Dear All Other General Managers of Major League Baseball,
Like all Boston fans, you are acutely aware that this is, for all intent and purposes, Manny Ramirez’ last season in a Red Sox uniform. The club holds $20 million options for the next two years and nobody from management or ownership has hinted at signing off on those options. They are worth $40 million, after all, and a team can do a lot with that kind of money. Especially a team as well run as the Red Sox are right now.
Manny, understandably, wants to know which way the team is going. Will they pick up his option or let him ‘pursue other career opportunities’? If they are not going to pick up the option for 2009, then why don’t they just trade him?
As Manny himself said, ‘If they can get a trade, I'd approve it. If they can't trade me, then they will simply have to inform me by the end of the season that they won't use the options and we'll go separate ways’.
I know what you’re thinking. ‘Get the Red Sox on the phone, STAT!’ Hold on. First of all Manny goes through this every year. Literally every year. Unsurprisingly, it always seems to fall around the All Star break. So before you get all hot and bothered, allow me to dispense a few thoughts about what you get when you have Manny on your team.
- You’ll have one of the greatest hitters our generation has seen. This is no exaggeration. He is one of the few power hitters that can carry your team for weeks at a time. With all the steroid revelations lately, what Manny has accomplished during the so called ‘Steroid Era’ is even more impressive.
- One of the few legitimate goof balls left in the game and someone who, at least on the surface, enjoys playing the game. Leads the league in smiles and laughter during the season.
- A likable teammate who, at times, tests the limits of loyalty. Everyone in the Red Sox dugout seems to enjoy having him around, but you have to wonder if his annual ‘trade me’ tirades and mental vacations have become tiresome.
- A guy that doesn’t always say what he means nor means what he says. Sure, he says he’ll approve any trade, but if the Sox were to tell Manny they are going to trade him to Kansas City or San Diego, you can bet there would be major noise from him and the trade would never happen.
- An under rated, if wildly unpredictable, outfielder. There are times even the simplest plays are an adventure and others he makes look easy. He has a knack for knowing which way the ball is going to bounce off the wall and can quickly get the ball back in to hold doubles to singles or throw out runners who under estimate his fielding. Sure, the bloopers and misplays get all the attention, but he’s a much better defender than the media portray him.
- Someone who’s charm and goofiness will endear him to fans. Despite his occasional tantrums, there is a reason Boston loves Manny. He’s funny, relishes interacting with the fans during and after the games and seems to thoroughly enjoy himself when he’s playing in Fenway. Even after he makes an atrocious play in the field, he’ll laugh as the fans ride him in good nature. He can give and take with the best of them and appreciates that he is simply playing a game.
- A player who could be borderline autistic. He tends to lose focus over the course of the season and, in some cases, a single game. He disappears into the Green Monster during pitching changes, cuts off throws meant for the shortstop, tosses caught balls into the stands when there are only two outs in the inning. One infamous (to me hilarious) incident occurred a few years ago when Manny was wearing sunglasses in the outfield that was later discovered to have had a built in MP3 player. Sources say that he wasn’t listening to music while he was playing, but not everyone believed it. If anyone would listen to his own music while playing outfield wouldn’t it have to be Manny.
- At the very least an idiot savant. He is very much a man child who needs constant validation for his worth and will become sullen and pouty if he doesn’t feel appreciated. At the same time, he is a genius at hitting; putting more work into his craft then even his teammates are aware. Stories are surfacing about his early morning routines of yoga, followed by hitting in a cage, followed by breakfast, followed by video work, ending with more hitting in a cage. And this is on a game day.
- An instant attraction of kids 10 and younger to your team. It’s no coincidence that my boys love Manny. They relate to him on a level adults just can’t fathom. He plays the game the way they play it. With laughter and fun and unintentional errors combined with fearsome home runs that never land. He personifies what every little boy imagines playing baseball for a living should be like. I used to dread telling my boys Manny has been traded or won’t play for the Red Sox any longer, but the more I think of it, they won’t care too much. As long as they can see him playing SOMEWHERE, they’ll be happy. Like the rest of Boston, we’d prefer it to be with the Sox, but we’ll still root for him wherever he lands. (NOTE: As always, the Yankees are the exception).
- Also, be aware that when Manny comes to your team, you get the entire package. Don’t think you can change him. He’s set in his ways and will always be late for spring training and absent at mandatory media events. 'Manny being Manny' is a slogan that has come naturally. There is no explaining him or reasoning with him. He is who he is. Know this going in.
One more consideration. Note that the Red Sox aren’t dummies. They know replacing Manny will be nearly impossible. The combo of Papi and Manny has been the most fearsome duo in baseball for the past 5 years. It will take a LOT of top prospects and/or young players to get Manny pried from this Sox team. And to top that off, you’ll have to pay Manny the remainder of his 2008 contract and probably pick up the last two options for him to agree to any trade.
Therefore, you would have a 36 year old Manny for $40 million over the next two and half seasons. And while his skills may be on the downward slide, his insanity certainly isn’t. In fact, between his fights with Youkilis and the team grandfather/traveling secretary, one could argue his lunacy is rapidly increasing as he nears the end of his career.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a good chance Manny could stick around to hit 600 home runs. His bat speed certainly doesn’t seem to have slowed much. There is also little doubt Manny will help any team win more games.
But those wins come with a mountain of headaches as well as much comedy.
Trade for Manny if you want. Sign him during the off season if you think that’s best. But like every other major purchase, make sure you have all the information you need before signing that check.
Today’s distraction: One of my long standing questions has finally been answered. I have always wondered why bars play music so loudly as to hamper the social aspect of going there in the first place. Some places are so loud, you can’t carry on a conversation without knowing sign language. Wonder no more. Turns out loud music increases alcohol intake. Duh. Don’t know why I never thought of that before. It’s all about money. Again.