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Millar reflects on Manny trade

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1Millar reflects on Manny trade Empty Millar reflects on Manny trade on Sat 02 Aug 2008, 10:28 pm

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SEATTLE -- One big bat has left the division, but nobody in the Baltimore clubhouse was sorry to see him go. Kevin Millar, a former teammate and confidante of Manny Ramirez, weighed in Friday on the trade that sent the former Boston slugger to Los Angeles, a deal that ended an era for the Red Sox and split up one of the game's great power duos.
Ramirez, who forced his way out of Boston and into a three-team trade, may instantly transform his new lineup. Former Pirate Jason Bay will replace his presence with the Red Sox, and Pittsburgh wound up with four prospects. Ramirez, the centerpiece of the deal and virtually every lineup he's ever been in, will take his act to a team that sorely needs it.
"I think it's great for the Dodgers, considering their offense," said Millar. "Manny's not a bad guy. He will do things and stuff that sometimes certain people are going to react to, and I think guys just had enough of it. I don't know what's going on, because obviously I wasn't over there, but it had to be something to get Manny Ramirez out of your lineup."
Ramirez was a key cog in two World Series champion teams, and he teamed with David Ortiz to form an imposing threat that was all but unequaled around the league. Ramirez and Ortiz combined for 422 home runs over the last six seasons, and Millar said pitching staffs around the league will be excited to face Boston's reconstituted batting order.
"It's going to be different," Millar said. "They're capable of still being good, because they were good without Big Papi. But does it make them better? No. That's the best 3-4 tandem that you've had to face in the big leagues for years. Now, does that mean that Jason Bay can't fill that void? Of course not. Jason Bay's a great player, but nobody's Manny Ramirez."
Millar knows from personal experience. Baltimore's first baseman played with Ramirez and Ortiz from 2003-05, and he helped the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years. Millar, a gregarious and affable player, often served as a conduit to the outside world for Ramirez, who has had difficulties with the press on and off for most of his career.
In fact, Millar even takes credit for "Manny being Manny," a motto that is often used to describe Ramirez and his off-kilter behavior. The phrase took on a life of its own, appearing in commercials and on ballpark signage around the country. And now that Ramirez has left Boston, Millar said the Los Angeles media market may need a few more slogans.
"I remember him having great years in Cleveland," he said. "He played a few great years in Cleveland, a few great years in Boston and now he's moving on to the next chapter in his life. And they're getting a great hitter. We know that."
Orioles manager Dave Trembley joined Millar in his praise for Ramirez, but he wasn't ready to ring a death knell for the Red Sox. Boston will move on, and Ramirez will go back to crushing pitchers in a new uniform.
"Boston is never going to be less intimidating. They're the defending world champions," Trembley said. "It just lets you know that anything in this game is possible. ... It's a big move for the Dodgers. They just got a whole lot more offense in their lineup."
Indeed they did, and if the Red Sox won't lose a lot between the lines, they may wind up with less of a psychological advantage. Plainly and simply, nobody wants to face Ramirez or Ortiz with the game on the line. And with one fewer of those difference-making bats in their lineup, the Red Sox are going to need some of their other players to step up.
"The only thing I can go on is that when Big Papi was out for five weeks, it had to be a better feeling for a pitcher to only have to face one of them," said Millar. "You have [Mike] Lowell, you have [Dustin] Pedroia, you have [Kevin] Youkilis, but with Manny and Ortiz, you're looking at 80 home runs between two guys."


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