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Selling the Farm to Keep Clayton Kershaw could be Unwise

Clayton Kershaw, the (dare I say it?) diminishing Dodgers’ ace, has hit the disabled list again, for the third consecutive season. This time it’s the 10-day DL, for left biceps tendonitis. The best spin the team could put on this dreaded development was Dodgers manager Dave Roberts declaring they are “cautiously optimistic”.

“Cautiously optimistic” is how I would approach the debate that’s swirled around Kershaw’s possible free agency  at the end of this season. Fans, bloggers and reporters have opined endlessly on the steps the Dodgers should take when that day comes – many favoring plans and budgetary moves by the Dodgers’ front office geared toward retaining Kershaw, no matter the cost.

I’ve never dove into those debates. The most I’ve done is say we should all wait until we see how this season goes for the thirty-year old. I figure most fans still see Kershaw as they’ve always seen him – as the best pitcher on the planet, the eternal winner, the best of a generation. I’ve seen him in all of those roles myself, but less so since he hit the disabled list last year (his second season in a row at the time) and since his home runs allowed numbers have been on the steady rise.

Although the season is young, the home run bug is once again rearing its ugly head, and has bit Kershaw more times than I’m comfortable with. Last season he surrendered 23 dingers, the most of his career. In just the first month of this season, he’s already given up seven. That would be a pace of something like 35-45 homers. Things aren’t exactly looking better on that front.

In 2016 Kershaw missed two months of the season with a herniated disc in his back. Last season he was out for six weeks, again because of a bad back. Yes, Kershaw bounced back from both injuries and went on to be a solid leader in the rotation, but here we are – receiving news he’s going on he DL for the third time in a row. Test results have come back tonight from Kershaw’s MRI, and media is quickly filling up with folks telling us this is a minor thing that can be worked out with a small injection, some massage and a glass of warm milk.

I hope that is exactly how everything will play out, but I simply can’t ignore the fact “Kershaw the pitching god” has become “Kershaw the exceptionally good at pitching human” – who’s injured every year. I figure it’s even money at best that he doesn’t hit the DL again this season.

All of that said, keep your pitchforks in the barn and the tar and feathers packed up for another day. Go ahead and read twice, you won’t find me saying anywhere in this article that Kershaw is done for and the Dodgers should just let him walk away. I’m not being a fatalist here, but one thing I am, is a realist. The man’s body is older and the concerns about injury and performance are legitimate and worthy of some good old wait and see caution.

If Kershaw doesn’t opt out and chooses to remain a Dodger, he’s due to be paid just over 30 million dollars over the next two seasons. That’s not exactly chump change, but more than a few folks think he’ll pass on that and check his value on the open market. While it’s fun to speculate on how much he might fetch in a free agent bidding war, I don’t embrace the idea the Dodgers organization should throw every available dollar (and then some) on a new multiple-year contract for a player who’s best and healthiest pitching days just might be behind him.


Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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Oscar Martinez
I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

41 thoughts on “Selling the Farm to Keep Clayton Kershaw could be Unwise

  1. Well, unless he can turn what has been a very disappointing month around, he might not have all that many offers next year. He could still opt out, but is any team going to pay him more than the 30 mil he will get in LA if he is not the guy he was? That I think is wishful thinking. I also think he will check in with the FO and see what their plan is for 2019. Of course if he and the Dodgers recover miraculously and win it all, he may move on anyway. The offense is so spotty it is unreal. It looked Saturday like Chris Taylor was on the right track, and then today he stunk up the joint. Kike has no business hitting near the top of the order. Kemp had 2 hits, but no one was on. Barnes had a hit and then hit the ball hard twice and ended up with nothing. His last at bat was pitiful as he looked at 3 right down the pipe and struck out looking. I was taught that with 2 strikes you protect the plate. Austin left 5 men on base. But todays loss is once again on that so called deep bullpen. They really do suck. Does anyone really think Danny Espinosa will help the offense at all???? Another brilliant FAZMANIAN move… thing he has done so far is not trade Matt Kemp.

  2. By the way, did anyone see the replay of the injury to Yadier Molina yesterday>? That was painful to watch. Yadier was hit in the groin just below where his cup was and required surgery. That had to frippen hurt.

  3. By the way, Espinosa made his debut at OKC today, played SS and went 0-4 with 2 strikeouts. Alexander got the win, and Schlitter got his 8th save. Might be time to call up Banuelos and Venditte….Banuelos is 4-0 and Venditte is 2-0. Both with sub 1 WHIP’s and sub 2 ERA’S.

  4. Next man up on the depth chart. Banuelos or Venditte. Probably too early for the AA talent.

    Danny Espinosa? Why?

    Harvey to the Giants rumor is interesting. He could find his 96 mph fastball again there.

    Kershaw is still owed the rest of this year, and $65 million more after that. So….. around $85 million. He’s been on the DL 3 years running. I read it’s “only” biceps, no indication it’s anything more serious. Ok. Hip. Then back. Now arm. I think it may be time to accept he has become just what FAZ looks for. I’m still thinking that the next FAZ innovation will be set forth out of necessity – the 6 man rotation. That extra day could be what saves a career or two, not to mention a season.

    1. I believe that totally. How many truly MLB ready players are behind what is on the roster? What AAA player if any is ready to make a contribution? How much can they expect from Urias? A former #1 in the organization who has pitched very little over the last 2 years due to injury. I think they are dreaming if they believe he is going to contribute very much at all.

    2. That was information overload.


      Whomever designed their site’s UX should be sent to the Gulag.

      1. Huh? You’ve got a sweet tooth for information. You put information on your corn flakes in the morning. You are Bluto, the SABR truth tiger. You are also the resident FAZophant. I expected you to analyze that site and tell us the plan.

  5. Newest power rankings have us at 21.

    Holy crap. From World Series favorites to 21 in a few short weeks. Don’t they know about our depth? Apparently not. Or…. maybe so……

    Depth is an illusion. 40’ at Lake Tahoe looks shallower than 4’ at Lake Elsinore. What that has to do with anything I have no idea.

  6. Where Kershaw has the soreness, a TJ surgery could happen soon, or something else.

    We can’t really trust what the Dodgers or the front office says, about any of the player’s health.

    We have played better before, after Kershaw went out, so if they can start playing with a little emotion, they could turn this around.

    But maybe the players are disappointed like the fans are, that this front office didn’t do much of anything, to try to improve this team this year.

    They could have spent money on Morrow and paid some of the penalty of the luxury tax.

    But they sure didn’t act like they were worried about the luxury tax, when they paid Forsythe’s option, and when they didn’t take Joc to arbitration

    With Espinosa, he is a decent defensive shortstop and second baseman, but like I already said, his defensive numbers at short, were not that good last year.

    Taylor is a better defensive center fielder, then shortstop according to the numbers.

    We all know why they signed Espinosa, because he was cheap, and desperate to add on to a team, and they are keeping him around, as a back up.

    But we don’t need a strike out machine, and he is that too!

    If Kershaw does opt out, and he asks for a substantial raise, I don’t think we should resign him.

    Because Kershaw has not delivered on his part in the post season, and that is very important with a pitcher, especially a pitcher for the Dodgers.

    That is why Orel and Fernando are so beloved, by Dodger fans.

  7. MJ
    Don’t worry MJ Kersh will turn it around. I think Kersh is beloved too. I don’t know if Kersh will opt out if he doesn’t do well the rest of the year or remains hurt.

    1. I’m still looking at a 6 man rotation for this year. Buehler, Kershaw and Urias are half of it, Maeda, Wood, Hill, Ryu, Stripling, Stewart, Banuelos, and our deadline pickup are the other half.

    2. Package

      I hope everything turns out like you want, because you have been through enough this year, already.

  8. I think Fernando is loved by Dodger fans, Orel. not so much. He has tarnished a lot of what he did with his inane patter on TV. You read twitter and a lot of Dodger fans wish he would just go away. Koufax is the most revered of Dodger pitchers. And it is well deserved. He faced better lineups. Kershaw as good as he is, is no Sandy Koufax. Today’s players are free swingers and strikeout a lot. My biggest gripe is that other than the years he was paired with Greinke, the Dodgers have not had a true #2 behind the guy. He has been the one to stop losing streaks. He has had more pressure on him during his career than most of the other pitchers who have been on the roster the same time as he simply because of the expectations placed on him. Kershaw may be one of the best of his era, but he is no superman. Without a decent bullpen his innings can be perfect and they still lose. Last year he started surrendering more homers than he ever had before, and the trend continues. I think his post season lack of success has no impact with his standing with the fans. You read any blog, he is as popular as ever and still considered by some as the best pitcher on the planet. Now the injury bug has hit him again. I also read where he had been pitching with this soreness more than once. If anything his competitiveness has cost him. He gets too amped up. Injury’s are your body telling you that you have gone too far. Pitchers today are expensive commodities. Teams are not going to risk losing players long term for the amount of money they are doling out. The bottom line is that the Dodgers over the last few years have essentially placed all their eggs in Kershaw’s basket. As goes Clayton, so go the Dodgers. The last 2 seasons they have stepped up, but remember they were not in the hole they are in now. When they lost Kersh last year they were solidly in the lead. Same the year before. How they respond will be a real picture of what kind of team they are. So far they look nothing like a contender. Puig will be back Wednesday…..Forsythe soon after that and hopefully Turner by the end of the month.

    1. Most of the older guys recognize that no Dodger pitcher will do what Koufax did. Who knows how long he could have lasted in a 5 man rotation. He wouldn’t have had 54 complete games in two years. Maybe only 44. Hell, Don Sutton won more games and struck out more hitters than Kershaw has or will. And I don’t want to hear wins don’t count. They usta did and we are talking all time here. All time best Dodgers pitchers depends how old you are. I got Koufax, Kershaw at 1&2 with Dazzy Vance, Sutton, Drysdale tied for third, Herhiser and Fernando 4th and 5th followed by Newcombe and Grimes. Gagne would be #10.

      1. Badger

        The reason pitchers wins meant something with Koufax, is because Koufax didn’t have much of an offense, around him.

        But pitchers wins, are to often based on run support, not how well, each pitcher, pitched.

        1. “But pitchers wins, are to often based on run support, not how well, each pitcher, pitched.“

          Not Koufax’s. In 12 years he had a career 2.76 ERA. His last 3 years, when he had 69 complete games and 882 IP, (just think about those numbers a second) his ERA was 1.74, 2.04 and 1.73. You don’t need a lot of runs when your pitcher does that. Kershaw never came anywhere near those numbers in his prime. He is now the same age Koufax was when Sandy threw 323 innings of 1.73 ERA.

          1. Badger

            That’s the thing with Koufax , he was just so dominant, he actually almost won most of his games, on his own.

            Our current Dodgers could learn a lot from those teams in the 60s, when it comes to having a productive offense too.

    2. Michael

      I don’t like him as an anouncer either, but he is beloved, in fact, almost as much as Fernando, and Kershaw.

      And no one thinks Kershaw is in Koufax’s class, when it comes to dominance, especially dominance in the post season.

      In fact, a lot of Dodger fans cringe every time Orel calls Kershaw the best pitcher, in all of baseball.

      Sorry Package.

      1. Personally I think they should have gone with Daron Sutton and Nomar. Or Kennedy. Monday wasn’t bad. Orel is not good.

        1. Badger

          I rather have Nomar, because it is hard for him, to not say his truth.

          And he has not been out of the game so long, like Monday, but I rather have Monday then Orel.

          Joe and Orel’s little back and forth, gets boring, and makes a boring game, even longer.

          1. I like Nomar. Info from a hitters perspective. Orel knows a lot about pitching, obviously, but his corn can cause cringing. He’s not funny, not particularly clever either. Not sure how he got the job really. You know who is all of what l look for in an analyst – both ex giants – Brenly and Krukow.

      2. I for one do not see that. I don’t see a lot of Hershiser jerseys around, not nearly as many as Fernando, and they spent almost as many years out of a Dodger uni. Plus the fact the Hershiser played for the Giants which automatically tarnishes his image. Fernando was a much better pitcher than Hershiser in my book. If anyone likes Hershiser they are fans of the 88 team because he was the reason they won. But he is not on my list of great Dodgers. I put both Podres and Osteen ahead of him. Podres was a member of 3 World Championship teams. Hershiser only won 135 games in a Dodger uni.

        1. Michael

          When the LA Times did the article on the top Dodgers, Orel was right up there.

          But like I said, I don’t like him for an anouncer.

          He talks to much at times too.

          1. They have always tainted their picks towards LA Dodgers. Osteen won 147 games in LA. Podres won 136 as a Dodger and was the winning pitcher in game 7 against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium in 1955. Dazzy Vance and Drysdale have higher career WAR’s than Kershaw. Hershiser is 7th on that list. But is he beloved by the fans? I really do not think so. Nap Rucker has a higher WAR than Orel. Funny thing about Rucker who spent 10 years with Brooklyn. From 1907 to 1913 he won in double figures 7 years in a row, but only had a winning record in 1911 when he went 22-18. His last 3 years he was 18-11. In all those years his ERA was over 3 only once. 1914 it was 3.39. It is all in ones perception and how much you feel he provided to your team. I saw a list of the 10 all time Dodger pitchers and Jerry Ruess was # 10. Not hardly. Preacher Roe had one of the best seasons ever by a Dodger starter. He went 22-3 in 1951 when he was 35 years old. Here is another thing, Orel only really had 2 good seasons as a Dodger. The other years he was either below .500 or just at .500. He actually pitched better after he left. He had 3 seasons over .500 as a Dodger

    3. Michael

      In 2016 we were 8 game back, of the Giants, after the Allstar break, when Kershaw went out.

      1. You are right and I was wrong…..Valera sent back to OKC……and the roster carousel goes round and round….question gang…which 2 guys go down when Hill and Puig come back??? Hill tomorrow, Puig on Wednesday

          1. Muncy and Hudson.
            Stewart and Verdugo.
            Locastro, Stewart, Paredes and Hudson. Bring up Banuelos and Venditte
            Idon’t Knoe and Nordu Ikare

        1. LA fans MJ…LA fans. And I do not read the Times. Dodger fans do not just live in LA. I prefer some of the pitchers from Brooklyn much more. And I reiterate the fact that a majority of his seasons as a Dodger Orel was nothing more than a .500 pitcher. To me that is not a summit of excellence that makes a player beloved. Just because a bunch of fans chooses you as one of the top 10 does not make you anything more than popular with fans…does not mean that they adore you…Garvey is one of those who fans think should be in the Hall….His numbers say otherwise.

  9. I wish I spoke Spanish better. I’ve always heard from my Latino friends that the Spanish commentary has been superb over the years.

    1. You listen to the Spanish speaking announcers and it is almost like listening to a song.

  10. Like I said last season’s beginning, Joe Davis has a pizzazz of a wet washrag.

    1. No one can replace Vinny, but Frances the talking mule would be more entertaining than Hershiser and Davis..

  11. Package

    I checked out the stats on the MLB place like you wanted me to.

    I didn’t even realize Kemp’s average was so high after this last series.

    I know he was hitting 300 plus, but your right, he would rank second on there, if he had enough at bats.

    I really like Mookie Betts a lot.

    I couldn’t believe how high he is hitting, along with the 13 HRs he has already hit, this year.

    He is a complete player.

    I don’t think Roberts will be pulling Kemp so soon in games anymore.

    Because he is the only one really hitting, on this team.

    And I looked at Kemp’s defensive numbers in right, and left, and he has decent numbers, in both positions

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