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Manny Ramirez’s Early Goodbye to Dodgers

Posted on February 23, 2010 by Don Spieles

As February winds to a close, baseball enthusiasts across the country perk up.  Spring is in the air, even if the temperatures deny it, because there are signs of the baseball to come.  Pitchers and catchers report.  Lists of spring training invitees and late free agent signings pepper the sports pages.  And don’t forget the first prima donna move of the spring, this year provided by non other that Manny Ramirez when he stated upon showing up at Dodgers camp that he won’t be there next year.

Ramirez announced yesterday (more or less unprompted) that he will not be with the Dodgers in 2011.

“I already accomplished all the things I wanted to accomplish… for me, all this is just extra. I know I’m not going to be here next year, so I just want to enjoy myself.”

Aside from the timing being odd, one must wonder what might be in the mind of Ramirez with comments such as these.  Do the fans of the Dodgers, fans who have not had a World Series win since 1988, think that Ramirez has accomplished everything?  What of the Dodgers organization? While they pay him his $20 million for 2010, are they thinking that this is all just gravy?

MLB: NLDS-St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers

Ramizez showed his usual "layed back" priorities and set the tone for 2010 when in a press conference he stated "I already accomplished all the things I wanted to accomplish..."

The reality is that Ramirez time in Dodger blue has put “butts in the seats”.  He helped them get to the post season two years running.  But if Manny has accomplished everything he wanted to, what does that say about his priorities?

While sports opine about athletes who give stock, canned responses like, “All I’m concerned about is winning,” some might be temped to say that Ramirez’s honesty is refreshing.  Certainly being honest is a great virtue, but so is being professional.  The latter is a virtue that, once again, Manny has proven to be very short on.

over the years, Ramirez has turned himself into persona non grata, particularly in seasons where his contract is about to expire.  After coming to the Dodgers in a trade from Boston – a trade precipitated in part by Ramirez intentional (and unprofessional) lackluster performance – he exceeded expectations in the late summer of 2008.  The Dodgers technically held and option for 2009 that was being waived, so Manny was being a good boy.

Where as this year the free agent news has been dominated by Johnny Damon, this time last year the over-covered gun for hire was Ramirez.  He haggled with the Dodgers for months, rejecting offer after offer before finally signing a two year, $45 million deal at the eleventh hour.  Many speculated that the issue for Ramirez was he wanted not just more money, but more years.  After his behavior in Boston, as well as the in consideration of his age (37 last season), two years was all that L.A. was willing to do.

Last season was an odd one because of Ramirez suspension for performance enhancing drugs.  The Dodgers lost him for 50 games when he tested positive for a female fertility drug commonly associated with being a corroborative drug taken with other PEDs.  After posting a .396 batting average, and a 1.232 OPS with L.A. in August and September of 2008, his numbers dropped to .290 and .949 in 2009.  Great numbers, but a drop, nonetheless.  But after hitting 17 home runs in two months (229 plate appearances) of 2008, Ramirez hot only 19 in all of last season (, his lowest total of his career in seasons where he had at least 400 plate appearances.

L.A. was knocked out of the playoffs for the second straight year by the Phillies.  Ramirez posted one home run in eight playoff games (34 plate appearances) with a .280 batting average.  This was, according to yesterday’s statement, all the Manny had set for his goals.

Ramirez went on to hint that going back to the AL where he could be a designated hitter was a possibility for his future.  All in all, nothing he said was earth shattering.  In fact, most would agree that he was pointing out the obvious.  The issue is not with the facts, it’s with the source of the comments and the timing.  How should his teammates and the organization react to his cavalier attitude?

There’s a possible bright side:  Since the Dodgers hold no option for 2011, and since if Ramirez wants a job as DH for a team in contention next season, the Dodgers have reason to hope that he’ll really be trying at the plate this summer.  That itself has never been a guarantee where Ramirez is concerned.  But Manny also hinted at retirement as an option.  If that’s really what he’s thinking about, Dodger fans may get a real taste of “Manny Being Manny” this season.

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