There’s nothing more annoying than fans of an otherwise awesome team obsessing on that team’s flaws. Or what the fans perceive to be flaws. They’re baseball’s version of First World Problems, really. The rest of us — who follow legitimately flawed teams — don’t really want to hear it.
This year it’s Yankees fans — driven by some media folks, actually — complaining that the Yanks are too home run-dependent. Never mind that they are clearly the best team in baseball and hold a ten-game lead in what is supposed to be the toughest division in the game. They hit too many home runs, the argument goes, and if they want to go far in the playoffs, they have to learn to manufacture runs.
Today Ken Davidoff of the New York Post examines that bit of wisdom. And finds that, really, there isn’t anything to the notion that a team has to play a certain brand of baseball in order to win the World Series. Check it out.
It may be frustrated to see your powerful sluggers mowed down in the postseason and I suppose it’s understandable to then think that a team built around the longball is doomed come October. But the fact is that the postseason is short, stuff happens and complaining that your team hits too many home runs to win a World Series is just nothing anyone wants to hear.
The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.
Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.
Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.