Bravado might prompt a guy to say that one man does not make a team, but nobody is about to deny the importance of a guy such as Greinke, who went 51-15 in three years with the Dodgers, including a mind-numbing 2.30 ERA in just over 600 innings.
Dominance like that just can’t be replicated by one man.
“Yeah, I think it’s tough to lose Zack, obviously, and I heard Andre [Ethier] say that the other day, too,” Kershaw said Friday, as the week-long Dodgers’ caravan around town concluded with a stop at Los Angeles City Hall. “But we’ve brought some good guys in, and we have some depth, which I think we were lacking last year.”
While Greinke signed a $206.5 million deal to pitch for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers spread that kind of money around to a bevy of players, including two starters in Scott Kazmir ($48 million) and Kenta Maeda ($25 million). Maeda’s deal can balloon to $100 million if he meets a series of yearly incentives.
The Dodgers also invested some of that cash in the future with the $30 million deal for Cuban pitcher Yaisel Sierra, and they were still able to add reliever Joe Blanton ($4 million) and agreed to bring back Howie Kendrick ($20 million) on Friday.
Nobody in that group figures to make the impact that Greinke can individually, which is why Kershaw was selling depth as the reason to be optimistic after the departure of his tag-team rotation partner.
The void left in Greinke’s wake? Kershaw called it “big.”
“There is no getting around that,” Kershaw said. “Obviously Zack is a very, very good pitcher. Last year, in my opinion, no offense to Jake [Arrieta, who won the Cy Young Award], but he was the best pitcher in the game. That’s tough to replace, but we have guys with experience.”
Continuing his annual dominance is of utmost importance for Kershaw. The left-hander said his arm feels good and that he already has thrown a bullpen session, while admitting to altering his offseason workout routine a bit.
Working with pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who is on his way back from Tommy John surgery, Kershaw said the duo is focused on more cardio work while dialing back the weightlifting just a bit. It’s hard to argue against the need for stamina, especially on a club that hopes to play deep into October.
Kershaw remains the unquestioned leader of the pitching staff, as well as one of the primary leaders on the entire team. And as every good leader knows, it's a crown you can't put on your own head, but a role that comes naturally.
“It doesn’t really change anything for me, other than I will miss watching [Greinke] pitch every fifth day,” Kershaw said. “It doesn’t really affect me too much, as far as my individual stuff or pitching or whatever you want to call it.
“We have a lot of guys on our staff who have been around, bringing in Kazmir, guys who have been around for a long time that don’t need a lot of leadership or anything like that. We have a lot of lefties, so you have a lot of people to talk to if you need advice, so I think we’ll be all right.”
One thing is certain with Greinke’s departure: The title of the Dodgers’ best hitting pitcher is now up for grabs.
“Zack was a better batter for sure,” Kershaw said. “I’m going to have to figure out how to get him out at some point.”