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

Inmates, asylums and Manny

Even though I disagree with his contention that the Red Sox should have held on to Manny Ramírez (I think he overlooks what Manny might have done if he’d been forced to stay), Charlie Pierce gets what I hope will be the last word on the trade.

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  1. greatko1

    Here’s my last word on the Manny trade, which I preface by saying that, by season’s end, I may very well conclude that “all’s well that ends well,” and that having Jason Bay in 2009 (and in theory $12.5 million more in the “budget” to spend elsewhere) is preferable to having the two draft picks Manny leaving would have brought, Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss, despite the tortured process it took to get to that point.But my lingering Manny thought is, “Shouldn’t cooler dreads have prevailed?”:So, I’m Manny Ramirez. It’s July 1, and I’m thinking, “Gee, wouldn’t it be great if the Red Sox give me a four-year, $100-million extension?” I (or my agent) broach the subject. Perhaps we get the standard line about not negotiating in-season, but clearly the impression I get is that the Dominican will freeze over before they offer such a contract.So my new goal becomes to hit the free-agent market. My agent tells me that, despite my erratic behavior, declining skills both offensively and defensively, there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, to the tune of four years, $100 million.Now, I (Kris) had always figured there was no chance the Red Sox were going to pick up the $20 million option for 2009. I figured they would send Manny on his way, thank him for his service, offer him arbitration, which he would decline, and enjoy the two draft picks. Now, I am no longer sure, given the comments attributed to John Henry in the Globe. Perhaps the Sox did value highly the opportunity to take it “year by year” with Manny. Maybe, if he finished up strong, they were thinking, “one year, $20 million — maybe a slight overpay, but there aren’t great options on the free-agent market, and this will bridge the gap until Matt Holliday (or insert name) comes along.” It’s seems clear Manny perceived a significant risk of this happening, since it is the only way to explain his discontent.In the end, though, the Red Sox had to rip up the options to facilitate the trade to L.A. Given that, shouldn’t someone have long ago — before Seattle, before the Joba game — played it out and, as nice in theory as holding the “hammer” of the option was, and said, “OK, Manny, you win. We rip up the options. Now, go out, play your butt off and earn your next contract, whereever it might be.” I mean, in the absence of an extension, that’s what he wanted, right? In theory, then you would have had a motivated Ramirez (even if part of that motivation was to prove you wrong for not giving him an extension), Hansen, Moss, $7 million and two forthcoming draft picks.Like Peter Gammons, my ire had been so focused on Manny, it’s only occurring to me now that the front office may have mishandled this, too. It’s true that, post-Joba-dodge, the ship had probably sailed, and they had no choice but to deal him. But long before that, it seems like there may well have been a “zone of agreement” that could have been found, back when Manny made his first “I want to know where I stand” speech.What I now want to know is whether there was a conversation subsequent to that with Boras, and if so, what stance the Sox took. It seems apparent to me the stance was, “We have no reason to do anything. We hold the option, and we have until November to decide whether to use it, and that’s that. Now tell your client to go out and play.” There may be sound reasons — not wanting to set a precedent that Boras would use with future clients, etc. — not to cave, but they have also broken precedent in special circumstances for star players before (i.e., the early pickup of the Pedro option).If hitting free agency really was the next best option to a rich extension for Manny, shouldn’t the Sox have let “Manny be Manny” one last time?

  2. Jimbo

    On a side note, does Charlie Pierce (in print or on the radio) ever use one word when ten will do — even if it is the “last word”?(PS: I say this as an admirer … most of the time).

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