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Sunday Mail: It's hard to figure Matt Kemp would have a healthy outlook with Red Sox

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  November 23, 2013 02:48 PM

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No time for formal introductions today. Gotta get to Gillette. So let's zip down and see what we have in ...

kempmattfinn1124.jpgTHE MAILBOX

The Matt Kemp rumors have me super intrigued. He'd have to be a corner OF at this point, but at a decent cost of acquisition and with L.A. picking up some of the cost, seems like a great semi-gamble, yes?
-- Mike Hazen

Man, as a baseball fan, I really like Kemp. He might have been the game's best all around player in 2011 (39 HRs, 40 steals, .324/.399/.586, NL MVP runner-up to cheatin' heart Ryan Braun), and he was even better in the first month of the '12 season (12 HRs. 25 RBIs, .417/.490/.893 in 23 games).

He's sure as hell not the worst boyfriend Rihanna ever had, and he seems to have matured in his late 20s into a genuinely decent teammate and person.

For instance, this happened in May after he'd just made the final out in a loss to the Giants:

winfielddavefinn1124.jpgHow do you not like that guy? And how do you not like a ballplayer who at his best made that easy Dave Winfield comparison irresistible and fun. Who, other than George Steinbrenner and maybe Howie Spira, wouldn't want another Dave Winfield?

But that's the catch, of course: At his best. Kemp was remarkably durable, missing just 11 games from 2008-11. But he suffered a serious hamstring injury in May 2012, and the injuries haven't relented since. He injured his shoulder and knee crashing into a wall at Coors Field that August. He required offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum, and the aftereffects carried over into last season, possibly contributing to his stunning power-outage (six home runs, a .359 slugging percentage that was lower than every 2013 Red Sox starter, including Stephen Drew and Jose Iglesias.)

And we haven't even mentioned the July ankle injury, which lingered and eventually led to the Dodgers doctors shutting him down during a run to the postseason with the grim suggestion that further injury could cause chronic and career-altering problmes.

I hope he makes it back to what he was. I do. Matt Kemp is good for baseball. But I can't convince myself he'd be good for the Red Sox.

Given his plague of serious injuries -- not to mention the six years and $126 million remaining on his contract -- he strikes me as too much of a risk, the kind of player and contract that the ridiculous cash-burning Dodgers acquire rather than deal.

bradleyjackiefinn1124.JPGI don't really understand the hesitation in going with Jackie Bradley Jr. in CF this season. He's a top 50 prospect and is already a better defensive CF than Jacoby Ellsbury. Do you think the Sox will give him the job?
-- Lee

I don't think it's a hesitation, Lee. They believe in him, even if there's some sentiment that it might take him awhile to adjust offensively, since that's been his pattern through the minors. What they're doing is taking the prudent approach -- before anointing him the 2014 Opening Day starter, they're weighing all options and doing their due diligence in terms of checking the price tag and availability on other outfielder who could be assets. (Which is pretty much all they were doing with Kemp, I suspect.) This team is set up to make a blockbuster should one cross Ben Cherington's desk that he cannot pass up.

Bradley is going to be a very good player, one of those guys like Bill Mueller -- someone you appreciate more the more often you watch him play. At his peak, he'll give you genuine Gold Glove defense (he is better than Ellsbury now, and that's not hyperbole), with a .400-ish OBP and a 12-15 homers and another 12-15 steals.

If he hits the Bill James projection in 2014 -- .248/.329/.420 with 15 homers and 61 walks -- you have a pretty decent everyday center field and No. 9 hitter. But there's no harm in finding out if a better option for next season maybe even the long-term is out there for the taking. That's what they should do.

Am I stuck with John Dennis for the long haul? Did the addition of Kirk Minihane save JD?
-- Matt

Unless he officially goes to work for Foxwoods, yes. Kirk has undoubtedly made that show better -- he's genuinely funny, whereas before the humor was almost entirely mean-spirited, and he stands up to John and Gerry Callahan, which changed the dynamic in a good way.

But you know what saved John? The backlash to Glenn Ordway getting fired. It was overwhelming, somehow they didn't expect it, and there was great fear of an advertiser exodus.

John was in serious danger of getting dumped during spring training, but the Ordway fallout was a major reason they decided against it.

John does sell authoritatively, longtime advertisers appreciate him, and that show A) makes money for Entercom and B) has had a nice bump in the ratings the last few months.

Felger was right about the end of the Carolina game. You shouldn't expect to be bailed out on a play that had very little chance of converting. They need to play better, bottom line.
-- Todd

They do need to play better. But they weren't expecting to be bailed out. They were expecting their receiver to have a chance at making a play on a ball in the end zone with three seconds remaining.

The fact that they played mediocre football for some of the game against a very good Carolina team has nothing to do with what they "deserve" on the last play. They aren't mutually exclusive concepts.

I hate this argument. It's a dishonest attempt to deliberately agitate fans who don't understand why the flag was picked up when Luke Kuechly was obviously, desperately impeding Rob Gronkowski's chance of making a play.

(Yes, it wasn't a great pass by Tom Brady, and maybe Robert Lester beats Gronk to the ball. Still: Sport Science is with me.)

You know what any team in that situation deserves, whether it's the '72 Dolphins or the 2008 Lions? They deserve to have the play called correctly no matter how well or poorly they played in the preceding 59 minutes and 57 seconds. For a brief moment, it looked like they would have that chance.

Then the flag vaporized into thin air, the zebras ran for the hills, and the pundits spent the next few days contorting the truth to make sure the phones kept ringing.

Until next week, the mailbox is closed. Exit music, please.

Unless they've drowned in a puddle of vomit and vodka or something, it's rare that you can pinpoint the precise moment when a rock star's career as a viable act ends. But in the case of Billy Squier, it's obvious -- it's the moment he agreed that channeling Jennifer Beals in "Flashdance" with the camera running was something that might be fun.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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