Here we sit at the Major League Baseball trading deadline and wouldn’t you know the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are within a half-game of one another. Oh what a wonderful world.
As the deadline approaches many amateur General Managers are vociferously stating what the Dodgers need to do before Friday to improve their team. Like most teams the Dodgers have short-comings. I believe these “holes” are like numerous breaks in the dam and to fill them all at once is nearly impossible. Unlike many calling for reinforcements, I see a structural problem in the dam that makes any move merely a stop-gap measure that will ultimately lead to a massive breach and an ensuing flood.
Speculation reigns that the Dodgers must find a way to get a front-line starting pitcher to go along with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Cole Hamels and David Price are the big names while Jeff Samardjzia and Yovanni Gallardo are on the second-tier. I am not opposed to getting any of these pitchers to help shore up the Dodgers rotation, but it better not come at the expense of prospects Corey Seager, Julio Urias and Grant Holmes. I do not want to see any of these names in a deal to bring an arm to Chavez Ravine.
While starting pitching is a problem, it is primarily a self-inflicted wound. It was a huge mistake to spend 61 million dollars on often injured and currently injured pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson. I am not just pontificating about this now, I have been on this train since the signings. Injuries have crippled the Dodgers rotation and it was predictable, even from the most novice of baseball fans.
The one thing the Dodgers need to address at the deadline that they didn’t address adequately in the off-season is their porous bullpen. Even if the Dodgers acquire Hamels or Price, what does it matter when the bullpen gives the game away in the 7th or 8th inning ? The Dodgers best chance to flourish in October came and went last December when Yankees closer Andrew Miller was a free agent. Many of us in Dodger-land begged and pleaded with the front office to over-pay for the talented and versatile lefty. Instead the Dodgers shunned him in favor of multiple washed-up infielders who were converting into pitchers (i.e. Chris Hatcher and Pedro Baez.) This massive faux pas by the newly installed brain-trust has left the Dodger bullpen woefully inefficient. This has been a problem for the last three years and continues to be a problem.
The structural problems the Dodgers have can not be fixed with a few trades. The Dodgers score most of their runs by hitting the long-ball. Teams that can’t run, hit-and-run, move runners with productive outs, bunt and play small ball rarely win in October. This team is structurally flawed in how they approach the game.
Throw in some of their trouble spots defensively with Justin Turner at third and Yasmani Grandal’s inability to consistently block balls in the dirt giving away the game 90 feet at a time. It is all topped off with Don Mattingly who continues to either over-manage or remain oblivious the need to situationally manage a spot and the Dodgers are a lot of bluster and with not a lot of bang.
Deadline deals will be made, fans will cheer, fans will jeer but when it’s all said and done the Dodgers foibles will have us wondering “what happened” by mid-October.