Dodgers vs. Giants: The Manny Ramirez standoff

One of the more underrated and overlooked stories in sports right now is the battle going on with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Manny Ramirez. Manny and his agent Scott Boras want at least a five year contract, while the Dodgers want Manny and his agent Scott Boras to look up “realistic” in the dictionary and get back to them.

The Dodgers’ standoff is admirable; finally a club is willing to stand up to a player that probably won’t be worth what he’s asking for in the long run. Manny is a weakness in the outfield, is known for quitting on plays and even worse, quitting on his team. But the guy is still one of the best hitters in the game and given how weak the NL West should be again, the Dodgers would be instant favorites to win the division if they can re-up with Ramirez.

But another battle brewing under the surface is the one between the Dodgers and Giants. San Fran has shown interest in Ramirez, but has balked at his asking price and reports state that they’re no longer a potential suitor. But does anyone truly believe that the G-Men are taking themselves out of the running and just handing Manny over to their rivals (the frontrunners for Ramirez) at a discounted price? Not a chance.

The Giants are several bats away from competing for a World Series title or even an NLCS berth. But they’re seemingly one big bat away from at least competing in the NL West and the postseason. Their pitching staff is solid and they have enough decent hitters in Bengie Molina, Aaron Rowand, Randy Winn and Edgar Renteria (assuming his bat returns to form now that he’s back in the NL) to be a contender if they can sign Ramirez.

The problem is that after they chose not to re-sign Barry Bonds, Brian Sabean and company pledged to rebuild. Of course Sabean then went out and signed Molina, Dave Roberts and Rich Aurilia – all players well into their 30s – so the Giants can’t use the rebuilding excuse as the only reason not to sign Manny. Still, the team finally has chemistry again and tossing a personality like Ramirez into the mix could ruin an otherwise drama-less atmosphere in the clubhouse. And for what? A shot to maybe contend in the West and then lose in the postseason?

The Manny Ramirez battles have only begun and it’ll be interesting to see who cracks first. Ramirez could get tired of waiting for the Dodgers to offer him a long-term contract and take one of their initial proposals for 2 or 3 years. Worried about the Giants making a move, the Dodgers could also start to get antsy and cave to Boras’s demands. Or the Giants, in fear of wasting good pitching for another year, could seize the moment and put the power hitter smack dab in the middle of their lineup.

I’m sticking with my prediction of a few months ago: Manny will return to the Dodgers. The Giants are too freaked out about another Barry Zito-deal and will stick to their rebuilding plan. I imagine L.A. retains Ramirez with a 3-year contract.

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