Player of the Week: Manny Ramirez

Everyone outside of Red Sox Nation is probably sick of the catch phrase “Manny being Manny,” but the Boston slugger is starting to amass his second-half numbers in typical fashion.

After limping into the All-Star break with just 11 home runs and 45 RBIs, Ramirez has begun to resume his role as a hitting machine.

Over a recent seven-game stretch, Ramirez went 11-for-25 (.440) with two homers, seven RBIs and eight runs scored for the Red Sox, who were a league-best 61-39 after the season’s first 100 games.

BASEBALL STORYLINES

The usual cadre of midseason buyers (e.g. the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees) could always be helped out by quality arms, but with such a weak group of available pitchers (Steve Trachsel, anyone?) don’t look for either team to part with much.

One pitching rumor has the Seattle Mariners interested in the Giants’ Matt Morris, but that trade has more to do with their eagerness to get rid of slumping slugger Richie Sexson.

The real moves will come in the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes, as the Texas Rangers have openly marketed their star first baseman. The Red Sox and Yankees have expressed an interest, but the Rangers’ asking price in return (for example, Yankees top prospect Phil Hughes), will make acquiring Teixeira a lengthy negotiating process.

The Chicago White Sox, who have been involved in seemingly every trade rumor over the past two months, are in the role of seller and will likely part ways with Jermaine Dye, who was brilliant last season but has struggled with injuries in 2007.

They are also said to be heavily shopping first baseman Paul Konerko, maybe to the Los Angeles Angels. The Milwaukee Brewers (in the rare role of buyer) have been interested in picking up Dye, in exchange for Derrick Turnbow or Manny Parra after they picked up Scott Linebrink from San Diego.

The Cincinnati Reds will also be looking to unload left fielder Adam Dunn (27 homers, 67 RBIs), who has drawn the attention of the Padres, a team in desperate need of offensive help.

Some teams don’t know which role they are in. The A’s have a history of stirring second-half comebacks, but at this late in the season — and with a record still under .500 — they look like they have little choice other than to part with some key contributors, particularly future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza, who could be headed back to San Diego.

The Minnesota Twins, who, like the A’s, are a teetering team with faint hopes of returning to the postseason, have shown interest in acquiring the Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ Ty Wigginton, but the asking price has to be perfect for a team that has a lot of ground to make up in the competitive AL Central.

— Will Reisman

KEY SERIES

ANGELS AT TIGERS (Today-Sunday): The Tigers’ potent lineup, led by Gary Sheffield and Magglio Ordonez, can further damage the slumping AL West-leading Angels, who avoided being swept by the A’sin a three-game series.

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