They say money can’t buy happiness. Well the Los Angeles Dodgers have found the truth in that phrase pretty quickly.
After a slew of trades landed them Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, and Shane Victorino – as well as forcing them to take on several hefty contracts – the Dodgers have nothing yet to show for their spending spree. In fact, they’ve been worse since making this acquisitions.
Before trading for Ramirez, the Dodgers were 53-45 – a winning percentage of .540 – even with Matt Kemp spending a good portion of this time on the disabled list. Since then, with a healthy Kemp and Ramirez, Gonzalez and Victorino also joining the club, LA has gone just 19-18, barely keeping their heads above the .500 mark. And while Gonzalez has single handedly helped his new team secure a few victories, including a walk-off 2-run double last night, the Dodgers have limped to a 4-5 record since he came over from the Red Sox.
The Dodgers’ struggles are really quite remarkable. All the players they acquired were former All-Stars replacing fairly marginal players at their positions. Yet the result has been a net loss thus far. A tougher schedule can’t be to blame; 22 of their 37 games since the initial trade for Ramirez have been against teams with a losing record. For a team that has the most offensive talent of any National League team to struggle this much is baffling.
Even more distressing for LA is that the Giants, who despite losing one of their best hitters Melky Cabrera to a suspension, have actually played better without him. Prior to the suspension, LA and San Francisco were tied atop the NL West at 64-53, but since then, the Giants have gone 12-5, while the Dodgers have fallen 5 games back entering Monday’s matchup against the Padres.
The Giants have really been the bizarro-Dodgers during this stretch. Despite sending out a weaker lineup and some recent pitching struggles, San Francisco has found way to scrap together wins, albeit against some weaker opponents. Regardless, the Giants have had four come from behind victories in their past six games, a feat which will only fortify their confidence and help them going forward.
While the Dodgers haven’t been bad, their underperformance is gradually pushing them further from the playoffs. This could all be explained as growing pains for the Dodgers as they work to build team chemistry after a fairly drastic overhaul of the lineup. Unfortunately, the time for gelling as a unit has long since passed. As the season draws to its conclusion, slipping backwards in the NL West standings is not the direction Los Angeles wants to go if they hope to make the playoffs. Things could be looking bleak for the Dodgers if they can’t turn things around soon.