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Bill Shaikin / on baseball

And Look Who's Left

The Dodgers now have no other choice than to sign Ramirez. But then,

February 12, 2009|Bill Shaikin

The Dodgers waste no opportunity to promote Tom Lasorda, and vice versa. So Lasorda will board a tour bus this morning at Dodger Stadium, entertaining reporters and sponsors on a six-hour ride to the team's new spring home in Glendale, Ariz.

Here's a better idea: Kick the reporters and sponsors off the bus. Put Frank McCourt and Ned Colletti on it. Head south to Newport Beach and pick up Scott Boras. Then head east, across the desert, toward Arizona.

No one crosses the state line until the Dodgers sign Manny Ramirez.

On Friday, Joe Torre holds his first news conference of spring training. Get the Ramirez deal done, and Torre can actually talk about the Dodgers, rather than his book about the New York Yankees, and about their steroid-enhanced third baseman, the one Torre lovingly identified as "A-Fraud."

Ramirez stands alone among available sluggers now. Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu are off the market, Dunn gone to the Washington Nationals and Abreu to the Angels, two signings greeted with a shrug at Chavez Ravine.

"I don't expect them to impact us," Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said.

It's Manny or nothing for the Dodgers. They never said anything different. There appears to be Manny money in the budget, reserved for him, not intended to be spent otherwise.

Boras, the agent for Ramirez, in his own way agrees that it's Manny or nothing for the Dodgers.

"Dunn and Abreu are fine players, but Manny Ramirez is a Hall of Fame player, the best right-handed hitter in baseball," Boras said. "The performance the Dodgers received last year was not available on the market other than by signing Manny Ramirez."

The Dodgers don't need to be sold on that. Boras doesn't need to be reminded that the San Francisco Giants don't intend to outbid the Dodgers for Ramirez.

Boras said the other day that he was negotiating with "several" teams for Ramirez. We asked him whether "several" could be defined as "more than two."

He chuckled.

"Two or more," he said.

Orlando Hudson? He called the Dodgers, not the other way around.

Hudson is an excellent second baseman, the kind of clubhouse leader McCourt and Colletti love. He would give the Dodgers the option to return Blake DeWitt to triple-A, or to move DeWitt to third base and Casey Blake to left field.

But it's all about Manny, and both sides know it.

The Dodgers brilliantly calculated the market for Ramirez. They made their point. Put the two-year offer back on the table, and stand by your promise to make him the second-highest paid player in baseball.

Boras got Ramirez out of Boston, and to a place where he could start to rebuild his reputation. He made his point. Don't encourage Ramirez to hold out beyond the start of spring training, which would raise anew all those nagging questions about his dedication.

Colletti said he had "nothing new" to report beyond "continuing conversations with Scott."

Boras said he had talked to Colletti last week and would "continue to talk."

Never mind "continuing" and "continue." End the conversations. End the madness.

The Angels, remember, signed Torii Hunter at Del Taco in Corona.

That Dodgers tour bus is scheduled to stop for lunch today at Carl's Jr. in Palm Desert. We'll take a Six Dollar burger to go, and a $46 million left fielder.

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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