Mike Florio

Another prominent columnist perpetuates the "Manny Ramirez is no longer any good" myth

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I wrote yesterday about how silly it is for mainstream media members to act as if Manny Ramirez is no longer a good player despite his owning the fourth-best OPS in the entire league and the Dodgers having a significantly better record when he was in the lineup.

Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times wrote a column about Ramirez today and it includes exactly the sort of “don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story” approach that I was talking about. Here’s an excerpt:

With the exception of an occasional lucky moment when a fat pitch hit his slow bat, he departed the Dodgers the moment he was busted for being a performance-enhancing drug cheat. How do you say goodbye to someone who has been gone for 16 months?

“Man ain’t the same since he’s been off his medicine,” one of the Dodgers told me late last season.
Man lost faith in his drug-free swing. Man lost the swag in his clubhouse swagger. Man wasn’t Manny again, really, until last weekend. That was when he officially quit.

According to Plaschke he “lost faith in his drug-free swing” and “has been gone for 16 months” except for “an occasional lucky moment when a fat pitch hit his slow bat.” That all sounds good until you actually try to match up Plaschke’s statements with facts.

Since “he was busted for being a performance-enhancing drug cheat” Ramirez has batted .287 with a .396 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage in 143 games. That works out to an .896 OPS, which is the best on the Dodgers during that time and ranks 12th in the entire National League, directly behind Adrian Gonzalez (.916) and Ryan Howard (.903) and right ahead of Hanley Ramirez (.877) and Ryan Braun (.865).

I’m certainly not suggesting that anyone has to overlook Ramirez’s many faults, but why does pointing out his flaws have to include ignoring or even distorting his strengths to fit into a certain storyline? Since returning from his 50-game suspension Ramirez has been the best hitter on the Dodgers and one of the dozen best hitters in the entire league, yet from reading the many articles like Plaschke’s you’d think he was batting .190.

Cole Hamels' win-loss record doesn't show it, but he's having a great season

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Before tossing eight shutout innings for a victory against the Padres yesterday Cole Hamels hadn’t won a game since July 11 and his overall record this season is just 8-10, but don’t let that fool you: Hamels is having an outstanding year.
He has a 3.31 ERA and 176/50 K/BB ratio in 174 innings, including a 2.47 ERA, .220 opponents’ batting average, and 88/18 K/BB ratio in 12 starts since July 1. Hamels ranks fifth among NL pitchers in both strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings, ninth in strikeout-to-walk ratio, and has the same opponents’ batting average as rotation-mate Roy Halladay.
Yet because he ranks 47th among the 53 qualified NL pitchers in run support his winning percentage is below .500 for the second straight season. Hamels has pitched every bit as well as he did in 2007 or 2008, and if the Phillies can make it to October a playoff rotation of Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Hamels is awfully scary.

Tony La Russa finally writes Colby Rasmus into the lineup

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I’m sure his rift with manager Tony La Russa hasn’t been patched up within the past 24 hours, but at least Colby Rasmus is finally back in the Cardinals’ starting lineup today for the first time in two weeks.
Rasmus is playing center field and batting seventh against left-hander J.A. Happ, which is interesting considering that La Russa often benched Rasmus versus southpaws even before their recent issues.
St. Louis went 4-8 in the 12 games Rasmus missed and the Cardinals are 15-20 overall this season when he doesn’t start, compared to 54-39 when he’s in the lineup.