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.”
“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.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.