Friday, August 01, 2008

The Manny Trade

As a life-long Red Sox fan, and a Dodger season ticket holder of the past few years, people have asked me my opinion of the Manny trade.

Manny is one of the best hitters in the game. But off the field, he has always been a mess. He never liked playing in Boston, where he felt the media intruded on his personal life. (Good luck dealing with TJ Simers in LA!)

Boston put up with it because he was a great player, and even when he twice asked for trades, Boston kept him. However, this year he brought his problems onto the field. First he refused to swing at pitches, then he called in "sick" when he appeared to be fine. The Red Sox had had enough and put him up for trade.

It's a very strange scenario, because he's in the final year of a contract, so any team that picks him up gets two months out of him. It's a good move for the Dodgers. They gave up practically nothing for him. Andy LaRoche, who has been a bust at 3rd base, and a minor league prospect.

For Frank McCourt, in the 24 following the signing, they sold 11,000 tickets to tonight's game, making it a sellout. Compare that to the anemic crowd from last Friday, when they had so many leftover bobble-heads that they were still giving them out on Sunday.

For the team, it's the big bat they need.

However, there are still problems. Manny is probably the only outfielder in the game whose defense is worse than Juan Pierre's. There's a LOT more field to cover in Dodger Stadium, and it will take him a while to get used to it. You can't put them both him and Pierre in the game at the same time. Neither can play center or right. So you lose your lead-off batter when you put Manny in, and you lose your cleanup man when you put Pierre in.

And we're still stuck with Andruw Jone$.

The infield is a bit of a mess as well. Furcal is gone, Nomar is in and out, and Kent's showing his age.

Worst of all, the pitching is a much bigger problem. There is only one starting pitcher on the team with a winning record, Billingsly, and he's 11-9. Granted some of that is poor offense, but let's face it, without Penny at All-Star caliber, and Schmidt a complete bust, there is no ace on the staff. And without an ace, there's not much to hope for.

As for the Red Sox, they lose an irreplaceable player. They get Jason Bay, who has tremendous talent and will do very well in Fenway.

If tonight is any indication, the Red Sox got the better of the deal. Manny grounded into a double play in the bottom of the ninth with the potential tying run on base.

Jason Bay went 1 for 3 with Boston, walked twice, and scored both Red Sox runs and 12-inning game. His triple in the bottom of the 12 allowed him to score the winning run.
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