Matt Kemp plans to be the first member of the 50/50 club

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Everyone’s gotta have a goal. Mine was get a job where I didn’t have to wear pants one day, and dadgummit, I did it. Matt Kemp’s is somewhat less grand: he wants to be the first member of the 50/50 club:

“I know what I’m capable of doing,” he said. “I’ve shown it.”

Fifty-fifty? Really?

“Man,” he said, “I believe in myself to the most. I have confidence I can achieve it. I try to set my expectations as high as I can. I think I’m capable of doing it.”

Obviously it’s never smart to bet on someone doing something that has never been done, but good for him for aiming high. Especially after securing that huge contract over the offseason. Kemp sounds like someone not content to rest on what may have been a career year in 2011 and motivation is a good thing to have.

Here’s a question, though: which of the 50s — homers or stolen bases — are more likely?

I’d have to say stolen bases. Partially because of the big parks in his division. Partially because of the lack of other threats in the Dodgers’ lineup resulting in fewer good pitches to hit. Partially because he’s come closer to stealing 50 in a season before — 40 last year — than he has to hitting 50 homers in a season before — 39 last season. He averages 26 homers per 162 games in his career while averaging 30 steals.

And one final thing: if 50 stolen bases is really his goal, it’s another reason — aside from all of the reasons Matthew listed last night — for Kemp to bat cleanup.  Way easier to steal bases when you lead off the second inning as opposed to batting third in the first. And given who Don Mattingly plans on batting first and second, Kemp, batting third, would be up with two down in the first an awful lot.

The Yankees attendance and revenue is down, but it makes sense

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There’s a long article in the New York Times today noting that the Yankees attendance is down and that, based on financial figures released as part of their stadium bond disclosures, ticket and suite revenues through last season have fallen by $166 million since the end of 2009.

There is a lot of talk in the article about the exciting young team the Yankees have put together and how much they’ve won so far in the early going. And there is a lot of talk about marketing and demographics — Hal Steinbrenner talks about baseball’s “millennial problem” — but the story of the Yankees’ box office issues, such as they are, is pretty straightforward.

All teams suffer attendance and revenue decline when they play poorly. While the Yankees have not been bad for a long, long time, that’s a somewhat relative thing. They Yankees have sold themselves and sold their fans on the idea that nothing short of a championship is acceptable, so missing the playoffs for three of the past four years is bad for them. Fans don’t want to go see a bad team, be it Yankees fans, Rays fans, Royals fans or whoever.

Despite the recent lack of success, the Yankees have still, perversely, continued to price their tickets, concessions, parking and everything else as though they’re the only game in town. When demand falls and prices remain super high, fewer people are buying your product. Even if you’re the New York Yankees.

The Yankees are good this year. What’s more, they’re good in that exciting way that only young promising players bursting out onto the scene can deliver. It’s a wonderful thing for marketing and stuff, but even under the best of circumstances, ticket sales tend to lag on field success, often by as much as a year. Go back and look at World Series winning teams — especially the surprise winners — and you’ll see that it’s the year after on-field success when the real attendance bumps happen. I expect, if the Yankees continue to play well, their gate will get really nice by the end of the summer, but I suspect we’ll also see a more dramatic bump next year.

Taken all together, this is a dog-bites-man story. The Yankees are not some transcendent institution, immune from market forces. They’re just one of 30 Major League Baseball teams competing against other entertainments for a finite amount of the public’s money and attention. Nothin’ to see here.

David Price had a rocky rehab start last night

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Red Sox starter David Price has been rehabbing a left elbow injury since early March. Last night he made his latest rehab outing for Triple-A Pawtucket. It didn’t go well.

Price allowed six runs — three earned — on seven hits in three and two-thirds innings, requiring 89 pitches to do it. His velocity was good, but otherwise it was a night to forget. This was supposed to be Price’s last rehab start before returning to the Sox’ big league rotation, but one wonders if he’s ready for it.

Price didn’t talk to the media after the game, but Pawtucket’s manager said he was “upbeat” and “felt good.” For his part, John Farrell, upon hearing about the outing, said this:

“There’s no announcement at this point. We’ve got to sit with him and talk about what’s best for him, best for us as we move forward.”

The Sox could really use Price back in the rotation given their injury problems, but rushing him back if he’s not ready is certainly not ideal.

Stay tuned.