I resisted commenting on the Manny Ramirez trade because it seemed like the deal was all anyone was interested in discussing - on tv, in the newspapers and around the web. I didn't think I necessarily had insight to add. But a number of people (mostly fellow Sox fans) have emailed asking why I haven't weighed in yet. I will compile some of my thoughts here.
1) I am with those that believe he absolutely had to go. He made terribly inflammatory statements about the organization that had paid him $160 million, he strangled and threw to the ground Boston's 64-year old Traveling Secretary, he instigated a confrontation with teammate Kevin Youkilis, he was more or less insubordinate in asking out of the lineup in Seattle and back in Boston Friday before the trade deadline against Joba Chamberlain. There was no remaining professional relationship to repair.
2) Manny's situation was affecting the team badly. Team chemistry and its effects are not typically the domain of this site but the Red Sox had been as bad as they were all season long. Something was off and if you were honestly to ask yourself whether or not Boston was a championship team the morning of July 31, they did not even come close to passing the smell test; run differential, talent, experience be damned. There was no chance.
3) I will always believe this was the doing of Scott Boras. Manny has never been known as one to flaunt his money, which always made me believe that he was pretty content with his (um, healthy) financial situation. I think everyone has heard the stories of him leaving uncashed paychecks in his glovebox, etc. He had never indicated that playing out his option years in Boston would be a problem. His demeanor changed dramatically this season. This theory is based on very little in the way of fact but I think something approximating this series of events is what happened:
- Boras asked Manny for a meeting this off-season, and explained to him that getting out of his option years was his only hope for one last big contract.
- Manny had not given it a ton of thought but to his ears, Boras's pitch was spot on. He sold Manny.
- Manny turned all of his attention to getting out of the options.
Think about it, the following all represented change from Manny's previous seven seasons. He worked his ass of this off-season at API in Arizona. He came into Spring Training and made Curt Schilling look like a recluse with his media accessibility. And as mentioned above, he showed a tendency towards violence, and escalated his public remarks about the Red Sox to a level that rose to insubordination. All of it, save the violence in my opinion, was calculated.
4) That I do believe much of it was calculated preserves Manny's reputation and legacy in my mind. This was business, and even if you do not think the way he went about his business was particularly ethical, it was still just business. He wanted more guaranteed years, more money, etc. This might rub you the wrong way and it doesn't sit well with me, but it was just business, and how one conducts themselves in a professional setting is personal insofar as the individual is entitled to determine what they want and map out how to get there. Say what you want about Manny's methods, but he will be an unrestricted Free Agent at the end of the 2008 campaign. It worked. As for where things stand now, his behavior this season and the way he left town stings a bit, but there was too much good that overrides the recent negativity surrounding him. His legacy will be just fine.
5) Some have asserted he is the second best Red Sox hitter of all time but I think I disagree. Tris Speaker is way too overlooked and I think Jimmie Foxx presses him for third best. He was the best since Ted Williams, but not second best of all time after him.
I'll miss watching him suit up for the Red Sox, and I wish him well.