First off, Mattingly named Clayton Kershaw his Opening Day starter on the first day of camp. Last year, Joe Torre delayed making this decsision to the very end of camp before making the surprise move by giving the honor to Vicente Padilla.
For the record, I love this move. It shows moxie and a desire by Mattingly to make this team his own. It’s time for Kershaw to take the title of staff ace and run with it, and Mattingly showing immediate confidence in his young phenom is awesome to see.
Next, Mattingly named Matt Kemp his cleanup hitter for the majority of the upcoming season. Woah. I like the confidence Donny Baseball has in Kemp (and he needs all the confidence Dodger fans and coaches can muster in this critical rebound year), but Kemp strikes out. A LOT. While others are also sure to be sceptical, we need to remember that there aren’t a whole lot of other options on the club. If Kemp can curb the Ks, he could provide the insurance behind Andre Ethier to allow the club’s #3 hitter to really shine, much like he did when Manny Ramirez was hitting behind him.
What’s next? Only time will tell, but Mattingly seems like a man who’s going to have his players walk the walk and put all that potential on the line (the first full workout for the team takes place on Tuesday). Maybe Chris Gwynn starting in center field? I wouldn’t put it past Mattingly if the kid gets off to a hot start this spring. Whatever happens, it’s going to be interesting!
Photo Credit: © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2011