The July 31st trade deadline has come and gone, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have finally put themselves in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
With two months remaining in the regular season, do the Dodgers have what it takes to overtake the Giants to claim the NL West crown? Los Angeles has some new weapons in their lineup with Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino, both of whom who are sure to make immediate impact for the offense.
So what do we make of a team that has cast out the demons of the Frank McCourt era and are now ready to start spending money towards winning championships?
Here are eight bold predictions for the Los Angeles Dodgers after the trade deadline.
The Dodgers now more than ever, need greater production from their first baseman James Loney.
Loney is now competing full-time with Juan Rivera for the starting first base job and will rise to the occasion tremendously against not only right-handed pitchers, but lefties as well.
Last season, Loney hit .367 in August with five home runs and 15 RBI. In September, Loney continued his torrid pace batting .348 with three home runs and 17 RBI.
This season has been no different for the Dodgers starting first baseman, who hit .323 in July after starting the season batting .236.
As the calendar turns to August, expect another tremendous month of gap-to-gap mashing from the 28-year-old first baseman.
In his first two starts in the major leagues, Stephen Fife has been a hard-luck loser who remains winless after notching consecutive quality starts.
Fife has posted a 1.46 ERA in starts against the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies, pitching well by using his sinker ball as a weapon and forcing 25 ground-ball outs.
As the season progresses, Fife will receive more run support and will continue to get batters out via the sinker, much the same way Derek Lowe did in Dodger Blue. This run support will allow the 25-year-old rookie to notch multiple wins in the second half of the season, solidifying the rotation.
Expect Fife to take over Aaron Harang's spot in the rotation, developing into the team's No. 4 starter alongside Clayton Kershaw, Chris Capuano and Chad Billingsley.
With the proper depth on the roster and an ownership willing to take on extra cash, now is the time for Juan Uribe to leave Los Angeles.
After being an integral part of the Giants' 2010 World Series Championship, Uribe signed a three-year, $21 million dollar deal and has vastly underperformed.
Uribe is hitting an abysmal .196 this season with only 17 RBI in 54 games. With the additions of Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino, Jerry Hairston Jr. can focus his attention on third base, giving the Dodgers flexibility to cut ties with the 33-year-old third baseman.
Expect the Dodgers to use Hairston as the backup third baseman, giving the team no reason nor incentive to keep the under-performing veteran.
The Los Angeles Dodgers made key acquisitions to bolster their bullpen before the trading deadline, forming one of the best units in baseball. Randy Choate, from the Florida Marlins, has posted a 2.22 ERA this season and will become the Dodgers' main left-handed reliever out of the pen.
Left-handed hitters are batting .134 against Choate this season, and with the health concerns of Scott Elbert, the Dodgers needed a big-time lefty.
The Dodgers also acquired hard-throwing reliever Brandon League from Seattle. League recorded 37 saves last season and can bring it in the high-90s, posting a career BB/K ratio better than 2.0.
League and Choate will complement the league's fourth-best bullpen statistically (a 3.14 ERA this season). Combine theses additions with Kenley Jansen, Ronald Bellisario and the recently resurgent Javy Guerra, and you have one of the best bullpens in Major League Baseball.
The change of scenery for Hanley Ramirez has payed dividends for not only his personal career, but will tremendously benefit the Dodgers in the final months of the regular season.
Ramirez looks rejuvenated and focused for this playoff contender, and his play on the field speaks to his new-found energy. In his first eight games with the Dodgers, Ramirez has driven in eight runs while stealing two bases.
Now that the trading deadline has officially passed, Ramirez will continue his hot hitting and finish the season with a .300-plus batting average on his new team. Expect Ramirez to solidify the third base position defensively, while adding some serious pop in the five hole to protect Andre Ethier.
Although Ramirez may only be a one year rental, with an option for 2014, but his play down the stretch in 2012 will make the Dodgers' investment worthwhile.
During the first month of the season, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier carried the Dodgers offensively to the best record in baseball at 16-9.
Kemp was hitting well over .400 driving the ball to the opposite field, while Ethier was leading the National League in RBI during the first two months of the season.
Since Kemp's injury in the middle of May, the two sluggers in the middle of the offense have struggled to click on a consistent basis.
Dodger fans are waiting for another monstrous month from their superstars, who both signed long-term contracts this season and will be the faces of the franchise for years to come.
In the last four games, Kemp has recorded 11 hits and is starting to heat up ever since the arrival of Ramirez. Ethier meanwhile, is continuing to pile one or two hits a night and will most likely remain around the .300 mark for most of the season.
Regardless, if Ethier is driving in runs and Kemp plays at a triple crown rate in the final two months like last season, the offense will vastly improve, resulting in more victories for the Dodgers.
With the trade deadline officially passed, the Dodgers can still acquire players via waiver trades until August 31st, if the player clears waivers with their team.
The Dodgers need help in their starting rotation and would love to acquire a No. 3 starter or at the least, a solid innings eater who can complement Kershaw and Capuano.
Expect the Dodgers to make a hard move at Matt Garza and Kevin Correia, pitchers who would fit quite well with this team down the stretch.
The only issue for the Dodgers is that every team with a worse record has the opportunity to bid against them to take away these players.
Nevertheless, the Dodgers could always add a starting pitcher and some left-handed help offensively, and this next month will provide this team plenty of opportunities to improve their roster.
For the first time since the days of Manny Ramirez, the Los Angeles Dodgers will qualify for the postseason.
This team is loaded in the bullpen, posts a pitching staff that will improve with the return of Ted Lilly and has developed a strong prospect in Stephen Fife.
Offensively, the Dodgers have solidified their lineup with the additions of Shane Victorino and Hanley Ramirez to complement Ethier and Kemp.
Get ready Dodger fans because when October roles around, your team will be preparing for the postseason instead of grabbing their clubs for a winter round of golf.