This game of baseball will drive everyone crazy. Whatever you think you know, just throw it out the window. If you don't believe me just take a look at what is going on.
Let's start with the NL. The Phillies gave up and traded two all-stars, and then tossed in their fifth starter. The Brewers traded their Ace, dumped their number four starter and looked toward next year. The Dodgers added an all-star shortstop, an all-star 1st baseman, an all-star left fielder, an all-star pitcher, a utility infielder, a left handed relief pitcher, and another starting pitcher for good measure.
Phillies - removed Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, receiving middle relief help (Lindblom), hurt right fielder (Nate Schierholtz), and a plethora of minor leaguers who are not playing.
Brewers - removed Zack Grienke, Randy Wolf, George Kottaras, Chad Qualls, Cesar Izturis, and Cody Ransom. Added AA minor league SS Jean Segura who starts for them.
Dodgers - removed Josh Lindblom, James Loney, Nathan Eovaldi, added Shane Victorino, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Hanley Ramirez, Brandon League, Nick Punto, and Joe Blanton
It does not take a rocket scientist to see that one team added a whole lot of wins and the others subtracted wins.
The reality is that the Phillies and Brewers are the two hottest teams in the NL since the trade deadline. The Dodgers while not the worst are certainly the most anemic.
How is this possible?
Phillies - On July 31st the Phillies were 46 - 57. They are now 72 - 72, spurred by a 9 - 3 mark in September. Of course they always had the big three in Halladay / Lee / Hamels which is why the 46 - 57 mark was strange in the first place. John Mayberry replaced Shane Victorino and over the past 30 days has a .970 OPS. We traded for the wrong left fielder. Kyle Kendrick replaced Joe Blanton and is 4- 1over the last 30 days with a sparkling 1.78 ERA. We traded for the wrong fifth starter. Howard is blowing chunks, he's been little help. Chase and Rollins are producing but still not close to their historical MVP levels. You would not think that a team that is starting Kevin Frandsen, Dominic Brown, Erik Kratz, and Juan Pierre on a regular basis could be the hottest team in baseball no matter who is in the rotation. Think again.
Brewers - On July 31st the Brewers were 47 - 56. They are now 72 - 71 spurred on also by a 9 - 3 mark in Sept. This scenario is quite different then the Phillies. The Brewers gave up their ace six weeks ago. The rotation is now Yovanni Gallardo (pitching like an ace), Marco Estrada (back from DL), rookie Mike Fiers, Shawn Marcum (back from DL), and rookies Mark Rogers, Wily Peralta. If you have paid any attention to the Brewers this year, the one thing you remember is the bullpen blowing lead after lead after lead. John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez have finally righted their ship and the team is no longer blowing their leads. The Brewer offense was not touched during the trading deadline, and the whole team seems to be peaking. Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Aramis Ramirez are the big names who have been hitting all year. Finally joining them in the fun is Richie Weeks who had an OPS of .609 on July 1st. It is now .738 thanks to a fourteen game streak of 22 hits, six home runs, and a 1.113 OPS. Two surprising names in the Brewer roll are two people no one expected anything of. Norichika Aoki and Carlos Gomez. The 30 year old Aoki came over from Japan to be a fourth outfielder but has been anything but. Once he wormed his way into the everyday lineup the Ichiro Light Aoki has provided defense, speed, on base, and surprising power. Plus he's been getting better, his numbers for the last 30 days show a TSL of .275 / .358 / .451. Center fielder Carlos Gomez was always known for his outstanding defensive skills and an uncanny ability to swing and miss with little power to show for the effort. This year he has put together his best year and while offensively he could still use some improvement, sixteen home runs, 32 stolen bases in only 37 attempts, along with his defense has turned him from a detrimental player to plus player. I won't tell you how pleases it would make me if the Brewers somehow make the playoffs and the Prince Fielder Detroit Tigers and Zach Grienke Los Angeles Angels of Disney do not.
Dodgers - On July 31st the Dodgers were 56 - 49. They are now 74 -70 with a 4 - 7 mark in Sept. To be fair here, the Dodgers did not make the final big trade until Aug 25th. So let's start there. Staring on Aug 25th the Dodgers were 68 - 58. They are now 74 -70. You can do the math. Also to be fair. Since the final trade, the Dodger roster lost Chad Billingsley, Scott Elbert, and Kenley Jansen. Other then Matt Kemp running into the wall however the offense was not effected by any loss in personal. So while Dodger fans can rightfully bemoan the fact they lost some pitching, the bats are where the problem lies, not the injury's to Chad/Kenley/Scott. With the hot teams I've focused on what is going right for them. I've got nothing to add to why this team can't hit. They simply can't hit. They are not facing great pitching, they are not facing hot teams, they are losing to pitchers with names like Jeff Francis, Tyler Chatwood, and Barry Zito.
Baseball is fascinating, the Phillies and Brewers subtracted and got better, the Dodgers added, added, and added some more, and got worse. Now the Phillies and Brewers are breathing down the Dodger/Cardinal necks with 18 games left. Hard to make up 3 1/2 games but unless the Dodgers start hitting, how hard could it be?
Even if the second wild card had not been added this would be fascinating to me. I didn't even bother to take a look at why the Padres are about to have their third straight winning month. Since June 30th the Padres are 40 - 25. For context the Dodgers are 31 - 34. Why depress the lot of you anymore then you already are. Who knew, money can't buy everything. Yankee fans knew, Red Sox fans knew, maybe Dodger fans are about to find out.