So much for that mini-slump Matt Kemp was supposedly stuck in during the early-to-mid part of July, right? Kemp entered tonight having reached base ten times over his previous five games, including three doubles, and then outdid himself in the 9-5 win over Arizona by driving in the first five runs on a single and a three-run homer – in addition to a nice diving catch in the top of the 7th. How ridiculous is Kemp right now? After the catch, Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Heyman actually tweeted that as far as he’s concerned, the best player in baseball right now is either Kemp or Toronto’s Jose Bautista, who’s sporting a line of something like .682/.951/2.933. High praise indeed, even if it’s probably not accurate, almost enough to not make you want to cry when reading Ramona Shelburne’s account of how Ned Colletti’s hands are tied by the McCourt mess in signing Kemp to the long-term deal he so clearly deserves. (Speaking of which, the latest report is that those two idiots could spend nearly $35m in legal fees alone settling their divorce case. That’s a completely appropriate use for that kind of cash, isn’t it?)
While Kemp will get the accolades, and rightfully so, it’s important to note that even he can’t drive in five runs on two hits without a little bit of help, and for once, he wasn’t the only Dodger contributing. Six other Dodgers had hits with Juan Rivera and Aaron Miles each chipping in two (Rivera’s were both doubles), and Andre Ethier with three plus a hit-by-pitch.
Of course, all that offense was needed since Ted Lilly gave up two more homers (including one to Willie Bloomquist, which really should be a felony, right?), plus another from Matt Guerrier. Mike MacDougal, terrifyingly the new setup man with Kenley Jansen on the disabled list with an irregular heartbeat, managed to get through the 8th without trouble (as I joked on Twitter, one benefit of his new status is that he won’t have to come in with men on base), and Javy Guerra finished up in the 9th.
The win puts them to 12-11 in July with one game yet to go; they haven’t had a winning month so far in 2011, unless you count March’s 1-0. They’ve also won 11 of 17, which is quite an encouraging streak, and a credit to Don Mattingly, I believe. They’re also still 12.5 games back in the NL West and 13 back in the wild card, so let’s not get too carried away. Still, this team could have easily rolled over and died, and instead they’re showing us some life. We can take some solace in that, at least.
Roster notes: Josh Lindblom was recalled to take Jansen’s spot on the roster. Jansen is actually feeling well enough that he threw a bullpen session today, but due to the blood thinners he’s on, he’s not allowed to be in a position where he could get hit in the head. Casey Blake went 3-4 with a double in a rehab game tonight, and could take the spot of Juan Uribe, who may go on the DL thanks to a strained groin. Finally, because several of you asked last week, the reason Carlos Monasterios isn’t pitching in the minors is because he hurt his elbow so badly that he underwent Tommy John surgery this week. Don’t expect to see him in the bigs until 2013 at the earliest.
And when, oh when, will we be free of Eugenio Velez?
Fun as it was to see the offense show some life, let’s not pretend that tonight’s game is in any way more important or interesting than the rapidly-developing trade market, and all of the focus is shining squarely on Hiroki Kuroda, Jamey Carroll, and Rafael Furcal.
The other day, I said that I thought it was 70/30 that Kuroda would stay in Los Angeles, but I’m beginning to soften on that stance. As Ken Gurnick notes at dodgers.com, Kuroda could easily end the speculation by simply saying he’s not going to accept any trades. He hasn’t done that, which sounds like there is at least the possibility that he’ll take a deal that he likes. That plus the fact that Kuroda’s standing as the best starting pitcher available (I’m assuming Ubaldo Jimenez isn’t going anywhere) was enhanced by his nice start the other night allows for the chance that the Dodgers could get a decent prospect in return. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Yankees saw A.J. Burnett lose to Baltimore (despite 10 strikeouts) tonight and have a doubleheader to deal with tomorrow, either.
As for the infielders, a few days ago I thought it was all but certain that Carroll was gone, particularly when Milwaukee lost Rickie Weeks, but now I think that’s less likely. The Dodgers reportedly would consider trading either Carroll or Furcal, but not both. You can make the argument that that’s foolish – hint: it is – yet if it’s going to be one or the other, you’d have to think it’s Furcal. He’s the one who isn’t going to have a place to play when Dee Gordon returns in September. He’s the one who still has $4m on his contract, and he’s the one who is now drawing interest from several teams, including the Diamondbacks and the Cardinals. (And let’s not miss this opportunity to laugh at the Cardinals for needing to replace the woeful Ryan Theriot, because, ha.) For all the talk of how awful Furcal’s season has been, he does have eight hits in his last six games, including a double tonight, and when he’s healthy he’s certainly a contributor. So I do think he goes, and Carroll stays.
Of course, if it were up to me, they’d both go; Carroll certainly has value in this market. What’s the harm of playing Gordon every day at shortstop, and Miles splitting time at second and third with Blake and Ivan DeJesus until Uribe is healthy? That’ll get you through the season, and while I like Carroll, if you can get something for a guy who’s about to be 38, you do it.
Finally, the end of Gurnick’s trade report is worth reprinting, if only because he presented it with no additional comment:
I can think of a few inquiries there. None of them have anything to do with trades, though.