GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's easy to think that once the Dodgers became baseball's big spenders, they simply took on every big contract they could find.
They sort of did, but not exactly.
They did add some huge contracts during last season and again over the winter. They shocked the Marlins by agreeing to take on every last cent remaining in the July trade for Hanley Ramirez, and no doubt surprised some people in Boston by picking up the Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett contracts, as well.
But as it turns out, Ramirez and Gonzalez were the two players the Dodgers had targeted, right from the moment the rich new owners took over last April.
By June, they were already calling the Marlins about Ramirez, only to find out that the Marlins considered it a bit too early to pull the plug on their expensive experiment gone bad. The Marlins loved the idea of dumping Ramirez, but felt that doing it so early would send the wrong message (not that they worried much about messages they sent later).
By the end of July, the Dodgers had Ramirez. The A's were trying to get him at the same time (and nearly did), but the A's were only willing to assume half of the remaining contract (more than $35 million, through 2014), while the Dodgers took all of it.
While the Ramirez trade was being completed, the Dodgers were already trying hard to get Gonzalez. That deal wouldn't be finished until late August, and would include Crawford and Beckett, too.
But Ramirez and Gonzalez had been the initial targets. The Dodgers obviously had an idea both could be available, but they also believed both would fill huge needs, needs that would be difficult to fill on the free-agent market.
"Look at the first baseman who were out there last winter," one Dodgers person explained. "Did you want to end up with Casey Kotchman?"
The Dodgers knew they needed to upgrade at first. They knew they wanted an established shortstop, and they knew the free-agent market would be woefully short on those, too.
They targeted Ramirez early, and they targeted Gonzalez, too.
By the end of the year, they ended up with both.
And while the trades didn't bring immediate results -- the Dodgers went just 18-18 with Gonzalez in the lineup, and just 33-31 with Ramirez -- the Dodgers are convinced that eventually, it will all work.
"I don't think that it had enough time last year to work," right fielder Andre Ethier said. "But it seemed to blend as time went on.'