07/31/08 9:45 PM ET
Bring on Manny, Rockies say
Colorado unfazed by division rival's acquisition
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
The moments leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline were spent staring at a screen, listening to experts fill airtime and waiting for the ink on a deal, any deal, to dry. Finally, after the Deadline, the Dodgers revealed they had acquired star outfielder Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox in a three-team trade involving the Pirates.
The Rockies have to overtake the Dodgers and the D-Backs in the National League West, yet the players talked about pros and cons of the deal much like what you'd hear in any sports bar.
They weren't scared.
They were just happy not to be bored.
"It was definitely interesting," Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe said. "This time of year, it's mainly a lot of rumors and not much action. This is action, and as fans, that's what you like.
"But we've got enough good players on our team."
In general, that was the reaction of the Rockies. No one would concede that obtaining one of baseball's best hitters swung the balance of power in the close, if underachieving, division.
So the Dodgers have Ramirez. The D-Backs did their work in advance, acquiring switch-hitting bench player Tony Clark and right-handed reliever Jon Rauch. The Rockies, who don't like to give up prospects, didn't acquire an established player at any point.
Another team in the division acquiring someone, no matter how big the name, doesn't sway manager Clint Hurdle's opinion that his club has enough talent to contend.
"We've kind of held on to that for the last three years since we put ourselves in a better position," Hurdle said. "We've really kind of kept one mindset, one focus. If we play up to our capabilities, we'll win ballgames."
But Hurdle delved into a little analysis.
"Obviously, it's another bat, a bat to be dealt with in their lineup, but there's the other side of the ball that you've got to play -- him and Andruw [Jones] side-by-side in the outfield."
There will be some questions about defense and playing time. But, as Rockies center fielder Willy Taveras said, it's not like it's a step backward.
"They got better," he said. "We know how good a hitter he can be, and anytime you add Manny Ramirez to your lineup you get better -- if you can get Andruw Jones to hit, too.
"I don't know. Maybe it's different going from the American League to the National League, and I don't know what protection he'll have in the lineup. And some people's playing time will be different. But it should be fun. We've got a good lineup, too. I love it."
Ramirez could bring an intimidation factor for pitchers. But the Rockies' top pitcher, Aaron Cook (14-6), doesn't have to be scared. Ramirez is hitless in eight regular-season at-bats against him, and went 0-for-3 against Cook in Game 4 of last season's World Series.
"I'll go out there and try to approach him the same way," Cook said. "They made a move and feel like they strengthened their club. It'll be interesting to see what happens."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.