Matt Kemp wants to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in 2011

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Matt Kemp went deep last night for the second straight game as the Dodgers swept the Rockies out of playoff contention and afterward he had the following exchange with Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:

With his long and strikeout-filled season coming to a close, Matt Kemp started making bold predictions about next season. … When he was asked how many home runs he will hit, Kemp replied, “40.”

How many steals? “Forty,” he said.

Forty-forty? “I have to pay the fans back, man,” Kemp said. “They deserve it.”

Laughing, he added, “They’ve been mad at me all season. I have to do something for them, something special. We all do. Give them a little taste right now.”

Setting lofty goals can be a good thing–the guy is dating Rihanna, after all–but Kemp has never hit even 30 homers. And while he has swiped 30-plus bases twice, Kemp has just 19 steals this season and has been caught stealing 15 times. In other words, don’t count on 30-30, let alone 40-40.

Also worth noting is that this isn’t the first time Kemp has talked himself up as a 40-40 candidate. In fact, it isn’t even the first time he’s done so with Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Here’s a similar exchange they had in March of 2009:

So will this be the year that Kemp puts up the kind of numbers that mirror his seemingly limitless ceiling? Can he hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases? “Sure,” he said. “I think I’m capable of doing something like that.”

Since then Kemp has 51 homers and 53 steals … in two seasons and 318 games.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.

Tigers to give Omar Infante some work in center field this spring

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 11:  Omar Infante #4 of the Detroit Tigers follows through on an RBI single scoring Prince Fielder #28 during the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field  on September 11, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
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Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.

Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.

The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”