"All we need is one big bat, and we're in business."
This line's so often repeated throughout the NL West that frankly, it's becoming as cliche as "Wait 'til next year." The difference is, here in 2008, somebody's acted on it.
On July 31, the LA Dodgers brought Manny and his circus to LA—and the NL West—to try and make a push. Dodger fans everywhere went into a frenzied state as they tried to imagine the possiblities of Manny leading the Dodgers to the postseason—nay, the World Series, given our rotation possibilities!
But then, they add something, almost as an afterthought:
"Now all we need is Furcal back."
"Now Schmidt just needs to get healthy."
"Now we just need Saito to get back to closing."
My fellow Blue-bleeding Bum fans, our team's gotta be healthy to even compete. And the holes we have other than in our bats haven't been filled by Manny's presence.
We have two injured major-league shortstops, and are now leaning on the toothpick wielded by Angel Berroa, who makes me long for the days when we had to watch Cesar Izturis at the plate.
We have a closer who's out of commission for a while, an ace bitten by Dreifort Syndrome (pay Big Money, get Big Injury), and a second baseman who makes the clubhouse tenser than a BoSox fan in Yankee Stadium.
Let's not forget Andruw, whose power numbers have been equaled or beaten by Manny in ten days. And now we bring Manny—and his inevitable circus and media frenzy—to this atmosphere.
Manny, does, however, add to our HORRID shortage of outfielders, I suppose. Since Torre insists on playing Jones on a fairly regular basis (which I'm sure he learned to do with the Yankees—play the guys we pay" could be his motto), now we have five outfielders who think they deserve to play everyday, and four who I'd argue might have a shot at defending that claim (the only thing backing Jones up is the size of his paycheck).
You have noodle-arm, slap-hitting Juan Pierre, who's looking better this year than he has in a while. You have Matt Kemp, who's got 30-30 potential if he can level out his hot months and his cold ones into just plain CONSISTENT ones, and you've got Andre Ethier, the most consistent of the bunch, and a solid contact hitter. Then you have Manny. Who do you play??? Torre doesn't know either—this weekend, all five saw starting time in San Fran. (For the record, I'm arguing for Manny in left, Kemp in center, and Ethier in right—just sayin'.)
Face it, Dodger fans: Manny is not the answer. Have we needed a bat? Yes. Does he provide a great one? Best we've had since Piazza. Let's be frank: Do I even like the guy? Actually, yeah. But is he the answer? NO. Now, if he could play shortstop, too... well, then I might be singing a different tune. If he can make that transition and help Andruw Jones get back to the dangerous hitter and slick fielder he was three years ago, then absolutely he's all we needed.
But I'm almost sure that he can't field even as well as Furcal can (whose defense can be rather porous, by the way) and he can't reverse Jones' suspiciously Bondsian transformation (that's right, I'm suspicious of Andruw). As it is, all he does is add to a glut of outfielders and complicate Joe Torre's life, particularly since the man doesn't seem to know when a superstar has sunk to a has-been and should be benched.
However, he does bring hope. Maybe he'll be here all year next year, and a couple years after that. Maybe when we get some of these checks off the books, we can rededicate it to someone worth the cash--like Loney or Kemp. Maybe we can find a second baseman younger than Kent with similar numbers and less injuries on the market this year. Maybe Kershaw pans out next year.
But for those of you blocking out your evenings for the month of October, think again. This team has had an awfully tough time against the D'backs this year, and it's between those two teams to decide it.
And this just in: They've countered Manny by trading for the one man who can combine Manny's power with Andruw's K rate: Adam Dunn.
Let the playoff run and its ensuing circus in the NL Worst begin.