Are the Dodgers Wasting Clayton Kershaw’s Prime?


Would the Dodgers Actually Waste Clayton Kershaw‘s Prime?

In a decidedly pessimistic column by the Los Angeles Time’s Dylan Hernandez, he points the finger at the Dodger’s front office for wasting the prime years of resident best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw. Hernandez then goes on to say that the front office has failed to see the opportunity to win while Kershaw is still under contract until at least 2018 when he can opt out of his contract, and have instead chosen to go for a slow-burning rebuild. Basically, the Dodgers are wasting his prime by not going all in now.

So that gets us to the real question. Is the prime of Clayton Kershaw’s career being wasted in favor of winning in the future? Nope.

If there’s one thing the Dodgers have done since Guggenheim bought the team, it’s spend money. They’ve spent more money on player’s salaries than any team in baseball over the last few years. Admittedly, not all of that was well spent, but that money was spent to do the exact thing Hernandez claims they’re giving up on, which is to win now. For the most part they’ve succeeded.

To accuse the Dodgers of wasting Kershaw’s prime is ignoring all the winning they’ve done over these past few seasons. If the Dodgers weren’t even playoff contenders the last few seasons there might be a case here, but they’ve won three straight division titles and should be right in the thick of the playoff hunt for the next few seasons.

Someone like Mets captain David Wright may have a real gripe in that department. Wright was on the short list of the best third baseman in baseball since his debut in 2004 and has turned in some real MVP caliber seasons. Now 33 years old and having been diagnosed with spinal stenosis last year, he has just two playoff appearances on his resumé. Coming off a World Series appearance last year, the Mets have as good a chance as anybody to win it all, but there’s no denying that Wright’s best years didn’t quite match up with the Mets’ best.

Compare that to Dodgers playoff appearances in five of Kershaw’s eight years in the majors. Kershaw’s situation doesn’t sound so bad huh?

So let’s get to the bottom of where he’s coming from. He claims the Dodgers “aren’t maximizing their chances of winning a World Series” because they’ve built depth instead of acquiring another ace. The Dodgers’ front office believes that by building that same depth they have maximized their chance to win. Really all this says is that the Dodgers, as currently constructed, aren’t the team that he personally wants to see.

Sure, it would have been nice to see Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and David Price/Johnny Cueto all wearing Dodger blue, but there’s no secret recipe for winning a World Series. Last year’s champion Kansas City Royals proved you don’t need an ace to win, just like the 2014 Nationals proved a super rotation isn’t a sure thing either.

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The Dodgers are in a little bit of uncharted territory in that they’re using the “Moneyball with money” approach,” but to say that they’re punting away Kershaw’s prime is a little shortsighted at best, and just not true at worst.