New Ownership Wants to Win it all in 2012
Funded by the deep pockets of their new ownership, the Los Angeles Dodgers did not wait until the off-season to upgrade their roster. The ownership group is showing that it wants to win it all in 2012.
The Dodgers didn’t stop with acquiring shortstop Hanley Ramirez and reliever Randy Choate from the Marlins, reliever Brandon League from the Mariners and outfielder Shane Victorino from the Phillies. On Saturday, they finalized the deal that brought first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, starting pitcher Josh Beckett, utility player Nick Punto and outfielder Carl Crawford to Los Angeles.
Emphasizing their “win at all costs” approach for this season, the Dodgers will pay all but $10 million to $12 million of the $272 million that remains on the contracts of the four players, according to media reports.
Another indicator that the new owners are aiming for a World Series parade this fall? Crawford recently underwent Tommy John surgery and, depending on his rehab progress, will likely not be Major League ready until anywhere from next May to July.
Whether the Dodgers can make the playoffs and even reach the World Series remains to be seen, yet there is no question that the team is much better today than it was before the flurry of trades.
Also, earlier this year, the new owners signed Ethier to an $85 million extension and inked high-profile Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million contract. Kemp was signed to an eight-year, $160 million contract last off-season.
The Dodgers – which are 68-58, three games behind San Francisco in the National League West and 1.5 games behind St. Louis for the second wild card spot – can now author a lineup that features Victorino, Ramirez, Gonzalez, Kemp and Ethier.
The rotation features Clayton Kershaw, who is 11-7 with a 2.87 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. The Dodgers are third in the majors in starters’ ERA at 3.48, but beyond Kershaw, the club’s starting pitching features Chad Billingsley, who left Friday’s start with right elbow inflammation and the injury prone arms of Chris Capuano and Joe Blanton. Veteran Aaron Harang is having a productive season at 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA.
The Dodgers are hopeful that Beckett will flourish in a new uniform. He is the midst of the worst season in his 12-year Major League career with a 5-11 record, a 5.23 ERA, a 1.33 WHIP and a .266 batting average against.
Over his last 10 starts, he is 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA, and he is 1-4 with a 7.11 ERA since the All-Star break. In August, Beckett has a 0-2 record and a 9.92 ERA in three starts, including an opponent’s batting average of .304. This follows a 1-2 record and a 6.08 ERA in July when opposing hitters had a .311 average against him.
Beckett has a post-season pedigree, though, with a 7-3 record and 3.07 ERA in 14 games postseason (13 starts).
Even with all of the additions, the Dodgers are not a lock to reach the playoffs. They are a half-game ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates and trail Atlanta and St. Louis in the wild card hunt. Anything short of a World Series appearance will be a disappointment for the organization after adding so much payroll.