The Dodgers’ most electric offensive player and prized trade-deadline acquisition put on a show against the Cardinals last Thursday. Manny Machado’s 3-4 night included an edge-of-your-seat seventh inning at bat, culminating in a home run to deep center.
His performance is a manifestation of the Dodgers’ trade deadline strategy that sold out on offense, created exciting baseball and will doom the Dodgers to another year without a World Series.
Machado, who joined the team less than two weeks before the trade deadline, was not the only late acquisition for the Dodgers. The team also acquired second-baseman Brian Dozier from the Minnesota Twins. Both these moves are understandable, on some level.
Something needed to be done about second base, with Logan Forsythe underperforming and Chase Utley sputtering out on his career. Dozier is a known second-half player, coming alive offensively in September. Machado was the most prized player on the market and allowed the Dodgers to put a power hitting shortstop back into the top of the lineup in the absence of Corey Seager.
The idea was that the market for pitchers at the deadline was simply too weak, so the Dodgers would try to simply out-score their opponents instead. The exciting baseball that came as a byproduct would be a nice financial cherry on top for the front office and might keep the fans entertained. The problem is, fans in LA don’t want to watch exciting baseball. They want to watch championship baseball.
Sure, the Dodgers might make the playoffs. If the stars align, they might even win the division. Ask any true Dodger fan if that counts as working and they won’t even entertain the question. For the Dodgers, “working” is and should be defined as winning the World Series, something that requires depth in both the starting rotation and the bullpen.
Right now, the Dodgers are shallow in both. The pitching is so bad that no matter how weak the market may have been at the deadline, it could not have possibly been weaker than the Dodgers’ current pitching staff.
The only thing more frustrating than watching the Dodgers’ starting pitching since the all-star break is watching Ned Colletti and Nomar Garciaparra try to justify its ineptitude. The boys in blue have Clayton Kershaw and absolutely nobody else, unless you really want to pretend that Hyun Jin Ryu is a playoff caliber pitcher capable of keeping his labrum intact throughout the postseason.
Alex Wood and Ross Stripling would round out a solid top-three playoff rotation, but Wood was sent to the bullpen to supposedly make up for its abhorrence. Stripling returned from prolonged injury too late in the season to be back in rhythm by the postseason.
Six Dodgers have multiple blown saves this year. Some teams pitch the majority of the year with only six arms in their bullpen. This is what having an unreliable pen looks like; when a team that expects to win the World Series can’t call on anyone behind the outfield gates, it doesn’t do any favors for the guy on the mound.
It would be great to take Baez, Cingrani, Chargois or Fergusson out when they struggle, but because of its trade deadline strategy, the Dodgers simply don’t have that option.
Kershaw’s recent start against the Cardinals is a perfect example of the problem. The Dodger ace earned a quality start, going six innings and allowing three runs. The Dodgers won 9-7. There is no reasonable expectation of making the World Series when the team is allowing seven runs in games started by their ace. And, last time I checked, the Dodgers were not scoring nine runs a game. Ned Colletti and Nomar Garciaparra can say “getting the win is all that counts” till the cows come home, but the way things are going, that will be much sooner than it should be.
It’s okay though, Dodger general manager Farhan Zaidi expects us to believe, because Machado is just so much fun to watch. Maybe that’s true, but Los Angeles fans would have liked to have had as much fun watching their team last November as Houston fans had watching theirs.