Off Base
Ned Being Ned

August 4, 2008, 5:19 p.m. The Dodgers GM has been quite the punching bag around town. Nationally too, for that matter.

But don't get me wrong. It's not like we're apologizing or anything. The man earned every last ounce of the poison ink. But if the Manny Ramirez trade is a fair representation of Ned being Ned, as his is right now, today, then the Dodger Collective owes Ned a rousing chorus of "we're not worthy."

OK everybody, all together now: "We're not wooorrrthy!!!"

There are no qualifiers about this trade. Zero. We're not talking, if such and such happens or this and that occurs, well, then it's a great trade and we'll see. Nope. None of the usual stuff applies.

About the only challenge we face here is picking the right adjective. Incredible, jaw-dropping, amazing, difference-making, clutch, or perhaps staggering. Andy LaRoche for Manny Ramirez, remember. Andy LaRoche for Manny Ramirez.

I'm going with monumental. Manny Ramirez turning Blue at the stroke of the trading deadline is a monumental achievement, comparable to absolutely nothing in Los Angeles Dodgers history. Nothing. Or as Vin Scully would say, "zilch, zip, nada."

Vin actually did say "the Dodgers are a completely different club," and he couldn't be more accurate. They are a completely different club. Colletti gets full credit, and this is exactly what a pennant race deal is supposed to look like. It simply cannot be done better.

Arizona caps off July by acquiring a pinch hitter in Tony Clark and a setup man in Jon Rauch. Colletti's Dodgers get a veteran, highly-qualified third baseman, and a Hall of Fame left fielder. Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez. Pablo Ozuna was a nice little pickup too.

I'm not going to start hurling preemptive clichés at you, but the "hitting is contagious" line sure seems to apply. A boulder-filled backpack of pressure has been lifted from the shoulders of the rest of the lineup, and the result already is and will be increased production. The Dodgers will score more runs. Period, end of discussion.

Sure, there's no guaranteeing a team-wide course correction after just two days, but those were a pretty significant two days. And fitting that Kirk Gibson was there to see it.

Anyway, since I affixed the "monumental" label to the trade, I better predict at least a division title, and I think it'll happen, but speed bumps exist. Putting Brad Penny straight back into the rotation after only one rehab start, and a weak one at that, is playing with fire, don't you think? I’m more than a bit concerned about that one.

And the Dodgers still have Joe Torre's lineups to contend with, including the unfortunate, if not malpractice reinstalling of Juan Pierre into center field. And we're still looking at Andruw Jones someplace other than the minor leagues, Andre Ethier's banishment to God-knows-where, and the serial overuse of Russell Martin.

On the bright side, Torre was practically forced to move Jeff Kent out of the cleanup spot (finally) to make room for Manny, and actually had the second baseman batting sixth for a whole day, before moving him up to fifth Sunday. That's a huge development. Kent really ought to hit seventh, behind James Loney, but we'll take what we can get.

But look, we're extremely grateful the deal went down. The team is clearly better. You know it, I know it, and the Arizona Diamondbacks certainly know it. More importantly, the Dodgers know it, and the rest of the league is about to find out.

I'm pleased, but you tell me. After all, these are your Los Angeles Dodgers.

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged, but right now, they're downright required…

Right Thinking: So where does Manny stand among the game's great batsmen? Well, you have to go back 50 years, to Mays and Aaron, and to Frank Robinson, to find this level of right-handed hitting. Ramirez is that great. After that group, no one is better over half a century.

We're lucky to have three historic righty hitters playing today, in Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols and Manny, the latter two of whom have championship rings to show for their efforts. The latter one of whom has two rings to show for his, but let's stay humble here, if at all possible.

We can argue which of the three is best, but I prefer to celebrate them as a group. And sure, one can make a case for Frank Thomas to be included; I'm just not the one…

Last Add, Manny: To those around the country, and in Boston especially, who say "buyer beware," I say "we get it." We get that Manny did some bad things in the end there. It's duly noted, and he's not to be excused for the rickety bridge he left behind. But let's also note that it was the Red Sox who burned the remains of that bridge.

They obliterated it, is what they did, and Nomar Garciaparra is right about the way the way Boston management treats its stars on the way out the door. They did it with Manny, with Nomar, with Pedro Martinez, and before that, with the pre-drug abusing Roger Clemens.

We acknowledge that Manny's behavior in the end was not cool. It was Shaq, essentially. Worse actually, because Manny took it on the field with him. But it's not Barry Bonds, and L.A. is not Frisco. We're not blind.

Manny's drug-free, he doesn't need to cheat to get ahead, nor is his defense required in federal court merely to stay out of the penitentiary. His clean slate began Friday. Let's move on…

Jackass of the Week: Scott Boras can take the category just by showing his face in public most weeks, but his role in the Ramirez deal, plus however it is he's finagling Andruw Jones' continued presence in the majors, puts him in contention this time. Boras gets the trophy, however, for prompting Mark Teixeira to spill his plan for free agency - that he's looking for a 10-year deal. Is that all? Just ten years?

Angels? Don't care. Don't ever care…

Jackass of the Week, Runner-Up: Bucs' GM Neal Huntington. It's not his fault the box score makers of the world have yet to discover that, with brothers Andy and Adam LaRoche now serving as teammates in Pittsburgh, "A. LaRoche" just doesn’t cut it, but Huntington is a jackass just the same…

Statue for Sandy: The "monumental" line earlier might've been a Freudian slip, but I'm not really proposing a statue in honor of Manny Ramirez. Let's stick with the one that matters most. Admittedly, we're not getting a ton of traction with the powers that be just yet, but you gotta know we shall persevere.

The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all....






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