Los Angeles Dodgers Need to Make the Playoffs to Justify the Red Sox Trade

Paul Francis Sullivan@@sullybaseballChief Writer ISeptember 14, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 13:  Manager Don Mattingly #88 of the Los Angeles Dodgers consoles Josh Beckett #61 after he was thrown out at first base  by the right fielder during the third inning at Dodger Stadium on September 13, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The great blockbuster trade that was supposed to propel the Los Angeles Dodgers to the National League West title is unraveling into a potential bust that only a postseason appearance can redeem.

A strangely and agonizingly symbolic moment happened in the September 13th game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Dodgers needed a win in order to move past the Cardinals in the wild-card chase, and newly acquired starter Josh Beckett was pitching well but the Los Angeles offense was non-existent.

In the third inning with the score tied 1-1, Beckett led off the frame and singled to right field. Something positive was brewing for the Dodgers. But St. Louis right fielder Carlos Beltran picked up the ball and fired it to first base, retiring Beckett, who was not exactly flying out of the batter's box.

Instead of a leadoff hit, Beckett hit into a 9-3 groundout.

The Dodgers lost the game 2-1. They fell 7.5 games out of first place in the National League West and two games back of the wild card. They can not afford to lose many more games.

And the way they lost was symbolized by the Beckett groundout. The team has played lackluster ball where even their hits do not count.

When the Dodgers made the trade, it was supposed to be a boost for their offense adding Adrian Gonzalez. Beckett was going to add another arm and Carl Crawford was going to be everyone's favorite $20 million platoon outfielder next season.

It was a trade made for right now. As I wrote in a previous article, it was made to not only boost the Dodgers' fortunes but to compete for Los Angeles sports fans' attention with the Lakers, Kings, Trojans and Clippers all returning in the fall.

The Dodgers won the first game after the deal, 8-2, in an August 25 game against the Marlins at Chavez Ravine. Adrian Gonzalez homered in his first at-bat. Everything seemed magical.

They were a half game out of the playoffs and only two back of the Giants, still reeling from the Melky Cabrera suspension.

Since then, the Dodgers are 5-12 and Matt Kemp's shoulder issues may have put the nail in the Dodgers' coffin.

They are not only losing, they simply can not score either. In the 17 games since that victory over Miami, the Dodgers have been held to three runs or fewer, 13 times. In their current four-game skid they have scored a total of three runs.

The deal is becoming a short-term bust. And the specter of Beckett, Gonzalez and Crawford's contracts clogging up the payroll for the next six seasons will make the logic of the trade seem hazier and hazier as the years go by.

The Dodgers had better make the playoffs this year, or else this deal might go down as one of the biggest busts in team history.


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