The Dodgers, the Trade, Hanley Ramirez, the League and the Loss
There are debates galore as to when the sinking of the Dodgers started, but there's no question when Peter O'Malley sold the team to FOX in 1997 that marked the end of an era. Just months later, FOX went behind general manager Fred Claire's back and traded the offensive juggernaut that was Mike Piazza.
As devastating as that trade was to the Dodgers and their fans, 14 years later it has come back to help them in their playoff hopes.
The timeline of the trade:
* May 14, 1998: The Dodgers traded Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile to Florida Marlins for Manuel Barrios, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson, Bobby Bonilla and Gary Sheffield.
* May 22, 1998: The Marlins traded Piazza to New York Mets for Geoff Goetz, Preston Wilson and Ed Yarnall.
* February 1, 1999: The Marlins traded Todd Noel, Ed Yarnall and Mark Johnson to the New York Yankees for Mike Lowell.
* November 24, 2005: The Marlins traded Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota to the Boston Red Sox for Hanley Ramirez, Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia and Anibal Sanchez.
* July 25, 2012: The Marlins traded Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate to Dodgers for Scott McGough and Nathan Eovaldi.
Like Elton John sang, it's the circle of life or something or other.
So far everything has been good with Ramirez. In five games he has been batting .333 with a go-ahead homer in the tenth inning on Friday in San Francisco.
"You have to win everything," Ramirez told reporters about the change in coming from Miami. "That's one of the things I like, that kind of pressure. And you have to prove yourself and be on the same page as all the other guys who've been here. They come everyday ready to play. You see it walking into the clubhouse. You see a lot of smiles. Everybody's together. Everybody's pulling for each other. Those are the little things you are looking for."
Ramirez was saying all the right things to the media before his first home game with the Dodgers. However lurking in his recent past are the reports of him being a bad teammate. Take Manny Navarro's article in the Miami Herald on the mixed emotions of the Marlins after the trade. An anonymous player told Navarro:
"They created a monster from a very good baseball player — gave him so much slack to do whatever the [expletive] he wanted because he was performing," the player said. "You can push some things aside when you’re hitting .340 with 40 home runs. You say 'He’s a [jerk], but I can deal with it. ... But when you’re not playing and you’re trying to be that same [jerk], it starts rubbing people the wrong way.'"
"I'm just honest," Ramirez said. "I'm the nicest guy around. If I see something that's not supposed to be done that way, I just go up to you and tell you you're not supposed to do that."
For manager Don Mattingly, Ramirez arrived with a clean slate. "What's happened with Hanley in the past is in the past. I don't know any particulars. I don't know both sides of the story. I don't need to know. I need to know, he needs to understand where we are at right now, right here right now."
For what it's worth former teammate and new locker neighbor Matt Treanor expressed his joy at being reunited with Ramirez.
Ramirez in his home debut went 0-for-4 with stolen base.
Bullpen Help. The Dodgers added to their bullpen after the game trading for Seattle Mariners right-handed reliever Brandon League in exchange for minor league outfielder Leon Landry and minor league pitcher Logan Bawcom.
"I've seen this cat in the American League, and he's dirty," Mattingly told reporters after the trade was announced. "He's like [Ronald] Belisario. If he gets the ball down, he's filthy."
The 29-year old Sacramento native has a 0-5 record with a 3.63 ERA with the Mariners. Despite not having spectacular numbers, Mattingly didn't seem too worried.
"It's just a matter of where he's at in Seattle and where they are as an organization," Mattingly speculated on why League was moved. "This guy's got a good arm. This is one of the guys as a hitter you don't want to see."
Trapped. Before the game Mattingly warned reporters that this three-game series against the Diamondbacks was a trap series. Consider the Dodgers trapped. Starter Aaron Harang gave up a three-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt in the first inning and a grand slam in the fifth inning to Chris Johnson making his debut with Arizona in the Dodgers 7-2 loss.
Harang knew something was off.
"I was down in the pen, and I felt like I was hitting my spots," Harang explained. "I pretty much couldn't miss a when I was over in the pen. Usually as a pitcher and having done this for so long, you get the feeling that this is going to be a tough night. You don't know how tough.
"You can go out and grind through it and get through it with minimal damage, but there are times... Obviously if I have two pitches back, it's a completely different game."
For Mattingly, he was actually proud of his club.
"I thought we had pretty good energy," Mattingly said. "I was a little surprised it was as good as it was.
"They jumped us early. We didn't get the hit we needed early. And then the big one there in the middle of it. But the guys kept playing, we kept swinging the bats, so I was happy with our energy tonight."
Fortunately with the San Francisco Giants losing to the New York Mets 8-7 in 10 innings, the Dodgers remain a percentage point behind the Giants in the standings.