Manny Ramirez and the San Francisco Giants: Let's chat about it for the first time again!

For the first time in six or seven evers, I found myself critically thinking about Manny Ramirez. I know, I know. Pitchers and catchers show up in Scottsdale tomorrow, and we make a big deal about them seeing their shadow, or something, so I have one last day of this. For the week, at least.

One of the supposed perks about getting Manny was that we would steal him from a division rival. I never bought into that much, though, because if the Dodgers didn't sign Manny, they had all sorts of money to throw at other players. Without Manny, the Dodgers could have signed Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreu, and they could have signed Derek Lowe, Oliver Perez, or Ben Sheets. Maybe that wouldn't have added up to more wins for the Dodgers, but it wouldn't have been that far behind. Those players are all off the market now.

So now a vote for Manny Ramirez on the Giants is a vote for Juan Pierre getting 500 at-bats for the Dodgers. It could also be a vote for the Dodgers trading away a ton of young talent in order to prevent Juan Pierre from getting 500 at-bats. It's probably a vote for the Dodgers counting on heavy innings from a wild 21-year-old prospect and Jason Schmidt, with Shawn Estes and Jeff Weaver lurking around the middle of the depth charts. I am very much in favor of all of those propositions. Those ideas make me smile more than the idea of Manny on the Giants.

The catch, though, is that there are other teams in the NL West. The Diamondbacks still have an improving young core with talent at every position on the diamond, and they have Brandon Webb and Dan Haren, who are both fantastic. The Diamondbacks are, if the Dodgers don't make any improvements, the pretty clear favorites. The Rockies have an underrated offense, even without Matt Holliday. The Padres play in San Diego, which was rated as the best city (over 1M residents) for cycling in 1996. So the division rivals all have something to crow about. This isn't just a Dodgers/Giants steel-cage match. Well, maybe it is in the long-term metaphorical sense, but not the short-term metaphorical one.

As much as I'd like to see the Dodgers say, fine, this is our team -- or, even better, fine, we'll trade Matt Kemp for, uh, Magglio Ordonez -- it's not enough to fully endorse a Manny deal. It will just make me giggle a little bit before I come to terms with Manny Ramirez clomping around Mays Field until 2012.

Best case scenario, of course: Myster Bidder signs Manny away from the Dodgers and Fred Lewis hits 25 homers. Oh, and my memoir -- Growing Up Jewish In Brooklyn, by Neil Simon -- gets a seven-figure advance. Oh, and the Wii releases Baseball Stars on the Virtual Console with multiplayer capability. Now that's a best-case scenario.

The likely scenario, though: The Dodgers sign Manny, and Juan Pierre is still the world's most expensive fourth outfielder. In the meantime, I'll just continue to warm my heart with thoughts of Dodger schadenfreude until the offseason ends.

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