It’s that time of year again. Twitter and the other media outlets are full of speculation about trades the Dodgers should (and shouldn’t be making) in order to perfect the team and break their generation-long World Series drought. I’ve engaged in the opining and debating myself. I’ve talked about it in Youtube videos and pushed my two cents worth into Twitter arguments about who to trade for, and which prospects are untouchable.
It seems a lot of us who aren’t in the Dodgers’ front office are arguing the Dodgers should make a trade for a starting pitcher. There’s another large group that’s saying the team should focus on shoring up the bullpen. I’ve come to the conclusion this should not be an “either-or” debate. In fact, the Dodgers need – and should definitely acquire – both a starter and a bullpen arm if they are serious about locking down a World Series championship in 2017.
The Dodgers’ number one ace, Clayton Kershaw, is on the DL with a strained back muscle. Although the signs of his coming back quickly from that are good, it’s his second back issue in as many seasons, and one never knows what complications can arise or linger with the back. You think hamstring injuries are tough to overcome? Try a bad back.
My point is, the Dodgers need a replacement starter as Kershaw insurance. If Clayton returns strong and remains that way, the Dodgers haven’t lost anything, and are exponentially a better team with a stronger arm than they presently have in the number four slot.
There are those who insist the bullpen is a more pressing need because the playoffs and World Series are decided by bullpens much more so than starters. I get that, and agree the Dodgers bullpen could use a bit of shoring up. Trading for a quality bullpen arm would not be a bad move.
The false debate in all of this is the split over starters or relievers. The Dodgers have the money, the prospects and/or current players needed to secure both, thus securing a stronger team for the fall tournament. I don’t profess to be privy to enough information to propose specific trades for specific players, and that isn’t what this column is about.
That said, the Dodgers must be creative enough to mix and match resources to make the pitching side of the team as strong as possible. And it’s just not there yet.
They don’t have to worry about the offense. We all know it’s a different hero every night, and they have displayed more than enough comeback magic, but the big blue arms still give off a bit more drama than I like to see on my team.
Baseball has always been about pitching, pitching, pitching. The Fall Classic even more so. I’m not naive enough to think the Dodgers can guarantee World Series success with a trade for the right starter, or if they find the right bullpen piece, but I know they will get a heck of a lot closer to that championship by adding two big pieces to the mix, rather than one.
The front office has been hesitant to make that one big trade for the past couple of seasons, thinking the team was strong enough to make it all the way. They thought piecemeal moves were enough. History and the number of championships the Dodgers won over that period have exposed the weakness in this thinking. Enough with injury-prone, middle of the road, bargain experiments that hope for the best, combined with iffy pitchers already on the roster. That’s given nothing in return but early playoff exits.
It’s tough enough to get into the Fall Classic. Once you’re in it, every pitch is magnified ten-fold. Halfway measures never won a championship. The Dodgers must fortify the starting rotation and shore up the bullpen if they want to be dancing on the steps of city hall in October.