Remove a player – even one with Manny Ramirez’ credentials – from a major league baseball team for 50 games and it’s bound to alter the team’s chemistry.
Bring the player back and there are bound to be issues.
Ramirez is scheduled to return to the Dodgers July 3 after serving a suspension for using a banned substance. Doubtlessly he’ll take back his left field job and anchor the Dodgers’ lineup as he did in spectacular fashion last season.
But Juan Pierre has been outstanding in Ramirez’ absence and has reminded everyone he’s an every day major league player.
Manager Joe Torre has indicated he’ll make use of four outfielders for three positions, meaning Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier will get some days off.
But the situation is more complex than that. Pierre is the Dodgers’ best leadoff man and the chemistry of the offense is seriously altered when he isn’t playing.
Problems of this nature often work themselves out over a long season. Players get hot, players go into slumps, players get hurt or show fatigue. But it’s hard to see how this dilemma will be solved because Ramirez must play, Pierre deserves to play and Kemp and Ethier are young, eager and productive.
Trade Pierre? I’ve heard that suggestion in press boxes, but I don’t like it. What would the Dodgers have done without him this season? And it’s not certain Ramirez will play for the Dodgers next season when his contract expires.
There’s also the matter that Pierre is well respected by teammates. He’s an extremely hard worker who frequently shows up early to practice and kept the same schedule when he wasn’t in the lineup. He’s a true professional.
This piece is being written Sunday night after Pierre drove in the Dodgers’ first two runs in a 5-3 victory over the Angels in Anaheim. He had three hits in the game to keep his batting average above .330.
The Dodgers would like to acquire a quality starting pitcher, but I don’t think trading Pierre is the way to get one.
The Dodgers have maintained a comfortable lead in their division without Ramirez even though the Giants and Rockies have been hot. The Dodgers are a good team with either Ramirez or Pierre in left field but they’re a different team, depending on who’s playing
They play for a run at a time with Pierre and go for the big inning with Ramirez. They’re much like the Angels right now in style but probably need the clout Ramirez supplies to succeed in the playoffs.
Well, Torre is paid a lot of money to make decisions, so let’s leave them to him.