Will the Real Manny Ramirez Replacement Please Stand Up?
Ramirez either used poor judgment and was given bad advice by his physician, or he used poor judgment and knew exactly what he was doing.
The common thread through the whole ordeal is the fact that he used poor judgment, no matter what story comes out over the next few days. But, lest we forget, the Dodgers still have the best record in baseball.
Now the Dodgers are faced with the unenviable task of trying to replace arguably the game’s most clutch hitter—trying being the key word here.
Before anyone starts crying over the spilt HCG that Ramirez took, all is not lost for the Dodgers. Granted, Ramirez makes it easier for everyone on the Dodgers to do their job (except for Juan Pierre, who has been riding the bench as the fourth outfielder).
Los Angeles, however, won its first 13 games of the season at home because of its balanced lineup and solid pitching.
The Dodgers are now without the six homers and 20 RBIs that Ramirez has produced thus far this season. So, who will step up and fill the dreadlocked void now that Ramirez is out until the first week of July?
No one has benefited more from having Ramirez in the lineup than Ethier. Hitting behind Ramirez has allowed Ethier to see some quality pitches.
After intentionally walking Ramirez, as has often been the case, opposing pitchers couldn’t afford to mess around with Ethier. Without Ramirez hitting ahead of him, he is sure to see fewer fastballs and more junk.
Ethier is leading the Dodgers with six homers (tied with Ramirez) and 27 RBIs, and is third on the team with a .312 average.
He is going to have to continue to produce in the clutch if the Dodgers are going to have any chance at holding off the rest of the National League West.
Loney has had a good start to the season, with 21 RBIs and a .282 average, but he has yet to hit a homer and has a paltry .345 slugging percentage.
No one expects Loney to hit the ball out of the park like fellow NL first basemen Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols, but he will have to start stroking the ball with more authority without Ramirez in the lineup.
No Ramirez means Ethier will see fewer good pitches to hit, which will then shift the onus to Loney. If Loney continues to hit line drives and doesn’t develop the home run swing that has brought 28 homers the past two seasons, it could be a long summer in Los Angeles.
You will be hard-pressed to find a better defensive catcher in the league than Martin, but his .255 average and no homers have to change now that Ramirez has been suspended.
Martin has struggled at the plate this season, and just recently got his average significantly above the .200 mark. He hit 19 homers his rookie season in 2007, and needs to be close to that mark once again now that the Dodgers have lost Ramirez.
Almost as troubling for the Dodgers as Martin’s lack of power are his 22 strikeouts this season. He is averaging just a shade less than one strikeout every four times he steps to the plate.
Furcal is supposed to set the table for the Dodgers, but he has been disappointing in 2009, hitting only .252, with three stolen bases and a poor on-base percentage of .323, causing Orlando Hudson to have to carry his weight and then some.
If the Dodgers are going to continue their winning ways without Ramirez, Furcal is going to have to get on base and put pressure on opposing pitchers.
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