Thursday, July 31, 2008

Manny Being Manny Hits Los Angeles At The Trading Deadline

Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing... Manny Ramirez!

Far be it from me to tell you, "I told you so", so instead, let me just say...

I told you so!

Manny Ramirez is a Dodger.

Thanks to the help of the Pittsburgh Pirates (more on that in a minute), the Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired the services of perennial All-Star and future Hall of Famer, outfielder Manny Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox for the equivalent of a plane ticket and two bags of used baseballs.

The two bags of balls, part-time third baseman Andy LaRoche and minor league pitcher Bryan Morris. The plane ticket is the Dodgers' willingness to pay for the remainder of Ramirez' 2008 salary, or about $7 million through the end of the season, which the Dodgers now feel will be extending itself into the latter-stages of October.

For its trouble, Boston will get Pirates' outfielder Jason Bay and, for their own stretch run, an even more valuable commodity... peace of mind. Over the last several weeks, the Red Sox have grown increasingly unable to tolerate any longer the New England phenomenon known as "Manny being Manny", that is, the unexplainably wacko behavior of their highly unorthodox slugger.

For the Dodgers' trouble, they get baseball's unquestioned best right-handed hitter of the new millennium, and a clubhouse chemistry experiment that most observers see doomed to explosive failure. How "Manny being Manny" will play in a team already divided between a core of highly talented, "directionless youth" (Matt Kemp, James Loney, Russell Martin) and a pair of once-great, former stars (Jeff Kent, Nomar Garciaparra) who's veteran leadership skills seem more closely related to a kinder, gentler version of the ones once employed by Barry Bonds.

Now stir in just a little Manny and (tick, tick...).

Hey, on paper this is a great deal for the Dodgers, especially in the wake of the Angels pick-up of star first baseman Mark Teixeira from Atlanta. If the team can ride Manny being Manny - that is, the great-big, clean-up hitting slugger - into the World Series, the stadium revenues alone will pay for the 7 million dollar bump in the budget from now till the end of the year. Even if the team chooses not to exercise the player's $20 million, 2009 contract option, the experiment would be considered a stunning success. But like they say, games aren't won on paper.

But paper can catch fire if your team chemistry happens to explode along the way to the end of the season. And for the Dodgers, fire extinguishers at the ready, that road begins tonight, as they host the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks tonight at Dodger Stadium.

Where all eyes will be focused squarely on Manny being Manny.