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By Eric Young, ESPNThe Dodgers' re-signing of Manny Ramirez pretty much locks up the NL West for Los Angeles and vaults them into the small group of elite teams in the National League. The main reason isn't just the production he brings to the table or even the lightness he brings to the clubhouse. It's the swagger and confidence he brings to the table. A perfect example is the pitching staff, which could be the Achilles' heel of the Dodgers. This is a starting rotation that has some holes in it and that would have a much smaller margin of error if not for the presence of Manny. Now, instead of going into every game thinking they have to throw their best stuff, these guys know they can relax because they will get run support. Trust me, a pitcher who is relaxed and confident is a guy who's going to get the job done for your team. Now, contrast that with teams within the Dodgers' division such as the Padres, Giants and Diamondbacks who might have better all-around pitching staffs but don't have that kind of confidence in their lineup. Constantly having to reach back and give their all early in the season will catch up to these teams later in the year. Manny gives the Dodgers a great balance offensively. They now have four good hitting righty hitters (Casey Blake, Russell Martin, Matt Kemp and Manny), two lefty starters (Andre Ethier and James Loney) and two switch-hitters (Orlando Hudson and Rafael Furcal). That will make it much more difficult for opposing managers to decide which relievers to bring in late in the game. Also, Manny's presence means that manager Joe Torre can do a lot of different things with this lineup. Juan Pierre is now coming off the bench and bringing speed and a decent lefty bat along with fellow lefty hitter Blake DeWitt. Barring major injuries, this team very well could be playing well into October with Manny in the middle of the order. Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: March 3 | March 2 | March 1
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|Host: Steve Berthiaume
Have a question for one of our analysts? Ever wonder what it's like behind the scenes at "Baseball Tonight"? Curious about a player or a team or an executive?
ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.Tonight, he ventures into you guessed it, the Manny Ramirez signing:
|Manny Ramirez (career among active players)|
|• You mean, aside from the fact that this Manny Ramirez saga is, at long last, over? OK, then, there is the news that Kerry Wood's back felt fine after he threw batting practice Wednesday. For Wood, injury news always seems to be a part of spring.||WORST|
|• Kerry Wood got good news. Justin Duchscherer can only hope for the same. The A's pitcher is scheduled to get a second opinion on his sore right elbow. "His Opening Day start is definitely in jeopardy," Oakland manager Bob Geren said.|
|BB pct. of PA||5.8||8.6|
|OBP when ahead in count||.192||.217|
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