Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 31, 2008
BASEBALL: Manny Blue

As deadline deals go, this is a biggie: Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers, Jason Bay to the Red Sox, a package of prospects to Pittsburgh:

Third baseman Andy LaRoche and right-handed pitcher Bryan Morris will go to the Pirates from the Dodgers. Outfielder Brandon Moss and right-handed pitcher Craig Hansen will leave the Red Sox organization for Pittsburgh.

The core of the deal is the contract status of the two stars. "Ramirez is in the final guaranteed season of an eight-year, $160 million contract. It also contains club options at $20 million each for 2009 and 2110," while Bay "has one year and $7.5 million left on his four-year contract and will make $7.5 million in 2009."

Sox fans seem to be split on this, with the majority being steaming mad and a dedicated minority happy to finally reach the end of Manny's annual rituals of exasperating the fans, teammates and front office. Pirates fans are like a wino without the energy to grab the bottle after it tips over and drains out on the sidewalk. They just sit there, watching it flow....although in the long run, they did get a decent package of players, as LaRoche has some good pop at 3B and Hansen has a decent arm, although he has yet again been ineffective at the big league level. As always with a team like the Bucs, the question is less the guys they got in return than what this says about their business model and whether it includes ever being competitive.

For the Dodgers, this is a win-now move, and one borne of the weakness of their division and the parlous state of their lineup, which is 13th in the NL in runs. I'm not sure win-now makes a ton of sense for a team that by all rights should get squashed in the playoffs, but recent history has been kind to weak teams in the playoffs.

The major attention will focus on the Sawx, though, since they are the ones dumping a Hall of Fame talent who is having a good year (.299/.398/.529, 66 Runs, 68 RBI - not the Manny of old but not bad for age 36) and who, after many years of underachieving in October, has batted .317/.548/.438 and averaged an RBI a game in the playoffs since 2004, as the heart of the Sox two World Championship teams. They deal him for Bay, a 29-year-old .281/.375/.515 hitter who is batting almost exactly that (.282/.375/.519, 72 Runs, 64 RBI) this season. (Both players are hitting marginally better at home, but Bay has been working in the comparatively weak NL Central).

How you value the deal depends entirely on whether you think the loss of Manny's bat in the postseason is worth trading a half season of Manny for a year and a half of Bay (the Sox are eating Manny's contract so it's not a financial savings). I tend to think it's a defensible deal, in the 50s Yankees sense of trading a guy a year too early rather than too late, although I frankly probably would not have made this deal myself. The Sox are, after all, defending a World Championship, and even though this has been something of a reloading year for them, they are still very much in the hunt, 3 games behind an overachieving Rays team and leading the Wild Card race. On the other hand, Manny has been enough of a distraction, and Bay is good enough, that at least the players are unlikely to look at this as a surrender.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:15 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I'm actually surprised they gave up Moss in order to make this go through. The Sox used to have a stack of OF prospects, not so much anymore.

Posted by: Dave at July 31, 2008 6:51 PM

To my mind, the Sox are built to win now, so I would have kept Manny - given that he was demanding other teams that trade him drop his options and let him become a free agent, I think they could have done the same and patched things up for a few months. The deal does improve their chances next year, when Bay ought to be pretty close to Manny in value, for 12 million less, but I think it weakens them this year. And Papi will be another year older then.

Posted by: Jerry at July 31, 2008 7:35 PM

The team that did the best in this trade was the Yankees. Thank God Manny is in the National League.

Posted by: trooper york at July 31, 2008 7:55 PM

End of a brilliant era. A pleasure to watch him hit. This was probably an inevitability from the day he signed 8 years ago. Bay can't replace him and the loss of Moss is bad as he was a 24 year old with huge upside. Hansen needed to go somewhere else to find himself as it just was not working in Boston. See ya Manny. Thanks for everything.

Posted by: jim at July 31, 2008 10:34 PM

I tend to agree with The Crank in the sense of moving too early rather than too late. They did that with both Pedro and Damon, and probably Nomar as well.

Manny was a great hitter, but his act had grown old. Maybe Father Joe can coax a couple of good months out of him.

Posted by: Magrooder at August 3, 2008 10:48 PM

Jim,

You're right that Bay can't completely replace Manny. For his sake I hope he doesn't feel that is expected of him. However, if he replaces 85% of Manny's positives without replicating the "Manny being Manny" crap it could be a net positive. Possibly the worst thing for Boston would have been Manny finish this season with them and do just well enough to convince them to pick up the option.

Posted by: largebill at August 4, 2008 10:29 AM

lb,

I agree Manny had to go, it was just too far gone and even buds of his on the team were being worn down by the situation. As much as it pains me to see that guy and that stick leave sometimes things are just what they are. I'm bummed they had to move Moss in the deal to make it work because that guy has some raw natural athletic ability and he's a lefty to boot. Manny clearly is doing fine in the NL and he might be able to single-handedly lift the Dodgers to the NL Worst title. I think Bay is a piece and I believe the Sox have a move or 2 left in them before the end of the season.

Posted by: jim at August 4, 2008 12:11 PM

I'm relieved. Manny had the air of a man about to develop a limp and take September off. I've seen that season and once was enough.

This trade is an interesting illustration of how the rich clubs get richer. Not only did the Red Sox have a few prospects to deal -- evidence of a fully developed farm system -- but they could afford to eat a huge chunk of Manny's contract. Everyone knows that the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and Dodgers have the bucks to sign big name free agents. They also have the bucks to make them go away.

The sad thing for the Pirates is not they lost Jason Bay a year ahead of schedule, but that they had to go beg other teams for prospects.

Posted by: Henry at August 4, 2008 1:27 PM
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