Game-Change Move By Dodgers

Gone: First baseman James Loney is now a member of the Boston Red Sox after being traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Credit: Dennis J. Freeman

The Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t playing around.  The management brass of the men in blue is not sitting up in their luxury box seats faking the funk. It’s very clear to Major League Baseball and the rest of the sports establishment that the moves the Dodgers are making is to re-establish themselves as one of the premier teams in baseball.

It’s no secret that the Dodgers have slumbered in recent years and have not risen to the level of elite status for quite awhile. Not since Kirk Gibson’s World Series walk-off home run in 1988 against the Oakland A’s, have the Dodgers won a title. That’s a pretty long time. It’s been awhile since real buzz have commenced at Cesar Chavez Ravine, home of the Dodgers.

Long before the Lakers began their circle of dominance in the NBA, long before the Raiders and Rams decided to flip-flop city loyalty, playing up one region’s alliance over another in their own version of pro football’s tug-o-war, the Dodgers were the sports darlings in Southern California. Not anymore. The Showtime era in the 1980s put the Lakers front and center of the Los Angeles sports universe.

Basically, the Purple and Gold, with the likes of Magic Johnson, Pat Riley and James Worthy, stole the Dodgers thunder and haven’t looked back in the race to the top spot of the most popular sport in the city of Angels. The Dodgers are trying to change that.

Since the new ownership of the team, including Johnson, have taken over the reins, the agenda has been clear for the organization to follow.

Mediocre output and lackluster production won’t cut it anymore. Apathy won’t be part of this ballclub.  When the Dodgers looked around and saw what the Lakers have been doing, what the Los Angeles Kings and Los Angeles Galaxy have done in the past year, securing team titles in their respective sports, Ned Colleti and company knew they have to step up their game to math their peers’ success.

They’re now moving in that direction. Since the new ownership group bought the team from Frank McCourt, the Dodgers have made aggressive strides to right a ship that appeared to be slowly sinking and fading away. The team has gone a step further, dumping five players, including first baseman James Loney for slugger Adrian Gonzales, triple threat batter Carl Crawford and former World Series MVP Josh Beckett in a big-as-you-can-get trade with the Boston Red Sox.

“We continue to do everything in our power to strengthen our team for the stretch drive in an effort to reach the postseason, Colleti said the day of the trade. “This trade today exemplifies ownership’s commitment to making the team as good as possible not only for 2012, but for many seasons to come.”

Before the trade, the Dodgers had a pretty decent lineup that could make some noise down the regular stretch. Now they have a team that should strike fear in the National League West. The Red Sox wanted to unload salary cap space. The Dodgers wanted badly to upgrade their roster into one that could be a very viable title contender.

Both teams met their objectives. But the clear winner in this deal is the Dodgers.  The trade is already paying dividends for the Dodgers.  Gonzales, who has hit 30 or more home runs and produced over 100 RBIs in his career, belted a three-run home run in his first official at-bat as a member of the Dodgers. That’s pretty impressive stuff.

What would be even more impressive is if Gonzales, Crawford, a four-time All-Star, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier can jell together as teammates and form a feared hitters’ row for years to come, much the same way Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Reggie Smith and Dusty Baker once did. It’s a good bet that this newly formed quartet can match and even surpass that foursome in the production category. If they do, the Dodgers just might be able to get add some bling to their hardware showcase.

 

 

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