Kemp’s presence did not mean he was ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation from injury, saying:
"Matt will be able to do a lot of things, but he's still a little bit behind schedule. There are certain things he won't do until everybody says it's OK — running outside — that's when his ankle and the doctors let us know what he's capable of."
 
It should not be surprising that the Dodgers are being hesitant when it comes to Kemp’s health. It has been speculated that some of Kemp’s injury troubles can be attributed to his attempts to return to action too soon. Both Kemp and his agent, Dave Stewart, have insinuated that Kemp may not yet be ready for a return to action, and that an Opening Day return may be unreasonable.
 
Even if Kemp were to be healthy, there are enough concerns surrounding the outfielders to warrant keeping all four.
 
In addition to Kemp’s injury concerns, left fielder Carl Crawford has dealt with his fair share of recent injuries, being limited to 116 games for the Dodgers last year due to hamstring injuries. Mattingly has said on many occasions that Crawford can benefit from regular days off. Ethier, who filled in for Kemp in center at times, has issues hitting left-handed pitching and could benefit from a platoon situation. Puig, while productive, may be at risk of injury due to his devil-may-care style of play. It should be clear that there are enough concerns among each outfielder that it makes perfect sense to keep all four.
 
It seems that both Mattingly and general manager Ned Colletti see the value in being able to split time among all four outfielders, and the outfield surplus was never an issue last season. During the 2013 season, there were hardly any occasions in which all four outfielders were healthy and available. If all four end up being healthy, they may be able to remain so with regular days off throughout the season. It may prove that Colletti's shrewdest move was the one he did not make.
Tags: Andre Ethier, Baseball, Carl Crawford, Dave Stewart, Don Mattingly, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp, MLB, Ned Colletti, Yasiel Puig

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