It’s been whispered about among Dodger fans for weeks, but nobody wanted to say it out loud for fear of sounding like a blasphemer: Maybe the Dodgers would be better if Manny Ramirez was benched for a while.
Now, a scout for another team anonymously told ESPN’s Buster Olney the same thing.
A rival talent evaluator on Manny Ramirez: "He still is a good technical hitter, and he's still a dangerous hitter. But he's not driving the ball anywhere close to what he was doing in the second half of last year. I know the Dodgers would never bench him, but right now, I think they're a better team with Juan Pierre in the lineup than him…
Certainly, Manny Ramirez is struggling a little lately — he is hitting .235 this past week. Joe Torre has talked about Ramirez’s mechanics being off (“his front side is flying a lot”) and that has led to his stroke being off.
But, Ramirez still has an on base percentage of .409 in the past seven days — pitchers fear him so he draws walks. And if you get on base four out of every 10 times you come to the plate you are doing just fine. He has two home runs in the past week and has driven in three runs to with those walks.
And by the way, if you still think he should be benched for Pierre, know that Juan is hitting .215 the last week. Without the power.
Even a struggling Ramirez is a threat the Dodgers need in their lineup — pitchers are forced to pitch to Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier (the two guys hitting in front of Manny) because they don’t want to walk these guys and get to number 99 with runners on base. Sure he’s slumping, but he is still capable of the big blast that changes a game. Pitchers fear the long ball.
Manny is frustrated — he got tossed from a game the other day after questioning the umpire’s balls and strikes calls. A happy Manny shrugs that stuff off and hits the next pitch deep.
And that Manny will be back — he thrives on the big stage, and the Dodgers are headed to the postseason in a few weeks. When that time comes, Dodger fans will laugh at the idea of playing Pierre in front of Manny.
You don’t leave your biggest bat on the bench, it’s really that simple. Even if other scouts don’t see that.