Los Angeles Dodgers: What to Do with Matt Kemp?

Richard Leivenberg@@richiemarketingContributor IIIMay 27, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 25: Base runner Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers squats a first base in the fifth inning during a pitching change by the St Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on May 25, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The pain in Matt Kemp's shoulder has spread to the Los Angeles Dodgers fans who have had to watch him play this season.

When Manager Don Mattingly took the struggling superstar out of the lineup the other day, it was a relief for the fans as much as for the team.

Batting .260, his .343 is the lowest slugging percentage for any starter on the team. Kemp has become but a shadow of the stellar performer of years past. He has only two homers and one of them barely made it over the fence in a game against the NY Mets earlier this season. 

Kemp seems powerless in so many ways.

As to what ails Kemp, it is hard to say.  Some blame his shoulder surgery and lack of full recovery.

As the Dodgers remain mired in last place in the NL West, it is clear that Mattingly's move to bench Kemp is the right one.  On Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals, he was hitless in six at-bats and then struck out four times on Saturday.

The Dodgers .366 team average puts them second to last in slugging percentage just behind the equally woeful Miami Marlins and Kemp is at the heart of the problem.

Everyone in baseball is aware of the expectations surrounding the Dodgers, who picked up Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez to bat alongside sluggers Andre Ethier and Kemp.  Currently, Ramirez is on the DL again, Ethier is batting .253 with only four homers and only Gonzalez, with a .321 average and a team-leading 36 RBI, is living up to his reputation.

It was only last year that he was leading the league in slugging and seemingly on his way to another MVP-quality season when he got injured running into a wall. The injury eventually led to surgery.

So, what to do with Kemp? What the heck is wrong with him? Why does he seem so clueless at the plate? Where has his home run power gone? 

Those questions have yet to be answered. Sitting him is only a temporary fix. Perhaps he should go on the DL and get into a strenuous rehab to strengthen his body.

Maybe they should bat him eighth in the line-up and make him bunt people over until he gets back to his old self.

What happens next is anyone's guess.