Los Angeles Dodgers should blame Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier for slow start

By Matthew Muench
Mark J. Rebilas- USA Today Sports

It was not supposed to start out this way for the Los Angeles DodgersThey spent all that dough. They added all those stars. The dynasty was supposed to begin.

So far, so bad.

30 games into the young 2013 season, the Dodgers sit in last place in the National League West, a division they have gone a putrid 5-14 against this season. Even the minor league-looking San Diego Padres sport a better record.

So who is to blame?

Manager Don Mattingly or new hitting coach Mark McGwire are easy targets, but I hate blaming a manager or coach for a team who can’t hit or pitch in tough situations.

Most Dodgers fans wants to blame injuries. Sure, they have hurt Dodgertown, but Band-Aids and braces are part of the game. The New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves have spent just as much time on the disabled list and they still sport better records than the Boys in Blue.

The solution to the blame game is simple: Enter Mr. GQ Matt Kemp and Mr. Softspoken Andre Ethier.

The pair of Dodgers outfielders are the longest-tenured position players on the team. They should be the leaders. They should be the stars. They should be living up to the big contracts they signed last year. But, through the first month of the season, they have shown no signs of doing any of those things.

Kemp, who once spouted he would be a 50-home run, 50-stolen base player, has just one home run in 117 at-bats. Ethier has just three in 108.

It gets worse. It’s no secret the Dodgers have been terrible as a team with runners in scoring position, but point the biggest finger at Kemp and Ethier. The former is hitting .176 (6-for-34) and the latter is batting .133 (4-for-30) with runners on second or third this season. They also have combined to strikeout 19 times during those crucial situations.

Both sluggers built on those numbers once again during Monday’s loss in the series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Down 3-2 in the third inning, the Dodgers had runners on first and second with nobody out. Kemp proceeded to ground out into a fielder’s choice. His partner in crime followed with an inning-ending double play. So long, momentum.

During the team’s five-game losing streak, Ethier and Kemp are just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position with one RBI.

We keep hearing that Kemp and Ethier will start to hit. “The bats will start to come around,” we hear.

Well. Talking is for Spring Training.

They better hurry up. It will be June in no time, and the way the two Dodger vets are playing could doom the Dodgers in 2013.

Follow Matthew Muench on Twitter @MatthewMuench

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