Dodgers' Manny Ramirez: What to do while he's out, what to do when he returns
Life Without Manny, the story continues …
Our favorite dreadlocked, not-talking, singles-hitting, Silly String-loving, gimpy outfielder, Manny Ramirez, is already more than halfway through his latest stint on the disabled list.
With the coming All-Star break, the Dodgers will have to play only six more games before Manny and his sore hammy can come off the DL.
Which raises two questions: What to do in the short term and want to do when he returns?
Manager Joe Torre’s short-term answer is apparently to play rookie Xavier Paul, called up from triple-A Albuquerque when Manny went on the disabled list, against right-handers and Reed Johnson against left-handers.
Paul started his first two games after being called up, but gave way to Johnson on Monday against left-hander Nate Robertson.
Torre, however, contends he has no set rotation.
"I really don’t," he said. "Johnson is playing [Monday] because of the left-hander and the fact you want to get him some action.
"Otherwise, it’s going to be X Paul. That will pretty much be the rest of the rotation this first half."
And then, of course, what to do when Manny returns.
The simple answer is send Paul back down. That doesn’t make it the right answer, just the simple one.
Sadly, the better answer is to release Garret Anderson.
Sad because he is such a good clubhouse presence, seems more at peace than at any time in his career, and you know has a terrific history that demands patience.
But how much patience? As I wrote June 6, Anderson was a great idea but it simply hasn’t worked.
Anderson was batting .149 on June 6 and has raised his average to .188. That’s some tough duty.
It isn’t as if Paul is tearing it up, but he’s batting a respectable .273 and offers a more versatile game. He’s 25; just how much more is he really going to benefit from going back to Albuquerque and playing every day?
Torre loves veterans, particularly when it’s playoff time. Getting to the playoffs, however, is no guarantee with this team.
Torre seems to particularly love Anderson, which is understandable. But he has to give in to his realist side at some point, and by playing Paul over Anderson now, he could be tipping his hand.
As ESPN.com’s Jon Weisman wrote when he was called up, this time Paul needs to stay. Torre needs to put his best team on the field every night.
And right now, sadly, that’s a team without Anderson.
-- Steve Dilbeck