Manny Ramirez's act does little
By Tony Massarotti | Thursday, July 31, 2008 | http://www.bostonherald.com
| Boston Red Sox
Manny Ramirez stood in the corner of the room, as if huddling near the office water cooler, the gossip all abuzz.
"Hey," Ramirez asked, "am I going to get traded or not?"
Does he want to be?
"I'm ready to go," Ramirez said without the slightest bit of hesitation.
And so on and on it goes, life on Mars with the fascinatingly complex Manuel Aristides Ramirez, indisputable man among men in the batter's box at Fenway Park [map], irrational child among children in the sandbox of life. Another year. Another deadline. More trade talks that left many wondering whether the Red Sox [team stats] are more interested in trading Ramirez or simply pacifying him with the illusion that they are trying to do so.
Meanwhile, Manny keeps kicking and screaming in the hopes that the Red Sox will give him his lollipop.
"The Red Sox don't deserve a player like me," Ramirez told ESPNdeportes last night. "During my years here I've seen how they have mistreated other great players when they didn't want them to try to turn the fans against them. The Red Sox did the same with guys like Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez, and now they do the same with me.
"Their goal is to paint me as the bad guy. I love Boston fans, but the Red Sox don't deserve me. I'm not talking about money. Mental peace has no price, and I don't have peace here."
Blah, blah, blah.
Yada, yada, yada.
Yap, yap, yap.
For now, know this: Despite persistent rumors about a potential deal with the Florida Marlins, Ramirez remained in the Red Sox lineup throughout their catatonic 9-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Had any deal been in place, Ramirez almost certainly would have come out of the game. Just prior to the contest, when asked about the chances of trading Ramirez before today's 4 p.m. deadline, more than one club official said, "Probably not."
Of course, the Sox said the same thing about Garciaparra in 2004.
Now the greater question: Do the Red Sox really want to trade Manny? For all the nonsense Ramirez has caused during the last eight seasons, the Red Sox have had more than their share of chances to purge themselves at far more opportune times. They elected to keep him because he can hit. John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Tom Werner and Theo Epstein do not need to deal with Ramirez' shenanigans so much as manager Terry Francona does, and those men may have more to say about any trade than a skipper impossibly stuck in the middle.
Last night, in fact, there were indications that there are still those in upper management who want the Sox to exercise their $20 million option and keep Ramirez after this season, primarily because it is the smartest business decision.
Surprised? Don't be. During the 2006 winter meetings in December, one respected big league evaluator categorized the Red Sox' efforts to trade Ramirez as a "charade," suggesting it was merely an annual exercise the Sox needed to conduct in order to muzzle both the slugger and his agents.
We tried, guys, but we just couldn't get equal value. And Manny's just too darned good for us to give away.
Does that make any trade for Ramirez impossible? Of course not. But from Henry right on down to Epstein and the entire (non-uniformed) baseball operations staff, the Red Sox are now highly analytical men entirely devoid of emotion when it making decisions. So Manny kicks and screams. So he wants out. So he is a walking advertisement for Preparation H.
When it comes right down to it, with the right to control Ramirez through 2010, the Red Sox have all the power here. They own him. And short of going the Brett Favre route and retiring, thereby sacrificing both his remaining contract and career, there really is not a thing Ramirez can do about it.
From the beginning, at this particular moment on the Manny Time Line, a three-way trade involving Ramirez was the only scenario that made any sense. Without a suitable replacement for him in their lineup, the Red Sox won't win the World Series this year.
That makes trading Ramirez for prospects a virtual impossibility, unless the Sox could then spin those prospects for a proven run producer with more than two years remaining on his contract.
If you find one of those, be sure to let the Red Sox know.
Be sure to tell Ramirez, too.
He'll be waiting at the water cooler griping about his bosses.