To say 2018 has gone to plan would be a misguided, incorrect, and outlandish statement. To say the Dodger bullpen has been a quality piece to the puzzle that is a baseball season would, like the former claim, be false. And with time running out on the season, and what feels like little room to escape the box that has confined the Dodgers, a trade must be made in August to save this sinking ship. If not, it would be a colossal letdown.
The Dodgers certainly did work before the trade deadline, that is a fact. Going out and acquiring two All-Star caliber middle infielders is no small task nor is it an accomplishment that can be dismissed in any conversation.
Those trades made the Dodger infielder look unstoppable on paper and even if they have not quite done that just yet, the intent was there when the moves were made.
But, for a moment, shift your attention and approval to the work that was done on the bullpen. A bullpen that has had an ERA slowly rising from troublesome to oblivion and what could quite possibly end up being the downfall of the Dodgers late in the year. This is a bullpen that needed help at the July 31st deadline and has proven that they needed it since day one of August.
So, what did the front office do to solve this issue? What did they do to nip the problem in the bud? They traded for John Axford.
Now there is zero animosity towards the aging righty, John Axford. In fact, the 35-year old has quite the resume. Axford is an All-Star, a one-time Reliever of the Year winner, a finisher in the top-10 for a Cy Young award as a closer, and a one time league saves leader.
But, the days of epic appearances and shut down ninth innings appear to be in the past for Axford who currently owns a 5.13 ERA, a 1.288 WHIP, 54 strikeouts to 22 walks, and an ERA+ of a measly 83.’
So, needless to say, John Axford was a disappointment in terms of the caliber of the player in which the Dodgers should, and could, have acquired.
This all brings us to August; a month in which players can still be traded but now with a caveat, they must go through waivers.
Regardless of the extra step, it is now that the Dodgers have an opportunity to take what baseball so seldom hands out, second chances. This is the Dodgers opportunity to acquire a reliever or even a position player who can fix what has been a horrifying month for a team that is expected to win the division and as well as be a contender come October.
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Now the big question remains: who? Who can the Dodgers acquire and what idea should you have when thinking about the options to save the day? The answer can be found in teams looking to start over, the rebuild franchises.
These teams hold the keys to success. They have players like Kelvin Herrera from Washington or Andrew McCutchen (who is not an option for LA) on the Giants. Players the Dodgers would benefit from includes Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen, Keone Kela, and more.
In the event that these players will come at an undesirable cost, the Dodgers will need to dig deep and consider where they stand and what they want for 2018. If the goal is a World Series, a trade at a higher cost could be worth the loss.
But, to every good argument, there is a counter, a flip-side, that contradicts the point. Here, it lies in a question:
What happens if the Dodgers just lay low and see what they are made of come crunch time?
The answer is simple. They can do that. They could just rely on guys like Dylan Floro, Caleb Ferguson, Ross Stripling, and Kenley Jansen to shoulder the load and carry the team to the promised land but, guys burn out, they are, after all, human.
But what must be considered before just laying low is the risk that it will come with. Can the Dodgers really afford to leave this season up to fate as ultimately, that is what the season will come down to and the Dodgers should do everything in their power to coax it in their own favor?
Baseball is a game built on chance and luck. But, what general managers are paid to do is create teams that can best navigate the sporadicness of a season. The Dodgers did not do that perfectly in July, and with an opportunity for redemption in August, the lack of a trade would be a huge mistake.