3 Reasons the Los Angeles Dodgers Were Huge Winners at the Trade Deadline
Acquiring power-hitting third baseman Hanley Ramirez was a monumental deal not only for the Blue Crew’s playoff hopes but for years to come.
Adding outfielder Shane Victorino and relief pitcher Brandon League near the trade deadline proves that the Dodgers’ new management is serious about giving the Blue Crew a chance at its first World Series since 1988.
The recent transactions that the Dodgers have made make them the favorite to win the National League West and also give them a good chance to do some damage in the postseason.
Here’s why the Dodgers were huge winners at the trade deadline.
1. Drastic Offensive Improvement with Hanley Ramirez
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The acquisition of Hanley Ramirez was a huge boost to the Dodgers' offense.
The 2009 NL batting champ had been on the decline with the Marlins and was perceived as being selfish and not a team player, but he seems to have become reenergized with his new franchise and has performed well.
Having Ramirez hitting No. 5 behind Andre Ethier significantly alters opposing teams’ approaches to attacking the Dodgers’ hitters. Ethier will subsequently see better pitching and teams will be very tentative to pitch around Kemp with a great hitter both on deck and in the hole.
The Dodgers’ main downfall this season has been run production, and the team will be given a much better chance to win ballgames with a substantial run producer added to the meat of the lineup.
Not only does the 28-year-old Dominican Republic native give the Dodgers a critical offensive boost but he also fills the Blue Crew’s previous void at third base.
Primary third baseman Juan Uribe is having a career-low year and his fill-ins Adam Kennedy and Jerry Hairston Jr. did a decent job but aren’t everyday starters at 36 years old.
Although his primary position at third base due to his shift to the position upon his former Marlins’ acquisition of shortstop Jose Reyes, Ramirez has the flexibility to play shortstop and has expressed his willingness to do so if Don Mattingly request it of him.
2. Leadoff Spot Adequately Filled with Shane Victorino
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The Dodgers made a huge and unexpected move on trade deadline day when they acquired Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino, which marked the second big trade deadline deal that the Blue Crew made this season.
Not only will Victorino be a great replacement in left field, but he will be a spark to the Dodgers offense, which has lacked a solid leadoff hitter all season long.
The Dodgers would be glad to have Victorino perform at his current level, which is much higher than the production that the Dodgers’ leadoff spot has produced this season despite being a sub-par season thus far for Victorino.
With shortstop Dee Gordon, who filled the Dodgers’ leadoff spot, on the disabled list and outfielder Matt Kemp being tender with his recently injured hamstring, the Dodgers didn’t have much speed in their lineup until acquiring Ramirez and, now, Victorino.
Although Victorino has been somewhat of a villain in Los Angeles due to his antics in recent postseason matchups against the Dodgers, he will be gladly accepted as a solid outfielder, great leadoff hitter, and threat on the base paths.
3. Bullpen Depth with Randy Choate and Brandon League
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The less-mentioned acquisition in the Ramirez trade is left-handed reliever Randy Choate.
Although the middle reliever isn’t dominant and probably won’t ever get as much recognition as he deserves on the Dodgers, he adds a much-needed additional lefty to the Dodgers’ bullpen.
Prior to acquiring Choate, the team had only one lefty in the bullpen (Scott Elbert, who coincidentally became injured shortly after the Dodgers acquired Choate), which could have potentially proved detrimental in the postseason, where bullpen depth is crucial.
Choate’s utility expands beyond his mere essence as a lefthander. The 36-year-old reliever hasn’t had the most appealing career in his 12-year career that began with the New York Yankees, but he has had a solid past two seasons as a middle reliever with the Marlins.
With the Marlins this season, Choate recorded 15 holds with a 1.82 earned run average, and he has already recorded a hold with the Dodgers in four appearances.
Choate’s biggest upside is that he dominates matchups against left-handed batters, which makes him a useful specialist in the Dodger bullpen. In the past three seasons, lefties have hit .170 off the sidearm-throwing Choate.
Brandon League may have somewhat faded into anonymity after being demoted as the Mariners’ closer this season, but the 29-year-old reliever is still an above-average reliever and was a great pickup.
Although the Dodgers have already settled Kenley Jansen into the closer role, bringing League in the bullpen will give the team more security, and, in the event that Jansen hits a slump, League can also become the team’s closer.
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The Dodgers front office has made the Blue Crew an attractive postseason contender with big trade-deadline moves.
Acquiring Ramirez was a huge deal that fills the void at third base and also gives the Dodgers one of the best meats of the lineup in the National League.
The rumored but seemingly unlikely acquisition of Shane Victorino added a huge boost to the Dodgers offense with a solid leadoff hitter who can get on base for Kemp, Ethier, and Ramirez.
Fortifying the bullpen was an excellent move on the part of the front office, as the Dodgers needed a lefty and were in need of an experienced reliever in Brandon League.
This year’s Dodgers team has seen clutch performances from all around the lineup, and with consistent run production from Kemp, Ethier, Ramirez, and Victorino, they are in a great position to win the NL West.