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

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.

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Manny’s gone after all


Running the numbers on the trade (II)


  1. John Gatti Jr

    Come on Dan…The print and broadcast media is in shambles here in Massachusetts and is getting worse. I suggest that in depth discussion with no let up be the total agenda. So many great reporters experienced and trying to get experience are in the middle of this crisis and journalism as we have known and expected is in peril. Let the Sports reporters do the sports. You are one of the few in the position to prod, advocate, and expose the problems and offer solutions. We news readers need your leadership o find solutions for our free press survival.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    John: I appreciate your support. But you know what? I’m going to write about what interests me, especially when I’m doing it for free.

  3. Rick

    Manny who? Just kidding. I don’t care what it costs the Red Sox he had to go. It was beyond Manny being Manny he was a distraction to the whole team and that is not good going into the stretch.


    I’m with you, Dan. Well said. The Red Sox are fortunate to have gotten anything in return. Had they not made a deal, I’m pretty confident that the relationship would not have recovered and the Sox would have had to end up just releasing him. Now, at least, they’ve got a guy in return who — at least statistically — matches up reasonably well with 2008 Manny.Although I wouldn’t be surprised to see Manny hit 20 home runs in August now…

  5. mike_b1

    Peter Gammons is on ESPN saying Manny Ramirez (whom when in Cleveland Gammons used to tout as a future MVP) had “quit on the team.” I don’t know how he puts up such big numbers in the tough league if he had quit on the team.The Dodgers now have five outfielders, four of whom should be starting and all of whom are younger than Manny (and better defensive players). So now they are stuck with potentially pissing off their own players.The Pirates get some guys who may or may not ever do anything.The money doesn’t matter to Boston.

  6. Mike from Norwell

    Anyone catch Gammons on ESPN Radio this afternoon just after 5pm? Peter, tell us how you really feel! (If you can somehow find tape on that 2 minutes, you’ll be amazed, before he cleaned up and calmed down for the national media).

  7. awk

    This may well have been a necessary trade, but it certainly cannot be construed as an excellent one — by anyone but a fan. It cost the team not just Ramirez, but two players who — whatever fans may think of their future — were valuable trading chips they no longer have. They also had to construct the deal in such a way that they lost the possibility of two first round draft choices. I don’t see how even Red Sox management would not concede that it cost a lot more than they wanted. And this does not include the $7 million they had to give the Dodgers, a team wealthy enough to absorb the cost.

  8. mike_b1

    Joe Sheehan at BP calls this “a steal for Theo” akin to the Bobby Abreu trade:”[O]ne small fact that gets lost in the names and the cities and the reputations: the Red Sox may have landed the best player in the deal. Outside of a 2007 season in which he played through a bad knee injury—arguably akin to Jason Kendall playing through injuries while with the Pirates and ruining his career earlier this decade—Bay has been one of the most productive outfielders in baseball. Since 2003, he’s been inferior to Ramirez, but not by nearly as much as you might expect.2003-2008 BRAR FRAR WARP1Bay 250 39 31.6Ramirez 313 -15 32.5Bay’s defense, per Clay Davenport’s rankings, has fallen off of a cliff the past two seasons, and he rates as worse than Ramirez in this system. Even if Bay’s knee injury has taken its toll, it seems likely that the difference between them defensively is exaggerated statistically. Bay is outhitting Ramirez this season by 15 points of EqA (.320 to .305), and given the seven years between them …”

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