Word on the street is that Manny Ramirez emerged as a hot commodity at the winter meetings, which concluded yesterday.
The Sox are once again shopping Manny, who has once again requested a trade. In the past, Ramirez has been too expensive for other teams. But now that he only has two years and $42 million left on his contract, and with the price tag on free agent sluggers like Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee going up and up, Ramirez is starting to look a like a steal.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Manny, who seems like a total headcase. But even I have to admit that, when injury prone guys like Frank Thomas and J.D. Drew get $15 a year and Soriano is figuring to get as much as $22 million per, suddenly paying Manny’s salary doesn’t seem so crazy. Of course, Manny still makes a ton of money, but at least you’re only paying him for two or three years, instead of the seven years you end up paying Soriano.
And yes, Manny is an idiot who last year quit on his team and is generally a selfish ass. But he’s also one of the best hitters of all time. And those are pretty rare.
If I’m Phillies GM Pat Gillick, I’m looking at Ryan Howard (a younger version of David Ortiz who hits to both fields) and thinking about the prospect of teaming him with Manny, and I’m getting really excited. Think about how dominant the 2004 Red Sox were in the playoffs. The 2004 World Series against the Cardinals was the most lopsided series ever. I can’t remember exactly, but I recall a stat that said Sox players swung and missed about a half dozen times in the 2004 World Series. That’s sick. That Sox lineup included Jonny Damon, Trot Nixon, Bill Mueller, Ortiz and Ramirez. Not too shabby, but the heart of the order was obviously Ramirez and Ortiz. Don’t you think Jimmy Rollins, Aaron Rowand, Chase Utley, Howard and Ramirez could do similar damage? Especially against NL pitching?
This is a total T.O. scenario. Just like NFL wide receiver Owens, Ramirez has tremendous talent and a poor attitude. On the other hand, Owens is impossible to ignore, since he’s constantly talking. At least Ramirez is relatively soft spoken.
But the big thing here is money. Ramirez represents the chance for a team to add a spectacular hitter to its lineup without committing to a lengthy expensive contract. They’d only have to commit to a short expensive contract. And in this financial climate, where payroll flexibility is at a premium, that makes Manny pretty enticing.