LOS ANGELES — Doing nothing isn’t necessarily a poor strategy.
When the trade deadline arrived Thursday, the Dodgers remained unchanged. Matt Kemp was still at his corner locker in the clubhouse; Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias were still in the team’s minor-league system.
The Dodgers almost certainly could have dealt for a starting pitcher or a reliever, but at what cost? Trading away Kemp, who is suddenly playing like the Kemp of old? Giving up two or more of their prized prospects, all of whom could eventually become stars?
Sometimes it’s not worth the gamble.
"Had we done something of major consequence, it doesn’t mean you’re going to win," general manager Ned Colletti said Thursday afternoon.
"I wasn’t hopeful, nor did I think we had to do a massive overhaul or do something dramatic to our club."
It makes sense. Except for a logjam of outfielders and a rotation that flattens out after Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers seem in good position to hold onto their National League West lead, which is now a season-high 3½ games over the San Francisco Giants.
Dodgers get the sweep, win their 6th in a row and now lead the Giants by 3.5 games in the NL West.
Kershaw was his usual self Thursday night, coming within one out of a shutout but still earning a 2-1 win over the Atlanta Braves and winning his 10th consecutive decision. It was the Dodgers’ season-best sixth win in a row and their second series sweep in a row, coming after a sweep of the Giants.
Their clubhouse is lively before and after games. Players are jovial. The vibe is all positive. Winning does that.
"It feels good," Kershaw said. "Even though we hadn’t run a streak together like that, we were still winning three, maybe losing one. We weren’t necessarily playing bad, but to have a consecutive win streak like this is always fun."
So maybe standing pat was the right thing to do. Kemp still wants to play center field, but it’s clear he’s comfortable in right and can find contentment there. Nos. 4 and 5 starters Josh Beckett and Dan Haren are struggling, but it doesn’t mean the Dodgers won’t look for help if they need it. Making a trade in August isn’t easy, but it’s still possible.
"It’s a little more cumbersome, it’s a little more difficult starting right now, but it’s not totally impossible," Colletti said. "And we may know more by then what we need."
But even if they do nothing, the feeling is they can still win the division.
"The message I take out of it is we're confident in our club. … I think it also shows we like our young guys in the (minors)." – Mattingly
Manager Don Mattingly, asked how he interpreted Colletti’s decision not to trade prospects for major-league help, said, "The message I took out of it is that we’re confident in our club. When you see us not really go out and not do something big, (it shows) we’ve got a pretty good club. It shows Ned’s confident in our group, we’re confident in our group."
That includes Kemp, who was rumored to be on the block but whom the Dodgers had no intention of trading. He was hitless Thursday, but after averaging .325 in month of July, he appears to be finding a groove.
Is Kemp where he wants to be? "We’re in first place," he answered. "That’s where I want to be."
They’ve been there for all but a few days since June 29. If they hold on, it’s almost certainly going to be with the core roster they have now.
There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it works.