Hanley's arrival leaves Dodgers 'pretty psyched'
Excitement abounds about slugger's impact on present, future
ST. LOUIS -- Hard to tell who was more pumped about the Hanley Ramirez acquisition: the cleanup hitter who now has Ramirez batting behind him for protection or the billionaire who made it possible.
Start with the billionaire. Chairman Mark Walter of Guggenheim Partners walks the walk, not flinching at picking up nearly $40 million in salary commitment to Ramirez.
"We just got started," Walter said while watching batting practice Wednesday from behind the cage. "We're not stopping. We're going to add more. We're going to make it so nobody wants to play the Dodgers.
"I'm pretty psyched. Hanley is a strong, young, talented player. And it showed a lot that he got here in time for this game. He could have taken 72 hours."
The Dodgers still are in the market for a starting pitcher, like Chicago's Ryan Dempster, and an offensive player, like Shane Victorino or Hunter Pence of Philadelphia. Walter said he's given president Stan Kasten and general manager Ned Colletti the wherewithal to make more happen.
"I just encourage them to help get things done they thought they couldn't do," he said. "There's nothing we can't do. It's L.A. There are a lot of fans supporting us and we've got to give them something. We're the lucky ones [as owners], to be honest with you. L.A. deserves the best team possible on the field. I don't know how long it will take, and we may fail, but we're going to die trying."
Andre Ethier, who received an $85 million contract extension last month, couldn't have been happier than when he saw the name of the newest acquisition batting fifth behind him for Wednesday night's game with the Cardinals.
"I'm real excited about it," he said. "It's an unbelievable pickup to get a player of his caliber. And we're not getting just two months but two more years on top of that. It's nice to know that me and [Matt] Kemp and him will be here two years, give or take. He's an impact bat in the lineup and I'm sure he'll add a spark we've been lacking a little bit. We're lucky to get him."
Ethier praised the new ownership group for fulfilling its promise to the players.
"They came in and said they would do what it takes to win and this definitely shows it," he said. "They are really showing they are committed to making the team successful, not sitting back and waiting for it to develop over time."
Manager Don Mattingly followed up Ethier's comment about the trade possibly setting up the Dodgers for the future as well as the present.
"You're looking at three guys -- 28, 29 years old -- in the prime of their careers," he said. "We have a chance to put something together and a chance to build around these guys."
Even the players who have the most to lose in terms of playing time at least sounded upbeat about the arrival of the three-time All-Star and former batting champ.
"I think it's awesome," said Dee Gordon, the shortstop on the disabled list who might not get his job back next month, when he's expected to be healed from a torn thumb ligament. "At the end of the day, I want to be the shortstop of this team. But getting Hanley is great for our team. I've got a cast on and there isn't much I can do now. I want to get to the playoffs."
Juan Uribe is the other candidate to be odd man out. If Ramirez doesn't take Gordon's starting job at shortstop, he will be the starting third baseman, a job Uribe had but has lost to a platoon role that could become no role at all.
"I'm very happy. He's a good guy, you know?" said Uribe, one of the first new teammates to welcome his fellow Dominican Ramirez at his locker. "He will help the team a lot. I'm somebody all about helping the team. If he's the third baseman, that's good for him. If he's what the team needs to win, it's good. I'm not mad if I don't play, if the team wins it's OK. That's what I want, for the team to win."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.