Here’s Why the Dodgers Will Be Even Better Thanks to Padres’ Flurry of Moves

Welcome to the year 2021: the Dodgers are World Champions, yet a couple of trades and a signing have Padres fans feeling as if they’re on top of the world. Here’s some advice: the Dodgers play better with a chip on their shoulders, and they’re going to do it again.

Heed those words.

The Dodgers stand to lose familiar faces Justin Turner, Kike Hernandez and Joc Pederson through free agency.

Meanwhile, the Padres just traded for pitchers Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, and signed shortstop Ha-Seong Kim from Korea.

Typically one might say Padres fans have a reason to boast. Their team was arguably one of the hottest stories of the 2020 season, and rode a big wave of momentum into the playoffs.

But then it crashed.

The Dodgers’ 6-4 mark against the Padres didn’t say much about the team’s dominance over the course of the season. In fact, the Padres and the Giants both took four games from the Dodgers, the most of any team in baseball.

Then came the playoffs, when the Padres, anchored by former Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado, were absolutely deflated in a three-game sweep by Los Angeles. Not only were the Padres swept, they were outscored 23-9, including a 12-3 shellacking in Game 3.

Naturally the Padres had to do something. Kudos to them, and it didn’t even cost top pitching prospect Mackenzie Gore.

Do you know who’s good at doing that? The Dodgers, and Andrew Friedman.

Let’s back track a little and take a trip down memory lane, featuring a team with a few chips on their shoulders.

It all started with the Giants’ three World Championships in 2010, 2012 and 2014. No way could Dodgers ownership allow for that dominance to continue, and they’d go out and do something about it.

Year after year fans were let down by Frank McCourt’s cheap ways of the former ownership regime. Where the team could have had players such as Roy Halladay or C.C. Sabathia in their prime, and even Cliff Lee, the Dodgers would wind up with guys like Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew and to an extent, Manny Ramirez.

Exit McCourt and enter Guggenheim Baseball Management, and slowly but surely things started to change.

Friedman was hired to run the show, with aid from several brilliant minds, including former GM Ned Colletti, now-former GM Farhan Zaidi and president of the team and part-owner, Stan Kasten.

In fact, two of these “chips” wound up in San Diego after they failed in Los Angeles. Machado and Darvish.

Let’s start with Darvish. He was brought in to be the final touch of what was supposed to be the Dodgers’ first championship in 29 years. He went 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA and struck out 11.1 batters per 9 innings. Then in the playoffs, terrific, going 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA, allowing two runs (both on solo home runs) on eight hits in 11.1 innings, striking out 14.

Confidence was at an all-time high and things finally seemed to be going the right way for the Dodgers. That is until the World Series, when Darvish, who was said to be tipping pitches, was absolutely rocked by the eventual-World Champion Astros, posting an ungodly 21.60 ERA in 3.1 innings pitched across two forgettable starts, allowing nine runs (eight earned) on nine hits, including two home runs and not striking any batters out.

Dodger fans still feel the sting of Darvish to this day. What hurt most was that the team was tied to Justin Verlander at the waiver trade deadline in August. However, it was the Astros who wound up with the ace, and he’d regain his former dominant self in Houston, helping his team to win a ring.

The following season the Dodgers lost Corey Seager and were in need of a spark plug to help the team get over the hump and not falter again. Who better than perennial MVP candidate Machado?

On paper, Machado didn’t fail with the Dodgers, hitting .273/.338/.487 with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs in 66 games (translated to 32 HRs and 103 RBIs in a full season).

He would drive in six runs as the Dodgers would take out the Braves in the NLDS, before hitting .296, hitting a home run and driving in three in a thrilling NLCS victory over the Brewers.

It set up the Dodgers’ first chance for a ring in 30 years. All they had to do was get past the Red Sox. No easy task.

And where was the team’s newest star in this series?

Nowhere to be found. He hit .182 with just four hits in the five-game series, driving in three runs, striking out five times. For what it’s worth, he hit just .153 for the Padres this past season in the playoffs, driving in two runs, both on solo home runs.

The Dodgers fell once more.

With the team seemingly at full strength in 2019, former friend Howie Kendrick would cement the Nationals’ upset bid with a grand slam in Game 5 of the NLDS to send his team through to the next round. What stung to the Dodgers though was watching the Nationals defeat the Astros and win that elusive World Championship.

Enough was enough. The team knew it needed to make a splash to abolish the ugly identity of baseball’s losers.

With the uncertainty of a 2020 season, the team traded for Mookie Betts, and the rest was history.

You know the story: Betts came in, shined, signed a huge contract extension and then went to work as the Dodgers finally claimed that ring after 32 years, defeating the Rays in six games on October 27, 2020.

Yet here we are watching Padres fans act as if they’ll get a parade for their signings before the Dodgers get a World Championship parade.

The thing is: the Dodgers haven’t even gotten started yet.

Snell is a real nice get for the Padres, and he proved in the World Series that he’s good for success against the Dodgers.

If the Dodgers do go out and sign D.J. LeMahieu, you know he’s a lifetime .325 hitter against left-handed pitching, right?

He’s 6-14 (.429) with four walks in the past against Snell too.

One thing about this Dodgers franchise is how united they are. Betts came in and went to work on making his teammates better. One that he helped a lot was Austin Barnes, and there’s no doubt that Betts’ influence helped Barnes to get that momentum-stealing hit off Snell in Game 6.

You don’t think LeMahieu, a very distinguished hitter, couldn’t do the same?

Darvish rebounded, yes, and he could flourish in the pitcher’s park that is Petco Park. He sets up the Padres to have a very nice 1-2 punch to rival that of Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw.

Is it better though? No.

Then there’s Kim. He came off a career season where he hit .306 with 30 HRs and 109 RBIs with 23 stolen bases.

Pretty good numbers.

Just above him on the home run leaders I see Aaron Altherr. Remember him? He hit .278 with 31 HRs and 108 RBIs with 22 SBs.

You might remember him from his time with the Phillies. He hit .181 with 8 HRs and 38 RBIs with 3 SBs in 2018. Then he hopped around with the Phillies, Giants and Mets, hitting .082 with a home run and three RBIs in 49 games, and was out of the Majors.

Not to say that Kim is going hit his face on the ground upon arriving to the Majors, but the KBO is no MLB.

Let’s share one more example. A better one. Eric Thames. In 2016 he hit .321 with 40 HRs, 121 RBIs and 13 SBs in Korea, a year after hitting .381 with 47 HRs, 140 RBIs and 40 SBs. Quite the impressive numbers in Korea.

He then signed with the Brewers in 2017, where he hit .247 with 31 HRs, 63 RBIs and 4 SBs. The next year he hit .219. Two years after that (this past season), .203 with just three HRs and 12 RBIs in 41 games.

The KBO is likened to playing in Double-A. The verdict will be out on Kim.

Yes the Padres got better. But it is now the Dodgers’ turn to flex their muscles and back the Friars back against the wall that is second place in the NL West and a Wildcard berth for at least a couple more seasons.

There are pieces to trade to bring in another frontline starter such as Luis Castillo, if that’s what you want. You can spend big and bring home a player like Trevor Bauer or LeMahieu, or even both on short-term deals (not likely to happen, so you know). Although, the team can also do nothing and rely on its never-ending stockpile in the minor leagues and continue to show why it has the best system in baseball.

After all, this team does one thing better than outperform its competition on the field: it outperforms them off the field too.

It is the year 2021, and the Dodgers are the unanimous favorite to win the World Series again according to all reputable reporting outlets. That’s without any moves made.

Your move, Andrew Friedman.