Miami Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez
The Los Angeles Dodgers are back to their winning ways after a subpar month of June caused them to fall out of first place in the NL West. The MLB trade deadline is just a week away and competition for the division and the two wild cards spots is tight.
The Dodgers 53-44 record is impressive considering the 52 games that All-Star center fielder Matt Kemp missed with a hamstring injury. But his absence only further exposed weaknesses that Los Angeles knew they had entering the 2012 season.
With holes still left to fill in left field, both corner infield positions, the starting rotation and possibly the bullpen, there’s no shortage of moves that the Dodgers could make to improve their roster over the next seven days.
Los Angeles is expected to be one of the more active teams leading up to the MLB trade deadline and their names have been mentioned in a number of scenarios already. Here are the five best trade scenarios for the Dodgers before July 31st.
It’s no secret that the Philadelphia Phillies would prefer for left-hander Cole Hamels to accept a contract extension that will keep him in a Phillies uniform long term (ESPN). If their efforts fail, the Dodgers are at the top of the list of teams looking to acquire the 28-year-old starter.
Starting pitching is not the team’s greatest area of need, especially not a left-handed starter. But if the Dodgers have a chance to build a rotation with Clayton Kershaw and Hamels as their top two starters, it’s nearly impossible to turn that down.
If the Dodgers are unable to get their hands on Cole Hamels, Chicago Cubs starter Matt Garza would not be a bad consolation prize. With Atlanta Braves Ryan Dempster reportedly headed to the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles seems to be focused on acquiring the talented righty (USA Today).
Garza’s numbers with the Cubs aren’t great this year, but pitching in Wrigley field doesn’t help at all. He has elite stuff and is battle-tested after pitching well against AL East competition during his three seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Moving to a more pitcher-friendly home stadium in Chavez Ravine and not having the pressure of being the No. 1 starter could be exactly what Garza needs to unlock his full potential. At just 28 years old, it’s not too late for that dream to come true.
Cody Ross has been a pleasant surprise for the Boston Red Sox this year. But with their 2012 season unraveling quickly and Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford back from extended stays on the disabled list, Ross could be expendable.
The Dodgers have had issues in left field all year. Bobby Abreu has filled in admirably since being picked up in May, but he’s better suited as a fourth outfielder at this point in his career.
Ross is the kind of veteran power bat that Los Angeles needs during a playoff run, and he is already familiar with the NL West from his time as a key member of the San Francisco Giants’ 2010 World Series championship team.
With Andre Ethier firmly entrenched in right field, the Dodgers would need to shift Ross to left, but I’m certain he’d be up to the challenge.
The San Diego Padres just signed Carlos Quentin to a three-year extension and Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs is a defensive liability in left field (not to mention expensive). Although Kansas City’s Jeff Francoeur could likely be had on the cheap, Ross would clearly be the Dodgers’ best option.
James Loney has been a huge disappointment in Los Angeles and almost any player that the Dodgers add at first base would be an upgrade. Former AL MVP Justin Morneau is just the type of low-cost gamble that could pay huge dividends.
Although Morneau has struggled for most of the past two seasons dealing with concussion symptoms and recovering from a wrist injury, he has been relatively healthy in 2012 appearing in 73 games for the Minnesota Twins.
Morneau only has one year left on his contract after this season, and with the Twins looking to get rid of high-salaried players, the Dodgers would not have to give up much to acquire his services.
Los Angeles is last in the National League in home runs this season with 60, so taking a flyer on Morneau couldn’t hurt them anymore than the current duo of Loney and Juan Riviera already is.
When I first mentioned the possibility of the Dodgers going after Miami Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez more than a month ago, many people thought I was nuts. But Miami’s all-in gamble on contending in 2012 has failed miserable and they’ve already started selling (Florida Sun Sentinel).
Although Ramirez’s struggles have been a major reason why the Marlins have struggled this year, he could benefit from a change of scenery and a move back to his natural position of shortstop—both things that the Dodgers could accommodate.
It’s also possible that a player of his makeup could benefit from playing for a more low-key manager like Don Mattingly as opposed to the fiery Ozzie Guillen, something that worked miracles for Matt Kemp after clashing with the much tougher Joe Torre.
The Dodgers could offer a pitching heavy package that would give the Marlins the type of inexpensive yet effective prospects they’d love.