Sarah's Take: Dodgers' Minors depth a new strength

Sarah's Take: Dodgers' Minors depth a new strength

As the Los Angeles Dodgers march to their third consecutive National League West title, they have shown their incredible organizational depth.

They are on pace to win 94 games, matching their record from 2014. They have excelled at Dodger Stadium and against teams with sub-.500 records. For the rest of the season, the Dodgers will face only two teams with winning records, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants. They have time to get ready for the postseason. Like all teams at this stage of the season, the Dodgers have tired and injured players, and their 7 1/2-game lead over the Giants in the NL West allows manager Don Mattingly to rest his everyday veterans and give them a chance to heal.

Many baseball fans dislike the fact that teams are allowed to expand their rosters from 25 to as many as 40 players on Sept. 1, but it appears to be necessary to preserve the health of the players, unless Major League Baseball decreases the number of games played each season. With increased knowledge of sports medicine, teams have utilized the disabled list more frequently to attempt to prolong playing careers. The more people learn about the physical rigors of playing baseball, they more they understand that the players require adequate rest and sufficient healing time to perform at their best. Most teams trying to go to the playoffs don't feel that they have the luxury to play the kids from the Minor Leagues, but the Dodgers feel they do.

Even in Spring Training, after many years of not having good players in their Minor League system, the Dodgers suddenly seem to have young players ready to perform at the Major League level. Determined not to rush them to Los Angeles, the Dodgers sent these talents to Triple-A before the regular season began, and Dodgers fans didn't agree. Whenever the Dodgers had an injury, there was speculation as to whether the organization would call up one of these talented young players, but they didn't.

In August, the Dodgers' front office tried to get more depth in the Major Leagues when they traded for Chase Utley and Justin Ruggiano. Many fans wondered why the Dodgers needed these aging veterans if they were going to recall young players.

At the time that the Dodgers acquired Utley, Kiké Hernandez was playing well at second base. Would the acquisition of Utley lessen Hernandez's playing time? Everyone loved Hernandez's enthusiasm for the game and his never-give-up attitude. However, with Joc Pederson mired in a horrendous slump, Mattingly planned to use the versatile Hernandez in center field. Soon after Utley arrived, Hernandez suffered a hamstring pull.

Utley infused spirit into the team and showed the youngsters how to use their speed to help the team win.

After coming from Seattle on Aug. 31, Ruggiano gave Mattingly another option in the outfield, mostly in center field. Since his arrival, he has hit .333 and demonstrated power with three home runs in 30 at-bats. Not knowing whether Yasiel Puig, trying to return from another hamstring pull, can participate in the playoffs, Ruggiano might play an integral role there, too. This past weekend in Arizona, Carl Crawford felt something with his hamstring. Although the injury isn't believed to be serious, no one knows how long he will be unable to play. On Tuesday, in the 15th inning, Crawford pinch-hit, so hopefully he can return soon.

When the Dodgers did not call up Corey Seager on Sept. 1, many fans worried the team wouldn't bring him to the Major Leagues this season. Many national baseball publications have chosen Seager as the top prospect in baseball. On Sept. 3, immediately after Jimmy Rollins injured his ring finger, Seager made his Major League debut. Since then, while displaying an excellent eye for the strike zone, he has hit .426 and played superior defense. Unlike most young players, he doesn't try to rush the game and knows how to use his speed to his advantage. With Rollins sidelined indefinitely, the Dodgers are blessed to have Seager able to play shortstop.

Most Major League teams don't have the the luxury of depth because of budgetary restrictions, so when an injury to an important player occurs during a team's pennant drive, its chances of making the playoffs are greatly diminished. The Dodgers' organizational depth has helped them to increase their lead in their division while giving players time to rest and heal.

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.