Manny already saying his goodbyes
The Los Angeles Dodgers' first full-squad workout isn't scheduled until Friday.
However, the soap opera, As Manny's World Turns, is in full production.
Ah, Dodger blues.
Ramirez checked into camp on Monday, and before his bag was even unpacked he had announced his pending divorce from the Dodgers. All winter, the gossip in Tinseltown has been about the pending divorce of owner Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie, and the impact that might have on the financial stability of the team.
Now the Dodgers and their fans are left wondering if Manny is going to want to go out in style or if he's going to pout his way through the six-month regular-season waiting period for his separation from the Dodgers to become final.
Hey, with Manny it's all about Manny.
Was that the Dodgers' idea to create Mannywood out in left field at Dodger Stadium or was it part of Ramirez's contract demands?
What will the Dodgers do to replace that gimmick in 2011?
But apparently, Manny already knows that whatever the Dodgers do next year, they will have to do it without him.
Funny thing is, Manny wasn't the Dodgers' biggest concern heading into the 2010 season.
Most of the folks with the Dodgers were wondering how their rotation is going to shake out. They wanted to know if Clayton Kershaw could build off his solid season of a year ago or whether Chad Billingsley would rebound from his late-season fade of 2009. They were handicapping the second-base battle that features Ronnie Belliard, Blake DeWitt and Jamey Carroll.
Then Manny turned the spotlight on himself, as only he can.
"I won't be here next year, so I just want to enjoy myself," Ramirez said upon his arrival at the Dodgers' spring facility. "I don't know (if I'll play next year). I just know I'm not going to be here. When the season is over, I will see where I'm at."
It won't entirely be Manny's decision next year. Major-league teams will largely decide whether they want to saddle themselves with Ramirez and his considerable baggage.
This year, it was Manny's decision to return to the Dodgers. Ramirez had the option on this year's contract, and decided to exercise it, forcing the Dodgers to pay him $20 million.
Or maybe better put, it was agent Scott Boras' decision to have Ramirez exercise the option. Boras is nobody's fool. He had to know there wasn't going to be much of a free-agent market for his client after Manny served a 50-game suspension for his use of a female fertility drug, and then struggled to hit .255 (and just .218 in September) after his mid-season return.
Based off the way the market has not developed for so many others this offseason, Boras was spot-on with that assessment. The hope is that somehow in the coming season Ramirez can rekindle a market for himself.
The problem, however, is that Ramirez is no longer even remotely close to a complete player. He never was a Gold Glove candidate, and he's gone downhill in recent years.
Ramirez, who turns 38 on May 30, is a DH at best, but with an NL team. The Dodgers can use a DH only nine times – the interleague road games – during their 162-game regular season.
And that leads to the question of whether Ramirez will drive in more runs than he lets in.
Dodger manager Joe Torre has said he does plan to rest Ramirez more this year in the hope it will allow Ramirez to keep his legs fresher. Of course, it should be remembered that Ramirez did have that 50-day furlough in the midst of last season, and it didn't seem to do much for him.
And what else can't be ignored is that the Dodgers no longer have Juan Pierre to step in when Ramirez isn't available. Pierre did, after all, hit .308 as Ramirez's understudy last year, and his 30 stolen bases were second on the team to Matt Kemp's 38.
In a budget-cutting move, the Dodgers shipped Pierre to the White Sox during the offseason, although they are picking up $10.5 million of the $18.5 million that Pierre is guaranteed over the next two seasons. In Pierre's place is Reed Johnson, who comes with a price of $800,000, a better fit for a team saddled with the option year it foolishly gave Ramirez a year ago.
Not that Ramirez seemly overly concerned about the Dodgers' worries that he might not be able to carry as big a load this year as he has in the past.
"You have to talk to him about that," Ramirez said. "I'm an employee here. I just do what they want me to do."
If Ramirez had done what the Dodgers wanted him to do, he would have declined his option for 2010.
That would have given them $20 million of payroll freedom.
It also would have freed them from the ongoing trials and tribulations of As Manny's World Turns.