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Dodgers Trade, But Are They Any Good?
A team that has struggled to find its way offensively during the season, the Dodgers were able to bolster the middle of their line up with the addition of Hanley Ramirez last Wednesday and the top of the order with Shane Victorino hours before the non-waiver deadline at 1 p.m. PT on Tuesday.
All of this begs the question of whether the Dodgers are good enough to be worth all of this ruckus.
"I think it's a better team today than it was yesterday," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told reporters hours after the non-waiver trade deadline. The Dodgers proceeded to throw up against the Arizona Diamondbacks for the second consecutive game, 8-2.
Two bad games aside, the Dodgers made it clear that they are serious in the hunt for October baseball. Colletti noted that Monday night's deal for reliever Brandon League from Seattle was a first step in getting Victorino.
"We were going into last night with the idea that there's a chance we could get Victorino," Colletti explained. "But I knew that the last day is so hectic that if I was able to get Shane early in the morning for a relief pitcher — because I knew what the cost was going to be — that it was tough for us to fill that spot after the fact.
"So we went out early and got Brandon League a day ahead of time knowing that we might have a chance for Victorino. Even if we didn't, add Brandon League and keep Josh Lindblom here enrich our bullpen anyways. We figured by getting League, no matter how we were moving with Victorino, we were going to be better off."
Despite the spoils they received, one can't help be disappointed about the one that got away: Ryan Dempster.
"It's pretty widely reported we were in on a veteran pitcher," Colletti explained noting the Cubs wanted more than one of the Dodgers top pitching prospects Allen Webster. "It was one premier prospect and other players too. We decided we were going to pass on that and move on."
Colletti kept the possibility of acquiring a player through the waiver wires noting prior-year acquisitions of Greg Maddux and Marlon Anderson. "They don't slam the door on July 31 at 1 p.m. PT. They close it a little bit, but they don't slam it. We still have opportunities to go forward and see what we can do."
With the new ownership group that seems to own a money tree, a new set of expectations were heaped on the Dodgers. Even Colletti noticed the difference in this seventh trade deadline as Dodgers GM.
"We were able to concentrate more on pure baseball deals," he said. "You're always going to be cognizant of what a contract requires you to pay. It was more of a player-for-player, talent-for-talent type of deadline."
Also new to the experience was Magic Johnson who observed from afar.
"I wasn't involved in the trades," Johnson said. "Only if they needed me to call or talk to somebody. The involvement of myself and Mark [Walter] was giving them the tools and the go-ahead to go and make the deal. Stan [Kasten] just did a great job."
The arrival of Victorino does create the need for shuffling. Manager Don Mattingly will play the switch-hitting Victorino in left field and in the leadoff spot. While he didn't want to set anything in stone for when Dee Gordon returned from the disabled list, he made it clear he preferred Victorino in the leadoff spot. Bobby Abreu will take a seat on the bench.
"It changes a few guys' roles," Mattingly summarized.
And with all of this going on in the background, with the Los Angeles Times sending a columnist, a beat writer, a backup beat writer, a blogger and two interns, ESPN LA sending three writers/reporters/on-air personalities, there was this game that was essentially over when Paul Goldschmidt hit his second homer in as many days in the first inning off of Chris Capuano.
Capuano took out his frustrations on a box of bubblegum, saving for at least another day the Powerade cooler full of red drink.
"I feel like I have an advantage against those guys, and I need to be hitting my spots and taking advantage of it," Capuano explained. "I'm frusutrated with the walk and frustrated when you get a guy 0-2 or 1-2 and you put one in the zone where he can hit it."
In two games that have been played in the background with the trade deadline in the foreground, the Dodgers have given up 15 runs while scoring only four. Capuano had an honest assessment on the way the Dodgers have been playing in this series. "We've been getting out-executed the last two days," he said.
"Their pitchers are hitting their spots, making their pitches. They're not giving us an inch defensively. They played good ball the last two nights."
This season has played out like a rollercoaster for the Dodgers. The high of April, the low of Matt Kemp's hamstring, the scoreless streak. More recently the Dodgers looked great off a three-game sweep of the Mets, then plummeted when they lost three of four to the Cardinals and rose sky high in their sweep of the Giants. Now?
The Dodgers fall a game behind the San Francisco Giants with the Diamondbacks coming up 2 1/2 games behind the Dodgers.
So again. Are the Dodgers any good?