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Weak NL West is up for grabs

L.A. STORY

By JOHN KRUK, ESPN

The trading deadline has come and gone, and for some contenders, it went well. They were able to get what they needed to vie for a playoff spot and possibly the World Series. And then there are teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers that went out and made trades that won't help them at all for a potential playoff run.

The Dodgers are in a weak division that probably will be won by whichever team gets hot down the stretch. To get hot like that, the Dodgers are going to need a good bullpen because they are so old offensively and can't count on their offense to consistently put up seven- and eight-run games to win. But instead of focusing on bettering their bullpen, the organization decided to trade some of it to acquire parts that won't help them this season.

They also knew they needed to get power for the offense and a strong defensive player. Instead, they went out and got Julio Lugo. I'm sorry, but I can't see how Lugo helps with a power deficit or helps better that defense.

All in all, I have to say the Dodgers didn't do what they needed to take over the weak NL West.

BASEBALL TONIGHT EXTRA

By Mark Simon, ESPN Research

Here come the Dodgers again. They have won five straight after beating the Reds on Wednesday.

Despite playing horrendously for much of the month of July, the Dodgers are in the middle of an upward climb. In particular, the offense seems to have gotten back on track. If you saw their last five games, you legitimately could believe that this is one of the better offenses in the National League -- something you wouldn't have thought from their initial play after Nomar Garciaparra went down due to injury.

ELIAS SAYS

Alfonso Soriano hit two home runs in Washington's loss at San Francisco, the fourth time this season he has hit more than one home run in a game. He's the first National League leadoff hitter with four multihomer games in one season since Lou Brock of the 1967 Cardinals.

Jason Schmidt pitched six innings and recorded 10 strikeouts to get the win for the Giants, the second time this season that he has whiffed at least 10 batters in an outing of six or fewer innings. No other pitcher in the major leagues has done that more than once in 2006.

• The Tigers posted their 72nd win of the year on Wednesday night. Detroit was 71-91 in 2005. This is the earliest date on which a team coming off a season of at least 60 wins has surpassed its victory total from the prior year. The previous fastest was set by Brooklyn in 1892, which recorded its 62nd win on Aug. 3, after going 61-71 in 1891.

More from Elias Says

WEDNESDAY'S NEWS AND NOTES

Chan Ho Park • Padres right-hander Chan Ho Park is expected to have a transfusion on Thursday to treat intestinal bleeding that led him to lose half his blood volume. The bleeding spontaneously stopped, but the Padres aren't sure what caused it. Tests ruled out a bleeding ulcer.

• Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood has decided against having surgery to repair his injured right shoulder. Wood made just four starts this season following shoulder surgery on Aug. 31 and will miss the rest of the year with a partially torn rotator cuff. He hopes to come back next season as a reliever.

• Major League Baseball canceled its quarterly owners meetings scheduled for Aug. 9-10 in Toronto. The decision was made because there were no urgent items to discuss. Owners are next scheduled to meet in mid-November in Chicago.

• Giants catcher Mike Matheny has made little progress in his recovery from a concussion and will not play again this season. The 35-year-old Matheny, who is on the 60-day disabled list, has been sidelined since May 31 and is still experiencing "fogginess," memory loss, dizzy spells and headaches. He has walked into a room, for example, and not remembered why he did.