It’s been an offseason of change for the Dodgers, with longtime stars Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner heading off to new teams. Bellinger’s performance on the field the last two years is replaceable, and Turner got more years and money than L.A. was comfortable giving, but it’s still a shock to think about the team without those two guys.
Country music superstar Brad Paisley was on AM570 on Wednesday, and the host talked about not just Turner and Bellinger, but also Joc Pederson, Kiké Hernandez, and Kenley Jansen, who have departed in the last two years. He asked Paisley if it feels like a new chapter in L.A. baseball.
“Yeah, this feels like that. I mean, it definitely feels like there’s a page turning right now. And we won’t know, obviously, until halfway through this next season whether these changes were good things, or bad, or indifferent. We just don’t know. …
“We’ve been spoiled for several years now when we get the news that we got Freddie Freeman last year, and then before that we get Mookie [Betts], and then there were the midseason trades where they went and got [Max] Scherzer and Trea Turner and stuff like that. They’ve spoiled us for a while.
“And this feels like, this is a different identity all of a sudden. And thank God Clayton’s back, so we have that presence, that glue that he is. But I think it’s gonna be, with somebody like Justin going, there’s gonna be a lot of Clayton to sort of make sure that he instills in some of the newer guys the identity of the Dodgers, that this team doesn’t lose its heart and soul a bit. I think they’ll be okay in that sense, they’ve got leaders in there, but we lost a big leader this week.”
Paisley is clearly a huge Dodger fan and knows his stuff very well, and he’s right that in JT, the Dodgers are losing more than just his on-field production. It’s been a gradual shift, though, over the last few years. Pederson and Hernandez left after 2020; Jansen and Corey Seager left after 2021. Before that, Matt Kemp left (twice), Yasiel Puig left, Zack Greinke left, and almost everyone else left. That’s what happens in baseball.
As Jerry Seinfeld famously said, we’re all cheering for clothes. We’ll continue to cheer for the Dodgers shirts against the Giants shirts. When L.A. plays the Red Sox, we’ll root for JD Martinez and Mookie Betts to beat Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen, and Kiké Hernandez, even though we had our hearts broken less than five years earlier by Mookie and JD beating JT, Kenley, and Kiké.
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