GLENDALE, Ariz.—The clubhouse on the northeast side of Camelback Ranch is filled with players who know the burden of expectations.
In one corner sits Matt Kemp. In another are Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez. Near a set of double doors is Clayton Kershaw. Next to him, Zack Greinke. And somewhere between each of them are three other superstars formerly employed by the Boston Red Sox—Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett.
Nearly all in that group know what it’s like to not live up to those expectations.
Kemp had a monster season in 2009, only to tank in 2010 and have his coaches rip him publicly. Ethier showed superstar potential around the same time; now, the Los Angeles Dodgers would trade him and his remaining $83.5 million for the right package. Ramirez was a former batting champion-turned-liability for the Miami Marlins. Greinke won a Cy Young Award in 2009, then saw his ERA skyrocket more than two runs the next season.
As for the trio of former Red Sox, well, you know the story of the September collapse in 2011 and last year’s monstrosity of a summer. Only Kershaw has escaped major disappointment so far.
This year they have a chance to remove any blemishes they’ve helped create, but only if the Dodgers win a World Series. They can also get a another huge taste of disappointment if this team does anything less.