Last month I wrote how unexcited I was about the Dodgers non-waiver trade deadline when they acquired reliever George Sherrill from the Baltimore Orioles. Although it was a wise move by General Manager Ned Colletti that has paid dividends I never get excited about a relief pitcher.
Fast forward to Monday night, with the years final trade deadline looming the Dodgers made one final splash by acquiring Chicago White Sox designated hitter Jim Thome and Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Jon Garland just before the 9 PM deadline.
Thome who has played both third base and first base in his 19 year career will be a big time bat off the bench the Dodgers will be able to turn to late in games. Thome has played in the playoffs several times and has appeared in two World Series with Cleveland in 1995 and 1997. Although he is 39 the guy is still a virtual lock to hit 25-30 home runs and drive in 80-90 runs if he is an everyday player. In a article by Jim Peltz of the LA Times, Colletti has already gone on record saying “We’re not bringing him over here to play first base. We’re bringing him over here to come off the bench and be a great influence in the clubhouse.”
Thome will indeed provide a great influence to the clubhouse. Younger players like James Loney, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier should benefit the most from his leadership. Most importantly he is a good friend to Manny Ramirez who as all of us know has a history of being an emotional wild card during his career.
In addition to what Thome brings to “The Azul” as Fox Sports Radio’s Vic “The Brick” Jacobs likes to say, it takes away from the San Francisco Giants who are in desperate need of a bat. Considering the Giants operate on a tighter budget than the Dodgers, it’s likely the only way they could made a move for Thome was if he passed through waivers unclaimed which meant Giants General Manager Brian Sabean could have signed him at a reduced rate. No Giants fan could argue that Thome would not have been a better fit at first base than Ryan Garko who has given them relatively nothing since being acquired from Cleveland in a trade roughly a month ago. In sports there is addition by addition and addition by subtraction and the Dodgers accomplished both by bringing Thome to Chavez Ravine.
By acquiring Garland the Dodgers pick up a quality fifth starter or someone that could provide them long relief out of the bullpen. Garland is 8-11 with a 4.29 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP this season on a very poor Arizona Diamondbacks team that is near the bottom in runs scored, but if you look at his numbers closer he is 4-7 with a 3.56 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP since June.
Like Thome, Garland has playoff experience including a World Series ring he won with the Chicago White Sox in 2005. Garland has won 18 games twice in his career and while with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last season he posted a record of 14-8 with a 4.90 ERA. Garland is the type of pitcher that will not go out and dominate a game but he gives you a chance every time he toes the rubber which is all you can ask for from your starter. While the need for a starting arm was a definite priority it was also a way of saying “touche” to the Giants acquisition of Brad Penny, a former Dodger who was recently granted his release by the Boston Red Sox.
These moves should give the Dodgers the boost to finish the season strong while capturing their second consecutive NL West title and provide the team with some momentum entering October. Should they make the World Series, fans will be ecstatic that the left handed, right handed power hitting combination of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Manny Ramirez and JIm Thome will be on display in AL parks.