The arms race to win the 2012 war between the Giants and Dodgers just went into fifth gear: please secure your food trays to their upright positions and see if you can climb into your overhead luggage compartment. As Bette Davis once said after watching Tommy Lasorda eat his weight in clam linguine, "It's going to be a bumpy night...".
The San Francisco Giants were a half game back in second place when they went to Chavez Ravine for a three game set with the NL West leading Dodgers. LA had just won eight of their last eleven games and looked like they finally found momentum for a big six week push to take the Division title.
And while the Giants weren't exactly reeling from Melky Cabrera's "use by" date expiring two months early, there were doubts, concerns and a clear need to find an outfield bat. Pronto. The unspoken hope was that the Giants could take one or two games and get out of Dodgertown relatively intact.
Giant pitchers had a different idea (so did Giant hitters) as San Francisco swept the Dodgers 2-1, 4-1, and 8-4. In each game the starting pitchers got the win and the loss-- Madison Bumgarner over Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum over Joe Blanton, and Matt Cain over Chris Capuano. On full display was the critical pitching edge San Francisco holds over virtually every other team in baseball.
Now the race between the Giants and Dodgers to bring another bat or starting arm to their rosters gets serious with just over a week to go before the waiver trade deadline hits on August 31st at 1:00PM PST. Any player traded after that date is not eligible for the post-season roster, so that loud noise you hear is the trade clock ticking.
As reported in MLBTradeRumors.com this week, LA Times columnist Dylan Hernandez noted the Dodgers actually won the waiver claim on Phillies starter Cliff Lee (and the $95 million owed Lee through his 2016 option year buyout) only to have Philadelphia quickly yank him back. Speculation on a new Dodger target now shifts to Boston first baseman Adrian Gonzalez who just cleared waivers along with the $135+ million still owed him through 2018.
LA appears to be stumbling all over the map in their attempts to improve either their starting pitching or run production in time to fight for a spot in the 2012 post-season. Apparently the only thing that doesn't make the new Dodger ownership blink is paying untold millions of dollars to get that done.
So which team will pull the trigger on a trade that could very well make all the difference in September?
I'm betting both teams will pull a deal off, with the Dodgers almost a lock to go with a starting pitching upgrade. They may not trot out a fearsome line-up each night (LA is 12th out of 16 NL teams runs scored with 497), but Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Hanley Ramirez provide a legitimate offensive core. To eat at the adult table in October the Dodgers need another starting arm.
San Francisco merely wants to get a good-to-very-good power bat in left field to add some jump to the everyday line-up. With the promotion of Francisco Peguero from Triple A Fresno on Thursday to replace the injured Justin Christian, the Giants have a chance to fill that need in-house with one of the most promising prospects in their minor league system.
If Peguero can find his focus in the next several weeks, this could develop into one of the biggest stories of the year for the Giants.
Either way, GM Brian Sabean should feel he's provided the pieces needed to solve the post-season puzzle.