BY ADAM HATLAN
A long time ago, in a La La Land far away, the Dodgers reigned supreme, kings of Major League Baseball. That was 1988.
A postage stamp was 24 cents. A gallon of gas was 91 cents. It was also the last time the Dodgers won a World Series title.
After coming oh-so-close in 2017 and taking the eventual champion Houston Astros to the brink in a seven game series, the 2018 Dodgers felt like they needed to make a splash. They wanted to party like it’s 1988 again. So not only did they make a splash, but they did a cannonball off the high dive.
The Dodgers went out for the fourth year in a row and made a major move before the trade deadline in an attempt to make a World Series run. This year they acquired Baltimore Orioles mega-star shortstop Manny Machado, in exchange for a delightful package of budding young stars, including one of their top prospects: Yusniel Diaz.
After months of speculation which began long before the season even started, Machado finally has a new home. Now he and the rest of us can move on from the daily routine of guessing where he may end up. Whew. So now what?
For the Dodgers and their fans, it means in their minds they can pencil themselves in for a second consecutive World Series appearance. Obviously nothing can be set in stone, as there are other teams out there who will have a say on who ends up in the Fall Classic. But on the surface, this is a very positive move for LA.
Machado brings with him an instant swag upgrade and major name-status/star power to the Dodgers roster. He was the hottest player available at the deadline and will fit right in with LA. Big deal if he’s a free agent after this year. The Dodgers don’t mind acquiring big-time talent before the deadline to make playoff pushes, even if they are free-agents-to-be (Yu Darvish last year). Machado is quite possibly the best player they’ve acquired over their past four mid-season trades (Manny Ramirez has to be the best mid-season acquisition for LA).
Machado has power, he’s young, and he’s having one of, if not the best, seasons of his career. With regular shortstop Corey Seager on the shelf for the remainder of the season, it feels like it was a no-brainer for the Dodgers to make this trade. Machado also provides a major upgrade over Chris Taylor at shortstop.
If you look at the stats, Taylor’s 2.7 WAR this season is mere eyelashes below Machado’s (2.9). In other words, Taylor has been productive for the Dodgers. Taylor has 11 homers, 41 RBI, and a .332 OBP. His batting average is, well, average (.253). Machado, on the other hand, is mashing it this year, already with 24 home runs, 65 RBI, and a career-best .387 OBP. He’s walked 45 times to just 51 strikeouts and boasts a .315 batting average. Had the Dodgers missed out on Machado, Taylor would have been a decent player for the stretch run. By adding Machado to the mix, the Dodgers have to be the favorites to win the NL West. It could be the move that puts them over the top, both for the division and a trip to the World Series. Now they have a hell of a super-reserve in Taylor, who can play shortstop and center field. What a luxury!
Since falling to a 16-26 record on May 16, the Dodgers are 37-17. Wow. That strong play will not only continue, but likely improve. Including Machado, they now feature a lineup consisting of nine players with double-digit home runs. This team will have no problem scoring runs. In terms of ERA, they have the number one pitching staff in the NL. Oh, and that’s with a guy named Clayton Kershaw not being at full health for a portion of the first half. Scary.
As for the Orioles, we’ll see you in a few years. The purge in Baltimore will likely continue, with Adam Jones and Zach Britton the next possible candidates to be shipped out of town, meaning more prospects could be on the way. It will be hard for fans to endure, but Baltimore will be a team to monitor down the road.
For now, Machado makes the Dodgers lineup frightening for opposing pitching staffs and managers to figure out. The Dodgers may have given up a lot to be able to assemble such a roster, but championships make fans forget awfully quick about the state of their farm system.
Manny Machado will officially be a Dodger today. If acquiring Machado brings LA that coveted championship they’ve been yearning for, they can forget about everything else and party like it’s 1988 again.