In his short career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp has been hard to figure out. The ultra talented centerfielder has shown flashes of brilliance being able to carry the team with his play in the field, on the base paths and in the batters box but has also frustrated the franchise, coaches, teammates and the LA fans with mental lapses and what appeared to be a lack of hustle.
There are many who content that because of his 6' 3" 225 lbs frame, Kemp sometimes gave the appearance of not hustling when the reality was that he was busting it. Never the less, under Joe Torre, Kemp was constantly jerked around in the line-up and the enigmatic outfielder had even more problems with other members of the coaching staff.
The new Los Angeles Dodgers coaching staff led my freshman Manager Don Mattingly, is now complete and includes Davey Lopez (first base), Trey Hillman (bench), Jeff Pentland (hitting), Rick Honeycutt (pitching), Tim Wallach (third base) among others. This group of coaches has the unique perspective to understand the younger players on the team and Matt Kemp is reported to be ecstatic about the changes and working aggressively and diligently on an off season workout program.
Davey Lopez brought this issue front and center upon his hiring. Lopez stated, "Back in my day, players had to adapt to the coaches. Now, it's reverse, you have to adapt to today's player. You have to be able to communicate."
Lopes comes to the Dodgers at a time when Kemp appears to be at a crossroads in his career. Awarded a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove in 2009, Kemp regressed in several facets of the game this past year.
One of the areas in which Kemp struggled this season was one of Lopes' strengths as a player: base running. Kemp, who stole 35 bases in 2008 and 34 in 2009, was thrown out on 15 of his 34 stolen-base attempts.
Expect this young coaching staff to encourage aggressiveness and letting the players have fun between the lines. With a change in the coaching staff and a happy Matt Kemp, the Dodgers centerfielder will be allowed to let his talent and raw skills shine this year. After a sub par 2010 campaign, you can expect to be able to get Matt Kemp at a very reasonable price in fantasy baseball drafts in 2011.
Kemp is poised for a bounce back year; an MVP type year. You can expect to be able to get Matt Kemp in the $20's with $30's production. - Brian James
Brian is an independent sports journalist covering major professional sports for over 25 years.
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