At the trade deadline in 2008, the Dodgers acquired Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox in a deal that brought Mannywood to Dodger Stadium.
Just say the name among a group of baseball fans and you will elicit all kinds of reactions.
The right-handed slugger, who hit more home runs (555) and produced more RBIs (1,831) than Mickey Mantle, is both one of the greatest acquisitions in Dodgers history and one of the most disappointing stories in baseball for his use of performance enhancing drugs, and inconsistent attitude.
Let’s take a look back at the trade that brought him to Los Angeles.
- Dodgers Acquire: Manny Ramirez (from Boston)
- Red Sox Acquire: Jason Bay (from Pittsburgh)
- Pirates Acquire: Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris (from Los Angeles); Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen (from Boston)
When the Red Sox decided enough was enough in trading superstar Manny Ramirez, they were in the middle of a pennant race that had them in the wild card lead and only three games back of the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays. The Sox were 61-48 at the time, a far better team than the Dodgers, who had a mediocre .500 record (54-54), and were only in the race because the National League West lacked a team willing to run away with the division.
It’s important to understand where the Red Sox were at when they made this deal in order to highlight how untenable the situation had become in the Boston clubhouse to make them trade their best hitter, while also giving up Brandon Moss and former first round pick Craig Hansen in the process. Oh, and they picked up the remaining $7 million on Manny’s contract.
The Dodgers added one of the most feared hitters in baseball for two minor leaguers, infielder Andy LaRoche and right-hander Bryan Morris. While LaRoche was one of the Dodgers better prospects, he was a small price to pay, on top of middling prospect, Morris, to acquire Ramirez. Neither LaRoche nor Morris subsequently proved to be anything special after the trade.
Ramirez was unhappy in Boston, as the team had grown tired of him, and he had demanded a trade weeks before his wish came true. He waived his no-trade clause to come to the Dodgers, and the Red Sox removed their $20 million club options in 2009 and 2010 to allow him to become a free agent after the 2008 season.
It didn’t take long for Mannywood to take over Dodger Stadium. After hitting .299 with 20 home runs over 100 games in Boston before the trade, Manny immediately took off wearing Dodger blue. He batted .396 with 27 home runs over the final 53 games of the season, leading the Dodgers to the NL West Division title.
In the process, he became one of the most popular players in recent Dodgers history. Fans took to the outfield stands in t-shirts that read “Mannywood.” It was like Fernandomania all over again—although nothing will quite match that 1981 season.
Ramirez carried his impressive performance into the postseason where he hit .500 in the NLDS and .533 in the NLCS, clobbering four home runs and driving in ten runs in the process.
General manager Ned Colletti’s deadline deal had paid off. Big time.
Coming off his dominant 2.5 month stretch with the Dodgers, the team decided to re-sign the 36-year-old to a two-year, $45 million contract in the offseason. Everything was looking good, especially after Ramirez started the 2009 season right where he left off the previous October, batting .348 with six home runs through the beginning of May.
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Then the news dropped. Ramirez was suspended 50 games for violating the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program established by Major League Baseball and the Players Association in response to the steroid crisis.
The perfect story being written in Hollywood started to turn sour. The disgraced outfielder served out his suspension and returned in July to hit a pedestrian .255/.379/.459 over the second half of the season. After hitting six home runs in the 27 games before the suspension, he hit only thirteen the rest of the way.
The end of Mannywood came the following season. After spending time on-and-off the disabled list, he was placed on waivers.
Over 223 games in Los Angeles, Ramirez hit .322/.433/.580 with 44 home runs and 156 RBIs. His first season with the club will never be forgotten by Dodgers fans, and neither will his reputation as a steroid user.