Our Daily Dread: Man(ny), do baseball teams need to grill up a new strategy

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Nothing new in Mannywood overnight? Not even eBay links to him selling off stuff lately in his garage?

Didn’t think so.

Steve Mason mentioned on the radio yesterday on Ash Wednesday that, for the rest of Lent, he’d give up talking about Manny Ramirez.

Sorry. On L.A. radio, it’s 40 more days and 40 more nights of raining frogs, or discussing Manny’s slimy bailout plan.

Nor can the Dodgers seem to afford to let him hop away.

Scott Boras is in Phoenix talking to Dodger check-writers about his future. What if somehow the home-team Arizona Diamondbacks figured out a way to get Man-Ram to stay in the greater Phoenix area as a new player in the mix?

A wild idea?

I wouldn’t put it past the franchise’s 40-year-old CEO Derrick Hall, especially if it’s a way to put a sting on the team he grew up watching — the Dodgers.

I’m just catching up on a Fortune magazine story that came out recently about how MLB teams are battling the recession. Most of the focus in this piece href=”http://money.cnn.com/2009/02/18/magazines/fortune/birger_baseball.fortune/index.htm”>linked here) is how Hall, the future commissioner of baseball, has combatted the slumping ecomony with his own personal touch on running the team.

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So how does a “middle market team” like the D-backs make green backs?

Hall is the king of customer service. And innovating marketing. And smarter spending. Stuff they teach you in Minor League Baseball 101 but no one listens to.

The story starts out showing how Hall contacted a season-seat holder almost immediately upon hearing her plight telling her he’d do whatever he could to keep her. She just emailed him. He replied within 10 minutes.

They worked out a deal where she could share seats with someone else in her section.

Hall left the Dodgers in 2004 when things got squirmy under new (Ballpark Frank McCourt) ownership. In the corporate world for one year, he jumped back in with the D-backs in ’06 — working in a city that actually has the lowest per capita income ($35,010) of any MLB town, the story points out.

With Hall’s pragmatic guidance, the food and souvenirs are far less expensive that what other MLB teams slap on their patrons. Hall gives tickets away to local schools. He knows how to grease the wheels.

And he doesn’t give overinflated contracts to big-ego free agents. Or their agents.

But under Hall’s watch, why couldn’t he figure out a way to make Manny fell at home in Arizona? For the right price, why couldn’t ‘Zona be a fall-back option, even a one-year pop at a salary below what the Dodgers are dangling. DHall would figure out how to make it work.

He’d have the Valley of the Sun wearing dreadlocks faster than McCourt could pull out his abacus and recalculate how much he’d lose in revenue.

The Dodgers have already decided to pick up a D-backs retread in second baseman Orlando Hudson. What’s to stop Arizona from snatching a Dodger treasure right from under their NL West rival’s nose?

DHall, you’re on the clock. Show us the moneyball.

Comment here or at thomas.hoffarth@dailynews.com.

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