Alexander: Dodgers’ dreary day got a lot better later – OCRegister

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka left a tough act to follow Thursday, negotiating a trade that brought Russell Westbrook home to Los Angeles in the hours before the NBA draft. Andrew Friedman may have topped it hours later.

As the Dodgers were being shut out, 5-0, on four hits by the NL West-leading Giants on Thursday afternoon in San Francisco – another example of the feast-or-famine nature that has characterized their season – they acquired left-handed starting pitcher Danny Duffy from Kansas City for a player to be named. That deal had a catch; the 32-year-old Duffy, 4-3 with a 2.51 ERA in 12 starts this year, might not be available to pitch until well into August because of a strained flexor tendon.

Oh, but that was just a warmup. The pièce de résistance came later in the evening, when it seemed apparent that the Dodgers’ personnel boss was going to snatch Max Scherzer – and, as a bonus, Trea Turner – right out from under the division rival Padres.

Life comes at you fast, doesn’t it? As of Thursday afternoon, during the Dodgers’ desultory performance against Johnny Cueto and the Giants’ bullpen, multiple reports suggested Scherzer was headed for the Padres, a development that gave Dodger fans shivers and would have been almost certain to tip the balance of power in the three-team NL West chase.

Yet by early evening many of those same sources were suggesting the Dodgers had “made significant progress,”  as ESPN’s Jeff Passan put it, toward a deal for Scherzer and Turner. And eventually, the parameters of a deal were filled in, pending medical clearance: Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, and five-tool shortstop/center fielder/second baseman Turner in exchange for catcher Keibert Ruiz, pitchers Josiah Gray and Gerardo Carrillo and outfielder Donovan Casey.

Reminder: A deal isn’t a deal until it’s announced, or at least until the medicals are approved. But the details seem to fit, especially since Ruiz and Casey were both scratched from their minor league lineups Thursday night.

What we know about which prospects the Dodgers might trade for Scherzer and Trea Turner: Per @jphoornstra ,catcher Keibert Ruiz was scratched from the AAA lineup. Per @ericstephen, AA OF Donovan Casey was also scratched from lineup.

— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) July 30, 2021

And so a fan base that was getting nervous, irritable and leaning toward panic in the afternoon was refreshing Twitter far more joyously in the evening. Friedman, who had landed high-profile rentals Yu Darvish in 2017 and Manny Machado in 2018 without giving away any prospects who had made an impact in the majors yet, appeared to have done it again.

Depending on how you want to dissect this, a helpful Twitter correspondent pointed out that this was the outgrowth of the Yasiel Puig/Matt Kemp trade with the Reds following the 2018 season. The two prospects coming to L.A. in that deal were infielder Jeter Downs, who went to Boston in the Mookie Betts deal last year, and Gray, who had just reached the majors with the Dodgers.

It blows my mind that the Yasiel Puig trade (really, the Josiah Gray-Jeter Downs heist) significantly helped in landing Mookie Betts, Max Scherzer, and Trea Turner

— Josh Thomas (@jokeylocomotive) July 30, 2021

Puig (and others) for Betts, Scherzer (essentially, two future Hall of Famers) and Trea Turner? Nobody has that kind of foresight, but – assuming this trade goes through – sometimes things just work out.

Dodger fans needed some excitement after another lost opportunity to make up ground on the division-leading Giants. The assumption for most of the early part of this season was that the Giants were primarily an irritant that would fade as the season went on, leaving the Dodgers and Padres to get down to the serious work of deciding who owns the NL West.

News flash, for those who hadn’t already figured it out: The Giants – built in familiar fashion, with Friedman’s former lieutenant Farhan Zaidi in charge and former Dodger player development director Gabe Kapler in the dugout – aren’t going away. They won five of seven head-to-head meetings over the last 10 days and are again three games ahead of the Dodgers in the division race with just three meetings remaining Sept. 3-5 in San Francisco.

“We didn’t do enough things to win,” Dodger starting pitcher David Price said Thursday afternoon, and he could have been talking about that day’s game or about the entire 10-day body of work. “They played really good baseball, got a lot of big hits, made good plays defensively. Their starters and the bullpen guys threw the ball really well. They just – they played better baseball than we did.”

But there’s potential for a far happier conclusion to this saga. Reinforcements were already on the way: Shortstop Corey Seager this weekend, outfielder Betts due to come off the injured list on Sunday, Clayton Kershaw returning to the rotation next weekend, etc.

The Dodgers have lost 851 man-games to the injured list involving 24 different players, not including the season-ending surgeries for pitchers Caleb Ferguson and Tommy Kahnle in spring training. Given those circumstances, you can make the case that a 62-42 record at this point almost represents overachievement, even when they’re so frustrating offensively on all those nights between their run-scoring binges.

There’s always risk. This is a franchise that traded future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, then 21, to Montréal in 1993 because of the need for a second baseman. Fred Claire, then the general manager, accepted that risk and later said, “There are no mulligans in baseball.”

And Friedman noted in a conversation at the deadline in 2019 that yes, he understands the fans’ desire to trade prospects for established talent, hang the cost.

“I was a fan, and being a fan means you care about today,” he said then. “Emotionally I feel that way, and that’s where our mind also has to fire with being crazy but not stupid. … Being crazy is being aggressive in the offers you make, and being stupid is doing things that not just play out poorly but at the time you know it’s a poor decision.”

This one, assuming it happens? It’s crazy, all right. Crazy good.

@Jim_Alexander on Twitter