Man-Ram headed to Hollywood: Blockbuster trade sends Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers

Hey! Must be the money!

Dodger Dogs beware!

The long awaited Manny Ramirez trade took place today, although not to the team (Florida Marlins) that many had predicted. As the minutes ticked down towards the end of the trade deadline the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates pulled off a blockbuster six player trade.

Ramirez packs his bags for L.A. to play left field for the Dodgers, the Red Sox receive Jason Bay from the Pirates, and Pittsburgh receives two prospects from both teams as part of the last second deal that could dramatically shift the course of two divisions.

There has seemingly been a deal in place to trade Manny from the Red Sox from the day he arrived in Boston, but that speculation finally turned into reality today as GM Theo Epstein apparently decided that “Manny being Manny” was no longer what his team needed. Ramirez was a key cog in the Sox lineup over the last 7 1/2 years and helped lead them to two World Series victories. But his lackadaisical effort in the field and on the basepaths as well as his recent comments, “the Red Sox don’t deserve a player like me”, outweighed his production at the plate and forced Boston to make a move. In addition to shipping Manny to the Dodgers, the BoSox also sent reliever Craig Hansen and outfielder Brandon Moss to the Pirates and agreed to pay the remaining $7 million on Ramirez’s contract.

The Dodgers, sorely lacking a true threat in the middle of their lineup (apologies to Jeff Kent), pulled the trigger on the deal that brings them a two month rental of a future hall-of-famer for the cost of two prospects, third baseman Andy LaRoche and pitcher Bryan Morris. Despite coming into the day at 54-53 the Dodgers find themselves just one game behind the NL West leading Arizona Diamondbacks. Ramirez will move into a crowded outfield that already includes Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Juan Pierre and the ghost of Andruw Jones.

The Pirates continue their 30-year rebuilding plan by trading away a productive outfielder and fan favorite in Jason Bay for a package of four prospects. Pittsburgh actually receives a decent haul in this deal as LaRoche could become an average everyday third baseman with plus-power, and Moss could turn into a quality fourth outfielder, or even a starter (think David Murphy, another Boston product). Craig Hansen is a former first round draft choice with electric stuff who has yet to find any consistency out of Boston’s bullpen. Bryan Morris is still likely a few years away for the big leagues, but the Pirates got three players that they can add to their roster immediately and coupled with the package they received from the Yankees in the Nady-Marte trade, could compete for the NL Central title in the next few seasons. 

This move sent shockwaves throughout the baseball world which will continue to be felt as the season progresses and the pennant races shape up. The Dodgers add a power bat in the middle of the order and make themselves an instant favorite to capture the weak NL West. The Red Sox gave up one of their most consistent headaches hitters and can only hope that Bay matches Ramirez’s production as they battle the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees for the AL East title. The Pirates continue to frustrate their fanbase by trading away a quality player for unproven talent. The full ramifications of this trade will not be known until October (and many years later for Pittsburgh), but on paper it significantly impacts the landscapes of two divisions and finally puts Andruw Jones where he belongs, on a diet the bench.

Ivan Rodriguez to the Yankees: Pudge to take a bite out of the “Big Apple”

Does this mean I get a shot at Madonna too?

Does this mean I get a shot at Madonna too?

The Yankees continue to make a strong push for the postseason with their recent string of success and today bolstered their lineup with the addition of Ivan Rodriguez from the Tigers in exchange for Kyle Farnsworth.

The Yankees had an obvious need at catcher after the loss of Jorge Posada for the season. The only thing that keeps current New York catcher Jose Molina from becoming the Cooper Manning of the Molina Brothers is the fact that he actually plays sports. This is an instant upgrade for the Yankees at a premium position and turns their juggernaut offense into Murderer’s Row Part Deux.

Rodriguez is having a solid if unspectacular season at the plate but he has always been praised for his leadership and ability to call a game, things not lost on a perennial contender like the Yankees. In addition, his contract expires at the end of the season and the Yankees can simply allow him to walk and plug in a healthy Posada next year. And, while there is no such thing as too much depth in the bullpen, Farnsworth became expendable to New York after the trade for Xavier Nady that included Damaso Marte.

This is a bit of a cryptic move on the part of the Tigers, who despite a tumultous beginning of the season, find themselves in the thick of the hunt in the AL Central. While adding Farnsworth addresses the needs of the Tiger’s shaky bullpen and he may end up closing games, the loss of a leader like Ivan Rodriguez could prove costly as the dog days of summer approach. Brandon Inge, who was splitting time with Rodriguez, is expected to take over the full-time duties. Inge is only a .240 career hitter who is doing his best to lower that by hitting .227 on the year. Expect big things out of Inge and the Tigers the rest of the way.

What does this move mean for both teams? Even with a tough AL East, the Yankees should now be a favorite to win at least the wildcard if not the division. There lineup is stacked from top to bottom and the return of Phil Hughes and the continued growth of Joba Chamberlain should help the starting rotation. Having a player like Pudge on their roster should allow the Yankees to make a run deep into October. As for the Tigers, this move looks bad both on and off paper. Farnsworth is a decent addition to the bullpen but will not give Detroit the push it needs to overtake the Whitesox and Twins in the AL Central and does not help them build towards the future. Make it 2 for 2 for Brian Cashman, as the Yankees GM continues to build a World Series contender at cut rate prices.

Ichiro<Godzilla

It's high, it's deep, it's...caught by the second baseman.

It's high, it's deep, it's...caught by the second baseman.

As a Mariner’s fan (you can send flowers and cards to my home address) it is impossible not to be enamored with Ichiro. His rookie year was historic and he was part of the 2001 team that tied a major league record with 116 wins on their way to the World Series title. Ichiro hits for average, steals bases and has a cannon for an arm in rightfield.

This pint sized import is the best thing to come out of Japan since the Super Nintendo but is not without his faults.The one thing that he has never done is hit homeruns. Currently, through 100 games of the 2008 season, he has hit all of 4 dingers. And I am ok with that, really I am.

Except for one thing. The ongoing rumor that Ichiro can hit homeruns if he wants to. He was even invited to compete in this years homerun derby further perpetuating the myth. Ichiro is currently in his 8th season in the bigs and only in two of these has he hit more than 10 (with a career high of 15 in 2005).

This guy is a bigger tease than Brett Favre. If he can really hit homeruns, why not go ahead and do it? The Mariner’s season has about the same chance of turning around as Eddie Murphy’s career. So Ichiro, as a fan and more importantly as a doubting Thomas, start wanting to hit homeruns. The worst that can happen is the Mariner’s trade you…

C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers

Sending an already rotund pitcher to a sausage friendly state like Milwaukee sounds like a problem on paper. Throw in the fact that the teams mascot is associated with beer and I can already feel my waistline expanding.

But the Brewers did the right thing taking a gamble on Sabathia. The team’s window to compete is small as they will lose a number of players, including every one’s favorite vegan Prince Fielder, to free agency in the coming years. The team has a strong farm system, and while Matt LaPorta is a special talent, the Brewers already have plenty of depth in the outfield. Additionally, this move puts pressure on the Cubs and Cardinals to make a move in order to stay in contention in the NL Central.

Sabathia has rebounded nicely after a horrific April and will help the Brewers make a push for the National  League pennant and the right to lose to whatever American League team they meet in the World Series. Look for C.C. to pick up 7-8 wins, post a sub-3.00 ERA and strike out at about a batter an inning the rest of the way.

Fearless Prediction: C.C. garners CY Young votes despite spending half the season in the AL and leads the Brew Crew to the playoffs via the wildcard.