Matt Kemp is optimistic about the San Diego Padres’ outfield. From Lyle Spencer at MLB.com:
“Who,” he said, “do you think has the best outfield in the game now?”
The visitor gave it some thought before nominating the American League champion Royals for defensive purposes and the Pirates or Marlins for all-around excellence.
Kemp shook his head. “No,” he said, firmly. “It’s right here. Right here in San Diego. You can write it down — and print it.”
Optimism is good. As is the offensive potential of Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp.
Earlier in his career Upton showed flashes of an MVP-caliber bat and, even if he hasn’t lived up to that, he is a dangerous hitter and serious power threat. Myers was off last year but is just a year removed from a Rookie of the Year campaign and extreme promise as a prospect. Kemp, of course, needs no introduction. He easily could’ve and maybe should’ve been the MVP a few years ago and, after getting healthy last year, put up a second half which quieted a lot of people who said he had fallen off. If all of thee of these guys hit to their potential, it could be an amazing group at the plate.
Of course, offense is only one part of the equation and forgetting that outfields play defense as well as hit is kind of a problem for the purposes of this exercise.
Kemp’s hips and legs are his weakness and he is now a far below-average defensive outfielder, coming in at -23 in Defensive Runs Saved last year. Myers was at -7 and has very little experience as a center fielder, having spent most time in right. Upton, though statistically the best of the three at 0.0 in Defensive Runs Saved, has never been all that good himself with the leather. It’s also worth noting that Petco Park has a LOT of ground to cover.
So, the best outfield in baseball? I’d have to say no, because running down fly balls and cutting balls off in the gap to hold batters to singles instead of doubles is a pretty big damn part of the game. Especially in a pitchers’ park. Especially in a run-starved era. For that reason I’d take the Marlins, Nationals or Pirates outfield over San Diego’s. And I’d even go so far to say that, if I were a betting man, I’d bet that we’ll see more commentary this summer about the problem of the Padres’ defense than we will see about the Padres’ outfield driving San Diego towards greatness.
This could be a Best Shape of His Life story. Hard to say. But Mark Teixeira is certainly feeling better than he has in a long while:
New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is now gluten free, sugar free and dairy free, which he hopes will keep him injury free.
Teixeira’s belief in his new diet and renewed weightlifting program makes him believe that he can stay fully healthy for the first time since 2011. If he does, Teixeira thinks he can be a 30-homer and 100-RBI player again . . . “The way I feel now, I feel like a kid again. I feel like I did a few years ago when I was hitting 30-plus homers and driving in 100 RBIs, playing almost every single day.
He has gained 13 pounds of muscle and eliminated body fat, he says. Given that his injuries the past two season have mostly stemmed from a freak swing during spring training 2013 that caused a wrist injury I’m not sure that being in shape has a ton to do with things, but given all the time off he’s had and the two extra years on the odometer, being in shape is obviously a good idea.
After linking out the first three entries of Jorge Arangure’s wonderful Cuba Diaries over at Vice, I somehow missed one. There are now five total. You can read all of them here. The two latest entries:
1. Baseball may actually be dying in Cuba. At least Jorge thinks so. Why? Kids like soccer more. And baseball’s structure is so strict and formalized, it is losing out to the new and the cool, two commodities that are and will continue to be in increasing supply in Cuba; and
2. Carlos Tabares: the Cuban Derek Jeter. A big star in Cuban baseball in the 1990s 2000s who is still playing today. But a star who, at 40, is too old to have taken advantage of the opportunities now opening up for the Yoan Moncadas and Yasiel Puigs of the world. In this he reflects and entire generation of Cuban people — people in their 40s and 50s — who experienced the nadir of Cuba’s economy and will be too old to truly take advantage of the New Cuba, whatever that ends up looking like.
Like the three other installments of this series, these two are not to be missed.
Adam Lind isn’t even on the Blue Jays anymore — he plays for the Brewers now — but he suspects that the Blue Jays’ clubhouse will be a happier place next season. Specifically because Colby Rasmus is gone:
“They haven’t changed the culture of the clubhouse,” said Adam Lind — traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in November. “They’re my friends, but the guys who still run it are still there. Jose Bautista is the voice among position players and Mark Buehrle runs the starting pitchers.
“There might be a few more smiles with Colby gone.”
You know, Adam: if there are more smiles in Toronto, do you have any guarantee that it’s not because you’re gone?
Well, probably not. Rasmus has been a pretty unpopular guy in two different clubhouses now, so perhaps there’s a legit point here.
(Thanks to Rik for the heads up)
If you had asked me to bet the lives of my children on which big league hitter would be the first one to complain about the new rule requiring that a batter keep his foot in the box after each pitch, I would have said “David Ortiz.”
Mookie and Carlo, you live to see another day:
That comment came in a presser that just happened down in Fort Myers. They were followed up by Ortiz saying that he uses the time after each pitch to contemplate the next pitch.
Which, sure. But that’s a habit, not a necessity, as batters didn’t start doing that after each pitch until relatively recently. I assume that, unless he enjoys paying out $500 fines on the regular, Ortiz will change his habits in this regard.