By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

What to do about Ramírez?

Yes, Dan Shaughnessy is correct when he observes that Manny Ramírez has wanted out of Boston almost from the time he came here. But he fails to note that, on other occasions, Manny’s wanted to stay. Wasn’t Manny agitating for the Red Sox to pick up his option just a few weeks ago?

So now Ramírez says he wouldn’t mind being traded. It’s probably not going to happen. But if the Sox have already decided that this is Manny’s last season here, I wonder what would be the smarter move: Hoping he gets hot (actually, he is hot) and carries the Sox into another post-season? Or trading him to shore up the bullpen?

It’s a tough call. I would imagine Ramírez’s trade value is pretty low, given that he’ll be a free agent after the season. I’m not sure the Sox can make it into October either without Manny or with the bullpen they’ve got.

But if I were Theo, if I could line up a trade for the right relievers, I’d pull the trigger and hope the Sox will somehow find enough offense to get by.

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  1. Steve

    I’ve stayed out of the Manny discussions because I’m ambivalent. I love watching Manny play, quite aside from his awesome talent, because he takes obvious joy in the game, and plays with his heart. The flip side of this is when he is joyless, he sulks.The absolute best case for the Red Sox (and probably for Manny) is for both of them to do pretty much what Manny said before yesterday’s game. Drop all talk about contracts and his option and call him when the season’s over.IMO, there’s no way we can win it all without Manny being the Manny playing to the level we’ve seen in recent weeks. There’s no possible way we replace him, unless there’s a comparable hitter with a comparable contract situation out there.This is the time of year when contenders must beef up for the pennant run, trading prospects for performers on non-contending teams. You don’t see contenders trimming talent. Another arm in the ‘pen might help, but the void in the offense will be a real killer.If Manny is at all mercenary, he must realize his performance in the stretch will determine his free agent value. The best course for both Manny and the Red Sox would be for Manny to play like Manny for the rest of the season, delivering another pennant. Then some team needing a DH might actually give him the $100M/4 yrs he seems to want.

  2. mike_b1

    ESPN suggested last night that Manny doesn’t want the Red Sox to pick up his 2009 option as he thinks he can get a 4-year/$100M deal. I think that was more idle speculation than anything, but it was an angle I hadn’t considered, especially after he had previously indicated he wanted the Sox to pick up his option. And I think he’s dreaming if he thinks that kind of deal will be out there — he’s an AL-only player, and there are only a few teams who could afford it (Boston, NY, Texas, LA Angels). Of course, Boras is his agent, so who knows?But the idea of trading him for relief pitchers is unrealistic, for the reasons Steve states, among others. Doesn’t the spectre of Eric Gagne pouring fuel on the fire still haunt you, Dan?

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: I thought the trade for Gagné was very smart. It just didn’t work out. OK, I thought it was smart at the time; less smart after we learned that Theo suspected him of being a steroid user and traded for him anyway.

  4. Steve

    I am of the opinion that bringing new relievers into Fenway Park, especially in a pennant race, is fraught with all sorts of unknowns.I have learned that through tough experience. I thought Gagne was a good move. Hell, I once thought Heathcliff Slocumb was going to be The Man. We’ve brought in all sorts of relievers who had stellar performance before arriving here – guys like Slocumb, Gagne, Brendan Donnely David Riske, countless others – only to find out they can’t handle the pressure of relieving in Fenway. Though their stats may be good, they seem to melt when we need them most.With Masterson up, if we can somehow get Oki right, we’ll be OK. If not, we have to find someone to handle the 8th inning, and we can get that for a lot less than Manny.

  5. mike_b1

    Dan, I agree. I thought it was a great trade at the time: a 4th outfielder and a minor league SP for a former Cy Young reliever who was to that point having a lights-out season. But no one will ever mistake David Murphy or Kason Gabbard for Manny Ramirez. And if you’re trading Manny Ramirez, you want to get more than 30 or so innings of relief pitching in return.Finally, here’s what Will Carroll of BP is saying: “Manny Ramirez is many things, but stupid isn’t one of them. If he’s trying this hard to make sure that the Red Sox don’t pick up his option, he knows there’s a better offer out there this offseason.”Don’t know what to make of that, but the idea this is all preordained somehow seems hard to swallow. That mindset appears to be gaining momentum, however.

  6. mike_b1

    Steve, Heathcliff pitched 83.3 innings of 3.02 ball (31 saves) that first year (1996) with Boston. It was the next season he blew up. Plus, Boston gave up nothing to get him, then turned him into Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek. Donnelly was hurt. Gagne, for all we know, was hurt too. He was DL’d the year before he got here and this year as well. Boston gave up on Riske after 10 innings. He actually pitched about the same here (warning: small sample size!) as he did in 2004 in Cleveland (no microscope), and better than he did with the Chicago White Sox (again, no microscope — the Cubs and Ozzie Guillen get all the press) the rest of that year.Btw, you left out Bill Campbell, Boston’s first big free agent signing, and Julian Tavarez.I think the lesson here is that relief pitching is notoriously volatile. There’s a reason why most of these guys are relievers. They are good enough to get 1 to 3 outs, but not 18 to 27 outs.

  7. Bill Toscano

    Joy in the game?The man treats baseball like a congregant smoking and drinking in a church.He has not respect for the game.Good thing he can hit the crap out of the ball.

  8. Steve

    Yeah, I remember the Seattle trade as Heathcliff’s most valuable contribution to this (or any) franchise. I didn’t think of Tavarez – I didn’t remember him putting up any eye-popping seasons.And Bill Campbell was before my (Red Sox) time. I was a recovering Yankees fan who had moved to Ohio. Cincinnati is a heck of a baseball town, but man, Riverfront sucked.

  9. mike_b1

    I mention Julian only because he is the classic example of the volatile reliever (in more ways than one, I might add).

  10. Kris Olson

    I am skeptical of the “better deal out there” theory and think this is actually just genuine emotion/frustration on Manny’s part that the $20 million will not be picked up and he will likely have to play for LESS next season.It’s true that it just takes one team (the Sox were on the other side of this equation when many shook their heads in disbelief when J.D. Drew opted out of three years/$33 mil from the Dodgers, only to see him sign a richer deal here, so if Manny has a wink-and-nod deal elsewhere, I guess turnabout is fair play). But how many Andruw Jones type deals given to guys on the “back nine” that don’t pan out have to be made before these GMs learn, “Gee, maybe we should show a little restraint”? I just can’t see anyone giving Manny four years, period, much less at $25 million per. Teams, I think, are starting to get wise to the idea — absent chemical intervention, Mssrs. Bonds and Clemens — that a player’s career is a bell curve, with improvement in their youth, followed by a plateau around ages 28-32, followed by a gradual (or in some cases steep) decline (credit: Ron Shandler,, and probably others like Bill James). If some team wants to invest $100 million in a flaky guy who will turn 37 early next season, good luck to them.A trade won’t happen because the Sox need too much back in return to offset what they will get if they just hold their nose and let Manny play: a better shot at the 2008 World Series and two draft picks when he leaves via free agency. It seems to me, to beat that, some other team would have to pony up two pretty decent prospects (to offset the draft picks) PLUS help for this year (either an OF replacement or bullpen help). I don’t see anyone doing that.

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