SPORTS COLUMN: A Big Risk for the Dodgers

Before the start of the 2012 Major League Baseball season, Magic Johnson, the new part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, said that the team would have a “win at all costs” approach to the upcoming season. The team knew that it would not be able to win the World Series with only outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, and starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Johnson and General Manager Ned Colletti seized a huge opportunity recently to improve their roster by acquiring Boston Red Sox’s power-hitting first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Due to the Dodgers falling out of first place in the National League West Division to the San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers acquired Miami Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez and Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino to further improve the team. However, on August 25, the Dodgers completed the largest trade in franchise history, which included nine players and a quarter of a billion dollars. The Dodgers received starting pitcher Josh Beckett, left fielder Carl Crawford (out for the season due to an elbow injury), and second basemen Nick Punto from the Boston Red Sox in addition to Gonzalez.

Despite being traded due to the Red Sox’s desire to rebuild for the future, Gonzalez is still considered one of the top players in all of baseball. He is a major upgrade over former first basemen James Loney who was batting .241 with four homeruns compared to Gonzalez’s .305 and 16 homeruns. Ramirez is a much better hitter and defender than former starting shortstop Dee Gordon as Ramirez’s .301 career batting average proves. Additionally, Victorino adds veteran experience and depth to a youthful but injury-prone team.

The Dodgers are currently 1.5 games back of the Saint Louis  Cardinals in the National League Wild Card race. The Dodgers has one of the best pitching teams in the league with Kershaw, last year’s Cy Young Award Winner, and Chris Capuano, who is having an excellent season. With the new players and the core the team had before the trading deadline, many baseball fans expect the team to make it to the playoffs and go to the World Series. There are only a few teams in the league such as the Texas Rangers and the Washington Nationals that can match the Dodgers’ offensive explosiveness.

The future looks bright as the Dodgers have all of their core players under contract until 2014  except Kershaw, who is likely to resign. Although the Dodgers acquired so many new players, the team still has most of their top minor league prospects like starting  pitcher Zach Lee.

The Dodgers now have the building blocks of an offensive dynasty with Kemp, Ethier, Ramirez, Kershaw, and Gonzalez .Although the Dodgers will have to pay more than $ 250 million in yearly salary, Dodger fans have a lot to be excited about for years to come.