It doesn’t matter what Manny Ramirez says. It only matters what he does.
Will the free agent take the richest deal, even it means going to the Yankees or Mets, and thus return to the chaos he experienced with the Red Sox?
Does he need the chaos, even thrive on it?
Or will he prefer the more relaxed environment he enjoyed with the Dodgers, where he was welcomed and appreciated, giving fans here two wonderful months?
We don’t know this man of mystery, a man who behaved poorly in order to escape whatever was bothering him in Boston. We don’t know why he became miserable there, despite earning $20 million a year and contributing to two teams that won the World Series.
We should be concerned that he knocked a much older man, the Red Sox’s traveling secretary, to the ground over a dispute about complimentary tickets. And, according to reports, he faked injuries to avoid playing. It would be proper for us to wonder if he’s capable of repeating such behavior anywhere else if he doesn’t get his way.
On the other hand, we should recognize Ramirez’s value on the field and in the clubhouse. He is a marvelous hitter, one of the best of all time. And he has the personality to lift teammates who perform so much better when his presence in the lineup removes pressure from their shoulders.
No doubt he’s going to get big money. No doubt he’ll be able to choose where he plays next season.
The Dodgers are working to free up money and will make him a competitive offer, so we’ll see where this goes.
The Dodgers invested heavily in two starting pitchers who were injured and contributed very little this season – Jason Schmidt and Brad Penny.
They went as far as they could in a season marred by other injuries too, And it remains to be seen if they’ll bring back Derek Lowe and Rafael Furcal.
They won a playoff series, and that’s better than they have done in 20 years. They were thoroughly beaten by the Phillies, who clearly belong in the World Series.
Right now, Dodger fans are lamenting the playoff defeat, but give this a month or two and they’ll be able to focus on the success of the 2008 season.
In 2009 the Dodgers should be pretty good again – very good if Manny returns and Takashi Saito comes back from his injury. I don’t think Jonathon Broxton had the experience to be a closer in the playoffs and ultimately it showed.
I’ll look forward to watching Chad Billingley, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Andre Eithier, Blake DeWitt and some other young players continue their development.