Jim Bowden over at ESPN.com posted today about how the Dodgers can turn it around. And his assessment is, give up on 2013--and no matter what, don't let GM Ned Colletti keep trading away the future for the present (link insider only):
What’s wrong with the Los Angeles Dodgers?
When the Dodgers placed second baseman Mark Ellis on the disabled list Monday, their DL had five players with combined 2013 salaries of more than $60 million on it. And last week, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez had an MRI for a strained trapezius. Simply put, the Dodgers have too many players hurt and cannot compete effectively in a division that features the reigning world champion San Francisco Giants, who have retained most of last year’s team.
It’s the rotation that’s been affected the most, losing Zack Greinke, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly and Chris Capuano to the DL at various points. Frankly, it’s amazing the Dodgers have been able to hover around .500.
In addition, the left side of the diamond has been a major disappointment. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez was lost to a major hamstring injury and Justin Sellers has hovered around the Mendoza Line in his place. Meanwhile, third baseman Luis Cruz has been equally bad.
How to fix them: Honestly, the Dodgers should focus more on the next three to five years rather than this year’s team, though GM Ned Colletti has traditionally not been shy about making deals in order to win now at the expense of the future. In 2008, he traded catcher Carlos Santana to the Cleveland Indians for veteran third baseman Casey Blake -- a deal that worked in the short term, but Santana has since developed into a bona fide slugger, while Blake has retired.
With a strong core of veteran players in their prime like Clayton Kershaw, Greinke, Matt Kemp, Gonzalez and Carl Crawford already in place, the Dodgers should spend this season’s deadline fortifying that core, rather than trading for more stop-gap players for a wobbly playoff run.
For example, the club could shop outfielder Andre Ethier to the New York Mets, who desperately need outfield and middle-of-the-order help. Deal him for prospects, then flip those to the Houston Astros for 23-year-old second baseman Jose Altuve. Second base is the Dodgers' biggest long-term hole, and Altuve is a .300 hitter with great character and energy who would look great hitting behind Crawford at the top of the lineup. While the Astros are rebuilding, they have shown a willingness to trade anyone if they can add depth to their farm system.
No matter what, the Dodgers should be looking to move Ethier to acquire some depth and open up right field for prospect Yasiel Puig, who, despite immaturity issues (including his arrest last week for speeding and reckless driving), is the Dodgers’ long-term answer in right field and will eventually give them one of the most athletic speed/power outfield combinations in baseball.
Step 2 would be to poke the San Diego Padres to see what it would take to acquire third baseman Chase Headley. Here Colletti could better use his farm system (outside of Puig or Zach Lee) to deal for a 28-year-old switch-hitter and Gold Glover who is just hitting his prime. Headley would replace Ethier and his left-handed power in the middle of the lineup. Of course, Headley would have to be signed to a long-term contract, but we know the Dodgers have money to spend.
As much as the Dodgers spent over the past couple of years, it's clear this is still an incomplete team. Instead of trying to put Band-Aids on this year's club, Colletti should be looking to build a sustainable winner.
That's some strong medicine to swallow. Let's see if the Dodgers, and Ned Colletti, agree and comply.