It’s probably not worth taking a flier on Manny Ramirez

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MLB did the fair thing Sunday, disclosing that Manny Ramirez would only have to serve half of the 100-game suspension he was set to receive before he announced his retirement last year. Still, how much of a favor that does the 12-time All-Star remains to be seen.

The best Ramirez could do last winter when he came with considerably less baggage was $2 million from the Rays. Now he’s a year older, coming off practically a full year off and he’s going to miss one-third of the season. It’s anyone’s guess how much he has left in his bat.

Ramirez figures to be looked at primarily as a DH, and the DH market is already crowded, what with David Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Magglio Ordonez available. Josh Willingham, Jason Kubel and Raul Ibanez could fit into that mix, too.

Teams likely to sign full-time designated hitters include the Red Sox, Rays, Orioles and Mariners. The Blue Jays, A’s and Twins could as well.

But no team in search of a DH is going to want to commit to Ramirez and then wait two months for him. For that reason, Ramirez’s best bet might be the National League. A team like the Reds or Marlins could give him a minor league contract and then bring him up to serve as a pinch-hitter on June 1. It might well be the best Manny can do.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.