What went wrong with Matt Kemp?
He lost aggressiveness, struck out more often than usual, struggled with high heat, was aimless on stolen base attempts and played far from sound defense. He didn't respond to attempts to motivate him. Kemp, in short, sucked. For Kemp. What are the positive signs? For starters, Rihanna is out of the picture. Kemp is, in fact, human (although, perhaps, Rihanna is not); how she did and does affect the slugger-swiper is privileged info.
New skipper Don Mattingly is more of a disciplinarian than predecessor Joe Torre. Kemp's outlandish physical ability seems to overshadow his need for direction and tough love. The outfielder should also mesh with first base coach Davey Lopes, whose wisdom made the Philadelphia Phillies one of baseball's most efficient base-running teams for four years. And let's not forget, Kemp belted a career-high 28 bombs and drove in 89. Good time to buy.
How likely is Jonathan Broxton to remain Hollywood's closer?
It's the grizzly-like right-hander's job to lose in spring training. To blame for his 2010 struggles: loss of velocity (and K/9 dip), physical ailments, loss of confidence, straighter stuff, etc., etc., etc. Unfortunately, those things are interdependent; some are nothing new.
Broxton hasn't always shown a stomach for closing. There's no news yet of his rededication. He could be a free agent after this year. And the Dodgers have potential alternatives in Hong-Chih Kuo and Kenley Jansen, among others.
Fortunately, the draft stock of a reliever with Broxton's ability probably won't be great. Kuo has a long injury history and may end up being LA's only lefty reliever. Jansen has far too little experience and too many problems with command to thrust him into the role. Broxton, 26, should have awhile to prove that he's unworthy. Where he goes from there is mostly a guess.
Is that the best we're going to get from Chad Billingsley?
The right-hander has frustrated some fantasy owners who expected more and more after he posted great earned run and strikeout marks per nine in 2007 and 2008. Unfortunately, the transition to full-time major league starter, at least mentally, has been gradual. It might also be nearing completion.
Billingsley, 26, cited a mental shift he made - just let it go - sometime in the 2010 campaign's first month as the turning point. His post-break work (3.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) can attest to that. He began inducing more grounders and going a bit deeper in his starts. Walks will remain a nagging issue, but his increased fortitude should lead to yet another step forward in 2011.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570. Follow @NicholasMinnix
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