Change-UpAugust 05, 2008
Here Goes
By Patrick Sullivan

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.


I agree with your post that it was time for Manny to hit the road and his actions were, most likely calculated. It will be interesting to see if Frank McCourt Ante's up to keep Manny in LA for a few more years. It is hard to believe he will get a 4 year $100MM contract at the end of the season, but that is another topic for a later date.

Solid post.

if he really would have refused to play, yeah, it needed to be done. But team chemistry? You're better than that. Or maybe your not, but shame on you the next time you criticize a move made with that rationale by a Non-Red Sox team.

Plus, this trade was terrible in the sense that they gave up a couple solid prospects also, and all they got was Jason Bay. Boston was played by Manny and Boras and played hard. I've always thought of Epstein as a Mark Shapiro with unlimited resources. Turns out, a Shapiro minion (the Pirates GM) just took Epstein to school.

Distractions at work impact performance. It's true in any industry, so I am not sure why acknowledging the negative impact he was having on the team should somehow be off limits.

As for Epstein being "taken to school", he has Jason Bay, every bit the player Manny is, for the rest of this season and for $7.5 million next and all he had to give up were two players that did not factor at all in Boston's future (along with Manny, of course).

Good post. Liked the theory, even if it had a bit of conspiracy to it.


If anyone was taken to school in this trade, I would say it's Ned Colletti. He gave up the most valuable player (accounting for team control) in the deal and he did it in an all-or-nothing move. If his Dodgers don't make the playoffs this year - or, you might argue, win the World Series - he'll have traded an A level prospect plus a valuable throw-in for nothing.

The Pirates may have gotten the best of the deal, but they didn't do it by exploiting the Red Sox.

whoa. Jason Bay: every bit the player Manny is? Your kidding. You must be. Because Manny has a better OPS this year by over 30 points than Bay, and in a tougher league and this is a relatively down year for him. Manny is better than Bay, this year. Bay does give you a solid LFer next year at a reasonable price. But it is a downgrade from Manny for this year. Plus, Boston lost two players. Maybe they weren't top flight prospects, but given their age and level, they both had value, and Boston didn't get much for them.

here's the thing. Moss and Hansen for Bay is a good deal. 1/2 season of Manny for 1 1/2 season of Bay is a pretty good deal. But Manny, Moss, and Hansen for Bay? Epstein got ripped off. Huntington looks like a genius.

Distractions at the workplace? Was Youkalis unable to focus on breaking pitches because he was thinking of how much of a jerk Manny is? Did Beckett's fastball lose 2-3 MPHs because Manny wasn't in left? Did Oritz's wrist hurt from smacking Manny around to try to get him to play?

Manny is a slightly better hitter, Bay's defense and baserunning advantages close that gap. I regard them as more or less equals. Check this out:

As for your continued disregard of off-the-field distractions and their impact, Theo himself said ""There was an environment that was not conducive to winning surrounding this club."

Jayson- you are right, Colletti doesn't look too good from this deal.

Sully- The defense and baserunning close the gap a bit, but I don't think it makes up for it. Look, the problem was how Epstein and the Red Sox situation. It was known that they just wanted to get rid of Manny. This move should have been done weeks ago. Make the move if the market is right to get decent value for Manny, if not, play it out and you have Hansen and Moss for other trades or as contributors; you get 200 more ABs of Manny and have as good a shot at a ring than with Bay; and you get the draft picks from Manny. Clubhouse environment can be a reason to make a move, but it shouldn't be an excuse for making a bad move.

DD - that analysis ignores the extent to which Manny escalated his insubordination over the final two weeks of his Red Sox days. It was only after Manny asked out of consecutive games, said he "was tired of the Red Sox" and that the "Red Sox don't deserve a player like me" that the situation became dire enough to merit trading at more or less all costs.

I know there's a history of conflict between Manny and the Red Sox, but why do we all just assume that when Manny complains that his knees hurt, he's lying. Perhaps his knees actually hurt, in a way that doesn't show up on an MRI. I don't think this is so far fetched. Before calling a complete stranger a lying cheater without the benefit of insight into his personal life, perhaps we could look for more rational explanations. And Manny being a slacker in order to increase his payday is not rational and Mr. Boras would certainly know that. Slacking off for future monetary gains would certainly hinder not help his expected return.

I think its far more likely that the Red Sox (a) recognized that Manny's defensive liabilities were beginning to outweigh his offensive contributions, (b) especially in light of his nagging injuries and age, (c) so they used the media to cover their collective asses by making Manny (an easy target) seem like the bad guy, and (d) got what they could for him while the going was good.

That's exactly why I think Manny played them. He was just trying to work a deal. If he was still in a Red Sox uniform today, I don't think he would have stopped most of the nonsense. Just like he has in years past.

"And Manny being a slacker in order to increase his payday is not rational..."

Sure it is. It got him out of the team options, which were almost surely going to be picked up had he not carried himself like a child for much of this season. Now he's an unrestricted free agent after this season.

To clarify, Boston also gets Jason Bay for 2009 (assuming that they weren't intending to exercise their option on Manny) at the cost of two draft picks that they would have gotten when Manny walked (instead, those will go to the Dodgers). Right?

That's true. It is also true that if Bay walks after 2009, Boston will get two compensation picks.

Exactly what were the "terribly inflammatory" comments Manny made about the organization? The only negative comments that I recall him making was that he didn't think management was being straight forward with him, or something to that effect. That drew the ire of John Henry, but Manny was hardly making any demands. Also, if he really quit/sulked/wanted out of Boston, hitting .347 with a 1.060 OPS in July sure is an odd way of showing it.

Oh, and don't you think "strangled" is a bit of an exagerration? I wasn't there, but everything I've read had Manny pushing the traveling secretary to the ground. Still not right by any means, but c'mon. By next week, you guys will have Manny killing the old guy.

In addition to the defense and baserunning closing the gap, there's also park effects to take into account. That 30 OPS difference becomes a lot smaller and pretty much negligeble.

Moss was never going to be more valuable to the sox than as a trade chit, and Hansen was out of options at the end of the year so he would have to produce next year or risk being cut for nothing. Considering Hansen's 4 years into his pro career and still contributing nothing, I'd say that the sox did an excellent job trading two pieces of little value to get a great value in Bay. the deal essentially breaks down as Manny 2008 = Bay 2008, Hansen+Moss = Bay 2009 @ 7.5M. Also, the sox now get to see how Bay handles Boston for a year and 2 months and have an exclusive negotiating window to extend him as well. The only thing that system has lacked over the years is a RH power bat of any kind, so the sox would have been forced to overpay for either Tex this winter or Holliday next year, instead they get to take a long look at Bay who is also a non-Boras represented player.

So how exactly did Theo get "taken to school?"

"terribly inflammatory"

"The Red Sox don't deserve a player like me."

If you think my characterization is overblown, that's cool. I won't argue all that vehemently. How about "awfully provocative"?

As far as how I described the encounter with McCormick, I am not sure I would alter it. I know for a fact he forcibly grabbed the guy's throat, and proceeded to throw him down with his hand still clenched around his neck.

I dunno, if you want to quibble there I suppose I can concede that, too, if you would like. Sounds like semantics though.

I think my point, and that of a couple of other commenters, is that you appear to have bought into a narrative that paints Manny as a monster and the Red Sox as benignly making the best of the terrible situation that Manny put them in. And this thing is surely less simple than that. I'm willing to concede that Manny is interested in what's best for Manny, but certainly the Red Sox are out for what's best for them. Looks like both did pretty well for themselves.

Very well said, Matt.

As for:

"The Red Sox don't deserve a player like me."

Ok, maybe that is inflamatory and/or provocative. But this was said AFTER management threatened to suspend him if he didn't suit up vs the Yankees. I believe this was what got Ramirez fed up enough to blow off some steam in that interview with ESPN.

And what warranted the Sox to threaten him? Who knows? It's not like Manny hasn't complained of sore knees before. Makes me wonder if there's some truth to what Manny said about management's agenda to get rid of past players Nomar, Pedro, Mo, etc. To question the legitamacy of a player's injury really heading down a slippery slope, in my opinion. Not only that, but the media added to the fire by claiming he was trying to avoid Felix and Joba. To me, that's laughable. He's one of the best hitters of all time, let alone this season. The last time I checked Big Unit and K-Rod are pretty filthy too and Manny seemed to handle them pretty well recently. Anyway, no one really knows if Manny's knees were sore except for Manny. But for Boston to publicly question that, well, let's just say would be pretty pissed too if I were in Manny's shoes.

As for being insubordinate, I'm not sure how anyone could say that after he just had his best month, production wise, of this year. This includes 2 big games against the Yankees and Angels respectively, both of which came AFTER those "inflamatory" comments he made.

I'm fully aware Manny dogs it to 1B and he stands there admiring his HRs. But he has ALWAYS done that. That didn't just start that last week. To use those things against him now and claim he's quitting on his team like that propaganda machine Gammons did is pretty irresponsible.

"I'm fully aware Manny dogs it to 1B and he stands there admiring his HRs. But he has ALWAYS done that. That didn't just start that last week. To use those things against him now and claim he's quitting on his team..."

Where did I say anything about how hard he runs to first or his tendency to admire long home runs? If you are going to call my post "irresponsible" on the grounds I am digging these items up, please point out to me where I mention anything about how he runs to first base and how he admires long home runs.

What this comes down to, Al, is that you place a lot more stock in his knee complaints. Let's turn this around.

What interest did the Red Sox have in moving a productive player for whom they had two team options? It's no secret to readers of this site that we have strong contacts in the Red Sox front office. I can tell you first hand they were thrilled to have those two options and eager to pick them up. They were even more thrilled when Manny came into ST as affable as ever.

So if you allow for that backdrop, how would it have been in any way in Boston's interest to give away a productive player whom they control for two more years if they wish? Not only that, to pay his freight for the rest of 2008 and give away two players of value, just to replace the guy they willingly are paying another team to pencil him in? If you want to talk "rational" behavior, absent legitimate Manny related off-the-field issues impacting the club, what the hell is "rational" about any of that?

As for the insubordination counterpoint you make, it remained in Manny's interest to perform when he was in there, so that he was productive does little to refute the notion that his behavior amounted to at least something approximating insubordination.

The reports that his asking out of the lineup against Joba and Felix rubbed his manager and teammates the wrong way are well corroborated I happen to believe they are in all likelihood true. You think his knees hurt. Whatever.

And finally, publicly trashing your employer also rises damn close to a level I would describe as insubordinate.

People who think the Dodgers gave up the most valuable player in this trade must be related to Andy LaRoche.

LaRoche turns 25 next month. His defense at third base is above average, very reliable glove, slightly above average range. It's not nearly as good as Blake DeWitt's, who has outstanding range with a similarly reliable glove (they have the same FP lifetime at 3B) and it's clear that DeWitt has passed LaRoche as the Dodgers third baseman of the future. At two years younger and forty pounds lighter (listed weight) DeWitt could easily develop more muscles and power and has a greater upside. DeWitt is also much faster.

I *love* LaRoche's strike zone judgment but he has yet to demonstrate any batting average or power in the majors. His OPS+ for his career is 69 in 412 at bats (DeWitt's is 79). If LaRoche were 21, I'd really like his potential, but for a guy who turns 25 next month it's hard to predict him as having a decent career in the majors, or even a better career than the guy who has outperformed him and is two years younger. The Dodgers are notorious for having minor league hitters who look better from playing in good hitters parks but can't perform in Dodger Stadium. I'd say the only chance that losing LaRoche really hurts the Dodgers is if DeWitt moves over to second base to replace Kent. Frankly, I *hope* DeWitt is playing full time at second base right now; it would be great if DeWitt had the flexibility to replace Ozuna for the playoffs.

Bryan Morris was a compensatory first round draft choice three years ago before he had Tommy John surgery. It is unlikely that being three years older and still in A Ball and missing a year from surgery has made him a better prospect. LaRoche was a 39th round draft choice. It is quite possible that the two compensatory choices the Dodgers will get from Ramirez (if they let him go) will both be better prospects than LaRoche and Morris.

Ramirez is going to be on his absolutely best behavior with the Dodgers. He *needs* to be so in order to get another long term contract; if nobody is willing to sign Barry Bonds cheap (who actually has a slightly better range factor than Manny as well as still being worth something as a base stealer), they won't give Manny four years at $20+ million either. I don't like Manny long term; the bigger outfields in Los Angeles and in the NL West make his defensive liabilities far worse than in Boston. But LA has an enormous Latino population and may be far more comfortable for Manny than either Boston or Cleveland.

In order for Manny to be worth signing in LA, Andruw Jones (pinch hit home run tonight) needs to regain his gold glove range and his bat, because Kemp doesn't have adequate center field jumps and Pierre doesn't have an adequate arm, and either would be hindered by having to cover for Ramirez. So I think Manny is a rental. At best, maybe the Dodgers sign Manny for about $10M/year with enormous bonuses that would push him above $20M for Manny level years (say, $200K/homer, $20K/RBI, $20K for every point of OPS above .900 with enough at bats to qualify for batting title). Boras would never go for it, but if Manny really loves LA, then it could work. But objectively I'd swap Laroche and Morris for two comp draft choices, so I think the Dodgers win this trade. I've been wrong before.

Finally, and I admit this is a long shot, but if the Dodgers get Furcal healthy for the playoffs, they have a legitimate shot with a lineup of Furcal, Kemp, Martin, Manny, Loney, Blake, Kent, Ethier. That would be awfully good, and the Dodgers have great pitching. But without Furcal (and thus Torre's insistance on playing Pierre) I don't think Manny is enough.

Hey, it would be *great* if there was a button below the Comments Section here that turned Comments back off after reading them all (instead of having to go back one or two screens, depending on whether or not we made a comment). Something above the "Post a comment" and below the last comment, for example.

Performance based bonuses are not allowed under the CBA, so, no... it wouldn't work. Also, I don't think you'll find anyone who was fooled enough by DeWitt's short sample size play this year to think he's got a better future than LaRoche. Sure he's 25, but a lot of his age and not yet establishing himself is the Dodgers' own doing, the guy was ready last year, so basing his abilities on the fact that he's older than most prospects isn't a very good way to go, by that logic Ryan Howard wasn't going to be very valuable.

I used to love laRoche as a prospect, but the two shoulder surgeries and resulting drastic drop in power this year has me a bit worried. He's still got tremendous upside, but there is a lot more risk than many prospect hounds are willing to admit.

Clearly the Dodgers don't think LaRoche is all that valuable. And hell, maybe they know something the rest of us don't. But whatever reservations they have with him don't show up in his minor league track record, which is sparkling. In comparing DeWitt and LaRoche you can't just look at OPS+ in the majors because you run into some serious sample size issues (meh, I hate unintentional alliteration). As a result of his minors production, LaRoche was tabbed as one of the best third base prospects in baseball by Nate Silver earlier this year - second only to Evan Longoria, who was tops in all of baseball to most folks.

I think once upon a time you could justify Colletti's actions by saying "hey, they're a big market team. They don't have time to wait around for players to develop." But in the modern era GMs are a lot more saavy about player control and maximizing the use of players in their prime. The best franchises are going to utilize home grown players in conjunction with free agents. The Dodgers are nipping at the NL West when, with their resources and farm system, they should be owning it.

Sully, I didn't call your article irresponsible. My apologies if you interpreted that from my comments. It was a well thought out piece and it got me thinking of things that I hadn't thought of before. I just don't happen to agree with all of it, that's all. It's the local media in Boston that I'm calling irresponsible. Some of their articles are truly embarrassing the way they used the things Manny has always done in the past to support their arguments that he quit on the team. It probably wasn't the best place to for me call them out on it, since your article really had nothing to do with those articles - other than the fact that you are pro management, which is fine. It's your opinion and I can certainly respect that.

Now, let's discuss further why I disagree with your opinion :-) You're saying the fact that he publicly trashed his employer is a sign of borderline insubordination. Ok, that may be true, but again, that came AFTER the suspension threat for sitting out against the Yankees. Prior to that, was Manny really that upset? He had previously made a comment about how he thought the Sox weren't being straightforward with him...and that pissed off John Henry...but Manny made no demands. Din't state once that he was unhappy with his contract situation. Had the Sox not issued that very public threat to suspend him had he not played that Saturday, do you really think Manny would've made those comments that Sunday?

And you're right. I do place more stock in his knee complaints. Is it that much outside the realm of possibility that maybe, just maybe, his knees really did hurt? Afterall, he is a 36 year old everyday position player who has played in more than 90% of the Sox games this year. Plus he's had a history of leg problems in both the distant and recent past. Is it that unfathomable that he could've be telling the truth? I guess there's no way to really prove or disprove that. But to publicly question whether your star player's injury is legitimate, well, let's just say that the Sox probably should've known it wasn't going to end well.

Also, regarding your comments about how it was still in Manny's best interest to perform well. Well, if that's the case, then how is it in Manny's best interest to become insubordinate and to intentionally sit out games against opposing team's best pitchers? Exactly how would THAT endear him to potential suitors after the year?

Look, I'm not saying Manny is without blame here. His comments (even though I think he was provoked) certainly didn't help matters. His behavior recently (the fights with Youk and the traveling secretary, the whole Manny being Manny thing) has definitely worn thin the last couple months. But my belief is that he wasn't insubordinate nor did he quit on his team, like many are making it out to seem. I suppose it's all speculation, anyway, about who was in the wrong here, but I'm choosing to side with Manny on this one.

Al, thanks for the thoughtful comment. One question.

What interest did Boston management have in "provoking" Manny without cause?

If I may offer an answer to that last question (don't mean to step on your toes, Al)... I think I already suggested a perfectly reasonable answer. You've said that until recently Boston planned on picking up the team options for the next two years because Manny is such a productive player. I think it's unlikely, especially considering his age and knee problems, that they'd exercise those options. "Provoking" Manny allows them to make trading him in the heat of a penant race more pallatable to the fans if they find someone cheaper and of close value. If they hadn't found the right deal, they could keep him and pretend to be magnanimous. If they find someone (like Bay), they trade him without getting upbraided in the press.

I'm tempted to also go into a little diatribe about how Manny's a human being and entitled to take a day off every now and then if he's in pain just like you and I can stay at home if we have the flu, but I'll spare you.

It remained in Boston's interest, nonsense aside, to pick up at least the 2009 option. Guaranteeing Manny $20 million is less risky than guaranteeing Adam Dunn or Pat Burrell (decent FA comps) $100 million.

"What interest did Boston management have in "provoking" Manny without cause?"

Interest? I don't know if they had any interest at all. They thought he was lying about being hurt and called him on it. If I had to guess, I'd say the suspension threat was probably made in haste. They're in a dogfight for the AL East....big series vs the hated Yankees....Papi's first game back from the DL....and Manny pulls out. And to make matters worse, they get shut out 1-0 by Joba. I can see how management would be terribly frustrated by that. And they acted on it. Not sure there was any interest invovled other than to call Manny on what they thought was a bluff and get him back in the lineup ASAP.

I'm not sure the Sox would do the same thing if they could do it all over again. Because I believe that's really what instigated Manny to say the things he said about the organization the next day and set this whole thing off.

The McCormick incident, the Youk incident, asking out in Seattle...I would say it came to a head that night but it was a long time coming.

As Theo alluded to in the trade post-mortem, part of the deal was about "standing for something as an organization." That's what publicly calling Manny out was about as well.

And while Manny begged back onto the Red Sox (according to the Cafardo report), I can tell you the Boston FO couldn't be happier with how things played out.

That's an intersting point, Matt. Because prior to Sully's claim that his Sox contacts' said that the Sox were "eager" to pick up the options, I had thought the same thing....that Boston likely wasn't going to pick up Manny's options due to age, heatlh, past headaches he has caused, etc.

Regardless what the Sox' real intentions were, I can't find a single Manny quote saying he was unhappy with his contract situation one way or another. Again, he did make the comment about the Sox not being straightforward with him, but that had more to do with the treatment he was receiving rather than the contract itself.

Just read the article and comments. very interesting. I agree that in the end Manny had to go one way or another. I do agree with Sully though that the Red Sox may have provoked Manny to make things good with the fan base. You may scoff at Manny bringing up Pedro and Nomar, but it is interesting that this seems to happen a lot in Boston. As I think back on it, even before current ownership and GM, there has been a pattern of the star player being painted as a malcontent (or slacker or whatever else) on the way out. Pedro, Nomar, Mo, Clemens, Boggs and even Jim Rice and Carlton Fisk in the 80's split acrimoniously from the Sox. I can't think of another team that has so consistently split with their stars this way. It actually is pretty smart as I have also rarely heard a Sox fan pine for any of the players back afterwards either.