A lot of people had an opinion on my thoughts about the Manny Ramirez trade, so I wanted to take a look at it from another perspective. Last time I focused on the way I thought it would affect the Red Sox line-up, but of even greater interest is the way things are going to play out in Los Angeles.
At this point, this is how it appears the Dodgers are going to set-up their line-up the majority of the time:
- Juan Pierre – CF
- Matt Kemp – RF
- Russell Martin – C
- Manny Ramirez – LF
- Jeff Kent – 2B
- James Loney – 1B
- Casey Blake – 3B
- Angel Berroa – SS
I’ve said it before, but it is amazing how different the line-up is perceived now that Ramirez’ presence is sitting in the clean-up spot.
The biggest thing to note is that both Andre Ethier and Andruw Jones now find themselves on the bench. In Jones’ case, it certainly isn’t a big lose for the Dodgers or fantasy owners. In 199 AB this season, Jones was hitting just .161 with 2 HR. That’s extremely disappointing, and when you’re coming off a .222 season, it’s tough to disappoint owners even further.
When it comes to Ethier, it’s a shame that he has to be sitting on the sidelines. He has tremendous talent, and was really starting to come into his own. The HR had been increasing with each month, with 4 HR in July while hitting .281 in 96 AB.
There are people who would argue that the most talented OF the Dodgers could put out there everyday would include Ethier, instead of Pierre, to join Kemp and Ramirez. Maybe if Rafael Furcal were healthy, giving Joe Torre another option hitting atop the order, he may have gone in that direction.
Unfortunately, Furcal has been lost to fantasy owners for some time and that absence has come back to bite Ethier. I’m not going to say that Ethier is a 30 HR talent, because right now I don’t see that as the case. While it is possible he develops into that type of player down the road, at this point he’s just a solid player who, with everyday AB, should post an average right around .275 with 20 HR and 80 RBI.
While those numbers may not overwhelm you, they certainly would make him a player worth using in formats that require 5 starting OF’ers. Unfortunately, it just isn’t meant to be this season. He just isn’t going to get the chance to show owners how valuable he could be. Maybe next season.
As for the rest of the line-up, you have to think it will have a positive impact on Russell Martin. Hitting in front of Ramirez did wonders for J.D. Drew earlier this season (as we discussed yesterday), so time will tell if it has a similar effect on the Dodgers catcher.
Through Monday, he was on a 5-game hitting streak, but the last 4 games have seen him collect just 1 hit in 4 AB in each (a .250 average). That’s certainly not a number that is going to turn heads. Last season he hit 19 HR, but that pace is down this season, with him currently sitting at 10. His average is right around where you’d have though, with .293 last season vs. .295 this season.
A career .290 hitter is what he is in my opinion, so I wouldn’t expect Manny’s presence to suddenly turn him into a .320 guy. I do, however, think he has proven that he has more power then he’s displayed thus far and better protection could mean more fastballs. More fastballs could mean more trots around the base paths.
That is far from a guarantee, but it is something worth eyeing. His speed is also down a bit this season, and that honestly may not rebound. Forget about the fact that he is a catcher trying to steal bases in the dog days of August, he may not want to risk being caught, taking away an opportunity for Manny Ramirez.
With Jeff Kent hitting behind you, that is not much of a worry. Ramirez is a different animal, and you don’t want to give the opposition:
1) A chance to pitch around Ramirez
~ or ~
2) Erase a base runner he could potentially drive in
Others in the order will certainly be influenced. Someone like Jeff Kent, who is now batting behind Manny instead of clean-up, will likely have less opportunity to drive runners in. Players like Juan Pierre and Matt Kemp, the table setters, have a chance to score runs in droves thanks to Ramirez, and his nearly 1,700 career RBI, waiting to send them circling the bases.
As for Ramirez, he simply is one of the best hitters in the game. Coming off a down year and people ready to write him off, he has rebounded tremendously, on pace to exceed 30 HR and 100 RBI once again. It just doesn’t matter if he’s hitting in Boston, Los Angeles or over in Japan, they guy is going to do what he does and pound the baseball.
I’m not going to declare the Dodgers line-up the best in baseball, not by a long shot, but Ramirez’ presence certainly makes it that much stronger. He is the presence that they were sorely missing and makes them that much better.