The Dodgers were one of the most active teams at this year’s trade deadline. They acquired Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins earlier last week, and made two more trades just before the Wednesday afternoon deadline to obtain speedy OF Shane Victorino from the Philadelphia Phillies and hard throwing relief pitcher Brandon League from the Seattle Mariners. Both made their Dodger debuts Wednesday afternoon against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Were their initial performances telling of what both Victorino and League will bring to the team? We’re about to find out.
Shane Victorino gives the Dodgers another All-Star presence in the lineup offensively and brings Gold Glove defense to outfield. Victorino also gives the Dodgers the legitimate lead-off hitter they need to set the table. Victorino is only hitting .258 this season, but he still has 24 stolen bases, and is hitting .333 with a .375 OBP and a .925 OPS since the All-Star break. This is a marked improvement from the .229 batting average and .280 OBP that Dee Gordon has. Although Gordon has game-changing speed, he hasn’t really gotten on base enough to show that off. And, the Flyin’ Hawaiian brings even more added excitement to Dodger Stadium, along with Hanley Ramirez.
The Dodgers offense is markedly improved from the team that started the season, the Dodgers added both power and speed, and improved the team defense as well.
How does the Dodgers bullpen improve with the addition of Brandon League? League immediately takes the place of Josh Lindblom who was traded for Victorino. League is a big 6’2″, hard-throwing, right-handed sinker-baller. League registered 37 saves in 2010 and was an All-Star last year. He’s struggled this season allowing opposing batters to hit .280 off of him and blowing six of 15 save chances before Tom Wilhelmsen assumed Seattle’s closer role.
However, League is versatile, and can pitch setup in the 8th inning, like he’d been doing in Seattle. Should Kenley Jansen or Javy Guerra encounter any troubles or injury, League is also an experienced closer. League also gives the Dodgers a power arm out of the bullpen, which is generally necessary in the playoffs. Other than Jansen, the Dodgers have lacked that guy out of the bullpen that can just blow it by opposing hitters. With the addition of League and Randy Choate, as well, the Dodgers have a much more powerful and flexible bullpen.
For the first time in a while, the Dodgers were extremely active at trade deadline time. The Guggenheim Baseball Group has shown an interest in fielding a winning team and have the funds to do so. There’s a scene in the movie Moneyball where Brad Pitt, portraying Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane, is pleading over the phone with his owner for just a little bit more money to pursue good players. This was the same dilemma Ned Colletti encountered under Frank McCourt’s ownership.
No more, not under the new ownership.
Colletti is free to assume salary and spend money, the main reason they acquired Ramirez, and another reason the Dodgers are back to contending. The Dodgers will need a strong push, as the San Francisco Giants have countered the Dodgers by acquiring Hunter Pence from the Phillies, and the Arizona Diamondbacks sit 1 1/2 games behind the Dodgers after sweeping their three-game series.