Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bagging Ramirez May Have Saved Colletti's Job

John Donovan of also likes the Manny deal for the Dodgers--and writes that it gives Ned Colletti a stay of execution by bringing Frankie the Red Sox's crown jewel:

Ned Colletti has made a lot of -- to put it more kindly than many people in Southern California do -- questionable decisions during his tenure as the Dodgers general manager. And maybe someday, Thursday's deadline-pushing trade for Manny Ramirez will get lumped into that category.

But for right now, Colletti has pulled off the coup of his GMing career, a trade for a future Hall of Fame slugger that immediately, and perhaps irrevocably, changes the look and feel of the heretofore gutless National League West. With Ramirez in Tinsletown, the Dodgers go from contenders to favorites, from clueless to clued-in. The kicker: It cost them next to nothing to get there.

Ramirez to L.A. is all upside for the Dodgers. Even if Manny reverts to being the Bad Manny -- the one that so clearly wanted out of Boston in the last few weeks that he ripped management, pushed aside an elderly Red Sox employee, alienated teammates, sat out a game with phantom injuries, dogged it in the field (while yukking it up in front of the fans) and slow-poked it down the line -- all the Dodgers have to do is bench the guy. Or release him. They're not paying him a dime. (The Red Sox, in their haste to wash their hands of Bad Manny, are picking up the $7 million remaining on his 2008 salary.)

In fact, there is every reason to believe that we'll see nothing but the Good Manny in Chavez Ravine. Ramirez will use these last two months of the regular season -- and any postseason that the Dodgers can muster up -- to show that he not only is still a formidable offensive force (his career OPS is .999, and if he's slowed down any lately, it's only slightly) but a fan-friendly, teammate-loving, loyal L.A. employee. His free-agency goal -- said to be at least a four-year deal worth at least $20 million a year -- rides on it.

Manny being Manny? In these next couple of months, Manny will be practically angelic.

With Ramirez in the lineup, the Dodgers don't have to worry about handing out playing time to Andruw Jones or Juan Pierre, two of Colletti's more expensive and most noticeable flops. With Ramirez clobbering home runs, even in spacious Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers -- 15th in the 16-team NL in homers -- now have a legitimate bat to go with emerging sluggers Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier and still-capable veteran second baseman Jeff Kent.

Does this single move make the Dodgers world beaters, or even World Series material? Probably not. But it gives them more oomph and more chance to get there than the Diamondbacks, their main competition in the West. And it gives Colletti a little more time to make up for the things he didn't get right.

Also note that Donovan indicates that Ramirez needs to join Kemp and Ethier in the field, and not the other two people for whom Colletti grossly overpaid.