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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Young gives loaded Dodgers even more options

Young gives loaded Dodgers even more options

Young gives loaded Dodgers even more options

OK, trust me on this one. Michael Young is going to win a game for the Dodgers at some point this season. Actually, he may win a couple of them.

He might do it with a pinch-hit in the eighth inning of a playoff game or with a spot start at first or third in September. However it plays out, the Dodgers are going to be glad they got him.

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Among the many impressive things about this team is how it has gotten contributions from every corner of its clubhouse. To go 52-13 since June 22, that is, to have one of the great runs in the history of baseball, did not happen simply because their stars have played like stars.

Their stars have played like stars. From Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke to Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers have been led by the very people who were supposed to lead them.

But the Dodgers have also gotten important work from Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto, Jerry Hairston and others. If the Dodgers can ride this amazing run all the way into the World Series, general manager Ned Colletti's constant efforts to upgrade the roster won't go unnoticed.

His signing of Schumaker last winter didn't raise many eyebrows. But Schumaker has started 62 games at four different positions, including every outfield position. He's a reminder that every roster spot is important and that the game's best general managers keep looking for ways to upgrade their roster. Even with the Dodgers rolling along, Colletti has continued to tinker.

In July, he added a starting pitcher (Ricky Nolasco ) and two relievers (Carlos Marmol and Brian Wilson ). Last week, he grabbed right-hander Edinson Volquez after he'd been let go by the Padres.

Nolasco has gone 6-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 10 starts for the Dodgers, and both Marmol and Wilson have pitched well. Volquez will get his first start for his new team on Wednesday.

None of this is new stuff for Colletti. In three previous playoff runs with the Dodgers, he got significant contributions from players he added late in the season.

For instance, in 2006, utility man Marlon Anderson hit .375 with seven home runs in September and helped the Dodgers grab the National League Wild Card berth. He also started in the Division Series and batted .308.

Two years later, in 2008, Colletti added Greg Maddux, who made seven starts down the stretch as the Dodgers won the NL West. He then pitched out of the bullpen in both the Division Series and NL Championship Series.

In 2009, Colletti made three important acquisitions, getting pitchers Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla and infielder Ronnie Belliard for a team that eventually won the NL West.

All of them contributed, too, with Garland going 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA in six starts and Padilla winning four starts in the regular season and the clinching game of the NLDS. Belliard batted .351 with five home runs in 24 games.

Acquiring Young this season didn't feel like a pressing need for the Dodgers. Their regular third baseman, Juan Uribe, has been solid both offensively and defensively. Likewise, Gonzalez has been one of the NL's best first basemen.

Rather than filling a hole, Young simply is an experienced and accomplished right-handed hitter, a guy who has been to the World Series twice and was held in high regarded by his teammates with the Rangers.

He'll give Dodgers manager Don Mattingly an additional option, both late in games off the bench and as the occasional starter in the infield. In short, when Colletti saw a chance to make the Dodgers better, he moved aggressively.

Here's the odd thing about championship teams: They're never what they were supposed to be. To win a World Series, dozens of things have to fall into place. No general manager or manager, not even the best of them, can plan for everything.

All they can do is stay aggressive, take advantage of every opportunity and continue to build, build, build. The Pirates, Orioles, Rays and Yankees have all made additions in recent weeks.

Unlike the Dodgers, those teams are still fighting for their playoff lives. The Dodgers, leading the NL West by 12 1/2 games, are closing in on a division championship. But a 12 1/2-game lead doesn't mean they're a perfect team. Thanks to yet another move by Colletti, they're better than they were a week ago.

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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