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T.J. SIMERS

Not even Colletti can lose with this move

August 01, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

The Dodgers get one of the best hitters in baseball in Manny Ramirez and the Red Sox will still pay his salary, so it really was a no-brainer, which explains why Ned Colletti was able to make the deal.

A few days ago, after the Angels finally took some advice and added more power with Mark Teixeira, Page 2 suggested that the Dodgers had become a joke.

The Dodgers responded by trading for a clown, Manny being Manny, albeit a show-stopper who entertains like almost no other in baseball.

"He's a difference maker," pitcher Derek Lowe said, and with my apologies to Angel Berroa, the Dodgers don't have any of those.

Lowe, who played with Ramirez in Boston, was almost giddy at the prospect of playing with him again, calling this the biggest move in his time with the Dodgers.

How soon he forgets the trade for Mark Hendrickson.

"This may be the best right-handed hitter I have ever seen," Lowe said. "It's like Barry Bonds coming up. There is a different intensity in the place -- very few people catch your attention like Manny can."

The Dodgers now have too many outfielders. But I imagine they will be sending a limo to pick up Ramirez at the airport, his safety in getting to the stadium critical, so why not have Andruw Jones driving -- knowing there's no chance of him hitting anything along the way.

Yes, unlike previous Colletti acquisitions, this one is foolproof. There is no down side, the Dodgers giving up nothing, paying nothing and scoring a positive public relations hit to salvage a mediocre season to date.

It doesn't even matter that Ramirez has already let his new teammates know he cares more about his own financial welfare down the road rather than winning a ring this season.

Ramirez is no longer with the Red Sox because he was unhappy with his contract status. Boston had the option of bringing Ramirez back next season for $20 million, but Ramirez wanted to test the free-agent market, and stomped his feet when Boston said nothing.

He said he was willing to play in Iraq, surprisingly Pluto not an option, and was willing to dog it in the middle of a contested division race to make that point. Brings back memories here of Gary Sheffield, who was traded by the Dodgers for the same reason.

The Red Sox dealt Ramirez to the Dodgers, getting Ramirez's approval in exchange for dropping the team's option to retain him for $20 million, thereby giving the Dodgers no claim to him after this season.

But who's complaining? Two months of Ramirez, although it might mean fewer at-bats for Jones, might make the difference in winning the West.

As big as that would be, bigger yet is the entertainment promised by such an unpredictable talent. This could be fun, and when's the last time anyone said that about Dodgers baseball?

RAMIREZ WORE No. 24 in Boston, but will wear another number when he arrives in L.A. because a fella by the name of Walter Alston -- and it will be interesting whether Ramirez has ever heard of him -- wore No. 24. The Dodgers retired No. 24.

I SUGGESTED giving the empty locker next to Jeff Kent to Ramirez, but the Dodgers nixed that idea.

Some people might not know it, but Kent and Ramirez were teammates in Cleveland, "before he had the dreds," Kent said. "I see the dreds now and I feel I'm on vacation in Jamaica. We went there and my wife came home with dreds just like Manny has now."

The fact that Ramirez might remind Kent of his wife on vacation, along with his previous rocky relationship with Bonds, explains why so many people e-mailed wanting to know how Kent is going to get along with Ramirez.

"Barry Bonds and I went to the World Series together," Kent said. "Barry Bonds and I each won a MVP award playing together."

Maybe the Dodgers should have brought in Bonds instead of Ramirez.

BOTTOM OF the ninth, two outs, a runner on and the Dodgers trailing, 2-1. Brandon Lyon, who blew a save a week and a half ago against the Dodgers in a similar situation, is facing Jones, everyone in Dodger Stadium on their feet -- Jones' chance, and maybe his last this season, to redeem himself.

First pitch, a lineout to left, game over and Arizona wins.

Sounds crazy, I know, but what about Ramirez batting behind Jones, opposing pitchers forced to throw strikes to Jones to keep the bases clear with Ramirez on deck?

"It's not a crazy question," Torre said. "I think anyone hitting [ahead of Ramirez] is going to get better pitches to hit."

I know, I'm suggesting the Dodgers play Jones again when it should be Ramirez, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp every day, but he's signed through next year and the Dodgers will probably only have Ramirez for two months.

Call it Jones' final exam -- if he can't hit with Ramirez protecting him, why should anyone expect next year to be different?

TEIXEIRA SAID he was going to stay in the home of his agent, Scott Boras, when he comes to California with the Angels.

If Ramirez stays with his agent, he will be rooming with Teixeira since Boras also represents Ramirez.

ANOTHER RED SOX player, Johnny Damon, had to cut his hair to conform to Yankees standards while Torre was there, and when Torre came here, he had pitcher Joe Beimel clean up his act.

Will Torre ask Ramirez to cut his shaggy hair?

"I don't know," Torre said, "but I know Beimel is waiting with bated breath to see what happens."

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.

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