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INSIDE BASEBALL

Down The Line

June 10, 2012|Bill Shaikin
  • Manny Ramirez sits in the dugout after striking out in a Triple-A baseball game.
Manny Ramirez sits in the dugout after striking out in a Triple-A baseball… (Jake Schoellkopf / Associated…)

Last days of Manny?

Manny Ramirez could be getting perilously close to that day when he takes his bats and goes home, unwanted by any team in the major leagues.

The Oakland Athletics have scored the fewest runs in the American League. They're batting .218. They just emerged from a nine-game losing streak in which they got shut out four times.

And they don't believe Ramirez can help their offense.

Ramirez is batting .268 for the A's triple-A affiliate, with one extra-base hit in 41 at-bats. Since his last home run -- on Sept. 17, 2010 -- he is hitting .202 over 84 at-bats for the Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Sacramento River Cats. His slugging percentage: .226.

He better get hot, fast.

The A's are not at all committed to calling him up. He isn't going to sell tickets in Oakland. Young sluggers Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick are developing just fine without him, the A's aren't going to win this year, and it's almost too late for Ramirez to hit and behave well enough for the A's to try flipping him for a prospect.

The "Manny being Manny" moments live on at mannyramirez.com, which greets visitors with a montage in which the Dodger Stadium video board shows Ramirez hitting a walk-off home run -- for the Boston Red Sox.

The website also invites kids to play a game called "Manny Ramirez vs. the Aliens." No kidding.

A guy named Q to Dodgers' rescue?

Put Carlos Quentin in left field, bat him behind Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, and the Dodgers might have baseball's best offensive outfield.

The Dodgers need help, and Quentin would be a perfect fit. Yet Kevin Youkilis might be more likely to end up in L.A.

When Quentin came off the disabled list and hit five home runs in his first six games for the San Diego Padres, his name instantly jumped to the top of all the trade rumors. The Padres might be better off trying to sign him to a long-term contract, even if he can file for free agency this fall.

Quentin grew up in San Diego. The Padres cannot lure power hitters to Petco Park, where long balls are long outs.

So the trade price for Quentin might be prohibitively high. The Padres could leverage the threat of making him a qualifying offer -- one year at about $12 million -- into demanding a premium prospect or two, a category in which the Dodgers are woefully short. Under baseball's new labor agreement, teams cannot get draft picks for a departing free agent unless they extend a qualifying offer.

The Padres could afford Quentin on a qualifying offer, because their guaranteed salaries for next year total $11.5 million. He could sign a long-term deal elsewhere -- and the Padres could collect draft picks -- but he never has played in more than 131 games.

The Dodgers have money, and that might lead them to Youkilis, who would be a significant upgrade over James Loney at first base or Juan Uribe at third.

Youkilis would cost

$4 million to rent from the Boston Red Sox for the final two months of the season; the Dodgers could keep him for $13 million next season or buy him out for $1 million.

The greater the rental fee, the lesser the prospects required in trade -- and the money owed to Quentin is less than half that owed to Youkilis.

-- Bill Shaikin

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