Bookies Lower WS Odds For Dodgers After Ramirez Trade
by Trevor Whenham - 08/02/2008
It's too early to make a pronouncement on the impact of the Manny Ramirez trade on the future of the Dodgers. Or at least I would have thought so. The public seems not to share that opinion. Pretty much as soon as the deal was made official yesterday the books slashed their futures prices on the Dodgers. Before the deal, Bodog has the Dodgers at 15/2 to win the National League, and 20/1 for odds to win the World Series. With the addition of the strangest guy in the league the team dropped to 13/2 for the league and 15/1 for the whole enchilada. The original prices didn't hold much value, so it's hard to argue that the new price is even remotely attractive.
Before we get to the Dodgers, let's take a second to deal with the Red Sox. I'm obviously not part of that team, and I don't know what Ramirez is like, but things must have been really bad for them to make this deal. Ramirez is a nut job, but he has always been one. That didn't change this year, or this month. The thing is, though, that he's a ridiculously good hitter. If he's not the best in the league then he is on a very, very short list. When the Red Sox are mired in a very tight three-way battle for their division, and when their is no guarantee that the wild card will come from the division, it doesn't make sense to get rid of a bat that valuable regardless of how much of a mess he is. The relationship was very strained, but you have to believe that they could have repaired it sufficiently if they had just promised not to exercise his options. Instead, they traded him away, they threw in two other decent players, and they are still paying Ramirez not to play for them. I like Jason Bay a lot, and I think he'll fit in nicely, but he's no Ramirez. This team took a big step backwards. The only really good news on the day was that by getting Jason Bay they kept him away from Tampa Bay. Boston got worse, but the Rays didn't get any better.
Now for the Dodgers. Manny is pretty much a perfect fit with the ridiculousness of Hollywood, so this should be a very entertaining two months. Though I don't share the optimism of the oddsmakers about this deal, I do think that it is a great move for a number of reasons. Here are five:
1. Cost - When you can get a player like this for just a couple of decent but unspectacular players, and you don't even have to pay him, then this is a no-brainer. It's even better than that - one of the prospects, pitcher Bryan Morris, is only in A-ball, and he's trying to recover from Tommy John surgery. Hardly a guy to lose sleep over once he's gone. This unquestionably makes this team significantly better right now, and they didn't have to mortgage their future to get there. On top of it, Manny is now just two months away from free agency, and he has left $40 million over two years on the table, so he will be highly motivated to succeed. It's hard to find a downside.
2. Joe Torre - Torre is a wise manager. He has played against Ramirez about a million times. Though anything can happen on Planet Manny, I have little doubt in Torre's ability to get along with Ramirez and to set him up to play at his best down the stretch. Even if it isn't perfectly seamless they only have to co-exist for three months, at most.
3. Nomar - Garciaparra is too young to be washed up. It would seem that he could have a bit of a renaissance if something could just motivate him and make him care again. Nomar and Manny are two very different guys, but the shortstop has always had nothing but nice things to say about the space cadet. Maybe a taste of the olden days will be enough to make Nomar play like the Nomar of old for a while.
4. Power - Simply put, this team has been pathetic on the power front. They are 14th out of 16 teams in the National League in OPS. They have more home runs than just the Giants. Only three teams have scored fewer runs. This is not a team that scares any teams at the plate. Obviously, that changes with the addition of Ramirez. He's a one-man wrecking crew, and he will have a huge impact.
5. Outfielder motivation - Some people are worried that the addition of Ramirez means that there is a serious overpopulation of outfielders on the Dodgers, with five starters, and that that's a problem. I see it another way. Things are definitely crowded out there, but at least two of the players - Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones - are grossly underachieving. Maybe the addition of Ramirez will give them a spark and force them to play more like we know they can. If nothing else, Ramirez is dedicated and tireless in his preparations and he is constantly working to get better. If that were to rub off a bit that would be a good thing. Finally, it's not like the four players in town are getting the job done, so there is nothing wrong with adding someone else, especially if they are significantly better.