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Can Manny Ramirez still be Manny Ramirez?

As Manny goes ... so go the Dodgers?

Manny_picnik Hey, they can win without him. They proved that last season.

But can they be great without a great Manny Ramirez? Can't see it. Certainly, there's no way you can expect it. You can't just count on all their young talent maintaining an upward spiral. Witness Russell Martin.

No one really knows what Manny's been up to since the season ended. If he's gained a pot belly, grown dreads to his buttocks, been investigating the latest in female fertility drugs.

In the last offseason, Manny seemed in the news more than swine flu. You couldn't avoid him. He was after a fat contract and every day seemed a Manny day.

This offseason, though, it's all but been a media blackout. Has he been working out at his Florida home? Returned to his Dominican homeland? Taken up sudoku?

Manager Joe Torre told L.A. Times Dodgers beat writer Dylan Hernandez Tuesday that he spoke to Manny on the phone four or five days earlier and that he was in the Dominican Republic.

"To me, I sensed an anxiousness about getting started," Torre said.

Torre blamed Manny's great drop-off last season on the 50-game suspension he served for violating baseball's drug policy. Prior to the suspension, Manny was batting .348 with six home runs and 20 RBI in 92 at-bats. After the suspension, he hit .270 with 13 homers and 43 RBI in 260 at-bats.

So his average was up pre-suspension, but the power was never really there. Not Manny power.

When Manny showed up in L.A. in the middle of 2008, he became the single most electrifying position player in L.A. Dodgers history. Every at-bat was an event. The stadium rippled with anticipation. And it seemed more often than not that he delivered.

Those were some crazy dramatics, and perhaps an impossible act to follow. Still, it was hard to imagine he'd go from a once-in-a-lifetime player to just another good one in the span of a few months.

Manny will turn 38 in May. Does he have another monster year left? It's a contract season for him, so he has all the financial motivation. After last year, he has all the psychological motivation.

In a National League overcome by parity, one dynamic player can elevate a good team. And for the Dodgers, that's Manny.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Steve Dilbeck is The Times' new Dodger blogger. You can learn more about him here.

Photo: Manny Ramirez. Credit: Jeff Chiu / Associated Press


Comments () | Archives (10)

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though 38 year old power hitters don't have the greatest track record of performance, Manny isn't the prototypical masher....he's always hit for average as well, and has a good swing, which helps avoid prolonged slumps, in the absence of 50 game suspensions...

in contrast to David Ortiz last year (last 2 years ?) who has a huge hitch in his swing, is more of a pull hitter than Manny, and may have arguably been more adversely affected by weaning off PEDs, I believe Manny, with a full spring training, and focused off season, and more importantly in a contract year, will put up his usual 30-100-.300

I disagree with Steve's assertion that Manny's power wasn't there pre-suspension last season.....6 HRs in 92 AB prorates to 36 Hrs in 550 AB, which is typical Manny power territory

Manny is a competitor, a dedicated work ethic and training guy (notwithstanding the PED debacle), a winner, very cognizant of his place in baseball history numerically (if writers ever vote in suspected or admitted PED users), and also a businessman....he realizes that he's arguably playing for the last big, or medium-big contract of his career...

barring injury, which he's largely avoided during his career, and Torre's resolve to rest him more, and unless something weird happens again like last year, look for ManRam to once again be a lynchpin of a potent Dodger attack, and help the hitters before and after him

will the property values and excitement in Mannywood return ?......largely dependent on Dodger's performance

let's go BIG BLUE :- )

and welcome Steve....look forward to reading and participating in your new venture with the rest of your audience


I don't think Manny cares that this is a contract season.

Unless he has been investing in derivatives, he's probably well-off, and what happens, happens, as far as he's concerned.

I think he's in a position to play for the fun of it.

That's good news, if it keeps him loose. But if he faces any injuries or early slumps, he might phone it in the rest of the way.

No way the the Dodgers can win without Manny having a decent season. Remember, they have no Juan Pierre. I am not a huge supporter of Pierre but he sure did his part when they needed him last year.

i posted a lengthy comment about Manny roughly 2 hours ago.....can u tell me where it went Steve ?

Sorry, Craig, there figure to be a few opening week bugs to work out as I get into the swing of things.Onward and upward.

Steve, you fail to mention Manny's wrist injury shortly after his return from suspension, and those are notoriously slow to heal.

Ah yes, the return of an "old-school" baseball writer to do the Dodgers blog. With the typical "Dodgers young players are crap", "they're nothing without Manny". What's next, "Billingsley is not tough enough"? LA Times is now amateur hour, an irrelevant newspaper.

I hate to be a pessimist, but it is hard to picture Manny, aging and (probably) off the steroids, having a transcendent year ever again. He could be good or even very good. But much as I wish for it I don't see him getting back to '08 type numbers again.

For that we will have to hope that Matt Kemp explodes.


Psychological motivation??!!?! For Manny?! HA! Obviously you haven't been following Manny for very long. There is no psychological motivation. The guy is an idiot savant.


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