Friday, August 1, 2008 | By Alex Eisenberg
Not often do you see a franchise in the middle of a heated pennant race actively try to trade their best hitter--a hitter that is amongst the best in the game today. A hitter that is amongst the best in that franchise's history. A hitter that is amongst the best in baseball's history.
But that is exactly what the Red Sox did with Manny Ramirez. Not only did they try to trade Ramirez...they did. In a blockbuster, 3-team deal, Ramirez was sent packing to LA and for the rest of this season he will call Dodger Stadium, home.
Laziness, a lack of caring, a lack of effort--essentially Ramirez "dogging it" is what created the rift between him and his former team...Manny being Manny.
And so with Ramirez essentially pushing the Red Sox to the edge with comments such as "the Red Sox don't deserve me", Boston decided to part ways with their best hitter at a time when they need him most.
The Dodgers will now be the beneficiary of Ramirez's production, which they so desperately need as well as all the baggage that potentially comes with it.
Nevertheless, the Dodgers get an elite No. 4 hitter that has no real weaknesses offensively. He hits for average, he hits for power, he gets on base. He'll strike out and he doesn't run well (especially when he doesn't try to run), but that's about it in terms of offensive weaknesses.
Now, it should be pointed out Ramirez is not the player he once well. He has bounced back from a down year in 2007, but his numbers clearly aren't at the level they once were. His power has declined, he's hitting more ground balls, his strikeouts are up slightly, and his walks are down slightly.
The pitch Ramirez is launching to left-center is an 85 mph slider from Francisco Rodriguez. To start, Ramirez has a high leg kick and loads his hands by lowering them and then moving them slightly back and up.
At foot plant, you can see his hands begin their initial movement forward. However, notice he delays the opening of his hips to adjust for the breaking ball; he does this by applying a little extra weight to his front leg. What he's doing is essentially correcting his timing.
He keeps his hips closed for a longer period than you usually see, but this is a good thing. Why? Because if you have two players--let's say Player A and Player B--Player A opens his hips earlier than Player B, but each player makes contact at the same time. We can logically conclude that Player B's hip rotation is more aggressive, more violent, faster, and therefore more powerful because it is covering the same distance in less time.
The hands and hips turn together. By doing this, he maximizes the rotational forces he gets from the rotation of his hips. As his hands and bat move through the hitting zone, notice how his leg locks or "firms" up. It goes from a slightly bent position to straight and firm. He uses that front leg as a base in which he turn his hips on.
Ramirez's swing is really what great genetics, strong wrists, fast hands, and tons of hard work do for your swing. You can see the strength and quickness of his wrists/hands in this clip:
He may be lazy while the game is being played, but he is one of the hardest working ball players off the field.
I'm not going to spend too much time here. We know his defense is bad. This takes away a good chunk of the value he provides offensively and needs to be factored into the overall value he provides the Dodgers.
Manny Ramirez - Worth the Price?
The Dodgers gave up highly touted third base prospect Andy Laroche, who I've always felt was the most underappreciated prospect in baseball (or at least close to it). Why the Dodgers never gave him a chance is beyond me. It seemed they did everything they could to lower his value and my personal feeling is that he absolutely needed a change of scenery.
The second player going from LA to Pittsburgh is Bryan Morris, a young pitcher who missed all of 2007 and is now in Single-A Great Lakes.
The price doesn't seem too steep for one of the best hitters in the game. However, the only way this makes sense is if the Dodgers have a legit chance of making a playoff run, which I think they do....though I also have my doubts.
1. Will the pitching hold up? Billingsley is a legit No. 1 guy, while Lowe is a good No. 2. After that, things get iffy.
2. Will the Dodgers play the right players? Ramirez will join a very crowded outfield that includes Andre Either, Matt Kemp, Juan Pierre, and Andruw Jones.
So who do you play? Easy--you play your best players and take money out of the equation. You don't trade your MLB-ready third baseman of the future for Manny Ramirez and then go out and not play your best players. That means Andruw Jones and Juan Pierre should find a seat on the bench.
Why the Dodgers need to make a run at things now:
1. The division is weak and the opportunity is there.
2. If you look at the players on the Dodgers roster and their contract situations...this is really their last chance. The Dodgers should be going into full-blown rebuilding mode after this year.
Free agents include: Rafael Furcal, Nomar, Jeff Kent, Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Joe Beimel, Chan Ho Park, Casey Blake, and now Manny Ramirez.
That's anywhere from 10 - 16 draft choices (maybe more) should they choose not to resign their big name players as well as get creative and reach deals with their lesser name players in order for them not to accept arbitration. By looking at that list of players, you should understand that this is really the last chance for this Dodger team to make a playoff run.
So the question that has to be asked is: was it worth giving up a third baseman with all-star potential when you know a rebuilding effort is just over the horizon? We'll know the answer soon enough.
I will break down this trade from the Pirates and Red Sox point of view in the upcoming days.
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