It’s somewhat amazing to me to think that in the last 24 hours the Dodgers have made two trades – and three in the last week – and the prevailing reaction among fans as the deadline passes is “…that’s it?” That says more about the new reality we find ourselves living in with a post-McCourt glow than anything, I think.
There’s no Chase Headley, or Justin Morneau, or Josh Beckett, or Ryan Dempster – who’s going to Texas, of all places, and good luck with that, Ryan – and in fact, there’s no starting pitching coming at all. That’s tough to swallow, because it’s difficult to see this as a championship rotation right now, and in fact you now have to count on Stephen Fife contributing and Ted Lilly returning. On the offensive side, James Loney & Juan Rivera are still going to be your primary first basemen, which is hardly optimal.
That said… look at the entirety of the Dodger moves over the last week.
At first glance, it’s scary – four veterans for six prospects. But it’s hard to say that the 2012 club isn’t a better team than it was last week, right? We loved the Ramirez deal at the time and he’s done nothing but make a great impression. Victorino is iffy, but a definite improvement over the awful left fielders we’d been seeing before. Choate fills a lefty bullpen need. League is… well, he’s not a downgrade, anyway, and it was that deal which facilitated the Victorino move.
Meanwhile, all six of the young players headed out have promise, but none are irreplaceable, and with the possible exception of Eovaldi, none are really “top ten” Dodger prospects. Zach Lee? Still here, as are Chris Reed and Allen Webster and Garrett Gould and Joc Pederson and so on. We can kill the Dodgers all we want for failing to get that starting pitcher that they claimed they so badly needed, but did anyone really want to give up Webster’s career for two months of almost-certain-to-regress Ryan Dempster? I sure didn’t. I don’t know yet what Texas gave up, but if it’s less than what the Dodgers were asked to, it doesn’t matter, because that’s not the deal the Dodgers would have had.
So while I see and understand disappointment here, because this isn’t a roster that’s suddenly a behemoth like we’d had in our wildest dreams, what I see is a team that’s improved for 2012, improved for the next two seasons thanks to Ramirez, and mostly having done so by dealing second-tier prospects from positions of depth.
I don’t know if that’s good enough to contend for a World Series title, though I feel a lot better about their chances of even making it to the playoffs than I did just a week ago. Sure, the Giants got Hunter Pence, but is anyone afraid of their lineup, especially with Tim Lincecum not nearly what he was? Arizona’s big deals were for Chris Johnson & Scott Podsednik, and even Johnson can’t face Aaron Harang every night.
I do know that there’s not a single prospect headed out that I’m going to lose any sleep over. Knowing what the prices were for the flawed players out there – honestly, was Dempster really the difference maker? Can you count on Matt Garza or Josh Johnson? – it’s hard for me to say that I’m not pleased that improvements were made while ground was stood. (In this case, anyway. Still can’t believe they were willing to send Gould for Carlos Lee before.)
Besides, it’s not necessarily over yet. Trades can be made in August, it’s just far more difficult because of the waiver process. So the team we see now still may not be the team we see going down the stretch. For today? I’m somewhat melancholy, but satisfied.