When Manny Ramirez sat on Thursday after getting on base four times on Wednesday, it was to be expected – he never plays day games after night games.
When he sat on Friday, it was annoying, but somewhat plausible as he had just one hit in fifteen career at-bats against Ubaldo Jimenez.
When he sat on Saturday, the situation got increasingly ridiculous. Joe Torre said he “liked the energy” that Scott Podsednik brings and was worried about Manny’s defense in the large Coors Field outfield, ignoring that Podsednik isn’t much of an outfielder either and brings about 1/100th of what Manny does to the plate.
Today? Manny is out of the lineup again for the fourth straight day, and what this screams to me is that Joe Torre’s been lying to us, to his credit.
Yesterday, Torre claimed (backed up by Ned Colletti) that he had not been ordered to sit Manny. But for all the frustration we’ve directed at Torre in his three years here, I refuse to believe that’s true. Torre’s not a great manager, but he’s not an idiot either. There is no rational baseball reason – not one – for benching one of the ten best right-handed hitters of all time in the most important games of the season, even if Manny is only 80% of what he once was.
More evidence comes in the fact that Matt Kemp is still playing. We all know that Torre loves his “gritty” “hustle” guys like Podsednik and Juan Pierre, so even if Torre really does believe his platitudes about Podsednik’s “energy” and insisted on having him on the lineup every day, the obvious move there – and one he’s done before – would be to move Podsednik to center and bench Kemp for a day.
That hasn’t happened, and no reasonable manager would choose to sit Manny four days in a row for baseball reasons (and that’s without even considering what Manny’s disposition is like after being benched.) So the only rational explanation here is that Torre’s being less than truthful – which I don’t blame him for, because you don’t want to go public about such things until the ink is dry – and that word from above has come to not play Manny for fear of injury sinking a deal. (Personally, I’d rather see a larger deal with Chicago; having put both J.J. Putz & Matt Thornton on the DL, their bullpen is in shambles, so how about trying to send them Octavio Dotel & George Sherrill too?)
And if not? If everything Torre is saying is true? Then all we can do is pray that the last out of game 162 comes as soon as possible.