Just one week ago, the Dodgers pulled off one of the bigg..."/> Just one week ago, the Dodgers pulled off one of the bigg..."/>

With Manny Onboard, Dodgers Could Have Special Year


Just one week ago, the Dodgers pulled off one of the biggest trades of the season, as they acquired Red Sox slugger Many Ramirez in the hope of putting an end to their pitiful power hitting. While Dodger fans are enthused with the acquisition of such a marquee player, a rejuvenated Manny Ramirez is not only creating a buzz around the Dodgers but is also proving that by himself he can alter the course of the N.L. West race. During a crucial four game set with division rival Arizona, Manny hit .615 (8-13), with two home runs and five RBIs in his first three games in as a member of the Blue Crew. In the current showdown against the St. Louis Cardinals, he is hitting . 571 (4-7) with a home run, 2 RBIs, and 2 runs scored. Not a bad start.

The Dodgers haven’t been this good since their division title four years ago, but with the addition of Manny, the feeling here in Los Angeles is that they can get back to the playoffs and possibly even win a few games as well. They’ve always had the pitching staff to be a successful ball club, but the offense has never able to catch up. With Ramirez batting cleanup, the offense may finally be good enough for a playoff run.

The pitching staff currently boast the best ERA in all of baseball and are among the league leaders in strikeouts. Youngsters Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw are beginning to come into their own, and at this point, they are only a snippet of what they could eventually become. So far this season, Billingsley, at only 24 years of age, has been the team’s most consistent pitcher with an ERA of 3.01 and 151 strikeouts. The rookie Kershaw, who is only 20, has put together his two best starts of his career in the last week after being recalled from the minors. While ace of the staff Brad Penny has struggled with injuries and is currently on the disabled list, reports are suggesting that he may be returning to the rotation within the next week or two.

The job of the N.L.’s best pitching staff just got a lot easier with a proven bat now sitting in the middle of the lineup. The Dodgers, who have scored less than three runs in 38 games this season, have increased their run production immensely with the addition of Ramirez. Outside of Manny’s first game in which the team scored just one run, the Dodgers are now averaging nearly six runs per game.

His acquisition not only gives the Dodgers some confidence heading down the stretch but also demoralizes their divisional rival, the Diamondbacks. In his first at-bat of his second game as a Dodger, Manny hit a towering shot to straightaway center, giving his team an early 2-0 lead. In the series finale on Sunday afternoon, Ramirez capped off rallies in the first and second innings with crucial hits off Dough Davis, and then put an exclamation point in the fifth inning with his second homer to deep left field. With those home runs in the back of their minds, the Diamondbacks are probably having second thoughts about not trading for Mark Teixeira.

Manny is certainly bound to do things that will drive management crazy, but the hole he has been able to fill in the Dodgers offense will certainly make up for all the “Manny being Manny” stunts that he is sure to pull off. It’s not everyday that you have a chance to make a serious run in the playoffs, and Manny Ramirez’s power bat and clutch playoff performances certainly give the Dodgers an excellent chance at playing deep into October.