The Best Team in Baseball…On PaperA massive trade rumor has arose between the disappointing Boston Red Sox and the Championship hungry Los Angeles Dodgers. This trade is a clear indication of which directions each team is heading, or trying to head. The Boston Red Sox are in the midst of a complete collapse at the end of the year for a second straight season and look to be dumping as much payroll as possible to help with their future plans. The Dodgers on the other hand have been trying to build a playoff caliber team all season long and seem to have their final pieces coming together. The Dodgers have already acquired both Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino to help improve a lineup that finds itself 20th in the league in Batting Average. The trade between these two juggernaut franchises will definitely shake things up in both the American and National leagues. The proposed trade is Boston shipping the massive contracts of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers for James Loney and three no-name’s. Yes you read that correctly.
Right now LA has some money and they seem to be willing to spend it all to bring a Championship back to a city that hasn’t won the World Series since 1988. The Dodgers season thus far has been quite an anomaly with their lineup not producing runs with all-star names and their starting pitching, basically filled with under-achieving veterans outside of Clayton Kershaw, completely dominating anyone they face. Currently, the Dodgers pitching staff is third in all of baseball with a team ERA of 3.37 and opponents BA of .237. LA has seemed to have struck gold with career years by Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Chad Billingsley. Now if you add a proven winner, Josh Beckett, to the mix you have one of the scariest starting rotations the game has to offer. I know a lot of people think that Beckett’s career is coming to an end but when you have that winning pedigree like he does you should never count him out. With Kenley Jensen making a name for himself as one of the more reliable closer’s in baseball, the Dodgers seem to be completely set when it comes to their pitching.
While the Dodger pitching has been stellar, their hitting has been abysmal. Last year, Matt Kemp had a season that most people thought should have ended with him winning the NL MVP. That honor went to Ryan Braun, but the deserving Kemp didn’t let that get him down and he came out of the gates this season like Katniss Everdeen…on fire. Through the first month and half to two months, Kemp was once again the front-runner for the MVP award but he suffered a couple of injuries that set him back. His right hand man, Andre Ethier helped to carry the load for a while, but the truth of the matter is that these two great hitters were not near enough to make the Dodgers a formidable team. Before the trade deadline rolled around this season, the Dodgers knew they had to fix their lineup and put some pieces both in front and behind Kemp and Ethier. The acquisitions of the scrappy and fast gold glove center fielder, Shane Victorino, and the power hitting but currently struggling, Hanley Ramirez, were two steps in the right direction. While 4 quality bats in the lineup is better than 2, it still wasn’t enough to separate the Dodgers from the rest of the pack.
At the beginning of this week, the Dodgers had a pivotal 3 game series against their rivals, the San Francisco Giants. These two teams have been neck and neck for majority of the season, fighting for that coveted NL West title. The Giants ended up sweeping the Dodgers and now hold a 3 games lead over their rivals. Some consider their rivalry the best in baseball while other’s, including NYBobby (https://sports-debaters.com/2012/08/15/second-best-rivalry-in-baseball-heats-up/), find it behind the rivalry of the Yanks and Sox. With the Giants pulling away in the West and the Dodgers trailing the Cardinals for the final wildcard slot, LA had to make some moves. Well Dodger fans, the moves have been made and now it looks like your team is the best in baseball…on paper. With Adrian Gonzalez at first and Carl Crawford as a utility outfielder, the Dodgers now have a lineup that looks more like the Yankees and Rangers.
While they look like the best team on paper, will that translate to them being the best team in baseball? I honestly think so. I can see the Dodgers making a strong push towards the end of this season which will either lead to them winning the West or getting them one of the two wildcard spots. Either way, if this team makes the playoffs with their current roster healthy, they will be the most feared team in the playoffs. While my man Donny Baseball never won that coveted ring when playing for the Yankees, it sure looks like he is poised to win one now as the Dodgers head coach.