MLB Trade Rumors: L.A. Dodgers Must Clean House Before Making Next Move
According to Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti, he's only just begun.
Just moments after finalizing the deal for Kansas City Royals outfielder Scott Podsednik, Colletti said to the media, "As of right now, it's all pitching between now and the 31st."
But clearly, with just a little over two days remaining before Saturday's 4:00 pm trade deadline, the Dodgers have some sorting out to do with their roster.
By adding Podsednik, Los Angeles gets a player who is almost a mirror image of current Dodgers outfielder Xavier Paul.
Both are left-handed hitters, the only differences between the two are Podsednik is a bit quicker on the basepaths and offers a ton more experience, while Paul has a much stronger arm defensively.
So it's safe to suppose that if Manny Ramirez returns in the coming weeks that Paul is either included in another trade package which will take place before Saturday, or he will be optioned back to Triple-A Albuquerque to create roster space.
For now, Paul is safe as Colletti emphasized that the biggest reason for acquiring Podsednik was to use him as a safeguard in case Ramirez and injured Reed Johnson remain sidelined longer than expected.
Assuming that the starting outfield for the most part will consist of Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier down the stretch of the season, 16-year veteran Garret Anderson will likely be pushed aside, clearing space for Podsednik and a healthy Reed Johnson as reserves.
While the Dodgers' most recent struggles have obviously been caused by a lack of offense, especially in the power department, Jay Gibbons, John Lindsey, and Russ Mitchell continue to tear the hide off the ball in Albuquerque.
Yet, instead of giving an opportunity to one of these farm players, Los Angeles has decided to play with a total of four outfielders and 13 pitchers over the recent weeks. Among the four outfielders, Garret Anderson maintains a roster spot, despite batting .182 and having only two home runs, 12 RBI, and a .277 slugging percentage in 148 at-bats this season.
And among the 13 pitchers on the squad, James McDonald (11.12 ERA), Travis Schlichting (3.00 ERA), Jack Taschner (27.00 ERA as a Dodger), Jeff Weaver (4.09 ERA), and George Sherrill (6.94 ERA), have all been used as middle relievers in tight contests over the last few weeks, and have been nothing short of eaten alive by opposing hitters.
To add insult to injury, Sherrill has been occupying a very valuable roster spot despite being placed on waivers by the club on July 14.
As lefty ace Clayton Kershaw continues to serve his five-game suspension for plunking a San Francisco Giants outfielder last week, John Ely is expected to get at least a spot start this weekend, which will require an additional vacant roster spot. Also, yet another opening on the squad will be needed to make room for Podsednik on Thursday.
All that being said, both Ned Colletti and manager Joe Torre will be busy over the next 24 hours playing musical chairs with personnel.
As Colletti says he's finished with making moves for position players before the trade deadline, the Dodgers bench still lacks any kind of pop whatsoever in the power department.
Podsednik (5 HR), Reed Johnson (0 HR), Jamey Carroll (0 HR), Brad Ausmus (0 HR), Garret Anderson (2 HR), and even Ronnie Belliard (.213 avg., 2 HR) pose the least bit of threat to knock the ball out of the yard if used in pinch hitting roles. Overall, Los Angeles ranks 25th in the Major League in home runs as a team.
As of Thursday evening, the Dodgers have won five of their last seven games, yet they still remain six games back of the division leading San Diego Padres. Their weaknesses are clear—lack of offense and ineffective middle relief in the bullpen.
Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, and Casey Blake have all been playing below their potential, and need to find their grooves in a big kind of way if Los Angeles is going to have success.
In terms of making trades, perhaps Ned Colletti needs to prioritize middle relief pitchers over the starting rotation, because the starters have been throwing just fine.
And get the roster back in working order, too.
With only 61 games remaining on the schedule, and the Dodgers hoping to close out in strong fashion, there's absolutely no room for error—and certainly little room for players batting less than .200, or pitchers with more than a 6.00 ERA.
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