Sarah's Take: 'Manny-mania' is here
Eleven-time All-Star brings bat to Hollywood and Dodgers
"It's way back there. It's gone!"
That's what the Dodgers' broadcasters will say on a more regular basis -- at least more often than they have done since 2004, when Adrian Beltre left. Otherwise, most of Los Angeles will be disappointed.
On Thursday, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti made a blockbuster trade, getting the slugger that the Dodgers have needed for a long time, landing Manny Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox.
Ramirez entered Saturday with 510 career home runs, and even though hitting at Fenway Park is easier than it is at Dodger Stadium, Ramirez will still hit. The Red Sox reportedly wanted to get rid of Ramirez because they had an expensive option for the next two years and the team portrayed Ramirez as a greedy player who didn't want to play.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre, however, said that he is one of the top five hitters in baseball, one of the main reasons why the Dodgers went out and got him. But to continue at that level, Ramirez has to work hard. A player who only plays for money won't dedicate himself to be the best hitter that he can be.
Colletti had to give up two young players to get Ramirez. One of them, Andy LaRoche, was labeled the future third baseman for the Dodgers. Since the spring of 2006, the Dodgers have been expecting him to take that position, but he hasn't proven he could do it. LaRoche has had a shoulder injury, a back injury, and this spring, a thumb injury. Both the shoulder and back injuries could become chronic ailments. Every time LaRoche has been in the Major Leagues, he has struggled offensively.
With the emergence of Blake DeWitt, LaRoche was expendable. Although DeWitt is in the Minors to improve his hitting, he is undoubtedly the third baseman of the future.
Defensively, DeWitt is superior to LaRoche. Even though Colletti obtained Casey Blake to play third base, I believe that DeWitt will be the Dodgers' third baseman next year. The Dodgers hope DeWitt will develop more power than he has displayed.
It was clear to everyone if the Dodgers wanted to win the National League West, they needed a genuine professional hitter, with the ability to hit for a high average. Ramirez has hit over .300 10 times in his 15-year career and when he and Nomar Garciaparra were with the Red Sox, they teamed up to become a potent combination. Let's hope for the same with the Dodgers.
Although the Dodgers have good young hitters, they needed an experienced hitter like Ramirez to give them an example of how to approach opposing pitchers. The veteran hitters they have haven't performed the way the Dodgers expected them to.
Jeff Kent's age is showing with his diminished bat speed. The Dodgers had signed Andruw Jones, hoping that he would give them a legitimate power hitter, but Jones hasn't performed like any Major Leaguer should. Entering Saturday's game, Jones had a .161 batting average, with two homers and 71 strikeouts. To me, Jones needs to sit on the bench until he can start hitting. Jones' offensive struggles have hurt the Dodgers. I hope having Ramirez give Torre incentive to put Jones on the bench.
During his tenure with the Dodgers, Colletti has shown that he likes to collect outfielders. Before Colletti obtained Ramirez, the Dodgers had four capable outfielders and getting Ramirez complicates the outfield situation further. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are ready to play every day, but it looks like Ethier will be on the bench, despite the fact that he's shown he can play in the Majors.
Torre said on Friday that Juan Pierre will get a large amount of playing time. I am glad that Torre recognizes the importance of Pierre to the team. When Pierre had his knee injury, everyone expected him to miss at least four weeks. The hard working Pierre was back in three. With Rafael Furcal out indefinitely, Pierre must set the table for the rest of the lineup. Since he has been a Dodger, Pierre has been fairly consistent. Torre believes the Dodgers will win more with Pierre in center field than with Jones.
Kemp has the ability to become a superstar. He can do it all -- he has power, leading the team in homers, he can run, he can field and he can throw. Although Kemp will get most of the starts, he might sit if the Dodgers face a tough right-handed pitcher, giving Ethier an opportunity to play.
Ramirez has never been known as a good defensive outfielder. If the Dodgers have a lead in the late innings, Torre will replace Ramirez for a better defensive outfielder.
Many Dodger fans will ask, "Why didn't the Dodgers trade an outfielder?" Ramirez becomes a free agent after this season. If the Dodgers can't or don't want to re-sign Ramirez, they don't want to be short-handed in the outfield.
I am very pleased with the new acquisitions of Blake and Ramirez. Since Blake has been with the Dodgers, he has been hitting well, batting .381 and has made several outstanding defensive plays. The Dodgers have a good chance of winning the weak NL West. Before the trades, I didn't think the Dodgers would go past the first round of the playoffs. Now they might be able to go to the World Series.
Sarah D. Morris is the editor of Sarah's Dodger Place. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.