The Los Angeles Dodgers are in first place in the National League West. The Dodgers have the best record in the National League and the second-best record in all of baseball.
So, there’s no reason to worry, right? Everything in L.A. is as kosher as a Hebrew Dodger Dog, right?
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The Dodgers need help. The longer slugger Matt Kemp sits on the disabled list, the more the Dodgers struggle and the closer the San Francisco Midgets creep in the NL West.
Most of the rumors surrounding the Dodgers center around pitching as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. The Dodgers have been linked to Cole Hamels, Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and, according to Dodger Nation, Wandy Rodriguez.
Do you know what I say to all of those rumors? “Fuh-get about it!”
The Dodgers don’t need pitching; they need a power bat! Would Hamels help bolster the Dodgers’ starting pitching? Unquestionably. However, that isn’t the biggest need on the team as it waits for Kemp’s fragile hamstring to heal.
As the Dodgers have struggled through a very mediocre month of June with a 10-8 record, pitching hasn’t been the problem. In the eight June losses, the Dodgers have averaged 1.6 runs a game. There have been two shutouts and two losses where the Dodgers only scored one run.
The Dodgers rank 14th out of the 16 National League teams in home runs this season. Los Angeles is also 13th in slugging percentage and ninth in RBIs. But surprisingly, the Dodgers are second in the league in on-base percentage.
What does that mean in the twisted world of sabermetrics? It means that the Dodgers are getting on base; they’re just not punching the ball over the fence and aren’t driving in timely runs.
Conversely, the Dodgers are second in the National League overall team pitching. Our boys in blue are second in team ERA, second in batting average against and fourth in quality starts.
So, as I slip on my Los Angeles GM toupee to play Ned Colletti, here is what I recommend: Put a premium on acquiring an impact bat and then work on improving the pitching.
Despite Kemp missing more than a month, he still leads the Dodgers in home runs with 12. Andre Ethier has done a stellar job of trying to fill Kemp’s void, but he can’t do it alone.
Abreu does have a .285 batting average, but he can’t hit for power any longer at this stage of his career. Abreu has only one homer this season. Gwynn has never been a power guy, and his 17 RBIs with no homers are a testament to that.
Rivera does have three homers and 21 RBIs, but his .240 average and .339 slugging percentage aren’t exactly numbers that send chills down manager Don Mattingly’s spine.
Soriano and Lee are old (both 36), and their power numbers have declined in recent years. Both players are also liabilities in the outfield, so defense would definitely suffer if the Dodgers pulled the trigger on one of those trades.
Span is only 28, but he is more like Gwynn and less like Kemp or Ethier. Span has never hit more than eight home runs in a season, so he’s not a player that would have a significant offensive impact on the Dodgers.
That leaves us with Willingham and Quentin. Willingham is 33 years old and has hit 14 homers this season and has driven in 46 runs. Willingham has proven power – seasons with 29, 26, 24 and 21 homers.
Quentin is also a proven power guy, with 31, 26 and 25 homers to his credit. This season, after missing the first two months on the disabled list, Quentin has hit six homers and has driven in 13 runs in just 19 games for the San Diego Padres.
Given the fact that Quentin plays for West-division rival San Diego, a trade for him would be more challenging for the Dodgers. However, it is a trade that is worth exploring.