The sentiment from the Philly area today is that, yes, Manny Ramirez is a stud ... but there is much more to the Dodgers' offense than the dread-locked, polarizing, left-fielder who mashes opposing pitching like no other hitter on Earth when he's locked in. At least that's how the Phillies started off matters:
The Phillies made it clear before their Tuesday workout that Manny alone would not decide the NLCS. The return of shortstop Rafael Furcal, who missed all eight regular-season games between the teams, has added depth to the Dodgers' lineup. Their young hitters, including Russell Martin, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, could all cause problems during a seven-game series.
I'm a tad bit surprised they omitted James Loney, but we get the point.
Of course, the rest of the article was devoted to how the Phillies plan on dealing with Manny when he digs in. Let's hear it, catcher Chris Coste:
"I think if you picked out the guy we don't want to have beat us, yeah, he's clearly the guy."
Ok, so that means you want to pitch around him and walk him should there be an available base?
"There's a book on Manny Ramirez, just like there is for anybody else," catcher Chris Coste said. "It's just that he's more likely to hit a mistake than the next guy. If our pitchers can pitch to the game plan, I don't see any reason to walk him.
I guess I (don't) understand. The Phillies believe that Manny Ramirez is the one guy they can't allow to beat them, but they won't be walking him because the rest of the lineup poses just as big a threat. Maybe former teammate J.C. Romero can shed some light on the Phillies plan?
"Unhappy Manny is dangerous. Happy Manny is even more dangerous," Romero said. "We're going to find a way to limit the damage when it comes down to Manny hitting with men on base and stuff like that. We're going to find a way."
But what, exactly, is the way?
"You can't fall into one pattern with him," reliever Ryan Madson said. "You've got to change it up constantly with him, just keep it fresh and keep it new and just go after him."
You could say that about any hitter, but I do understand the Phillies keeping it close to the vest. Manny's already in another stratosphere, so there's no need to start telling him what's coming.
I did enjoy the "Happy Manny" vs. "Unhappy Manny" alter-ego discussion. Anything's better than the same old "Manny being Manny" regurgitation at this point. The Phils' staff apparently plans to keep it fresh on the terminology as well speed and location.
The key to this series for the Phillies pitchers is finding this balance between caving in too much to Manny and making sure he doesn't kill them with runners on base. The rest of the lineup is good -- and confident right now -- but no one's as good as Happy Manny.