Jun 16

Dodgers win a close rout, 6-2


Al Behrman/AP
Dude – nice work.

Clayton Kershaw didn’t walk anyone in the first inning. Or the second, the third, the fourth or the fifth.

In the bottom of the sixth, the first moment he pitched when the game wasn’t close, he walked the leadoff batter.

Pitching is such a mystery, isn’t it? And so is baseball, for that matter.

For a game the Dodgers just about ran away with and eventually won, 6-2, there were more than a few tense moments. The Dodgers would get up, but never too far up. They’d be in peril, then escape like Bugs Bunny.

They’d break a 0-0 tie with two runs in the fifth inning on yet another James Loney double, but strand runners on second and third with one out. They’d give up a fourth-inning single with a runner on second, only for Manny Ramirez to throw the guy out at home. They’d enter that bottom of the sixth with a 5-0 lead, but would escape the none-out, bases-loaded inning only thanks to a controversial, two-ejection strikeout.

The bottom of the eighth might have been most vexing of all. With a 5-1 lead, Joe Torre had Clayton Kershaw bat for himself in the top of the inning despite being past the 100-pitch mark, then removed him from the game following a one-out error by Blake DeWitt. Two relievers and two baserunners later (including a Hong-Chih Kuo walk to load the bases), the Dodgers used a line-drive double play, Rafael Furcal unassisted, to amscray.

In the ninth, with the Dodgers up 6-1, Kuo gave up his first run since April 22 on the first homer he allowed since Game 5 of the 2009 National League Championship Series, before getting the final out on a lunging catch by Matt Kemp, but that was a pocket full of posies compared to what had preceded. And so on a night that Andre Ethier singled twice and hit a three-run homer, that Loney had two more hits to raise his OPS to .810, that Manny Ramirez homered for the third time in seven games, that Kershaw lowered his ERA to 2.96 with 7 1/3 innings of seven-hit, seven-strikeout, one-run and yes, one-mystery-walk pitching, the Dodgers ran away with the victory … and hid. So close to disappointment, instead it’s two straight victories over the NL Central leaders and, once again, the best record in the National League. They’ll take it.

* * *

Happiness is a married bullpen catcher: A love story involving former Dodger Jason Phillips, culminating in a bullpen wedding ceremony, told by Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times (via Baseball Think Factory).

May 22

Manny Ramirez: Still never a dull moment


Lori Shepler/AP
The Manny Ramirez ballet

Sore-toed Manny Ramirez trod gingerly in the outfield Friday, allowing two fly balls to fall for half of the four hits Chad Billingsley allowed. And he hasn’t homered in his past 56 plate appearances, since his game-winning pinch-hit shot against San Francisco on April 18. Since coming off the disabled list, he’s on-basing .419 but slugging .324.

But he still hits the ball real hard, as John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press writes:

Brandon Inge said it was the hardest ball ever to hit him at third base.

“And Larry Bowa (the Dodgers third-base coach) told me that it in his 40-plus years of professional baseball, he’d never seen a ball hit that hard to third base,” Inge said. …

This moment, perhaps as much as any stat or rave that Ramirez has been able to garner, advertised his abilities at the plate.

The ball caromed behind Inge at an angle past deep shortstop and into short centerfield. It might have gone farther after it hit Inge than before it hit him.

You know how Don Kelly has started at both third base and centerfield for the Tigers this season? Ramirez singled to third base and centerfield on the same play.

After the game, Inge pointed to the baseball-sized red welt on his right shin. It was his souvenir of the play. …

* * *

  • Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt has requested a trade. I’m not expecting the Dodgers to be in on it, but Eric Stephen explores how they could theoretically afford him at True Blue L.A.
  • When I listen to classical music, it’s basically either pretty or not pretty. I’m wondering what it would be like to actually be this analytical about it, and whether I’d agree or disagree with the review.
  • Tweet o’ the Night, from @reflectnsofblue:
  • “After 9 1/2 years with my lady, I’m finally(!) getting married tomorrow. Now I know how AJ Ellis felt tonight.”

May 12

Diamondbacks walk but can’t hide: Ramirez blast lifts Dodgers, 6-3


Ross D. Franklin/AP
Manny Ramirez follows through, literally and figuratively.

A year ago, Andre Ethier was being told he couldn’t hit at all unless Manny Ramirez was batting behind him.

Tonight, the Arizona Diamondbacks told Ethier that they were so scared of how well he can hit, they’d rather face Ramirez.

It was an awe-wow moment that punctuated the Dodgers’ 6-3 victory over Arizona Wednesday, yet not at all shocking considering Ethier’s unbelievable season – and it was hardly a slight against Ramirez, who brought a 1.064 OPS for 2010 into the at-bat. But with runners on second and third with two out in the top of the seventh inning, and the Dodgers leading 3-2, Diamondbacks pitcher Edwin Jackson simply didn’t feel he could mess around with Ethier, who boosted his Triple Crown numbers earlier in the game with a two-run homer.

The logic was simple: Walking the left-handed Ethier eliminated the platoon advantage for the Dodgers and created a force at every base for Ramirez, who turns 38 at the end of the month. But still, here it was, the bases being loaded on purpose for one of baseball’s most dangerous hitters (still) – only because the Dodgers have come up with a player 10 years younger and even more dangerous.

Ross D. Franklin/AP

Edwin Jackson wipes his forehead after loading the bases ahead of Manny Ramirez in the seventh inning.

Jackson shouldn’t have even been in the situation. He had pitched well overall, allowing three runs on nine baserunners in 6 2/3 innings and striking out eight before the intentional walk. He had already thrown 114 pitches when Ethier came up.  But the Arizona bullpen has been such dogmeat that Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch decided he didn’t have a better hope against Ramirez with the bases loaded than the gassed Jackson.

Ramirez fouled off two pitches to fall behind 0-2 in the count, but on the next pitch, he cannoned a ball high off the center-field wall, 407 feet away, easily a grand slam in Dodger Stadium but a mere three-run double tonight. The smash blasted  Jackson’s valiant effort into ruins, and gave the Dodgers a most exuberant and comfortable four-run lead.

The moment stole the spotlight from what I think we can call a vintage Hiroki Kuroda performance. Kuroda’s first four pitches of the game were low and outside, but he didn’t walk a man after that in 7 1/3 innings, while allowing three runs on six hits and striking out nine. The third run – the run that would have tied the game were it not for Ethier and Ramirez – came across on a sacrifice fly off Hong-Chih Kuo in the eighth, after walks by Ronald Belsiario and Kuo loaded the bases and brought the tying run to the plate. But nothing more came across.

Jonathan Broxton, who hadn’t been needed in the series up to now, fell short of a 1-2-3 inning for the sixth time in his past seven chances but got the save, interspersing a single and walk with three strikeouts, giving him 22 in 12 2/3 innings this year.

The Dodgers won their ninth in their past 12 games, reached the .500 mark (17-17) for the first time since they were 7-7 on April 21 and moved within two games of second-place San Francisco. And another threshold in Andre Ethier’s mammoth season was crossed.

Apr 18

Just a wee taste of ’88: Kershaw, Ramirez lead Dodgers over Giants


Getty Images
Clayton Kershaw went seven innings allowing only one run, and Manny Ramirez made that hurt go away.

If Clayton Kershaw and Manny Ramirez were nothing more than a poor man’s Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson, it still made for a rich afternoon at Dodger Stadium.

Kershaw left Sunday’s game in the eighth inning after issuing his fourth walk of the game – an inning after Juan Uribe’s homer broke a scoreless tie – but he certainly pitched well enough to win, striking out nine. Two of his walks came after he crossed the 100-pitch mark. At age 22, Kershaw has walked at least four men in 21 of his 54 starts (39 percent), compared with Hershiser’s 71 of 466 (15 percent), but if you can put that annoying fact aside, you’re still left with a pretty swell pitcher with a career ERA of 3.40.

And then there’s Ramirez, who is this century’s go-to guy for lame home runs (in the good sense). On the heels (in the cliched sense) of his injured-hand Bobbleslam last summer, and right after Garret Anderson’s pinch-walk ended a superb performance by Barry Zito, Ramirez blasted a Sergio Romo pitch in the left-field seats to rally the Dodgers from their 1-0 deficit. Ramirez noticeably favored one leg in his trot around the bases, but though it didn’t have calf the drama of Gibson’s gimpy gem, it was a sight for sore Dodger eyes. (Video of the homer can be found at MLB.com.)

Jonathan Broxton retired the side in order in the ninth to close out the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory. Broxton has retired 17 of the 19 batters he has faced this season (including the past 14), striking out nine.

Several people, including Vin Scully, called today’s game the best of the young Dodger season, though some of that good feeling would have been tested had the Dodgers been shut out for the second afternoon in a row.

* * *

  • Hong-Chih Kuo looks good to go. He retired the side today on six pitches today in his second minor-league rehab appearance. If he survives that outing and Monday’s plane flight to Cincinnati, Kuo should be on the active roster for the Dodgers’ next game on Tuesday.
  • Prentice Redman knocked out three home runs by the fifth inning of Albuquerque’s 11-5 victory over Omaha. Redman raised his batting average to an even .400, on-base percentage to .447 and slugging percentage to .943.
  • John Lindsey watch: 3 for 3, raising his numbers to .538/.591/.897.
  • James McDonald left his start after one inning today because of a broken fingernail.
  • Isotopes reliever Brent Leach allowed six runs in his first 3 2/3 innings this season, but has pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-hit, two-walk shutout ball since.
  • In 6 2/3 innings this season for Inland Empire, Kenley Jansen has allowed no runs, four hits and zero walks while striking out 10.
  • For the second straight game, Great Lakes’ 23-year-old righty Josh Wall allowed one earned run over five innings, this time striking out eight.
Apr 01

Arizona could be waiting a long time for Brandon Webb

San Gabriel Valley News/Zuma Press/Icon SMI
The entire 2009 season for Brandon Webb (seen here at Camelback Ranch last March) consisted of four innings pitched and six runs allowed April 6.

Brandon Webb’s 2010 is starting to look more and more like Jason Schmidt’s 2008 or 2009.

Jack Magruder of FoxSportsArizona.com reports that Webb isn’t expected back from his 2009 surgery until at least May, and that it wouldn’t be surprising if he were still recovering into August.

Because they don’t need a fifth starter until April 17, the Diamondbacks will open the season with four.

More National League injury woes: Joe Blanton, Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero will all begin the 2010 season on the disabled list.

* * *

  • The most in-depth profile of Manny Ramirez this year comes from Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • The Dodgers released Brian Barton from the organization, and R.J. Anderson of Fangraphs writes about what a shame that is.
  • Memories of Kevin Malone posted its latest Dodger prospect rankings.
  • UCLA’s baseball team, now 21-0, puts its undefeated season on the line tonight against … Stanford! Game time at Jackie Robinson Stadium is 6 p.m.
  • I don’t know what it is, but every year or so Sons of Steve Garvey all but corners the market on interesting content. Juan Pierre’s Tragic Awesomeness isn’t far behind from a columnist’s perspective.
Mar 18

Joe Torre pleased with Chad Billingsley’s latest outing

It was just another Spring Training game — well, one that featured a record Cactus League crowd of 13,391 and a busy four innings for Manny Ramirez — but no harm in noting that everyone was feeling positive about the progress of Dodger pitcher Chad Billingsley.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Chad Billingsley retired his first 13 batters September 2 vs. Arizona, then allowed four runs.

“I thought he was very good,” Dodger manager Joe Torre said after the game. “Close to 15 pitches an inning — that’ s not too bad, you know, considering he walked the first guy. I was very, very pleased with his performance today.”

Staked with a 75-pitch limit today, Billingsley stretched it to cover 4 2/3 innings, in which he struck out four and allowed one run on six baserunners.

“I worked on everything I needed to work on,” Billingsley said. “Rhythm, tempo — everything felt a lot better out there today. Great sign. Curveball was a little off today, but as far as everything else, everything else was pretty good.”

Ramirez more than made up for the lack of drama surrounding Billingsley’s performance. At the plate, Ramirez hit a two-run homer and grounded into a double play. In his first game in left field of the season, Ramirez was reportedly slow on a ball that went for a second-inning ground-rule double by Chad Tracy, who scored the game’s only run of Billingsley, but then Ramirez made a leaping catch at the wall in the fourth inning on a drive by Tyler Colvin.

Overall, Torre was also pleased with what he saw from Ramirez.

“Timing-wise, he’s hitting line drives,” Torre said, “and he’s much more balanced than he was last year.”

Jon Link got the final out in the fifth inning for Billingsley and the Dodgers. Charlie Haeger gave up a run in two innings, while Jeff Weaver pitched a shutout eighth. Backup outfielder Reed Johnson had a three-run homer late in the game, while Blake DeWitt and Garret Anderson each had two hits.

Update: Here’s Ramirez’s catch.


Courtesy Los Angeles Dodgers (via Twitpic)
Mar 18

Manny Ramirez tries out his glove, Jamey Carroll cool with his


Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Manny Ramirez catches a fly ball at San Francisco on Aug. 12.

Manny Ramirez gets his first start of 2010 in left field today. I hope he did more pregame stretching today than I did Sunday.

* * *

In his pregame chat with reporters, Dodger manager Joe Torre indicated he was comfortable with Jamey Carroll as the backup shortstop, which would free up the Chin-Lung Hu/Nick Green/whoever roster spot for someone else.

Torre also said the following about Blake DeWitt:

“He hasn’t had the opportunity to turn a double play all spring. I’d like to see that happen. He seems to be fine, he’s swinging the bat real well. He’s not going to play second defensively as well as Hudson or Belliard, but he’s not shy about going after the ball. He’s a good kid and has a good feel for the game. ”

Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com predicts that Torre will soon name Clayton Kershaw the Dodgers’ Opening Day starter. Jackson is doing a live chat at 12 noon.

Mar 11

Thank you for coming to Taiwan, Manny – here’s $170,000

Given that the Dodgers left it up to their players to decide whether they wanted to go to Taiwan, if this Focus Taiwan report that Manny Ramirez accepted a $170,000 appearance fee from the promoters of the exhibition series in Taiwan is true, I don’t really see a problem. But I expect others will, just because they find a problem lately with everything Ramirez does. (Link via Dodger Thoughts commenter BHSportsguy).

Honestly, whether you wanted to go to Taiwan because you wanted to see the country, or you wanted to play in a foreign ballpark, or you wanted to see some friends back in your homeland, or you’re big on spreading goodwill, or you like long charter flights, or because $170,000 is a nice piece of change, it probably doesn’t matter.  Jet-lag is jet-lag, any way you look at it.

Ramirez is 38 — which is old for a ballplayer but young for your typical intercontinental flyer, I imagine. He’ll survive.

Mar 02

Manny is (theoretically) going to Taiwan

This morning, the Dodgers announced their “expected roster” for their March 10 trip to Taiwan, and Manny Ramirez is on it. The caveat is that the roster still might change in the next several days.

Hong-Chih Kuo, Charlie Haeger, Eric Stults, Josh Lindblom, Ronnie Belliard, James Loney and Xavier Paul are also making a go of it.

Pitchers (15): RHP Mario Alvarez, LHP Alberto Bastardo, RHP Robert Boothe, RHP Jesus Castillo, RHP Hyang-Nam Choi, RHP John Ely, RHP Francisco Felix, RHP Charlie Haeger, RHP Kenley Jansen, LHP Hong-Chih Kuo, RHP Josh Lindblom, RHP Jon Link, LHP Juan Perez, LHP Eric Stults and RHP Josh Towers.

Catchers (4): J.D. Closser, Gabriel Gutierrez, Lucas May, Jesse Mier

Infielders (8): Ronnie Belliard, Angel Berroa, Jamey Carroll, Chin-lung Hu, John Lindsey, James Loney, Russ Mitchell and Ramon Nivar

Outfielders (6): Brian Barton, Xavier Paul, Manny Ramirez, Prentice Redman, Michael Restovich, Trayvon Robinson

Coaches: Manager Joe Torre, first base coach John Shoemaker, third base coach Lorenzo Bundy, pitching coach Jim Slaton, hitting coach/bench coach Tim Wallach and bullpen catcher Mike Borzello.

The Dodgers are scheduled for three games in Taiwan, March 12-14, with the trip ending three weeks before Opening Day. In 2008, the Asia trip ended two weeks before Opening Day.

Feb 22

Manny Ramirez speaks in tongues – and people listen

The way people picked apart Manny Ramirez’s statements today for significance was crazy. Crazy, I says!

It’s Manny Ramirez.  If there’s one guy in baseball you judge by actions instead of words, it’s Manny Ramirez.  And yet, the baseball world got their engines all revved up, over what?  Over nothing.  Over a guy saying what everyone knew. Over a guy talking in such stream-of-consciousness that if he read his own quotes, he’d probably not recognize them.

In a world that rages against Tiger Woods for being robotic or disingenuous, here’s Ramirez telling it like it is.  Granted, what “it is” can change from one minute to the next, but that’s kind of the point.  You can’t take what he says so seriously. We know he doesn’t.  We know this. We have years of intimate experience with this knowledge.

So why do people act like the opposite is true? Why do people act like they care about anything except how well he performs on the field after the games start?

Do you think that if Ramirez is hitting, people will care that he said anything bad? That if he isn’t hitting, people will care that he said all the right things?

I’m not nominating Ramirez for sainthood, but it’s just ridiculous how he became target practice today. It was like people trying to draw life lessons from a fortune cookie.

Manny was being Manny. And we were being us.

* * *

  • A couple of recent articles serve as reminders that no team – not even good teams – usually has a quality No. 5 starter. Paul Boye of Phillies Nation notes, for example, that No. 5 starters for the 2009 champion Yankees had a 6.63 ERA.  Chuck Brownson also touches on the subject at the Hardball Times. Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness has more.  (Previously on Dodger Thoughts: “Dodgers will pick a No. 5 starter – and another, and another …”)
  • Scott Elbert had another pain-free outing – “fantastic,” he said – reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • Andrew Lambo, potential Dodger outfielder of the not-so-distant future, gets a profile from Memories of Kevin Malone.
  • Sports headlines from 40 years ago today: “Angels to Run Their Camp ‘Dodger Style.’”
  • The name speaks for itself: Everything Jerry Reuss.
Feb 22

Manny Ramirez begins his farewell tour

Manny Ramirez confirmed — as much as he is capable of — what every interested party on Earth and neighboring celestial bodies already surmised: 2010 will be his last season as a Dodger. From Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

… He said he hasn’t been told by club officials that the Dodgers aren’t interested in re-signing him, but he added that it probably isn’t realistic to expect them to do so.

“I’m just speculating but I’m not 23 anymore,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said he would wait until after the season to determine if he wants to play in the major leagues for what would be a 19th year. His options might be limited to the American League, which uses the designated hitter, because of his defensive limitations in left field.

“The game is still fun, but I think I have to wait until the season ends and see where my family is at before I make a choice,” Ramirez said. “I will just wait and see how my body reacts.”

After working out for most of the winter near his South Florida home, Ramirez said his legs feel fine entering spring training.

“From the waist down, I feel 15,” he said. “From the neck up, I feel 43. I feel good.” …

This is creating a lot of headlines from Los Angeles to Boston, but it doesn’t really change anything. There’s still exactly the same doubt about his physical condition there already was. Mentally, there’s certainly a chance he might mail in the season, or try to orchestrate a midseason trade to an American League team with an opening at designated hitter — a move the Dodgers might be quite happy to accommodate, depending on the circumstances. But the fact that Ramirez voiced aloud what everyone was suspecting is hardly a turning point.

The main thing is that we’re still looking at a 38-year-old slugger with idiosyncrasies but also something left to prove. It was going to be an interesting ride before today, and it figures to stay that way.

Ramirez’s OPS by month in his final season in Boston: April 1.029, May .714, June .930, July 1.060.

Other notes:

  • Dylan Hernandez of the Times wrote that Ramirez “refused to talk in detail about problems at the plate last season, but he acknowledged that (the Dodgers) made him change his off-season training regimen.”
  • Joe Torre said that he plans to give Ramirez two or three days off every two weeks. If you translate that as a game off per week, on average (factoring in off days), Ramirez would be on tap to play about 140 games if he doesn’t go on the disabled list.

Previously on Dodger Thoughts: “Tracing the Citizen Rebellion in Mannywood.”

Feb 11

Tracing the citizen rebellion in Mannywood

On the morning of July 24, Manny Ramirez’s popularity in Los Angeles was so high that his biggest critic this side of Boston, Bill Plaschke of the Times, said he “got chills” after Ramirez hit his pinch-hit grand slam home run while nursing a sore hand. The Dodgers quickly rushed out a commemorative poster and a second Manny Bobblehead Night onto their calendar, and the fan base ate it all up.

Let me emphasize how recent this was. It was barely six months ago. It was with only 67 games left in the regular season. It was also more than two months after Ramirez had been suspended for violating baseball’s drug policy and more than two weeks after he returned. The violation was in the past, and though some didn’t want to forgive him and others never liked Ramirez in the first place, the overwhelming majority of Dodger fans basked in his presence.

After returning from his suspension, Ramirez had a .347 batting average, .439 on-base percentage and .755 slugging percentage with five homers and 17 RBI in his first 57 plate appearances. Anyone who tries to tell you that Ramirez wasn’t on his game when he began his comeback is rewriting history. Ramirez was punishing the ball, and Dodger fans knew it. They felt it. They saw it.

And what was more exhilarating on the morning of July 24 was that it seemed not even age, not even an injury, could keep him down.

Flash forward, if you will, and now you can hardly walk anywhere Mannywood without finding a Ramirez skeptic, if not more and more fans who have completely turned against him.

It’s not clear exactly when the shift happened. Ramirez did struggle some in the games following the Bobbleslam, but he didn’t disappear. From July 24 through the end of the regular season, he failed to reach base in only nine starts. His on-base percentage was a healthy .378, and his batting average remained above .300 until September 23.

The fault lay more with his power. He had 12 doubles, eight homers and a .439 slugging percentage post-Bobbleslam, which is mortal by his standards, but not necessarily so far down that you’d expect many fans to notice.

However, the real turning point might not have been at the plate at all. On August 23, Ramirez overran a shot to the corner by Chicago’s Aramis Ramirez and then was extremely sluggish in recovering, allowing Aramis to get a triple in what would be a 3-1 Cubs victory on a hot Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Boos rained down on Manny, who also went 0 for 4, and numerous observers wondered if Bad Manny had finally arrived.

Subsequently, the team’s near-slide in the pennant race got people even more uptight, and as much grief as guys like Chad Billingsley received, it was Ramirez who in some ways became the biggest villain on the offensive end  — especially from those who credited Juan Pierre with everything from the Dodgers’ first-half surge to the polio vaccine.

After the Dodgers blew a potential division-clinching game in the ninth inning September 27 in Pittsburgh, Ramirez didn’t start the next game, then went 0 for 10 (with two walks) as the Dodgers lost twice to San Diego and once to fast-charging Colorado, the team scoring four runs in the three games.  By this point, the “Manny has lost it” mantra was in full swing — with few caring to remember that he began losing it following the hand injury, weeks after his return from the suspension.

Ramirez’s slump extended to 0 for 13 before he singled in the fifth run of the Dodgers’ 5-0 National League West clincher Oct. 3. But he was definitely on watchlists by this time. At times, he was chasing pitches and looked more desperate than dominant.

In the NL Division Series, Ramirez had a double and a walk in the Dodgers’ wild Game 1 victory, then barely escaped goat horns with his 0-for-4 in the Game 2 miracle. But in St. Louis for Game 3, Ramirez went 3 for 5 with two doubles as the Dodgers advanced to the Championship Series. Not exactly a disappearing act.

If that last performance bought him any goodwill, it wasn’t much. Even in the Dodgers’ disappointing NLCS defeat, Ramirez hit in all but one of the five games, homering in Game 1. In the final three games in Philly, he was 4 for 10 with a walk.

But if Ramirez’s job was to carry the Dodgers to the World Series, I guess enough people felt he didn’t do his job. That has translated into a lot of people thinking that Ramirez won’t be able to do his job in 2010, which could make for a vexing final season in Los Angeles.

I’m honestly not sure what to expect. It’s silly not to foresee some decline from a player who turns 38 on May 30. On the other hand, I think the biggest fulminators are overreacting to what happened toward the end of 2009 — especially those who ignore what Ramirez did before he was hit by that pitch July 21.

In my mind, when the Dodgers re-signed Ramirez for two years, the plan was that by the second year, he wouldn’t have to carry the team by itself. And with the flowering of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, that plan seems to be on target. Yes, Ramirez is earning an eight-figure salary, and with that comes certain responsibility. And more than anything, Ramirez is unpredictable. But finished? I’m not so sure.

Ramirez probably won’t regain all the goodwill that slipped away from him after Bobbleslam Night, but I don’t think there’s nearly enough evidence to write Ramirez off as a productive player. If people somehow ratcheted down their expectations to those merited by a 38-year-old slugger, I’d say there’s a very good chance they wouldn’t be disappointed.

Of course, I’m not holding my breath that people will recalibrate their expectations. And I get the sense that there is more than one person out there quite eager to see Ramirez fail, no matter what it means for the Dodgers.