Dodgers should realize that Manny is there for the taking

As fat pitches go, even Andruw Jones could hit this one out of the park, Manny Ramirez now sitting there with nowhere else to go but the Dodgers.

So what do the Dodgers do?

“We’re still interested in talking about Manny,” said Dodgers GM Ned Colletti.

But is this Frank McCourt’s dream come true, or his worst nightmare -- and the Dodgers really do end up with the guy?


He’s certainly not going to tell me, but we’re all going to find out in the next few weeks.

The Angels pulled out of the bidding for Mark Teixeira and then General Manager Tony Reagins said, “We are not going to sign Manny Ramirez,” the Angels taking the lead in the league so far in announcing the number of good players they are not going to sign.

The Yankees, meanwhile, came to terms with Teixeira on Tuesday, and there’s probably a better chance of the Red Sox bringing back Babe Ruth than Ramirez.

So the Dodgers have no competition. It’s like playing in the National League West -- they just have to show up with something, almost anything to win.

Arte Moreno offered Teixeira an eight-year-deal for $160 million, but it wasn’t enough to beat out the competition -- falling $20 million shy of the final deal with the Yankees.

It’s Moreno’s money, and if he doesn’t want to spend what it takes to secure Teixeira, it’s his choice -- just like every fan has a choice whether to buy a ticket or not.

If McCourt doesn’t want to spend money to bring back Ramirez, he’ll have his reasons too, just like every Dodgers fan when it comes to deciding whether to attend a game or not.

Why wouldn’t the Dodgers sign Ramirez after already offering him more than $45 million? Concerns about his defense? His attitude? Did something happen last season while he was playing here that has yet to surface publicly?

If the Dodgers want Ramirez, Tuesday was the start of a great New Year with everything falling in place. Their toughest decision now: Do they go cheap on a two-year deal and maybe tick off the guy, or allow him to save face after leaving behind two years in Boston and sign him to three years?

Scott Boras will probably have something to say about all this, and the first thing we’ll probably hear about is some “mystery team” that’s really interested in Ramirez.

Baltimore and Washington were willing stooges when it came to Teixeira, so there’s a good place to start.

Easy to dismiss them, of course, as just another Boras negotiating ploy unless you factor in the Yankees and the sneaky way they made off with Teixeira.

But still, I’m not buying it. Kansas City? Texas? You think Ramirez is going to hitch his future to some outpost?

He probably believes he has one more contract to sign after this one, since it won’t be the five- or six-year deal he expected. He’s going to want to go somewhere to set himself up for another big payday. And L.A. presents a mighty big stage.

Right now how many teams are going to look upon Ramirez as the guy who changed the Dodgers rather than Manny being Manny, the Boston quitter?

His reputation allows the Dodgers to get him cheap, and cheap players are the team’s favorite kind.

So that makes Ramirez almost a slam-dunk Dodger unless the Dodgers really don’t want him. And if not, there’s always the chance Jones might hit the ball.

Now isn’t that worth the price of admission?

MORENO RETURNED a phone call Tuesday morning, emerging from hiding a day earlier, but still not having much to say.

He had hoped that by spending $160 million to improve his team, it would have said enough, but now it’s on to the next deal.

THE ANGELS believe they made a fair offer for Teixeira, it being news only if a team just once admitted to making an unfair offer. To be fair to Boras, who comes off as the heavy in these sorts of things, he got $20 million more from the Yankees for his client than the fair offer presented by the Angels.

And Boras did what he always does -- proceeding slowly, working every angle, and while a royal pain, irritating and maybe sometimes misleading -- the teams that don’t choose to deal with him on his terms miss out on the best players available.

Or maybe it really doesn’t matter, since the Yankees always seem to get the best players.

TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Chris Odom:

"[Detroit columnist] Rob Parker kept badgering Coach Rod Marinelli with the same question over and over and over and over. He didn’t like Marinelli’s answer, and decided to bring Marinelli’s daughter into it. Then, the next day, he claimed he was just trying to make a joke. Believe me, he wasn’t making a joke.”

Let’s be serious, by now everyone knows the coach’s daughter should have married a better defensive coordinator.