Running the numbers on the trade

I’ve been listening to WEEI Radio (AM 850) on and off for the last hour, and it seems that one early theme has emerged: it was time for Manny Ramírez to go, but the Red Sox gave up too much.

But did they? I don’t think so. Clearly they weren’t going to get equal value, because the whole world knew that the Sox were trying to dump Ramírez. Even so, they did pretty well — financially, too, despite their agreeing to pay Manny’s salary for the rest of the season.

Let’s start with the money. The Dodgers get Ramírez for free for the final two months of the year, as the Red Sox have agreed to pay the $7 million he’s still owed. Jason Bay makes $7.5 million a year [not quite; see update] and the Sox will have to pay him for the rest of the season, or about $2.5 million. So, in essence, they’re paying $9.5 million to have a left fielder for August and September (and, let’s hope, October). That’s a lot of money.

But turn that around. Bay is under contract for next year — again, at $7.5 million. Up until a few weeks ago, it seemed possible that the Sox would pick up Manny’s option for next year, which would have cost $20 million. Manny turns 37 next May. Bay will be 30. Given that differential, there’s a good chance that Bay will put up numbers as good as Ramírez next year, and at one-third the cost. And the Sox may be able to sign Bay to a long-term contract at far less than they would have paid to keep Manny around.

So the Sox will take a hit for two months this year, but will benefit hugely next year and perhaps beyond.

As for the prospects, well, Craig Hansen has been a monumental bust, and that’s putting it mildly. If he’s ever going to succeed, it’s not going to be here. He needs a fresh start somewhere else. Pittsburgh will be a nice, quiet place for him to develop. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say the Sox were lucky to find a way to get rid of him.

Brandon Moss? He turns 25 in September. Bay was the National League’s Rookie of the Year when he was Moss’ age. Moss might turn into a useful player, but he was never going to be more than a fourth outfielder in Boston. To get a player as good as Bay, you’ve got to give up something other than an aging superstar who’ll walk at the end of the season (and who does the Pirates no good anyway) and a pitcher who is, at best, a reclamation project.

You never know how these things will work out. On paper, though, I’d say this is a good deal with the potential to be better than good.


Manny’s gone after all

And a very good trade it is, given that the Red Sox were not in a position to get equal value:

  • Ramírez is out of the AL, so if he leads someone to a pennant, it won’t be to the detriment of the Sox. (Should be something if the Sox meet the Dodgers in the World Series, though.)
  • Jason Bay’s no Manny, but there have been times the last two years when Manny’s been no Manny, either. The big thing is that Ramírez’s bat has been more or less replaced.
  • It’s possible that we’ll regret this some day, but I’ve gotten tired of waiting for Craig Hansen to develop into something other than a complete stiff. Best of luck, Craig.
  • Too bad about Brandon Moss, but he wasn’t going to play here.

The Dodgers get Ramírez for free, which stinks, but it looks like John Henry has decided paying Manny’s salary the rest of the year is a bargain if it gets him out of town.

And, yes, it’s too bad it had to end this way. It seems like it was only a few weeks ago that everyone was raving about the new, outgoing, talkative Ramírez. That all came apart in a hurry, didn’t it?

Is Ramírez staying?

No links — things are changing too quickly. It’s a few minutes after the trading deadline. Unless the Red Sox have something up their sleeves, it looks like Manny Ramírez is staying.

I think it’s a mistake — it’s different this time. I’d have made just about any deal I could for Manny. Unless everyone suddenly gets healthy, starts performing up to scratch or both, the Sox aren’t going anywhere this year anyway.

Shipping Manny out of town would have sent a message that — if media reports are accurate — a number of Sox players would have liked to hear.

My life, in 140 characters or fewer

I’ve finally given up on my hope that Twitter would go away. You can find my Twitter page here. Hell, no, I don’t know how to use it.

Putting presumption in context

The Boston Phoenix’s Adam Reilly weighs in with a well-timed piece on the Republican meme that Barack Obama is too “presumptuous” to be president — and on the media’s willingness to play along.

It appears that all of this is being brought to a head right now. At the moment, it’s looking like this year’s version of Al Gore’s lies that weren’t, or of John Kerry’s flip-flopping and failure to respond adequately to the Swift Boat attacks.

You can talk about the liberal media all you want, and there’s no doubt that most mainstream journalists are liberals. But there’s also no doubt that there’s a tendency among nominally liberal journalists, especially opinion-mongers, to make their bones by mocking liberal politicians.

Exhibit A is Dana Milbank’s piece in Wednesday’s Washington Post, which begins, “Barack Obama has long been his party’s presumptive nominee. Now he’s becoming its presumptuous nominee.” That might have been the moment when this particular line of attack finally jumped the shark. Or perhaps not.

Adam rushes in where others have feared to tread, writing that criticism of Obama as being narcissistic and presumptuous is, among other things, “a crafty way of playing the race card — of essentially calling Obama an uppity black man without actually using those words.” Exactly. Show me someone who’s won a major-party presidential nomination and I’ll show you someone who’s presumptuous. But some of Obama’s detractors sound like they’re ready to walk right up to the brink of suggesting that, well, he just doesn’t know his place.

(Disclosures: Adam’s a friend, he cites Media Nation and we talked through some of this while he was doing his reporting.)

Obama’s not perfect. As is the case with many ambitious people (like, for instance, John McCain), he has an unattractive tendency to use people and move on. His longstanding association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright remains troubling, and you can be sure we’ll be hearing more about it.

But by hitting him with the Republican Party’s sneering talking points, the media are not just doing the opposition’s dirty work. They’re flirting with something quite a bit uglier as well.

Photo (cc) by Jack Thielepape and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Shopping Manny

Evan Brunell of rounds up the trade rumors involving Manny Ramírez: Phillies, Dodgers, Mets and Marlins. He concedes that “the odds that Manny actually moves is rather low. It won’t be for lack of trying, though, as Manny has worn his welcome out in Boston.”

Arrogance watch watch

I note with interest that Josh Marshall is asking his readers to send in examples of media reports picking up on the Republican meme that Barack Obama is arrogant and presumptuous enough to believe he ought to be president. Why, you’d think the guy had won a major-party nomination or something.