Dodgers Acquisitions One-Upped Giants
The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers have one of baseball’s most storied rivalries. This season, it has heated up as the Giants have a three-game lead in the National League West standings over their southern California neighbor.
Yet it is the Dodgers, and not the Giants, which appear to have an edge after events over the last week.
Melky Cabrera – who had a .346 average with 11 home runs, 60 RBI, 10 triples and a .906 OPS – was suspended for the remainder of the regular season earlier in the week after it was announced he tested positive for testosterone, which is deemed an illegal performance-enhancing drug.
Then, as it has widely been reported this weekend, the Dodgers acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto for James Loney and minor leaguers Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus.
Suddenly, the Dodgers lineup looks much more formidable than the Giants with Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and Gonzalez added in the last month to a mix that already included Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.
On paper, the Giants rotation (which features Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong) is better suited for the stretch run and the playoffs than the Dodgers (which have Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Joe Blanton and now Beckett), but the Dodgers have the majors’ third-best starters’ ERA at 3.48 while the Dodgers are at No. 5 with a 3.58 mark.
Right fielder Hunter Pence, who was expected to provide some power and run production in the middle of the lineup when he was acquired from Philadelphia last month, is batting .198 with just one home run in a Giants uniform.
Aside from Pence, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval, who recently returned from the disabled list, the Giants have little power. Names like Brandon Crawford (shortstop), Gregor Blanco (who replaced Cabrera in left field), Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt (a promising young first baseman who has yet to generate runs in the majors) dot the lineup, placing more pressure on the Giants’ pitching staff to shut down opposing hitters.
The Giants are seventh in the majors in hitting while the Dodgers are at No. 20, but the stats that compose those overall rankings are misleading now that Cabrera is suspended for the rest of the season, Pence is struggling and the Dodgers lineup now features Ramirez, Victorino and Gonzalez.
For the Giants to finish ahead of the Dodgers, pitching will be key. Of course, San Francisco could also make a trade to upgrade their lineup before the August 31 deadline, but it is unlikely they will be able to land a hitter of Gonzalez’s caliber.