As of today, the Dodgers have been the only team to admit making a play for Manny Ramirez, including the offer of a one year $25 million contract that would give him the second highest annual salary in baseball (A-Rod would have beat him out for first). That offer was rejected days after it was submitted, though his agent Scott Boras assures the media that he and the Dodgers are still in talks over the outfielder.
There will come a point, and soon I think, where GM Ned Colletti will have to give up on the Manny dream and refocus his energies on finding veteran starters to round out the rotation.
There are two categories clubs look at during the off-season; Need and Want. Another starting pitcher is a ‘Need’. The Dodgers lost Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Joe Beimel, Chan Ho-Park, Takashi Saito, Scott Proctor, and Greg Maddux. A club cannot survive with a depleted rotation relying on a thinned out bull-pen.
Manny is a ‘Want,’ as far as I’m concerned. Should the talks collapse, the Dodgers would still have the outfield covered. Presumed starters Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier would be joined by Juan Pierre who’s been aching for a starting position or a trade. Yes, the threat at the plate would be significantly reduced, yes, Manny made a huge impact on the team in 2008 and helped propel them into the playoffs, but at what point do you say ‘enough’.
Enough with the games. Scott Boras has been dangling the Manny card in front of the Dodgers’ face for the last four months. Though no other club has made a public offer, the Dodgers are made to jump through hoops to bring him back to L.A. It’s clear the Dodgers are not going to pay obscene amounts of money over six years for an outfielder who’s getting up there in age. There’s no DH in the NL, it’s that simple.
OK, so a two year contract wasn’t going to cut it, perhaps a thirty-eight year old free agent won’t be as desirable as a thirty-six year old. But surely a one year contract for $25 million should appeal to both the player and the pocket. Again, no other team has owned up to wanting Manny. The Giants, the Angels, the Nats, the Red Sox…all no’s.
Enough! The Dodgers can’t spend the rest of the off-season hoping Manny takes an offer that they have yet to make. Pitchers and Catchers are days away from reporting for duty. After that it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to Spring Training. It’s apparent the Dodgers are concentrating on the younger guys and building a team that can sustain championship-caliber performances in the long run.
Truth-be-told, I never expected much from the Boys in Blue last year. I figured they’d bring in Joe Torre and he’d do his thing, see how the boys played, make notes and bring the team to a place where they could be competitive for the next couple of years (at least!). I was looking at the ’08 season as a rebuilding year, but then the Red Sox became so desperate to get rid of Manny that they give him to the Dodgers for free! Suddenly the Dodgers found themselves three wins away from the World Series.
Many fans have been saying that the key to the ’09 Dodgers season is Manny. I humbly disagree. The key to the ’09 is a strong starting rotation, a more solid, confident closer, and a healthy Russell Martin.
The NL West is getting very scary. The Giants picked up Randy Johnson and Edgar Renteria. Also, the Diamondbacks added Tom Gordon to back up the one-two combination of Dan Haren and Brandon Webb.
The Dodgers will need to work very hard to stay competitive next season and it’ll take more than Manny Ramirez to elevate their overall level of play. If one super-star slugger could win teams a championship then the last six years would have been much kinder to the San Francisco Giants.
On a personal note, should Manny return to the Dodgers, I’m going to find it quite difficult rooting for him. There’s something to be said for character and poise, and based on the past few months Scott Boras, and Manny Ramirez, lack both. They’ve been nothing but a distraction asking for obscene amounts of money in a time when the nation struggles to make ends meet. Baseball used to represent the best America has to offer, now it’s become a display in excess that shames those who love the game.