A lot of good it is going to do them. Ned Colletti’s dream lineup, put together with an obscene amount of money authorized by the zealous Dodger ownership group, is on fire. Better late than never, you might say, with the Cardinals two games ahead of them in the wild card race with two games to play and the Dodgers riding a six-game winning streak.
Hanley Ramirez has produced as expected with a .270/.325/.447 line and 10 homers with 44 RBI since donning the Dodger blue. He’s 12-for-his-last-38 with 2 homers as LA has surged.
But he’s finally got some help from his fellow trade acquisitions. 1B Adrian Gonzalez, who slumped like never before in his career immediately upon coming over from Boston, has found his swing and is doing damage from the middle of the lineup. A-Gon is hitting .425 over his last 10 games with 2 homers and putting up multi-hit games almost every night.
Even OF Shane Victorino is swinging a hot bat, which is a turnaround as big as Gonzalez’. The Flyin’ Hawaiian was grounded upon landing in LA, failing to set the table for the power hitters over and over once he was plugged into the top of the Dodger batting order. Now, like the others, he’s on a hot streak, 10-for-his-last-33, a homer, 6 runs scored and 5 hits over the last two nights, both Dodger wins.
It’s great for Colletti’s conscience that his hired help is finally contributing the way he envisioned when the Dodgers broke the bank to win immediately. Especially after they went into the tank offensively as a unit right after all the trades.
But the biggest bat during this late-season, desperate playoff run is one that has been there all along. Matt Kemp can carry a team like he did in the second half of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 and his shoulder must be coming around. He’s hitting .341 over his last 10 games with 4 homers, 11 RBI and 7 runs scored. He’s filling up the stat sheet like few players can.
With the Dodgers’ elimination number at 1, this all likely bodes well for 2013.
They’ve gotten some solid pitching, as you need to when you go on a winning streak. Josh Beckett has had four good starts in a row and Brandon League made a mechanical adjustment and is now a solid closer again. Give Colletti credit for them while we’re celebrating the reawakening.
But the starting pitching looks ill-equipped for a long playoff run, should the Dodgers actually get past the Cardinals in the next couple of days. October’s the best time to be swinging hot bats, but this all needed to start a couple of weeks ago to pay off the way the Dodger front office pictured it when they were wheeling and dealing in July and August.
Victorino’s gone after this year and Carl Crawford is presumably the left fielder, if he can get healthy. Combined with Kemp and Ethier, that could be a very solid outfield in 2013. The Dodgers are on the hook for $193.7 million for next year, with Gonzalez, Beckett and Kemp all making over $20 million each. (And let’s not forget the $8.3 million they’re paying Manny Ramirez).
With big payrolls come big expectations. Like the ones they had in the second half of this season after bringing in Ramirez and Gonzalez to extend the middle of the batting order around Kemp and Ethier. It didn’t pan out this year, until a few days ago, but these hitters are too good to be as cold at the plate as they were in the late summer this year. Plus, a healthy Kemp is a game-changer.
There’s still at least one more night to root for the Dodgers to win and the Cardinals to lose to keep 2012 alive. But Dodger fans will be looking ahead to Colletti’s next shopping spree at the Winter Meetings in December. Maybe as soon as tonight.