Dodgers Trade for Manny Ramirez
I don't have all of the details yet, but it appears the Dodgers have acquired Manny Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris. Both of them will go to Pittsburgh, who then have shipped Jason Bay to Boston. The Pirates also got Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen from Boston. I'm also hearing the Red Sox dropped Ramirez's options as a condition of him waiving his 10 and 5 rights, meaning he'll be a free agent after the season.
Not sure what this does to the Dodger outfield situation, but on the surface, the team has certainly made a huge splash and not sacrificed too much. If the Dodgers were really trying to top the Angels' Teixeira deal, then I'd say they can credibly say "my rental is better than your rental." More to come later...
I've been slightly critical of the Dodgers in the past, saying that they shouldn't be making short-term deals to satisfy the local media and create headlines. Great organizations never put themselves in position to resort to such gimmicks. It's as if the organization saw yesterday's Bill Plaschke video at LATimes.com, and accepted the challenge to match the Angels. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick writes about a litany of deals that were made to satisfy short-term desires, and turned out to hurt the organization. Too often, the LA media pushes the Dodgers or the Angels into making these deals without fully understanding the implications, and then bashes them when they fail to wave the magic wand. Very rarely does one move change an organization, and very rarely are one-sided moves even feasible.
So with that all of that being said, I really like this deal for the Dodgers. Yes, it's a short-term gimmick that will grab headlines and appease the local pundits. But Manny Ramirez is a special player. He is one the great power hitters of our generation and he is still putting up terrific numbers. He also has the personality to thrive in this city which puts a premium on superstars. Ramirez puts an instant shot into the arm of a brand that had been sagging somewhat this year.
In all likelihood, Ramirez is a short-term rental. But I don't think that's a problem. For one, the lift he is bringing this franchise is enormous, even if it is unquantifiable. Secondly, the Dodgers gave up a more than reasonable package for him. Bryan Morris is a high-ceiling pitcher, but he's already had Tommy John Surgery, and is at least three years away.
A lot of people like Andy LaRoche, but the Dodgers were going to need to trade him at some point to make room for Blake DeWitt. Given the current dynamic between the Dodgers, the organization, the fans, and the media, LaRoche was setup to fail. It seemed like few people had the patience to watch him develop, he was setback by injuries just enough for impatient types to believe he was a bust, and he didn't put up stellar numbers in the very small sample size of at-bats he was given. If LaRoche had been handed the 3B job full-time, and gotten off to a mediocre start, then he might have been ridden out of town. I don't think LaRoche is the next Paul Konerko, who this town also soured on quickly, but I do think he has the talent to be a quality everyday major leaguer. But I also think that DeWitt has a higher ceiling. So at the end of the day, LaRoche was expendable.
With Ramirez in the lineup, the Dodgers get some much-needed power. And it's not just any power. Ramirez has slugging ability that just a tiny handful of MLBers can match. In fact, he's arguably the greatest power hitter to ever wear a Dodger uniform for any length of time. Eddie Murray and Frank Robinson are the only other Dodgers to have ever hit 500 home runs.
The Dodgers are now the clear favorites in the NL West, and given Ramirez's excellent postseason history with the Red Sox, their odds look better in October.
The only other question now is what the Dodgers will do with their crowded outfield. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have both proven they're everyday major leaguers, and it would stunt their development to take them out of the lineup. Andruw Jones has proven that he has no business being in the lineup. And Juan Pierre continues to be a topic of hot debate. I wouldn't be surprised if the Dodgers chose to outright Jones to the minors (provided he accepts). If he doesn't accept, then Jones would be a free agent. Either way, he'd be owed all of the money on his contract, but Jones has been so inexplicably awful that they really might not have a choice.