Some things I didn't mention before on the Manny Ramirez trade:
--If the Dodgers fail to sign Ramirez to a long-term contract, then they will likely receive two draft picks as compensation for losing him, assuming he's offered arbitration. If the team that signs Manny Ramirez drafts outside the top-15, then they receive that team's pick, and a supplemental pick between the first and second round. If that team drafts in the top-15, then the Dodgers receive their second round pick and still keeps the supplemental pick. I hope that's clear.
--The Dodgers took advantage of the Red Sox apparent desperation to get rid of Manny Ramirez. The Red Sox have been desperate to get rid of his act before, exposing him to waivers in 2004, nearly trading him for A-Rod at one point, nearly sending him to the Mets at another point, and he's been dangled many times before. But they always held onto him, and he helped Boston win two World Series. This time however, Manny's antics were too much to bear for the Red Sox, and they were insistent on getting rid of him, that they gave up two decent prospects and agreed to pay his salary. In order to succeed in baseball, organizations must be opportunistic. The Dodgers took advantage of a unique opportunity in this case.
--As Kevin Roderick points out, there has been some serious concern about the "baggage" that Ramirez brings to LA. I haven't been in the Red Sox clubhouse, so I have no idea how much of a problem he's really been. Evidently, he was problematic enough that the Red Sox upped the ante to trade him. But I'm not as pessimistic about Ramirez being an organizational cancer as some others.
The fact is, Manny is now a certain free agent after this season. He reportedly wants a 4-year $100 million contract. I find it hard to believe anyone will pay that much for his services through his 40th birthday. But if Manny really wants to have any chance at that salary, then he has to perform at his best in the next 2 months. I think he recognizes that. I also believe that Ramirez will be motivated to prove the Red Sox nation wrong, and a motivated Manny is an effective Manny.
Since he'll only be here for two months, I'd be shocked if his act will wear thin. He already has the "Manny being Manny" mantra, and teammates will likely expect the bizarre from him and possibly embrace it.
--It's true that Ramirez weakens the Dodgers defenisvely. In fact, the Dodgers may have one of the worst defensive teams in baseball on days in which Jeff Kent, Nomar Garciaparra, Juan Pierre, Casey Blake, and Ramirez are all in the lineup. The presence of Ramirez in the outfield practically mandates that Kemp and Ethier start, just to mitigate that effect. I don't believe that Blake's as bad defensively as some have suggested, but his range isn't great, and it's compounded if Nomar is playing shortstop.
At the end of the day though, I agree with TJ Simers' and Keith Law's takes as the trade was a no-brainer for LA because of what was involved, and that it will make the Dodgers the favorites in the West.