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A troubled All-Star and open Dodgers arms ... Manny? Nope, Hanley Ramirez

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist
Once the face of the Marlins franchise, Ramirez has dealt with injuries and clashed with managers recently. (US Presswire)

The "Wow" factor doesn't quite reach the Manny Ramirez level, but the Dodgers' overnight strike to acquire Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins is awfully reminiscent of their 2008 July deal with the Boston Red Sox.

Troubled All-Star in need of a fresh start ... a Dodgers team that hasn't reached the World Series since 1988 looking to add second-half punch ... aggressive general manager Ned Colletti figuring out a way to add that second-half punch while electrifying Tinseltown.

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That deal sent the Dodgers to back-to-back NL Championship Series appearances in 2008 and 2009, each time against a potent Phillies club.

The Dodgers are hoping that this trade, along with one they still hope to complete for a starting pitcher (Ryan Dempster? Matt Garza?), will help send them even further.

The Dodgers also acquired left-handed reliever Randy Choate from the Marlins in exchange for young right-handed starter Nate Eovaldi and minor-league pitcher Scott McGough, sources told CBSSports.com.

Flawed for most of the first half with injuries forcing spare parts into key roles, the Dodgers nevertheless maneuvered themselves into the NL West lead at the All-Star break. Iconic broadcaster Vin Scully has taken to calling them the "Wonder Team" -- as in, "you wonder how they do it."

Slugger Matt Kemp was disabled twice with hamstring troubles, second baseman Mark Ellis missed most of the first half with a knee injury, Juan Uribe, Jerry Hairston Jr., Andre Ethier ... the injured list went on.

Manager Don Mattingly's greatest wish in early July when we sat down for a long conversation was, "I'd like to walk out of the break with the club we designed, pretty much intact, and say, 'OK, we'll take anyone on.'

"We weren't a juggernaut before. But we put some runs up and were winning. I'd like to say, 'Let's go. This is our team. Are we good enough or not?'"

Forget all that. Because with that team now mostly intact, and with the addition of Hanley Ramirez, they're better. Even though shortstop Dee Gordon is out for six weeks with a thumb injury, and even though Ramirez is just a shell of the .300 career hitter he once was.

He is expected to move back to his old shortstop position in Los Angeles, at least as long as Gordon is out. After that, according to sources, he will play wherever the Dodgers need him. Could still be shortstop. Could be third base if Mattingly likes Gordon's speed back in the lineup and if Uribe isn't producing.

Ramirez is still just 28, and while his average is alarmingly down (.246), he does have 14 home runs and 47 RBI in 92 games. Those aren't Ruthian numbers, but as they work toward boxing out the NL West rival Giants, the Dodgers can use that power.

Adding Ramirez also gives the Dodgers some stable and solid pop into the near future. Ramirez is signed through 2014, the Dodgers last winter extended Kemp through 2019 at $160 million and, earlier this season, they awarded Ethier a five-year, $85 million extension.

While Kemp's deal was done under the old Frank McCourt regime, Ethier's came under new ownership. And in committing some $38 million to Ramirez via Tuesday night's blockbuster, the Dodgers' new ownership is putting it's money where it's ol' mouth is.

If anybody in the game is in need of a fresh start, it's Ramirez. He clashed with multiple managers in Miami, from Fredi Gonzalez to Edwin Rodriguez to Ozzie Guillen. When the Marlins signed shortstop Jose Reyes last winter and announced Ramirez would move to third base, there was all sorts of drama over whether Ramirez would be happy and accept the move.

He did, mostly, but things still didn't go smoothly. Agitated after a poor plate appearance just before the All-Star Game, he slugged an electric fan in the Marlins dugout and cut his hand. Recently, that hand became infected when he failed to take his medicine, causing him to miss more time.

Los Angeles optimists will say, yeah, Manny arrived with baggage, too. That didn't stop Mannywood from sprouting up as Ramirez almost single-handedly carried the Dodgers down the stretch in '08.

Can Ramirez do anything even remotely similar in 2012? Is he capable? As was the knock on Manny, Hanley needs to mature. He's got a lot to prove.

A Dodgers team reaching for the stars -- and reaching deep into its wallet -- is happy to provide him with that opportunity.

 
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