8 Reasons the Los Angeles Dodgers Need to Go All-in at the MLB Trade Deadline
The Los Angeles Dodgers are reeling and are in jeopardy of losing all the momentum built up from a surprisingly strong start to the season. After holding the best record in the majors through mid June, the team is just 6-18 in its last 24 games.
With MLB’s July 31 non-waiver trade deadline still two weeks away, the Dodgers still have plenty of time to save their season. Here are eight reasons why Los Angeles needs to go all-in at the MLB trade deadline.
Send a Message to NL West Competitors
The Los Angeles Dodgers have not made a World Series appearance since the team won it all in 1988. Since then, an NL West team has represented the National League in the World Series six times, including three appearances by the San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers’ chief rival.
Los Angeles proved that it is capable of playing like the best team in Major League Baseball early in the season. With key players like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Mark Ellis back in the everyday lineup, the team is just a couple of moves away from being a legitimate title contender in 2012.
Let Potential Free Agents Know Dodgers Are Committed to Winning
The Dodgers have been mentioned prominently in trade discussions involving several key players that could be made available by their current teams. None of those names is bigger than Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels.
Although Hamels has publicly stated that he would like to remain in Philadelphia, he’s also been clear that he would like to test the free-agent market this summer. So even if he is traded, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be more than just a second half rental.
Be it Hamels or any other major name on the market, the Dodgers have an opportunity to show both current and future free agents that this team is committed to winning. Making a major move at the deadline to bolster the team’s playoff odds would go along way towards accomplishing just that.
Capitalize on Surprising 2012 Momentum
Although Los Angeles was on of the best team in Major League Baseball after last years All-Star break, nobody expected them to be the best team in the sport for much of the first half.
There strong start was helped by a historically strong April from All-Star center fielder Matt Kemp and a fast start by the recently re-signed Andre Ethier. Injuries over the past two months have hurt the Dodgers in the standings, but they are far from out of the NL West race.
Despite the 6-18 drought that they are in, they remain just two games behind the San Francisco Giants for the division lead. Making a move or two before the trade deadline would put the Dodgers in a prime position to avoid having a brilliant first half go to waste.
Keep Fans Engaged
Dodgers fans, traditionally one of the more loyal fanbases in baseball, have become jaded over the past few years. Though the team has made a few playoff appearances in recent seasons, it’s been almost 25 years since the franchise has won a World Series.
The surprising start to the season and the hope of a new ownership group has fans excited about Dodgers baseball again, and the acquisition of a key player before the trade deadline would keep the positive vibes running through Chavez Ravine all season long.
Chance for New Ownership to Establish New Culture
After enduring two horrible tenures of ownership by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and the insufferable Frank McCourt, the Los Angeles Dodgers have suddenly fallen into the hands of a smart, dynamic ownership group with deep financial resources.
So far, the group led by Los Angeles legend Magic Johnson, former Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten, and Guggenheim Partners CEO Mark Walter has proven that it is serious about changing the culture around the Dodgers.
They recently signed Andre Ethier to a five-year, $85 million contract extension and spent $42 million to acquire the services of 21-year-old Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig, proving that they are willing to invest in talent.
Giving general manager Ned Colletti the green light to acquire top talent in the next two weeks would simply reinforce the message that the new owners have already started sending.
Reestablish the Dodgers as One of the Premier Franchises in Sports
When the Los Angeles Dodgers were sold for $2.15 billion in a sealed bidding process earlier this year, it set a new record for a professional sports franchise, proving that the brand still has massive value.
In order to justify that cost, the team will have to be more than just a highly recognizable logo and will need to quickly and consistently put a winner on the field. When talking about the most successful franchises in sports, that means winning championships.
The Dodgers could likely contend for a playoff spot as currently constructed, but when you pay $2.15 billion for a team, the stakes are automatically raised.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the other 29 league owners understand how important it is to have the most recognizable franchises be successful. By turning the team into a World Series contender this season, the Dodgers can prove that they get it too.
Remain Premier MLB Team in Los Angeles Market
Los Angeles Angels owner Art Moreno has made no secret of his desire to dominate the Los Angeles baseball market since purchasing the team in 2003 for $183 million, a bargain considering the $2.15 billion that the Dodgers sold for earlier this year.
It was bad enough that MLB commissioner Bud Selig allowed the Angels to use the phrase “Los Angeles” in their official team name, but now Moreno is looking at taking the even bolder step of dropping the “of Anaheim” portion in the near future, despite that being the team’s physical location.
Under Moreno’s leadership, the Angels have shown a willingness to consistently put competitive teams on the field, something the Dodgers have not always been committed to over the past twenty years.
With two big name free agents (Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson) and a breath-taking rookie (Mike Trout) stealing more headlines, Moreno’s plans seem to be paying off.
Now that the new Dodgers ownership group has the resources to compete with Moreno, they need to act quickly to make sure that they do not lose their standing as the premier MLB franchise in the Los Angeles market.
Rearrange the Los Angeles Sports Landscape
It’s not just the Angels that the Dodgers have to compete with in the Los Angeles sporting landscape.
The Dodgers have traditionally been a distant second behind the Los Angeles Lakers in the pecking order of professional sports teams in the L.A. market. Now, both the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers and the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings have experienced greater recent success than the Dodgers.
The Clippers capped off a first-round playoff series victory with the largest fourth-quarter comeback in NBA playoff history. The Kings simply topped that by going on an unprecedented run to the Stanly Cup title.
The heat is now squarely on the Dodgers to show and prove, and there’s no better way to do that than by going all out at the trade deadline to put this team in a position to win the 2012 World Series.