Friday, August 01, 2008

Erin Being Erin: A Beantown West Update

"Okay, now flick the paper football! I don't care if it's the bottom of the sixth."

The Dodgers and Red Sox just made a huge trade. If there were only a fan of both teams who could break it down for us! For those missing Beantown West—and judging from our mail, there are quite a few of you—we proudly present the latest in the SoSG Guest Writer Series: Erin of Beantown West! Take it away, Erin!

Beantown West is no longer, which is a shame. But fear not, I am working on setting up my next site. For now, though, the boys here were kind enough to let me write a guest post. I haven't written anything about baseball in a while, so if I'm a little longwinded, I hope you'll forgive me.

For those who don't already know, I am a fan of two teams, the Red Sox and Dodgers. Because they play in separate leagues, it's rare that this dual fandom ever finds conflict (the exception thus far being, I guess, the preseason exhibition games, if you think those counted for anything).

But today my worlds collided. You know the details. But you want to read my opinion, right? So, here you go. One fan, two perspectives.

Let's start with the Red Sox. They sent a future Hall of Famer to the Dodgers, and two prospects to the Pirates, and they got back a pretty good right-handed hitter in Jason Bay. Is he enough to protect David Ortiz in the lineup? Maybe, but I do think there are still some teams that would rather walk Ortiz and deal with Bay, and you didn't see that happening when Ramirez was in the lineup. Still, Bay is a proven hitter, and maybe he'll take a liking to bouncing balls off the Green Monster.

If Manny wasn't even going to try for the last two months, then any warm body would have been better than #24 stepping into the box.

Manny has a history of requesting trades, claiming to be unhappy, and then changing his mind and professing his love of Boston. This has all been labeled as "Manny being Manny," and I've defended the behavior more than once, even if I was a little less than sure why I would be defending that kind of prima donna behavior. Manny's performance in the field never bothered me, because I think stories of him being lazy tended to be a little overblown. He seemed like he really had fun playing the game, and I was never going to fault a guy for that.

But I guess he finally officially decided he was done (for whatever reason), because the things he has been saying over the last few days have been pretty harsh. It was hard to see how the Sox could ever repair the damage, so I can't blame them for doing whatever they could to find a solution. The Sox gave up a decent outfielder in Brandon Moss, and a reliever who has just never proved himself in Craig Hansen. Plus, they're paying the rest of Manny's contract (but also get Jason Bay for $7.5 million next season). Some would say that's a lot to give up for Jason Bay. Part of me agrees, but the other part of me knows the Sox needed to move on past the Manny era.

Considering the rumors flying all day yesterday involved a three-way trade with the Pirates and Marlins, which subsequently fell through, the Sox look as though they were pretty desperate to rid themselves of Ramirez's presence in their clubhouse. Maybe Bay can't live up to Manny's offensive performance, but he's certainly an improvement on defense. And if Manny wasn't even going to try for the last two months (and if you've watched him play in the last week, you know that was a possibility), then any warm body would have been better than #24 stepping into the box.

And now we move onto the Dodgers. I can only see upside for Los Angeles, even though they had to give up Andy LaRoche to get this done. When they made the move for Blake last week, the Dodgers ensured that LaRoche was not going to be given a chance to start at third base regularly, so why not try to get some value for him? I don't know anything about the pitcher, Bryan Morris, that we sent to Pittsburgh. Hopefully that means he wasn't some shining prospect, so it wasn't too difficult to give him up for Ramirez.

Show a little faith in Ethier and Kemp, Torre. Play them every day. I guarantee you won't regret it.

The Sox are paying the remaining $7 million on Ramirez's contract, and Ramirez waived the options in his contract, meaning he will be a free agent after this season. So, we're talking about a rental that cost the Dodgers two prospects, one of whom the Dodgers weren't interested in playing, and the other who hadn't yet made a name for himself (at least in my view) in the minors. That rental instantly makes us a contender in the N.L. West, especially considering the Diamondbacks failed to land Mark Teixeira. And it all comes right before the start of a four-game series with those Diamondbacks.

Manny won't be "lazy" in Los Angeles. He's playing for a new contract, since he will now be a free agent in just a few months. He will be playing like a man on a mission, and he will, in theory, be happier in Los Angeles than he was in Boston. And even if he says crazy things and acts like Manny, it'll only be for a few months. I can deal with that, as long as he's hitting a few balls over the wall. It'll be interesting to see how Torre handles him, though, that's for sure.

Of course, this doesn't solve the problem of what the Dodgers will do next year at third base, and it creates an ever bigger logjam in the outfield. But I guess we'll worry about third base next year, and we'll hope that Colletti and Torre realize that an outfield of Ramirez, Kemp and Ethier gives this team the best shot of winning. Show a little faith in Ethier and Kemp, Torre. Play them every day. I guarantee you won't regret it.

You want me to break it down? Here are my grades for both teams (we won't worry about the Pirates):

Dodgers: A-

Red Sox: B- or C+ (I'm torn)

Great stuff, Erin! Looking forward to what you come up with next!

AP Photo


JJ said...

Miss you, Erin!

As I see it, Boston just diluted their lineup and put more pressure on Ortiz, who's recovering from a wrist injury. Personality issues aside, Manny was a feared hitter.
Clearing the clubhouse of an unhappy personality in this case weakens the team.

Boston's loss is the Dodger's gain, though. If anyone can handle a quirky personality, it's Torre. The Dodgers just upgraded their lineup bigtime.

Eric Karros said...

Hey good to hear from BTW again. Or read from it. Hope you are up and running again soon.

Unknown said...

I do believe the Dodgers will also pick up the two draft picks when Manny walks away as a free agent after this season. Add that to the two that they should get for Blake, and it's looking like it might be a pretty good draft for Logan next year.

Erin said...

Good to (sort of) be back.

I guess I just think that Jason Bay > an unhappy Manny Ramirez. I've watched Ramirez play this whole season, and as soon as he started running off at the mouth about all this, he really seemed to stop trying on the field or at the plate.

I was there in Anaheim, maybe 100 feet away, when he fell down and rolled over that ball that he misplayed, and I had to look away. Even in real time, it looked like he sort of did it on purpose. If that was the sort of thing the Sox could expect for the next two months, they had to get rid of him. And he won't behave that way in L.A., so it's definitely a win for the Dodgers.

Orel said...

Maybe that's what caused the earthquake.

karina said...

It's great to read your baseball writing again, Erin.

You know? i think Jason Bay is a very good addition to the Red Sox. He's a very talented player, of course, his batting won't ever be as legendary as Ramirez's bat. I think he'll fit in with this young wave of Red Sox players: Papelbon, Pedroia, Buchholz, Masterson and Ellisbury. If these guys can live to the expectations, the Red Sox might be contenders for many years to come.