Los Angeles Dodgers: 3 Bold Predictions for the Rest of the Season
The Los Angeles Dodgers have withstood an injury to MVP runner-up, Matt Kemp, and a June-hot San Francisco Giants to hang on to their narrow lead of the NL West. The blue and white faithful will be looking to Ned Colletti to put their team in the best position to make the playoffs.
Here are three bold predictions, including additions, departures, and adjustments as the Dodgers enter the second half of the season.
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1. Trade James Loney
James Loney is on the trade block—again.
As has been the case the past two years, trade rumors begin to surround the young first baseman as July comes into the picture. He claims “It's just something in the news. It's not something you're losing sleep over." But this time around Ned Colletti means business.
In the past they have used Loney’s consistent average, good speed, and strong defensive ability to fish for a blockbuster trade. However, after making a hard play at Kevin Youkilis earlier in the week, the Dodgers are looking for change at first.
Loney is an impending free agent in a class that is fairly shallow at first base, and instead of losing him altogether, the Dodgers will look to squeeze some value from him. More importantly, he has underperformed offensively, with just two home runs and a slugging percentage of .338.
As LA Dodgers’ blogger Vincent Bonsignore puts it, “Loney’s power outage is becoming a burden too troublesome.” The Dodgers are looking to add some power in a lineup that has softened since Kemp’s hamstring injury.
One option is not far from home. The Dodgers could move Loney across the freeway to the Angels, who are dumping young pitching talent for Kendrys Morales, whose move would free up playing time for Gold-Glove-caliber Peter Bourjos. Or they could trade him for an everyday left fielder to supplement both Kemp and Bobby Abreu, putting Rivera at first.
An added boost on offense could provide the difference in a division race against the pitching oriented San Francisco Giants.
2. Acquire Ryan Dempster
Pitcher Ryan Dempster is once again in the sights of the Dodgers. The Cubs in 2012 have been shameful. They win games like concrete floats. All that is left for Theo Epstein and Ted Hoyer to do is dump their old contract-bloated veterans for young prospects and a possible light at the end of this tunnel. Names being tossed around include Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, Carlos Marmol, and of course Ryan Dempster.
The Dodgers boast the second-best staff in baseball behind the Nationals. However, Ted Lilly is out indefinitely with shoulder inflammation. Nathan Eovaldi has filled in well but is untested, and both Aaron Harang and Chris Capuono are pushing mid-30s with October still a long way away.
Dempster may not be the high profile ace like Zack Grienke or Cole Hammels, but he will definitely stabilize the Dodger’s house of cards rotation.
Dempster makes for the perfect insurance plan because he can work as a long reliever out of the pen until (if ever) he is needed as a starter. He brings a strong right arm to a left-dominated rotation and has been on top of his game this season with a 2.11 ERA and a WHIP of 1.22. His .500 record is a testament to the team he is on and not the kind of season he is having.
The best part about him is Ned Colletti can get him for cheap. Desperate for young talent, the Cubs will likely swallow some of their veteran’s ugly contracts to unload them. Plus, LA has a plethora of prospect arms to offer up, such as Zach Lee, Alan Webster, Chris Reed, Angel Sanchez, Ethan Martin, or Shawn Tolleson.
3. A Hurt Kemp Hurts Playoff Chances
It could be déjà vu all over again at Chavez Ravine. In 2010, LA’s hottest swing, Andre Ethier, broke his pinky in late May. When he returned, neither he nor the Dodgers were quite the same. There could be a repeat of fate for Matt Kemp and his hamstring.
When the red-hot Kemp went down the first time, people were already penciling him in for NL MVP. When he went down the second time with a different hamstring strain, his health and the Dodgers' future both became a concern.
The Dodgers once boasted the best record in baseball, but have since been brought back to Earth in June, losing seven of their last 10 games (including getting swept in Oakland). Their hold on the division has shriveled to just three games, and Kemp is still at least two weeks away from playing.
While the needle on the panic meter might be twitching, all is not lost—yet. There is plenty of baseball between now and October, and Kemp is doing everything he can to ensure he his healthy and ready to return to the lineup. However, if he returns too soon or spends any more time on the DL in the second half of the season, it could be enough of a window for San Francisco to win the division.