When you have a payroll that’s more than double what the average Major League Baseball team has, of course all eyes will be on you, expecting you to win and win going away.
This is the Los Angeles Dodgers in a nutshell.
Right now, the Dodgers have a payroll of over $220 million, which obliterates the majority of teams’ payrolls.
Numbers can go that high when you have three players – Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp – who are all making in excess of $20 million this coming season.
Add in newly acquired pitcher Zack Greinke’s $19 million salary, and you can see why expectations are so high in DodgerLand.
“I think there’s expectations there for sure,” pitcher Clayton Kershaw said. “I think anytime you’ve got this much talent in the room, there’s gotta be expectations to win, [and] that’s the sign of a good team.”
A one-two punch of Kershaw and Greinke – two former Cy Young winners no less – on the mound should give opponents fits this season.
“He’s a really good pitcher,” Kershaw said. “That’s gonna be a nice luxury to have. Just being around him and watching him pitch, it’s gonna be good.”
Greinke and Kershaw put in major work each and every season. They’re getting 32-33 starts and average well over 200 innings per season.
Kershaw knows, in order to be a winner in the majors, quality starting pitching is a must.
“If your starters are going deep into games, you like your chances, and that’s basically what it comes down to,” Kershaw said. “We got eight guys here, which is a luxury [that] not a lot of teams have, and if we can get six or seven strong out of our starters every night, then I like our chances.”
Last season the Dodgers finished 86-76 – eight games behind the eventual world champion San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
They held the division lead for 107 days, and at one point in the season held a 7.5 game lead, before things turned in a different direction for them.
With the Giants desire for a repeat, the Diamondbacks loading their pitching cannons up and the Rockies and Padres both wanting to rise, the Dodgers had to open up the checkbook and start making deals, and boy did they.
Bringing in Gonzalez, Crawford and Greinke, among others, let Kershaw, the rest of his teammates and Dodger Nation know that they are serious about winning a world championship this season.
“Our ownership has been incredible, they’ve backed up everything they said,” Kershaw said. “Not only getting players, [but] re-doing the stadium [and] dedicating a lot of time to the community too, so as a Dodger fan, I’d be really excited about what the ownership is trying to do.”
“There’s no excuses now, you just gotta go play,” Kershaw said.