Last night, in the first of 50 Manny-less games, the Dodgers' lineup looked like this:
1) Rafael Furcal(notes), 2) Orlando Hudson(notes), 3) Andre Ethier(notes), 4) James Loney(notes), 5) Russell Martin(notes), 6) Matt Kemp(notes), 7) Casey Blake(notes), 8) Randy Wolf(notes), 9) Juan Pierre(notes).
They were facing a right-handed starter. Basically all the regulars crept up one spot in the batting order and Pierre hit ninth, where he's had most of his at-bats this year. Pierre had two singles and a steal, because that's what he does. The Dodgers scored nine runs against the Nats, including six in the first inning, but they lost 11-9 because their bullpen was mauled. Cory Wade(notes) is obviously not going to be the same pitcher without protection from Manny.
We had lots of useful discussion in the comments section of yesterday's suspension post (also a few indecipherable messages from Giants fans and several of the worst dysfunction jokes, ever). Thanks for participating. Just to be clear: Pierre gets the bump in value. He's a lifetime .300 hitter and an elite base-stealer, and he'll suddenly get regular at-bats. No, Pierre won't replace Manny's fantasy contributions. Those two are not alike in any way. But he clearly has value in our game right now.
Pierre asked the Dodgers to deal him back in March, you'll recall, and a strong showing over the next two months could make him a legitimate deadline trade chip. That would extend his fantasy value beyond the Ramirez suspension.
Today you'll want to get a price-check on Manny in every league. He's not dead, he's merely suspended. Manny will be eligible to play in early July, and we should assume that he'll be rested and motivated when he returns. This is an ideal time to acquire him, depending on your situation and league format.
Here's a (fuzzy) snapshot of the recent Yahoo! PLUS trades, for those trying to learn the market:
Hafner/Fukudome just does not seem like an especially high price to pay for three months of Manny Ramirez(notes), plus two months of the best free agent outfielder. Same goes for Spilborghs and Swisher/Lind. As we mentioned on Thursday, head-to-head owners should be focused on building for Week 25, not Week 6. Ramirez's suspension won't affect his availability in September, when your league title is actually decided.
Andre Ethier should get a price-check today, too. This is a terrific time to add him at a discount. Several voices within the expert community are advising that you sell Ethier, due to lineup protection worries. But the concept of protection is a thing that's been studied to death -- here, here, and here's a look at Ethier/Manny specifically, via BP -- and, well ... I'll just say that I'm not especially concerned about the Loney-vs.-Manny protection issue over the next eight weeks. If Ethier is on the block today, I'm interested.
If you've pulled off a Manny deal, buying or selling, please share the details ...
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