As the Dodgers began their seven-game homestand last night, something seemed missing from the left field pavilion. Since the beginning of 2009, that section has been branded "Mannywood," named for the Dodgers left fielder who electrified the city when he first arrived at the trade deadline two seasons ago.â†µ
It seems of late with fame and good fortune in Los Angeles comes a price. Just as USC has removed the Heisman Trophy and all references to Reggie Bush after getting hit with sanctions related to improper benefits to Bush and his family, the Dodgers have taken their first step to end their association with Manny Ramirez. The short fence in left field, in between the foul pole and the bullpen, used to say "Mannywood," but now has advertisements for local radio station 790 KABC and John Hancock insurance.â†µ
Ramirez has been the Dodgers best hitter since he arrived in Los Angeles. However, he simply hasn't played often enough to live up to his two-year, $45 million contract signed before the 2009 season, last season thanks to a drug suspension and this season thanks to the fragility of 38-year-old legs.â†µ
Even after the July 31 trade deadline, trades can still be made in baseball. Players simply have to clear waivers first. Given the large salary of Ramirez (he is making $20 million this season, and is due a little more than $6.5 million between now and the end of the year), he will easily pass through waivers, as no team will want to simply take on all of his salary. He can't really play the field everyday anymore, if at all, so a move to an American League team to be the designated hitter for the stretch run is ideal. The White Sox showed interest in Manny over the weekend, but per various reports were unwilling to take on much salary at all.â†µ
The Dodgers will probably say they need Ramirez, who is due back from the disabled list in the next seven to 10 days, to make a playoff run, but given their current slide, that ship has already sailed. The team should try to trade Ramirez, and take whatever salary relief it can get. They have already distanced themselves from Ramirez in one way, with the removal of Mannywood. It's now time to make a clean break once and for all.