Talk is cheap.
It’s easy for new Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten to say that he and the rest of the new Guggenheim Baseball Management Group want to build a championship Dodger team and that they have the resources (money) to do so, but it’s an entirely different matter to actually go out and do it. Well here’s the deal, guys – the time to do it is now.
As might be expected, morale is at a season low in the Dodger clubhouse after having been swept by the hated Giants in three consecutive shutouts (something that has never happened before in L.A. Dodgers history), and coming off of a dismal 1-8 road trip it should come as no surprise that the once jovial Dodger clubhouse is uncomfortably subdued of late; and if the Dodgers don’t snap their current losing streak, it will only be a matter of time before frustration takes its toll and the blaming and finger pointing begins. Guys are already looking over their shoulders hoping that a big name acquisition suddenly appears, just as the new owners promised would happen during various press conferences and in the media. Simply put, the battered and bruised Dodgers are in desperate need of help; help from the front office and not from Albuquerque.
With the July 31 trade deadline only weeks away, the trade rumor mill is running rampant and everyday there seems to be another big name added to the mix; names like Rockies superstar outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (although Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd insists that Cargo isn’t going anywhere) and Padres slugger Carlos Quentin. Either one of these guys would be a HUGE acquisition for the Dodgers; not to mention Brewers ace Zack Greinke, whose name is also being mentioned as a possible trade candidate. But the biggest name who the Dodgers should be pursuing (in my opinion) is 29-year-old Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales. Nobody can argue that the 7-year Loney experiment has failed (and miserably) or that the Dodgers are in desperate need of a power-hitting first baseman; and with the Angels signing future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols to an insanely long contract which effectively bumped pre-Pujols heir-apparent first baseman Mark Trumbo to a platooning DH / third baseman / left fielder role, the Angels are up to their eyeballs in first basemen. Add to this the fact that Morales’ agent is none other than the baseball Antichrist himself Scott Boras, who just so happens to be a Dodgers season ticket holder (and not the cheap seats, mind you) and who also just so happens to be a very close friend of Stan Kasten (do you see where this is going?). If money truly is no object (as they claim), the time for Kasten and general manager Ned Colletti to deal for any one of these guys is right now, because if they wait until the July 31 trade deadline, these guys will most likely be gone or given contract extensions with their current teams.
The Dodgers had a good run… a great run, in fact; but the bottom line is that the Dodgers current 25-man and 40-man rosters simply do not have the players needed to get them into the World Series – injuries notwithstanding. Sure, the 2012 edition of Dodgers baseball has been extremely exciting and fun to watch, but if Dodger fans are being completely honest with themselves, they knew that this day would undoubtedly come; they knew that it wasn’t fair to compare the 2012 Dodgers to the 1988 or 1981 Dodger teams. The only real comparison that can be made between the 1988 Dodgers and the 2012 Dodgers is that they both needed (and need) to go out and get a power bat. The 1988 Dodgers signed free agent Kirk Gibson during the off-season and we ALL know how that worked out. Even more recently, how about the 2008 Dodger team who acquired Manny Ramirez just hours before the trade deadline? We ALL know how that worked out too – Manny hit .396 with 17 home runs in his 53 games with the Dodgers and almost single-handedly led them into the post season.
There is certainly a down side to going after big name players at the trade deadline – acquiring them will undoubtedly come with a huge price tag, not only in money but in prospects. Coincidentally (or not), over the weekend, the Dodgers promoted their 20-year-old 2010 first round draft pick and top pitching prospect Zach Lee from Advance Single-A to Double-A where he joined 22-year-old 2011 first round draft pick Chris Reed, who had been promoted a few weeks earlier. These two highly touted top-tier pitching prospects received signing bonuses of $5.25 million and $1.598 million respectively. Is it possible that the Dodgers made these recent promotions to showcase their top pitching prospects as possible trade bait for a power bat or a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher?
Another down side to trading for big name players who will be free agents at the end of the season is that they are basically rental players for the remainder of this season and will be seeking huge free agent contracts during the upcoming off season. Trading top prospects for them for two months of service can decimate a team’s farm system and they could very well end up with nothing in the long run – a risky proposition at best.
Regardless, Stan Kasten and Ned Colletti need to pull the trigger and pull it right now or the 2012 season for the Dodgers could very well be over in the next few weeks.
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EDIT – June 28th, 2012 at 9:00 am
The Dodgers reportedly just signed 21-year-old Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig (pronounced Pweeg) to a 7-year / $42M deal.