You read that right. I think the Dodgers' decision to put Clayton Kershaw on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 23, is in direct relation to Matt Kemp.
Stay with me on this.
You see, a few years before Kershaw inked his massive seven-year, $215 million deal this offseason, it was Kemp who signed for eight years and $180 million after his near MVP season of 2011. How has that gone since? Two frustrating years of injuries and ineffectiveness, appearing in 179 between both of those seasons, and not appearing at all in last year's playoffs.
It hasn't been for a lack of effort, as Kemp tried to push himself harder and harder to get back quickly, trying to contribute to the team. And it hasn't worked, as he only got hurt again, and it was straight back to the DL.
And that's where the problem is. The Dodgers will simply not allow the same thing to happen to Kershaw.
No matter how you feel about it, the Dodgers have every right to protect their star and humongous investment. I don't care how rich they are, $215 million is $215 million. Kemp has collected on a little over $30 million of his deal the last two seasons, and hardly has anything to show for it, save for a glimpse or two here or there.
The first glimpse of Kershaw this year was his Opening Day (the first one, not the current one) performance against the Diamondbacks in Australia, tossing 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He was all set to go against the Padres on Opening Day (not for the first, but the current one), but then his back started acting up. To his credit he reported the issue, and to Mattingly's credit, he won't let Kershaw dictate when he's "healthy." Anyone who has followed Kershaw during his career knows how much of a competitor he is. And, quite frankly, how stubborn he is as well.
Who else was competitive and stubborn? That's right - Kemp.
The decision to sit Kershaw for at least a couple of starts was made easier with Josh Beckett able to come off the DL, and the offseason signing of Paul Maholm. Granted, both of them combined do not equal one Kershaw, but who the heck can equal him? That's just not realistic.
As the Dodgers play the next few days in San Diego, you'll see the two franchise stars watching in the dugout in Kershaw and Kemp. And you know what? That's not a bad thing. That's a patient thing and a smart thing. If all goes well, they'll be back sometime in April (Kemp is rumored for the home opener on Friday).
Most importantly, they'll be rested and ready to roll, and the Dodgers will be better off for it. That's a good thing.