Rounding Third: Dodgers emerge as big winners at trade deadline

Perhaps the Beatles should have been blaring in my office on Tuesday because the hours leading up to Major League Baseball's non-waiver trade deadline were a little Helter Skelter.

But in the end it was the Los Angeles Dodgers, who may have a Ticket to Ride to the National League pennant.

Last year it looked as if the Los Angeles Dodgers were going broke. This season the new ownership group led in part by former basketball superstar Magic Johnson have made it clear that they are going for broke.

The Dodgers made the biggest move leading up to the deadline on Thursday when it acquired infielder Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins. Ramirez was the one franchise-changing type player moved and has already started to pay dividends for a Dodgers team which is just one game back of the San Francisco Giants in the National League West coming into play on Wednesday.

While the Ramirez move would be enough for most teams, the Dodgers continued to make themselves better, plucking outfielder Shane Victorino from the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.

Victorino immediately becomes the team's leadoff hitter in a lineup once viewed as a liability, but now is as deep as any in baseball.

The one need the Dodgers didn't fill, though, was perhaps their most glaring ... starting pitching. They were apparently the front-runners to nab righty Ryan Dempster, but he ended up going to Texas.

Still, they do have Clayton Kershaw, so it's not as if they are completely lost. Plus there will be pitchers to be had in August once they clear waivers, so the Dodgers may not be done yet.

San Francisco wasted little time in answering the Dodgers' moves, as they picked up Hunter Pence from the Phillies for catching prospect Tommy Joseph, outfielder Nate Schierholtz and a pitching prospect.

Pence gives the Giants the one thing they always seem to be looking for, a power hitting outfielder. Last year they acquired Carlos Beltran from the New York Mets and it didn't work out. Hopefully Pence pans out, since he is still under Giants' control for another season.

The NL West teams weren't the only ones making moves, as the AL West leaders the Rangers and Angels, strengthened themselves as well, as they fight for division supremacy.

With Colby Lewis lost for the season, Roy Oswalt battling back problems and Yu Darvish seemingly hitting a wall, it was no secret that Texas was in the market for a starting pitcher.

It had been linked to the Marlins' Josh Johnson, Milwaukee's Zack Greinke, as well as Cole Hamels of the Phillies. But, after Greinke went to the Angels and Hamels signed long-term with the Phillies, the Rangers started to run out of options.

Late on Monday there were even some whispers that Boston's Josh Beckett could be a target, but in the end the one pitcher you didn't hear them mentioned that much with wound up being the one they got.

The Rangers traded two minor leaguers for Dempster right at the deadline, hopefully setting themselves up for a third straight trip to the World Series.

Now don't get me wrong, Dempster is having a great season, but pitchers who spend their entire career in the NL then jump over the AL scare me. Not to mention he has all of one postseason start to his credit in his 15-year career and that didn't go well, as he walked seven batters in a 2008 NLDS assignment.

At the very least he will provide some stability moving forward. Of course, Texas is hoping for a lot more than that, though.

The Greinke acquisition by the Angels, though, was just terrific. He slots in right behind the great Jered Weaver, giving the Angels as formidable a 1-2 punch as there is in the league. C.J. Wilson and Dan Haren aren't bad options after that either, provided the latter can get himself healthy and straightened out a bit.

When people ask you how the West was won, you can point to Tuesday.

Here is a look at how some of the other winners and losers:



The best thing that could have happened to the Braves last week was that Dempster turned them down. Instead they added another Chicago hurler, picking up lefty Paul Maholm from the Cubs as part of a package for pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino. Over his past six starts Maholm is 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA. He also has a 1.69 lifetime ERA at Turner Field and has a reasonable club option for 2013 at $6.5 million. Not to mention Atlanta also added dependable outfielder Reed Johnson as a throw-in in the deal.


Yes I know the Reds did not go out and get the leadoff hitter they desperately need, but come on. They have the best record in baseball and you are trying to tell me that Juan Pierre was going to make this team better? Instead general manager Walt Jocketty went out and made the best bullpen in the National League even better with the acquisition of Jonathan Broxton from Kansas City. Sean Marshall is as dependable as they come in setting up Aroldis Chapman, but Broxton gives them even more depth. And they will get themselves a leadoff hitter sometime in August. For those keeping score at home Reds' leadoff hitters have combined to hit just .203, while posting an on-base percentage of .248. Atrocious.


Some people are killing the Pirates for not going all-out to get Arizona outfielder Justin Upton. They had the means to get him, but settled on Toronto outfielder Travis Snider. Now Snider has basically been a zero since being drafted in the first round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2006, but who knows maybe a change of scenery gets him going. Andrew McCutchen needs help. Snider has the kind of power to be that kind of compliment. They also took a chance on Miami first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who has spent most of the year at Triple- A after an All-Star rookie season in 2011. Two low-risk moves that could pay huge dividends. Plus they hung onto all that young pitching they have. And they added another quality starter in Wandy Rodriguez.



It's hard to categorize the Phillies as losers here since they did re-stock their farm system a bit and managed to get Hamels under lock and key for the for seeable future. But, they are headed for a 90-loss season and if anyone thinks they are keeping Cliff Lee next season I have some ocean front property to sell you here in Pennsylvania. After five straight NL East titles, the Phillies are in re-build mode. And it is not going to be any better next season. It almost seems like they are trying to re-build the house without turning out the lights. That never works by the way.


It is absolutely criminal what is going on down in Miami. After owner Jeffrey Loria got fans to fund his new stadium, then spent a whopping $191 million this offseason, while also flirting with Albert Pujols, he has decided to break it all up after just one half of a season. Gone are Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Edward Mujica, and don't be surprised if closer Heath Bell is lost sometime in August. Embarrassing franchise.


While the Rangers and Angels made themselves better in the weeks leading up to the deadline, the A's just stood pat. To their credit they were supposedly interested in Ramirez, but to what extent remains unclear. The Dodgers seemed to move real quick once he became available. A midseason Ramirez deal doesn't exactly scream Billy Beane move, but the fact remains they did recognize that the offense needed to be upgraded. Yet they did nothing. How they are in the position they are in with the lineup they put out there every night is beyond me. The A's had a historic month of July. August may knock them out of playoff contention.