Tag:Manny Ramirez
Posted on: November 3, 2008 11:46 pm
 

Notes from the GM meetings

DANA POINT, Calif. -- In the immediate aftermath of his team being eliminated from the National League Championship Series last month, slugger and impending free agent Manny Ramirez quipped, "Gas is up, and so am I."

With the price of gasoline now dropping, though ... well, the Dodgers couldn't be so lucky. Could they?

"That's a very good point," Dodgers general manger Ned Colletti said here Monday. "We'll have to check the gas market before I go to speak with him.

"I know how the fans feel. I know how we feel. I know what he did for 10 weeks. He did as good as anybody could do in the regular season and postseason."

As of late Monday afternoon, Colletti hadn't spoken formally with Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, about a deal that would keep the slugger in a Dodgers' uniform. The GM meetings here were just firing up, though Boras did walk through the lobby and, ostensibly, toward some meetings of his own later in the day.

Colletti listed the Dodgers' priorities as addressing the left side of the infield (where third baseman Casey Blake and shortstop Rafael Furcal are free agents), the bullpen and adding a starting pitcher.

The Dodgers are expected to be a player in the CC Sabathia negotiations and are discussing the possibility of acquiring San Diego's Jake Peavy in trade.

Asked if he could foresee a financial scenario in which both Ramirez and Sabathia would wind up as Dodgers in 2009, Colletti said, "I think that would be difficult."

Impossible?

"I think it would be difficult."

The Dodgers' recent history with players such as Furcal and Andruw Jones is to offer shorter-term deals -- two, three years -- and a bit more money. Ramirez will be seeking top dollar and certainly should have some suitors. That way, both the club and the player have a chance to re-evaluate the situation.

That said, Colletti said the club wouldn't necessarily be scared off by the common thinking that Ramirez busted his butt for them last summer because he was auditioning for a new contract, and that once he obtains that contract he'll start giving half-effort at times again.

"I think the time he spent with Joe (Torre, manager), with the baseball front office and with his teammates wasn't too long," Colletti said. "Does that continue ... you can ask that questions of anybody and everybody. You're going to have to trust with that kind of commitment, what he's going to continue to do for the organization."

-- Yes, Colletti agreed, Andruw Jones needs to report to spring training in better shape. "That would be a start," the GM said.

But he is clinging to the hope that Jones has something left.

"We have two of the better people who understand hitting, Don Mattingly and Jeff Pentland," Colletti said. "Both ... believe he's still a capable hitter. He's got some fundamental things in his swing that he was having a hard time getting out. He's 31 years old. We don't doubt that there's still a lot of ability."

-- Mets GM Omar Minaya doesn't sound like a man ready to sweep Manny Ramirez off of his feet. "Pitching is our priority," Minaya said. To that end, though, he declined comment on Francisco Rodriguez, who set a new record with 62 saves for the Angels this season. "I don't want to tip my hand," he said.

-- The Mets are expected to go hard after Rodriguez, and they, like St. Louis and several other clubs, are expected to talk with left-hander Brian Fuentes.

-- Rick Thurman, the agent for Fuentes, expects to talk with Cleveland and Detroit as well, though he said Monday at midday that he had "nothing lined up." As for New York? "I think New York would be a great place," Thurman said. "(Fuentes) thrives under pressure."

-- St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak lists his priorities as middle infield and left-handed relievers. Edgar Renteria, recently cut loose by Detroit, could return to the Cardinals. As for the lefty relievers, Fuentes and Joe Beimel are possibilities.

-- Atlanta and Seattle each had scouts speak Sunday with the field manager of right-hander Junichi Tazawa, pitching for Enous in Japan's Industrial League. Tazawa is expected to sign with a major-league team and, because he's in the Industrial League, is not required to go through the posting process that others, such as Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka, have.

-- Among the first priorities for new Seattle GM Jack Zdurencik is the little ol' matter of finding a manager. Expect him to interview former Milwaukee skipper Ned Yost; former Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon and Chicago White Sox bench coach Joey Cora. He could look to new San Diego bench coach Ted Simmons -- the two established a good working relationship in Milwaukee. Padres GM Kevin Towers said Monday that he would grant Simmons permission to interview for a managerial job if asked.

Posted on: October 15, 2008 11:38 pm
 

All hail the Phillies

LOS ANGELES -- Hold those dates for the potential parade down Broad Street. The Philadelphia Phillies aren't done yet.

Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard -- and how appropriate is this? -- combined to score all five Phillies runs on a warm Wednesday evening as the Phillies trashed the Dodgers 5-1 to halt this National League Championship Series in five games.

Now, incredibly, for only the sixth time in 104 editions of the Fall Classic, the Phillies and their fans officially can utter the line: "We're going to the World Series!"

The 104th World Series opens in the American League city -- Tampa Bay or Boston -- on Wednesday.

As for this bloody NLCS, it was quick, it was decisive and the mercy-killing ending was wholly appropriate. If you follow the Dodgers and still question whom the better team is, it's time to roll off of the tanning bed and join the real world.

The Phillies bludgeoned the Dodgers with timely home runs, beat them with better pitching, out-foxed them in dugout strategy and closed them out with a better bullpen.

Cole Hamels (two NLCS wins) is blossoming into a household name, Shane Victorino haunted the Dodgers for allowing him to leave their organization (twice!) and the MVP trio of Rollins, Howard and Utley (Rollins won the NL award last year, Howard two years ago and Utley is a perennial candidate) was just too much to handle.

Again, the Dodgers were sloppy and paid little attention to detail. The game was only two batters old when Los Angeles pitching coach Rick Honeycutt was on his way to the mound to calm Chad Billingsley. Los Angeles trailed 1-0 by then, on Rollins' leadoff home run, and right here is where the focus needs to stop on the Dodgers.

Because even though they also would go on to commit three errors -- all in one inning, take a bow Rafael Furcal -- they weren't going to beat the Phillies. Not these Phillies.

So Manny Ramirez now is free to head toward the emerald green pastures of free agency, and Derek Lowe and Rafael Furcal can join him there. There will be no more baseball played this fall in Dodger Stadium.

The Phillies? They've got the look of a team that may be just getting started.

Posted on: October 2, 2008 3:46 am
 

Baywatch in Southern California

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Manny who?

Jason Bay wasted no time in stamping his name into Boston postseason lore, ripping a two-run homer against Angels starter John Lackey in the sixth inning to send Boston toward a 4-1 Game 1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels here on Wednesday.

Yes, one day into October, and already we're on a collision course. You can see it from here: Manny Ramirez and his Dodgers traveling into Fenway Park to face Boston come World Series time.

The Dodgers knocked off the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field on Wednesday, the Red Sox are rolling, Bay adjusted following two strikeouts to crack a homer and a double.

All this, and the last time Bay played in such a big game?

Well, um, ah ... he spent the past four years with Pittsburgh.

OK, so the last time Bay played in <em>any</em> kind of playoff game?

"I don't know," he was saying the other day. "Little League?"

Someone actually asked him about that and he gently explained that it was so long ago and it didn't really register much.

"I've been in playoff games since I got here," said Bay, whom Boston acquired on July 31 in the three-way deal that sent Ramirez to the Dodgers. "That's what it's felt like.

"All the hoopla when I was traded, the only time I felt comfortable was at 7:05 when the game started. And I assume it will be no different (in Game 1)."

He quickly confirmed that notion. Following two strikeouts, he erased the Angels' 1-0 lead by jacking a two-run homer that put Boston ahead for good.

Angels catcher Mike Napoli was set up outside, but Lackey missed with a fastball and, see ya.

"The first two at-bats, I never faced Lackey and he has that good breaking ball and he got out ahead of me," Bay said. "Out of his hand, it was looking pretty good and, finally, the third at-bat, he threw me one that wasn't getting over and I felt like I got into a better rhythm.

"I was behind in the count in the first two at-bats and that one I was, too. But I felt like, OK, I'm seeing the ball. The first couple of at-bats, I didn't really see it."

Once he started seeing it, look out.

And now Boston is off in the right direction, which is hugely important being that Josh Beckett was unavailable for Game 1 and third baseman Mike Lowell was playing with a bad hip.

Somehow, things are still set up very well for the defending World Series champs.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 27, 2008 4:57 pm
 

Boston bags Kotsay

Following the Manny Ramirez nonsense, the Tim Wakefield shoulder issue, the Josh Beckett numbness and J.D. Drew's back, things finally are beginning to break right for the Boston Red Sox.

Outfielder Mark Kotsay was a terrific acquisition Wednesday, and the road is beginning to take its toll on the Minnesota Twins for Boston's fallback October plan, the AL wild-card slot.

Kotsay is 32 with the back of a 42-year-old (or worse), but he's playing and he's good to go for now. He was hitting .289 with six homers and 37 RBI in 88 games for Atlanta. With Drew's status dicey for the rest of the season, Kotsay is the perfect complement to Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Bay and Coco Crisp: An experienced hand who is battle-tested, having playoff experience with Oakland in 2006.

The Red Sox have been in the market for an outfielder since the Manny Ramirez fiasco, before Drew's back began acting up. San Diego's Brian Giles declined a trade to the Red Sox earlier this month for family reasons and because the Red Sox couldn't promise him anything more than an extra outfielder's role at the time. Giles wanted to play every day.

What's changed since then -- and increased the urgency for the Red Sox to acquire another outfielder -- is Drew's injury. Fortunately for the Red Sox, they didn't grant Crisp's desire to be traded this spring. Think how thin they'd be in the outfield if they had.

Not only does Kotsay know his way around the outfield, he's a solid guy to have in the clubhouse for a stretch run. Professional, committed, intelligent and no-nonsense (no Manny comments here, please).

So consider this another test passed for Boston as the Red Sox gallop toward another October. This isn't to grant them a playoff spot yet -- there are still many challenges ahead.

But the Red Sox are better today with Kotsay on their roster than they were yesterday. And thanks to Minnesota's four-game losing streak, the Red Sox have some breathing room (a 2 1/2-game lead) in the AL wild-card race.

This isn't a team that has given up on first place -- they trail Tampa Bay by only 3 1/2 games, and they still play Joe Maddon's club six times in September (three home, three away). A lot still can change.

But the way things are shaping up, the Red Sox have two chances to make the playoffs. And the percentages are rising. Minnesota should have won three of four over the weekend in Anaheim and could have swept the Angels. But the Twins lost the final two games of that series and the first two in Seattle this week.

Not a good way to begin a 14-game trip, and even more disheartening for the Twins after they started 2-0. Being that Ron Gardenhire's club has begun a stretch in which they play 24 of 30 on the road, as Yogi says, it's beginning to get late early.

Meantime, Boston has won five of seven, nine of 13 and life without Manny isn't looking as daunting as maybe it once did.

Likes: Colorado has won four in a row and has pulled to within six games of first-place Arizona in the NL West. You don't think the Rockies will stage another September miracle, do you? … Instant replay on boundary calls are fine, but if baseball officials ever look to expand replay, it'll be time to dig in and fight it. … Watching Randy Johnson pitch. … My Weber grill. … Gates barbecue sauce from Kansas City, right in my fridge and then on the chicken on the Weber grill.

Dislikes: Well, I was just saying yesterday how fun the Mets are to watch lately. Not so much after they blew a 7-0 lead to Philadelphia on Tuesday night while falling with a thud into second place in the NL East. … Florida's Hanley Ramirez with a glove. … Sure, I write a feature piece on Arizona this week and the Diamondbacks promptly go into the tank in San Diego. I hate it when teams don't cooperate. … Come on, Tropical Storm Gustav, let's skip right over New Orleans this time.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"When I think back on all the crap
"I learned in high school
"It's a wonder I can think at all
"And though my lack of education
"Hasn't hurt me none
"I can read the writing on the wall"

-- Paul Simon, Kodachrome

Posted on: August 19, 2008 1:26 am
 

Padres send Dodgers a gift out west

San Diego trading Greg Maddux to the hated Los Angeles Dodgers is Exhibit A in how the grand ol' game has changed over the years.

Time was when the Padres would have rather ingested a few gallons of WD-40 motor oil than do anything to aid the hated Dodgers in their quest to win a NL West title.

Now? Whatever. The Padres primary goal now is to cut payroll -- for the rest of this year and for 2009 and, possibly, depending on owner John Moores' divorce, beyond -- and if that means helping out the Los Angeles friggin' Dodgers, well, that's just the way it goes.

And beyond that, it's simply a matter of professional courtesy: Maddux deserves far more than the Padres are able to give him, given the lousy decisions they've made and the embarrassing team they've fielded, so they figure the least they can do is place him in what could be the final pennant race of his illustrious career.

It's a move bound to help the resurgent Dodgers, who are brimming with confidence in the days since Manny Ramirez' arrival. Picking up both Ramirez from Boston and Casey Blake from Cleveland were huge boosts that have helped Joe Torre's club climb into a first-place tie with Arizona, setting up one final sprint toward the finish line.

Maddux won't have as significant of an impact as Ramirez or Blake, but he'll help. Especially if, as expected, Brad Penny is finished for the season. Los Angeles needs pitching, and Maddux, even into his 40s, remains pretty darned good at providing five or six quality innings every fifth day.

And as for the Padres? Maddux's departure simply means there's one less reason to bother watching them the rest of this season. And there weren't that many left to begin with.


Posted on: July 28, 2008 8:02 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2008 11:17 pm
 

Monday's trade talk

Three days until the July 31 trade deadline, and it was mostly quiet on the talking front on Monday.

The latest:

Jarrod Washburn: The New York Yankees still have not acquired the Seattle left-hander, and though it still could happen, one source close to the talks said Monday that the Yankees appeared to veer off in other directions in their search for pitching. Talks between the Yankees and Mariners, for now, have "cooled", according to the source.

Though the Yankees would agree to pick up the remaining $14 million or so owed Washburn this year and next, it would be with the understanding that Seattle would receive only a lower-level prospect in return for Washburn. The Mariners so far have been demanding an upper-level prospect, along the lines of an Ian Kennedy. The Yankees, who don't have any upper-level pitching prospects aside from Kennedy and Phil Hughes, view that as exorbitant -- especially when they would pick up the salary.

The Mariners would like to deal Washburn -- and outfielder Raul Ibanez (the Mets, perhaps) -- but interim general manager Lee Pelekoudas is being very deliberate. His next trade will be his first, and with his job on the line, he knows first impressions are crucial.

Mark Teixeira: The Braves met internally Monday, sized up their situation, and immediately decided, it's ugly. Then they put word out to rivals that they intend to trade Teixeira.

Much as the Braves despise giving up, the decision essentially was made for them. They had to place both Chipper Jones and pitcher Tim Hudson on the disabled list, they were beaten by Philadelphia on Saturday and Sunday despite scoring 19 runs ... it's over in Atlanta.

Now, shopping and actually trading, are two different things. But the Braves appear determined, and Teixeira immediately becomes the plum prize this week. Arizona already has moved into the favorite's position, especially if the Diamondbacks do agree to move Chad Tracy and a prospect.

Most difficult thing for Atlanta will be playing multiple teams against each other because, among contenders, there isn't a lot of need for a first baseman. The Mets' Carlos Delgado is playing better, the Angels are happy with Casey Kotchman, Boston has Kevin Youklis and David Ortiz, the Dodgers have James Loney, the list goes on.

Manny Ramirez: Come on. Boston general manager Theo Epstein has tried hard in past off-seasons to deal Ramirez, with no luck. If he couldn't do it over three months, is it realistic that he does it in three days? This is a team with its sights set on another World Series win -- not only can precious few teams afford Manny, but Boston is going to need pieces in return that will be at least the equal to Ramirez in lineup production.

The Red Sox may be tired of him, but they can't afford to get worse on the fly.

Gerald Laird: Texas has received several inquiries -- catchers are hard to find -- but the asking price remains high. Florida continues to troll for another catcher, and the Marlins' need has deepened in the past several hours given Matt Treanor's hip condition. Treanor is scheduled to see a hip specialist, and the Marlins are bracing for bad news.

They like Laird, but Texas general manager Jon Daniels right now is asking for a top-level pitching prospect in return. So far, that's a no go for the Marlins and others.

Greg Maddux: San Diego would like to trade both him and outfielder Brian Giles, according to sources, because the Padres right now are interested in dumping salary. So far, however, the silence on the other end of the telephone is deafening. There isn't much interest in either player.

Maddux has no-trade powers and has pitched far better than his record indicates, but his preference is to pitch for a West Coast team. The Angels are set -- odds are Maddux wouldn't approve a trade to an AL club anyway -- and the Dodgers and Diamondbacks are the only other two western clubs in contention. And they each have other needs.


 
 
 
 
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