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The Shadow of Manny Ramirez

I love Manny Ramirez. He’s my favorite Dodgers. Who cares if he took steroids? This is the ongoing sentiment of the LA Dodger faithful, and yes there are actual diehard sports fans in Los Angeles. Working at my part time job the other day I encountered a customer in a Dodger shirt. Because I was unable to follow the game, my first question was how does Jason Schmidt look? His response…"he looks ok, but Manny hit a bomb tonight!"
Yes, I know Manny is the most talented power hitter the Dodgers have seen since the days of the Mike Piazza’s mullet sitting behind home plate, but this is the best Dodger team I have ever witnessed. Manny is not singlehandedly bringing the city a championship. Now we are allowed to compare Manny to Barry Bonds, because of their unexplained rapid head growth in their thirties. Who would of ever thought these players were on steroids?
Bonds and Manny were considered the greatest hitters on their respective playoff teams; Bonds in 2002 and Manny in 2008 with the Dodgers. The Giants enormous headed slugger hit a fascinating .471 with 4 HR and walked an amazing thirteen times in the seven game series against the Angels. In 2008 the floppy haired Dodger beast hit 4 HR and had an OPS over 1.740 combined through the NLDS and NLCS. Guess the main common factor with these stats…Very observant; the 4 home runs. Guess the other one…exactly, both teams lost.
The Dodger fans have yet to realize that there is more to the 2009 Dodger team than Manny. Number 99’s fifty game hiatus from the team showed the team Ramirez was not God reincarnated in Dodger Blue. The Dodgers plowed through their competition, like Manny through his female fertility drugs, going 29-21 without him. Although the Dodgers overall hitting numbers declined, the fans found out the Dodgers are actually a quality team. And the real bonus, the Dodgers were able to keep over $7.5 million from Manny’s contract because of his suspension.
Dodger fans alike should of learned from last year; the Dodgers need more. They probably have the best lineup in all of baseball (yes Boston that includes you), but the pitching staff makes me queasier than a Taco Bell Gordita Clayton Kershaw has been unreal in his past seven starts, but other than Kuroda at home, the Dodgers starting rotation is becoming scarier than Saw II every passing inning. Ultimately, last year the starting pitching faltered in the playoffs, and young pitcher James McDonald became the rallying call by all Dodger fans after the 2008 NLDS series.
The bullpen has Jonathan Broxton, an absolute horse, otherwise known as Eric Gagne Jr. (hopefully the steroids were not handed down). Other than him and Ramon Troncoso, the pen is in desperate need of an actual reliever. Joe Torre already has a history of blowing out relievers arms; find Scott Proctor’s elbow and give it a massage for me. With the number of close games, and lack of quality starters, the pitching staff will crumble in the playoffs faster than you can finish off a box of Chips Ahoy.
So as my question looms about Jason Schmidt, I said Schmidt not Driefort, I am in constant fear that the Dodgers feel safe because they have Manny on their team. Los Angeles loves their stars as everyone knows, but baseball is about more than one past steroid using power hitter. Sports writers in LA are already clamoring over Manny’s return and the impact he has in the lineup. However, if the Dodgers’ hopes rest on a shaky bullpen and a staff that includes Jason Schmidt, it could turn out ugly.
Roy Halladay is the dream. Not just any dream, but that dream when you wake up and pray that it was real. The dream of the sexy model, winning the jackpot, punching your boss in the face. But you wake up and the pain of the unreal fantasy hurts your brain the rest of the day. This is what is going to happen with Halladay. The Dodgers want him, need him, covet him, but it looks like it will just be an unfulfilled fantasy. The Blue Jays are asking for too much from the Dodgers, and J.P. Ricciardi, the Blue Jays general manager, grew up in Boston. Another guessing games…who else wants Halladay. Right again! The Red Sox, who Ricciardi grew up loving and emulating as he became a general manager.
So as this dream fades away, the Dodgers must look elsewhere. Manny’s star power should not get in the way for the Dodgers to see the true light. They need a one more solid starter and two more relievers. With Belasario’s injury, yes he was actually one of the Dodgers most trusted relievers, and a shaky lefty specialist in the pen, the Dodgers must begin the search. With expendable pieces in their farm system the Dodgers must finish this season with a championship. Go get a Mitch Stetter or Arthur Rhodes, with maybe a Matt Capps and Latroy Hawkins to solidify the bullpen. They will be fairly inexpensive and will make any lead insurmountable past the fifth inning. A starter such as Jon Lannan or Paul Maholm, would make any dream turn into a reality.
Manny will always be loved here, but the fans need to see past this and demand insurance for this teams’ playoffs hopes. Ramirez has brought fans out of the woodwork and has made Dodger games an experience once again, but the key to winning is still held by the entire team, not one man leading the chants in Mannywood.