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Los Angeles Dodgers Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Mark Ellis
If Dodgers and Giants fans are enjoying the 2012 fight for the NL West title, this year is simply a preview of what's to come
Both teams have made several moves geared toward building winners this season, but a closer look reveals that Los Angeles and San Francisco are both built for long-term success.
The Dodgers have been hunting for devalued stars with hefty contracts, implementing a strategy that was designed to create a winner immediately without jeopardizing the franchise's future by gutting an already thin minor league system.
With money no longer an issue, Los Angeles took advantage of bad situations in Miami and Boston to acquire premium talents like Hanley Ramirez and reportedly Adrian Gonzalez without giving up too much talent in return.
In the five trades the Dodgers have made this year (assuming the deal with the Boston Red Sox goes through), Los Angeles has only had to give up two of its best prospects (RHPs Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster). It would normally take two prospects of that caliber to get one major league All-Star in his prime.
Assuming the deal with the Red Sox gets done, the Dodgers now have a core of eight players (2012 All-Stars Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp, plus former All-Stars Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, Ramirez and Gonzalez) who are between 24 and 32 years of age. Add SS Dee Gordon (24), Cuban OF Yasiel Puig (21) and top pitching prospect Zach Lee (20) to the mix, and Los Angeles is well positioned to contend for the foreseeable future.
The Giants are in a similarly strong position with great players like Pablo Sandoval (26), Buster Posey (25), Tim Lincecum (28), Matt Cain (27) and Madison Bumgarner (23) setting the foundation for a long run of success.
If Brandon Belt (24) can continue his development and top prospect Gary Brown (23) can win the starting job in center field next season, San Francisco will be in even better shape going forward.
With a great combination of youth and experience, both the Dodgers and Giants should be feared by National League foes for a long time.