At first the Dodgers were supposedly in the market for a starting pitcher. They haven't had a regular fifth starter all season, and critics complained that Chad Billingsley wasn't a real ace, or that Clayton Kershaw was too young to be counted on. But the Blue Jays were asking for the deed to Dodger Stadium in return for Roy Halladay, and Cleveland chose to raid the Phillies' prospect pantry instead of the Dodgers'.
Then we heard the Dodgers were in the market for a reliever. After Ronald Belisario went on the disabled list, it seems every reliever in the bullpen hit a rough stretch or two. While the return of Hong-Chih Kuo is helpful, he can't be relied upon to stay healthy.
Now, after yet another game in which the Dodgers lose while outhitting the opposition, it wouldn't be surprising to hear that the team was shopping for a bat. (Note: The speculation is entirely mine. I'm not basing it on any rumors.) Victor Martinez is supposedly available, as are a host of less desirable names (Nick Johnson, Marco Scutaro).
These shifting priorities show there's no single acquisition Ned Colletti can make that will solve all the team's problems — unless Albert Pujols learns how to pitch and demands a trade to the NL West. The breadth of the Dodgers' talent, which served them so well during the first half, is now being cited as the reason they need to make a trade.
To an extent, it's easy to see why: The starters have mostly been good for only five or six innings, and the staff lacks an experienced stopper with complete-game potential. As a result, the bullpen, while effective, has been overworked. And situational hitting has been killing the team lately, with LOBs and GIDPs piling up like bad alphabet soup.
With the team's first slump of the season coinciding with the trade deadline, Dodger fans are holding their breath. Outside help would be welcomed — if the price isn't too high. But fans and management should realize that, unlike last year's deadline acquisition of Manny Ramirez, there's no magic bullet (or snipe, if you will) that will put the team over the top. Expectations, and costs, are much higher this time around.
Loretta photo by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers