All anyone need to know about the on-going, increasingly soapy saga of the Los Angeles Dodgers commendable attempt to maintain some fiscal sanity in the face of super agent Scott Boras' intransigence in getting his client back into Dodgers Blue this season, was uttered by exiting Washington Nationals General Manager Bob Bowden this morning.
In announcing his resignation from his position the senior vice president and GM, an emotional Bowden said he was leaving the team because he didn't want to be a distraction.
"Unless you are Manny Ramirez, there is no place for distraction in baseball."
It wasn't a quip. Clearly Bowden feels for Dodgers General Manager Ned Coletti, and probably has had some dealings with Boras himself.
Spring training has started, and the Dodgers already have a handful of games under their belt, all without supremely talented left-fielder who almost single-handedly carried his new team on his back over the past two-plus months of the season. There was a division title and then a three-game sweep of the heavily-favored Chicago Cubs in the Division Series.
Manny-being-Manny was jaw-saggingly formidable at the plate. In 53 regular season games, he hit 17 homers (only three behind full-season leader Andre Ethier) and drove in 53 runs while batting .396 and slugging .743! Add eight post-season appearances, and that's 21 homers, 63 RBIs, batting/slugging of .410 and .783, with 46 walks and only 42 strike-outs.
Those figures puts him in Barry Bonds atmosphere, but there's never been any suggestion that Ramirez' performance has ever been anything other than organic.
Do the Dodgers need Manny?
Absolutely, if it's anything like the Manny who showed up over the final 61 games (including post-season) of last season! They haven't had a force anything like him at the plate since earlier this decade when Shawn Green and Gary Sheffield were swinging hot bats for power at the corners of the outfield.
So, assuming that speculation is reasonably accurate and Boras has no place other than Chavez Ravine to take his client this season, which Ramirez dons the Dodgers Blue?
Is it the Manny of last August and September?
Or is it the Manny of last July who, seemingly by design, played his way out of Boston, having become as unruly and malignant a presence in the Red Sox clubhouse as Sheffield was on any team where he started getting restless, and feeling either unappreciated or just plain bored?
With a reasonably young team...thinking of rising stars Ethier, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Blake DeWitt, James McDonald and Clayton Kershaw, here...and no seasoned veteran like Jeff Kent to kick butt in the clubhouse, having an unhappy and disruptive Manny in their midst would have a disastrous effect that could linger for several seasons, and result in the forced fire-sale of some of that budding talent.
GM Ned Coletti and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt have made their line in the infield dirt, and now it's up to Boras and Ramirez to blink or head for Japan to see how well Manny-mania will play there.
Remember, whatever the team may owe Manny for his electric ten weeks in Los Angeles last season, they own nothing to Boras, who likely orchestrated the left-fielder's exit from Fenway in July, and was the agent behind J.D. Drew's 2006 opt-out and ankle for Boston deal.
The other off-season moves by the Dodgers...bringing in Orlando Hudson to solidify the middle infield next to a re-signed Rafael Furcal, Loney and Casey Blake at the corners, a stronger back-up for Russell Martin behind the plate, a more experienced outfield with Kemp and Ethier in support of Juan Pierre and a healthy Jason Repko in reserve...probably leave Los Angeles stronger than they were at this time last year.
The Dodgers would love to have a happy Manny back in left...that possibility, the "happy" part at least, dims with every day.
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