Manny and the Dodgers

The Dodgers have to sign Manny, whatever the cost.

Pre-Manny, they were a moribund team, underachieving, fighting a slew of injuries, aging veterans competing with great but raw young talent, and a frustrated Joe Torre. The under .500 second place Dodgers were playing before unenthusiastic but hopeful fans.

Then Ned Colleti saved his job by trading for Manny.

With that move, following the trade for Casey Blake, the Dodgers were a different team. It was more than the home runs, more than the clutch hitting, more than the excitement, it was a new attitude, not seen in LA in years. The team, and the fans, came together, and the whole was greater than the parts. For more than a month, the Dodgers were the best team in baseball. They played that way through the Division Series against the Cubs, but it didn’t last, and a solid Phillies team is champion of the National League. They can continue that compassion, that excitement, and be that team for the whole of next season, if Manny returns.

With him, the continued development of Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, James Loney, Andre Either, Blake DeWitt, Chad Billingsley, with a healthy bullpen, led by Takashi Saito and Jonathan Broxton, and no more Andruw Joneses, this team can jump that final hurdle and be playing until the final out of the season.

They need to rid themselves of the albatross that was Andruw Jones, the contract of the never-to-be-seen Jason Schmidt, the worst throwing arm in baseball in Juan Pierre, the attitude of Jeff Kent, and, unfortunately, the walking hospital ward, and no longer defensively adequate, Nomar.

They need to keep, along with Manny, the other guy that played so well once he came on board, Casey Blake, and Rafeal Furcal. Unless they pull off another coup and sign C.C. Sabathia, and maybe even if they do sign him, they also need Derek Lowe back. The success of the pitching staff, however, depends on the health of Takashi Saito, and Brad Penny. A healthy Saito means a great bullpen, a questionable Saito means question marks, and dependence on a yet unreliable and inconsistent Jonathan Broxton. A healthy Brad Penny means a stalwart to grind out innings, win games, and maybe even re-establish himself as the ace of the staff.

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