Phillies, Cardinals Put Pressure on Dodgers to Act

Ugly losses and trades by competitors has the Dodgers front office feeling the pressure.

That ticking sound one hears whenever they are around Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti is the sound of Major League Baseball’s trading deadline approaching. It is the sound of pressure that is mounting to do something.

Just a week ago, Colletti could have comfortably argued that he didn’t need to make a big move at the deadline — the Dodgers have the best record in baseball. They still do. What more do you want?

Dodger fans want a World Series title. And the last few days have made that always hard-to-reach goal seem a little farther away.

First the St. Louis Cardinals, a playoff contending team, just shut down the Dodgers Monday and Tuesday — 16-1 over the two days. For the two games the Dodgers have hit .194 with runners on base (they had base runners for 16 consecutive innings at one point and only one guy made it home). Then after five brilliant innings Tuesday Dodger pitching ace Chad Billingsley fell apart — he now has a 7.52 ERA in July. And it may not get better as he has thrown 2,225 pitches thrown this year, third most in the national league.

Then on Wednesday, the Philadelphia Phillies — the defending world champions likely returning to the playoffs — went and traded for Cliff Lee, the former Cy Young award winning pitcher from Cleveland. He makes an already daunting Philadelphia team that much tougher as they now have a couple of ace quality pitchers for the playoffs.

Those things have that clock ticking near Colletti getting louder and louder. Joe Torre has asked for better pitching, as he knows that come October it is quality pitching — both starting and out of the bullpen — that gets wins.

The Dodgers do not have to do something as dramatic as meeting the highway-robbery trade demands of Toronto to bring Roy Halladay to Chavez Ravine. But they need more quality arms – the bullpen has looked overworked, in part because the Dodgers fifth starter has been so unreliable that the bullpen ends up having to pitch the entire game. (That won’t change this Friday with Jason Schmidt pitching again.) The Doders need more good pitchers, it’s that simple.

The question becomes: How many prospects are the Dodgers willing to part with to make a serious run at the World Series this year? We should know by Friday at noon (the trading deadline).

If the answer is none then October could be a lot colder for Dodger fans than they expected.

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