Regardless of their recent woes, the Dodgers were looking to pick up a bat or two in their lineup to supplement sluggers Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, who both have been carrying the team’s offense when they are healthy.
Although the Blue Crew are comprised of a variety of role players that don’t have their names repeated on highlight reels, they have done a good job keeping the team aligned for a playoff run.
Role players like Elian Herrera will continue to player their roles but will need to be supplemented with some established players who can help the Dodgers make a run at the World Series.
Here are some moves that the Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti must make at the July 31st trade deadline in order to give the Blue Crew a chance to win it all this season.
The Dodgers’ offense has subsisted so far upon evenly spread production from throughout the lineup, but as we have seen in the past two weeks, it was a rarity that the entire offense was concurrently hot and that probably won’t happen for the remainder of the season.
Relying on Ethier, and Kemp when he returns from injury, for the majority of their run production won’t give the Dodgers much of a chance to do well in the playoffs.
Therefore, adding a big bat to the meat of the Blue Crew’s lineup that can drive in runs is crucial. Having another power hitter would change the dynamic of the Dodgers’ lineup and would force opposing pitchers to change their approach.
The Dodgers had their eye on Red Sox slugger Kevin Youkilis as a possible addition to the meat of their lineup but he has now been traded to the White Sox, so he is unfortunately no longer a feasible option.
However, there is a prospect that they have a chance at signed Astros power hitter Carlos Lee, but there is some skepticism as to whether or not Lee wants to leave Texas for Los Angeles despite the Astros’ slim chance of having any success this season.
Whether he is involved in a trade to acquire a big bat or merely traded away to free up salary room, the Dodgers need to trade James Loney.
He has been a major disappointment for the Dodgers in the past two seasons and doesn’t produce enough offensively for the team to pay him $6.4 million this year.
The Dodgers righteously don’t have faith in him and skipper Don Mattingly has made him more of a platoon player as of late because of his subpar performance.
At 28, Loney still shows promise, which ensures that he still has some trade stock and could attract a deal. He wouldn’t be able to attract a high-profile deal on his own but teams are certainly interested in him.
Loney’s good defensive play would be hard to replace within the current Dodgers squad, but Jerry Hairston Jr., Bobby Abreu, and Juan Rivera can replace him if Colletti decides not to pursue another first baseman.
In any case, the Dodgers can no longer afford to have such poor performance from a big investment like Loney. There are more capable players in the Dodgers own dugout and on the trade market.
Juan Uribe’s stint on the disabled list proved fortuitous for the Dodgers, as they finally received some production and solid fielding from third base with the help of fill-ins Jerry Hairston Jr. and Elian Herrera.
Uribe is now back in the everyday lineup and is performing poorly just as he was in the beginning of the season. He is hitting .205 with a .248 on-base percentage, one home run and 12 runs batted in.
While he occasionally comes up with some clutch hits, he doesn’t contribute enough to the Dodgers’ offense and strikes out much too frequently (28 strikeouts/ 122 at-bats = 23% strikeout ratio).
Colletti can shop Uribe just to get rid of his contract in order to free up salary room for a power hitter, as both Jerry Hairston Jr. and Elian Herrera are solid at the hot corner.
If Herrera becomes the everyday third baseman while the Dodgers’ usual second baseman, Mark Ellis, remains on the disabled list, then they can always call-up Ivan De Jesus, who has performed well at the major-league level this season with the Dodgers.
The bullpen has been an issue for the Dodgers in the past couple of years now that they can’t rely upon a steady closer like Eric Gagne, Takashi Saito, or Jonathan Broxton in his earlier days.
Finding a permanent closer this season has been a tricky thing for the Dodgers. Javy Guerra looked good and then seemed to have lost his confidence, and now Kenley Jansen, who most thought should have originally been the closer over Guerra, is getting hit and blowing saves.
Don Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt have even tried Josh Lindblom in the role, but he didn’t look too good there as well.
Perhaps there is a reliever currently in the Dodgers’ bullpen who is capable of fulfilling the important role of closer, but there is no certainty and Colletti should consider picking up an established closer to fortify the bullpen.
The Dodgers middle relief has been mediocre as well and could use another established reliever, but the focus should be on picking up a closer.
There are clear gaps and weaknesses on the Dodgers’ roster that Colletti needs to address by the trade deadline at the end of July.
As the Dodgers continue along this season, they’ll need to add another bat to supplement sluggers Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Adding a solid No. 2 or No. 5 hitter in the lineup would complete the Dodgers’ offensive arsenal.
While adding a bat holds more priority, the Dodgers would be much better off if they had more certainty and faith in their bullpen, and picking up an established closer would complete the Blue Crew.
Realistically, Colletti will probably deal for a power hitter and forgo strengthening the bullpen.
Either way, action needs to be taken.