Manny suspension creates turmoil, uncertainty for fantasy owners

Manny Ramirez's 50-game absence from the Dodgers lineup (spanning eight weeks) has obviously decimated his value in all fantasy leagues (including keepers). Not only are his owners scrambling to fill the now-vacant OF slot in NL-only or deeper mixed leagues, but they'll also have to wade through an avalanche of lowball trade offers involving mediocre outfielders -- given the likely dearth of productive talent available on the waiver wire.

How it affects Ramirez

According to projections, Ramirez would've racked up the following numbers over the next eight weeks: 36.6 runs, 11.2 HRs, 36.8 runs, 3.1 steals and a .334 batting average.

Barring injury or any delays from the suspension-appeals process, Manny is slated to return on July 3 at San Diego. With three full months left of the season, he has the potential capacity for 54.6 runs, 18.4 HRs, 55.2 RBIs, four steals and a .331 average in that time frame. However, the AccuScore estimates don't account for the constant media scrutiny Ramirez will surely encounter, stemming from the positive test for a performance-enhancing drug or stimulant.

Verdict: Manny owners with little or no outfield depth might want to consider dealing him for two solid, but hardly spectacular outfielders (like Jason Kubel and Elijah Dukes) ... or one stellar non-outfield contributor (like Reds first baseman Joey Votto). For those with abundant outfield depth, it might be more beneficial to ride out Manny's May/June suspension, knowing he'll probably catch fire after the All-Star break.

How it affects his Dodger teammates

Manny's suspension could have a negative impact on the other Dodgers hitters, as well. In the cases of Orlando Hudson and Andre Ethier, traditionally the Nos. 2 and 4 hitters in the L.A. lineup (bookending Ramirez), opposing pitchers won't have the fear factor that often comes with facing Manny four to five times a night. Hudson (.342 BA, .425 OBP in '09) may still generate his fair share of walks, but his batting average and power numbers will likely decline in May and June.

Ethier (.317 BA, .438 OBP) might be the most affected by Manny's absence. With six homers on the season, he was well on his way to eclipsing his personal-best in homers (20). But now, his power numbers could take a noticeable dip -- unless manager Joe Torre opts to move Matt Kemp from the No. 7 slot to the 3-hole for the next two months.

Verdict: This might be a good time to (quietly) sell high on Hudson and Ethier. Conversely, it might be the perfect time to buy low on Kemp, one of baseball's best under-25 prospects -- even though he's batting only .157 in his past 15 games. Manny's suspension, in time, may prove to be a blessing for the first-place Dodgers (21-8, 13-0 at home through May 6) -- and especially Kemp, who might be invigorated by the challenge of filling Manny's very-large shoes.

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