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Why the Los Angeles Dodgers Will Win the National League West in 2013

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No Spark, No Fire, No Puig: Why the Los Angeles Dodgers Are Losing More Games Than They Win

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Yasiel Puig and his contract could play a role in the Dodgers' success in 2013.

COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Dodgers head into the 2013 Major League Baseball season with sky-high expectations. Ownership has made good on its promise of fielding a competitive, championship-caliber team. Now, it's time for the players to follow suit.

We've yet to see the Dodgers' spending limit. They'll have a payroll north of $230 million in 2013, and there isn't much indication the spending will slow down.

The reason the Dodgers will win the National League West: money.

The Dodgers have enough financial resources to do almost anything they want. They took on Hanley Ramirez's entire salary in last year's trade with the Miami Marlins (roughly $37 million), and they took on about $260 million worth of salary in the August trade with Boston.

If the Dodgers need to make a move before the July 31 trade deadline, money might be a more valuable commodity than top-flight prospects.

This works in a couple ways:

  1. If the Dodgers need a high-priced player from another team, they can land said player by taking on a big contract, like 2011.
  2. If Yasiel Puig proves he's a superstar in the making in the minors, the Dodgers can include a ton of money to trade either Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier -- more likely Ethier.

If the New York Yankees get off to a bad start and don't compete in the American League East -- something that would be unfathomable just a year or two ago - maybe the Dodgers approach them about Robinson Cano.

The Yankees are trying to trim payroll to $189 million before the 2014 season so they don't have to pay a 50 percent luxury tax. Keeping Cano around could make that problematic. The Dodgers could provide salary relief and a couple solid prospects to acquire the game's best second baseman.

Let's say Puig goes crazy at Double-A Chattanooga, posting a 1.000-plus OPS while hitting 15 home runs before June -- he might force the Dodgers' hand, almost as he did with his amazing spring training performance (.526/.508/.842, three home runs, five doubles, three triples), even if spring training numbers don't mean much.

The Southern League -- and Double-A in general -- is the biggest test for any prospect. If the 22-year-old Puig handles it like he handled big league spring training, coupled with a poor start by Ethier or Crawford, the Dodgers may be forced into a trade to open up a roster spot for Puig.

With seemingly unlimited financial resources, the Dodgers -- and probably no other team -- could make this move, if necessary.

The adage is, "You can't buy a championship." Well, the Dodgers are out to prove otherwise. And hey, after eight years of Frank McCourt's penny-pinching, Mark Walter, Stan Kasten, Magic Johnson and Co., are just making up for lost time with this unprecedented spending spree.

Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.

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