ATLANTA – As if having the highest payroll in baseball didn’t already state it, now the Los Angeles Dodgers' best player is on record declaring his team’s expectations.
Appearing on ESPN’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” show Tuesday, pitcher Clayton Kershaw said it’s “World Series or bust” for the Dodgers this season.
“I think it was almost like that last year, too,” Kershaw said. “Coming up short didn’t feel good, and now we have that experience of what it’s like to go deep and not win. Especially with the team we have now and the guys brought in from last year, we feel like it’s World Series or bust, for sure.”
It’s not entirely clear what that means, but it’s pretty clearly on the record now. The Dodgers went into the season with a $235 million payroll and that edged up closer to $240 million with the recent acquisitions of pitchers Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia after they cleared waivers.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly didn't disagree with his ace's perception of the Dodgers' season.
"You have to say that as a player and I have to say that as a manager," Mattingly said. "If him and [Zack] Greinke and [Hyun-Jin] Ryu go down, I think, 'World Series or bust,' seems kind of silly, right? There are factors in there, but for me I think you have to look at it like that's what you're trying to accomplish, and I think that's a realistic possibility."
Kershaw also referred to the eclectic mix of personalities in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, not the least of which is the chasm that separates his personality from that of the team’s best hitter, Yasiel Puig. The latest mini-controversy around the Dodgers is the players’ use of a toy bubble machine to celebrate home runs in the dugout. Utility infielder Justin Turner introduced that concept to the Dodgers.
“There are a ton of personalities, and that’s part of the reason why we’re good,” Kershaw said. “So many different guys bring so much different stuff to the table. As long as you’re winning, all that stuff is quirky and that’s just the way it is. You start losing, all these superstars have too big of personalities and something’s got to change. It’s really just the perception of winning.”