Day 1

The Post-Manny Era begins now. Should I feel sad? Because actualy I feel relieved.

I didn’t think I would feel this way. Manny Ramirez is in some respects the Ted Williams of our time — a legendary hitter whose battles with the press, however unfair, helped to tarnish his legacy, at least in the short term. Over time, Williams appropriately became a New England sports god, even if he never answered the fans letters until 1999. Ramirez is not destined for the same pedestal, but he’ll be on one sooner or later.

I feel like I should feel sad about this. Intellectually, I mourn the passing of an era. David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez from 2003-2006 formed the greatest two-man combo we will probably ever see. Ramirez is forever tied to the 2004 World Series by winning its MVP award; he’s forever tied to the 2007 champions with his career-defining home run off K-Rod in the ALDS. When Manny arrived, not surprisingly, he became an icon, and we forgave his foibles because ultimately he made the frustrations worth coping with. He didn’t play the game the right way, and no matter what definition you use, that seems incontrovertible. He didn’t hustle on ground balls, and that cost him hits. He often stared at his deep drives — even when they didn’t leave the park. They were frustrating, but they were a small price for The Greatest Right-Handed Hitter of His Generation.

My wife, a casual baseball fan inducted into the Nation by marrying me, said last night she kept track of the innings by when Manny Ramirez came to bat. Not Big Papi. Manny. Because as large a presence as the Large Father is, no one loomed larger in that lineup than Manuel Aristides Ramirez.

Now he’s gone. And I’m relieved.

Let’s not get into the reasons again. We know what’s happened — the slap, the shove, the knee, the comments. It’s not a separation, it’s a divorce. A messy divorce. In the end, Ramirez got what he has apparently wanted ever since he arrived in 2001. In the end, the Red Sox got what they have apparently wanted ever since the new ownership arrived in 2002. The fans, caught in the middle, are left with a mix of emotions and questions, not least of which is, "What now?"

The easy answer to that question is, "Jason Bay." Jason Bay is not Manny Ramirez. He’s not The Greatest Right-Handed Hitter of His Generation. He might be that in Pittsburgh, but this isn’t Pittsburgh. But he is an All-Star, a better-than-solid bat six years younger than Ramirez who comes much more cheaply and is locked in for another year — maybe longer if he adjusts well to Boston. His numbers this season are comparable to Manny’s, he’s a better fielder and a better runner, and he comes without the drama, both good and bad.

We shouldn’t underestimate the predicament the Red Sox faced. If not Ramirez’s words, certainly the club’s own actions showed they felt they had to move him at almost any cost. Reports indicate Manny had lost Francona, lost the players; his presence, they felt, was costing the team, and they clearly believed his continued presence would destroy the rest of the season. Other teams knew this. Boston was not dealing from a position of strength this trade deadline.

Given those factors, receiving a hitter like Jason Bay in return may be one of Theo Epstein’s greater accomplishments as general manager. Results may prove otherwise, but based solely on current levels of talent, the Red Sox upgraded their left field position by trading Manny Ramirez. Not long ago, this was thought to be impossible. That the Sox received such a good return is indeed a relief.

So farewell, Manny. Thank you for everything. No hard feelings, but it’s best that you’ve gone.

48 comments… add one

  • Gammons last night on SC said Manny had quit in 2006 too. This history was much longer than just this season…

    A YF August 1, 2008, 11:50 am
  • By the way, Theo did a great job under the circimstances. I’d rather have Bay and I-Rod than Nady, Marte, and I-Rod. But I think Cashman saw two things I tend to underemphasize:
    1) Bay is only a LF/DH.
    2) Marte is a veteran setup guy.

    A YF August 1, 2008, 11:52 am
  • I cant get over the fact the sox threw in so much cash in this trade. Id imagine the dodgers could afford to pay at least some of his contract. The result is they are paying Manny to hit HRs for Joe Torre. Amazing how fast things change in baseball.

    Sam-YF August 1, 2008, 12:05 pm
  • Here’s the lost Manny sports center ad, apparently they cant air it again since he is wearing a sox jersey in it…
    http://awfulannouncing.blogspot.com/2008/08/manny-sports-center-commercial-youll.html

    Sam-YF August 1, 2008, 12:08 pm
  • I love Bay, but ya, the Yanks don’t need another left hand bat though. Especially since Bay isn’t too effective against leftys (at least this year..)

    Lar August 1, 2008, 12:16 pm
  • Sam-YF: there have actually been a number of reports about the Dodgers having cash-flow problems, so it doesn’t surprise me that both their deadline deals involve the other team picking up the salary.
    Also, I will continue to mourn the loss of Manny. But I admire how quickly Paul is able to move on.

    stuck working August 1, 2008, 12:27 pm
  • Well, the Boston Press is trying to do a super-awesome job on day 1…stories in the Boston Journal about Manny not seeing Cancer patients?
    Sweet!

    walein August 1, 2008, 12:30 pm
  • This is really a great trade for the Red Sox, and not because of the leverage situation which I think is being overplayed by the media. The Sox did not have to get rid of Manny despite the claims that he would have been too big a distraction going forward and that he lost the support of his manager and his teammates. They made the trade because when they realized they were going to get Bay, they were likely getting the best player in the deal–or close to the best player in the deal–at a cost that would help them this year and beyond.

    Nick-YF August 1, 2008, 12:55 pm
  • I think that’s Gerry Callahan in the Herald with the cancer patient story.
    At any rate, the Boston media are not impressive today, pretty much taking for granted that “Bay will not be Manny Ramirez,” which is true if you think of Manny as the utterly dominant force he was for the first six years in Boston. The problem is that under those theories, Manny Ramirez will not be anny Ramirez either. The mass assumption that the Sox tonight will field a poorer lineup than they fielded Wednesday just doesn’t seem correct right now. Less intimidating? Sure. But last I checked you don’t get extra runs just because your lineup is superscary.

    Paul SF August 1, 2008, 1:04 pm
  • I’m just glad he is gone. Seriously happy. Manny KILLED US EVERY FREAKING GAME!!! Although the Bay is a solid player, he is no Manny. This makes the Sox weaker. I read somewhere that the Sox won more playoff games during Manny’s tenure than they did in the previous 88 years of their history combined. This fact cannot be ignored. Bottom line, they did what they had to do and they probably feel good about it…but this Yankee fan does too.
    Why is no one jumping on the “Manny for DH in 2009″ bandwagon for the Yankees??? Seems like a no brainer to me…of course most of my brain is clogged with malted hops and bong resin so…(tommy boy reference!)

    krueg August 1, 2008, 1:05 pm
  • I’m not suggesting that there was an intentional smear campaign but this deal, which I think is Theo’s wet dream (get younger, cut salary, add roster flexibility for the years to come), would not have occurred without the controversies of this past month. Manny getting traded would not be an easily accepted notion if the shit doesn’t hit the fan like it did. What’s very interesting to me is that Theo probably would have loved to make this deal even if Manny was being a solid citizen.

    Nick-YF August 1, 2008, 1:09 pm
  • “…Gammons last night on SC said Manny had quit in 2006 too….”
    just curious ‘a’, do you or anyone else know if that was gammons’ take on manny back in ’06 when it happened, or does petey’s credibility take yet another hit by looking like an ungrateful fan simply taking a swipe at a guy who didn’t want to be his hero anymore?…as i recall he was part of the coverup, the manny being manny crowd, nudge-nudge, wink-wink…all of a sudden, we’re hearing what gammons really thinks, what francona and teammates supposedly thought all along…say one thing about the FO, they are as good at damage control, managing and disseminating misinformation, and manipulating the media, than any government in history…only after the ruling monarch is unseated does the truth come out…
    “…Why is no one jumping on the “Manny for DH in 2009″ bandwagon for the Yankees??? …”
    check loopy-ka’s column today in the ny daily news, kreug…he closes out his rant with suggesting just that…

    dc August 1, 2008, 1:19 pm
  • I thought the Sign Old Declining Expensive Free Agents motto was done in the Bronx?

    LocklandSF August 1, 2008, 1:36 pm
  • I think there’s a 0 percent chance that the Yanks sign Manny if Cashman is still around.

    Nick-YF August 1, 2008, 1:48 pm
  • I love Bay, but ya, the Yanks don’t need another left hand bat though.
    Bay is right-handed.

    Atheose August 1, 2008, 1:58 pm
  • Crap forgot to close the tag.

    Atheose August 1, 2008, 2:00 pm
  • BAH!

    Atheose August 1, 2008, 2:00 pm
  • Atheose August 1, 2008, 2:01 pm
  • Fixed. My apologies, both for the tags and the mass posting.

    Atheose August 1, 2008, 2:01 pm
  • Lar –
    Bay is right-handed. Yeah but the Yanks didn’t need another LF/DH. But I also don’t think they needed another bullpen arm. Still, I-Rod was Farns was genius.
    To be quite honest Bay’s a perfect fit for replacing Manny. Of course he’s not the same feared slugger, and he won’t come close against the Yanks. But all things considered, he fills the need in the OF and in the lineup and without sacrificing balance. And they get 1.3 years to see if Bay is worth a long-term deal. Not bad at all and I couldn’t see the Sox doing better short of a Kemp or Markakis. Of course, the Yanks got a bit better at the deadline and the Sox got a bit worse. Should be a fun finish!
    The only other solution was probably trading Manny for prospects and signing Bonds. Can’t see how THAT would have gone down in Beantown.
    dc –
    Yeah on Petey. I used to really like the guy. Still, I think it’s interesting that he got more upset by the missed game on Friday than the assaults. 2006 was probably easy to dismiss since the Sox were already falling out of it. Friday night was obviously different.
    Nick –
    I think you’re absolutely right on it being a deal they would have liked to make. Still, they got a player they would want but they gave up way too much in the process. And I don’t mean the prospects – those are window dressing. I mean the $7 million to take Manny. In terms of real deadline value, Manny should have been worth a Bay and two B prospects.
    Speaking of which – the Pirates got absolutely killed. They traded Bay, Marte, and Nady and all they got was 1 MLB-ready prospect (LaRoche)? The others are borderline or might-bes.
    I also agree, Nick, on Cashman and Manny. Still, an argument could be made that they need the RH-bat, he thrives in Yankee Stadium, it would be a short deal (which they like these days), and it would crush the Red Sox. Seems liek a perfect horse for the Steinbrothers to ride!

    A YF August 1, 2008, 2:01 pm
  • “They were frustrating, but they were a small price for The Greatest Right-Handed Hitter of His Generation.”
    Sorry to go a bit off topic but I dont think this is a fait complete. I think our 3b gives him a serious run for this title. Id be satisfied if the phrase “one of” was inserted…

    Sam-YF August 1, 2008, 2:29 pm
  • If Manny is so “crazy” and hates the Sox as much as he does…would it be crazy to think he would take a shorter deal to come home and try and stick it to the Sox??? I’d be all for it..(can’t believe I’m suggesting Man-ram in pinstripes!)

    krueg August 1, 2008, 2:31 pm
  • Sorry, Sam, but I don’t have any problem with that phrasing. A-Rod is the far better, and more valuable, *player* but that’s different.
    If anyone comes close to Manny for that title, it’s the Big Hurt. But I’m afraid even he falls just a bit short (more patience, but less power).
    Pujols would be an interesting comparison if their peaks overlapped.

    A YF August 1, 2008, 2:35 pm
  • Sorry to go a bit off topic but I dont think this is a fait complete. I think our 3b gives him a serious run for this title. Id be satisfied if the phrase “one of” was inserted…
    Career OPS+:
    Manny Ramirez: 154
    Alex Rodriguez: 148
    Albert Pujols: 168
    Pujols comes close, but he also started a decade after Manny.

    Atheose August 1, 2008, 2:46 pm
  • Good point, Frank Thomas career OPS+: 157. He had a lot of injuries in his career though, which held him back somewhat.

    Atheose August 1, 2008, 2:48 pm
  • I read somewhere that the Sox won more playoff games during Manny’s tenure than they did in the previous 88 years of their history combined. This fact cannot be ignored.
    It can’t be ignored, but it can be easily dismissed. The era in which Manny played in Boston featured three rounds of playoffs, versus one or two for most of the rest of the Red Sox’ history, and as such, the Red Sox APPEARED in far more games. If there had been three rounds of playoffs in 1903, 1904, 1912, 1915, 1916 and 1918 (and 1946… and 1967… and 1975… and 1986), I seriously doubt that “record” would still hold true.
    Secondly, the Red Sox have won even more playoff games under Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield (who was there for the 1998 ALDS and 1999 ALDS and ALCS), and I’m not sure anyone would make a similar argument for their irreplaceability.

    Paul SF August 1, 2008, 3:00 pm
  • Paul: I hear you Paul, but Manny had a lot more to do with the postseason success than Wakefield for sure…Varitek maybe closer to Manny’s contributions but do you really think the Sox are two time champs without Manny? Is Manny not in the pantheon of Fenway Greats? Maybe even #2? Appearing in games and winning games is two very different things with the latter being much less impressive than the former…

    krueg August 1, 2008, 3:21 pm
  • Is Manny not in the pantheon of Fenway Greats? Maybe even #2?
    #3, behind Teddy and Pedro.

    Atheose August 1, 2008, 3:28 pm
  • Yaz? Cy Young? Tris Speaker?
    This is actually a pretty cool exercise. I’d have to give that one some thought.
    As a Manny defender (not that it’s sounded like it lately), I fuly understand and apreciate his contributions, but his contributions are mostly in the past. The numbers that he put up to place him in a league with the all-time greats are not the numbers he’s putting up now. And whatever his role in leading the Sox to the postseason and the Promised Land in ’04 and ’07 — and it was a very large role — I don’t see any reason yet why Jason Bay couldn’t perform that same role, given their respective talent levels currently.

    Paul SF August 1, 2008, 3:50 pm
  • Great question, kreug. Where would SFs put Manny on the list of all-time Sox greats?
    I’d say the list has to include:
    Pitchers –
    – Cy Young
    – Lefty Grove
    – Pedro
    – Roger
    Hitters –
    – Tris Speaker
    – Jimmie Foxx
    – Teddy B.
    – Manny
    Second tier guys are probably Yaz, Boggs, Eck, and Fisk.
    I can’t see how Manny breaks that top 3 of hitters. Of that top 8, Manny is maybe more important than Roger or Pedro, because of the two championships, but that’s tough. But otherwise I can’t see how he breaks the top 5 old-timers. Still, it’s pretty amazing he comes as close to Foxx and Speaker as he does.

    A YF August 1, 2008, 3:53 pm
  • Lowell is batting clean-up. Swoon.

    soxgirl August 1, 2008, 3:54 pm
  • Looking forward to that post, Paul. On a quick glance, Manny had more service time with the Sox than did Speaker or Foxx but both won MVPs and both were probably a bit better, relative to the league, in their time in red hose. Still, I expect the raw numbers to favor Manny. Should be a fun exercise.

    A YF August 1, 2008, 3:56 pm
  • Paul: it seems to me that perhaps all the things going on behind the scenes affected his performance on the field. That and the fact that he seemingly gave up the last few weeks…
    With all this talk of him being not as good as he once was, sure, but he still is one of the best hitters in the game. I’ll even qualify it as best “clutch” hitters in the game…I’d welcome him as a DH in the Bronx next year.

    krueg August 1, 2008, 4:07 pm
  • I think highly of Bay, but the only question is whether he can handle being the guy that came after Manny. He’ll never SLG .550 or .600 but if he’s himself, that’s a solid line. A big win or two – like Drew’s slam – and he’ll win over the fans.
    Still, as a YF, I take solace in his struggles against the AL and in pressure spots. Should be interesting to watch, just like the Yanks trying to make the playoffs! Wouldn’t it be amazing if it was the two of them playing for the last playoff spot that last weekend at Fenway (which should have been at Yankee Stadium…)?

    A YF August 1, 2008, 4:10 pm
  • But krueg – would you welcome him as the RF? Cause that’s what the Yankees will need. Between Jorge, Damon, and Matsui they have too many guys at DH already for 2009. 2010 looks better with only Jorge, but then Jeter and A-Rod will start needing more time there.
    Me, I think RF at Yankee Stadium is doable for him. He’s got the arm and it’s not too big.

    A YF August 1, 2008, 4:13 pm
  • perhaps all the things going on behind the scenes affected his performance on the field.
    Manny hit .391/.513/.672 in his final 19 games with the Sox. If there’s one thing Manny is not, it’s affected by off-field drama when he’s at the plate. It’s why I don’t really buy the idea that he would quit on the team down the stretch. I personally think he would have continued to hit well, but I also think the team would have continued to stumble, as it seems apparent the players and Francona were having significant problems with his presence there.

    Paul SF August 1, 2008, 4:25 pm
  • “but I also think the team would have continued to stumble, as it seems apparent the players and Francona were having significant problems with his presence there.”
    I don’t see it. I think that oversimplifies things to a great degree. The Sox have been struggling of late in some part to a very difficult schedule featuring teams that are very hot. But this intangible chemistry angle isn’t convincing. Has Jason Varitek been awful at the bat because Manny’s act has been soul-draining?

    Nick-YF August 1, 2008, 4:32 pm
  • Not surprisingly, perhaps, I’m with Nick. This trade should remove any doubt about what the front office thought of Manny and how they interpreted recent events (AB against Mo and the non-start on Friday). According to them, he simply HAD to go. Gammons is making that part line very clear.
    But they could have played hard ball and told him they weren’t moving him and they weren’t picking up his option. So he better make sure he had solid numbers to go on the free agent market. Given that scenario, I’m sure Boras would have made clear to Manny what his options were – play his tail off for 100 million. They get a solid two months from Manny and then the draft choices.
    That where I think Nick was so right earlier. The Sox would have preferred to move Manny cause they get a better player than the free agent market was offering. The nonsense just gave them good cover.

    A YF August 1, 2008, 4:41 pm
  • But this intangible chemistry angle isn’t convincing. Has Jason Varitek been awful at the bat because Manny’s act has been soul-draining?
    Completely agree, Nick. Now that’s not an indictment of the trade: As I have previously mentioned I think the benefits of this trade are geared to the offseason and ’09, not ’08.

    SF August 1, 2008, 4:44 pm
  • I wouldn’t mind Manny platooning in the outfield A…I actually kinda hope Damon, Matsui or both are traded? Couple that with Bobby being let go and it seems we would have two open spots for free agents/Jackson? DH would be wide open…

    krueg August 1, 2008, 5:00 pm
  • But the club has played overall crappy baseball for the past two weeks, whereas they had succeeded most of the season with Varitek’s weak bat — and the inconsistent bullpen, for that matter.
    Maybe it’s just a slump; maybe they’re distracted. I honestly don’t know. I’m usually one to downplay team chemistry because I usually think winning and losing does a lot more for it than it does for winniing and losing, but the last two weeks have been so brutal, it makes you wonder.

    Paul SF August 1, 2008, 5:04 pm
  • I’m relieved too. Very! To quote the man himself, Enough is enough.
    Maybe I have a long memory, but I blame Manny for the Nomar thing too. The whole mess started because Red Sox was trying to dump Manny, and the only compatible contract for a straight-up swap was A-Rod’s. That got Nomar ticked off, and things all went downhill from there…

    Pat Scott August 1, 2008, 5:08 pm
  • That got Nomar ticked off, and things all went downhill from there…
    Um, no they didn’t!

    SF August 1, 2008, 5:14 pm
  • Paul – I dont understand how you can argue this point now after your post earlier this week showing how Manny’s lack of leadership, etc has had no effect on the team over his stay in Boston. Now suddenly only in the last 2 weeks his shenanigans and distractions are responsible for the team’s problems? That doesnt really make sense to me….

    Sam-YF August 1, 2008, 5:16 pm
  • Not being a leader is not equivalent to actively dragging down a ballclub, Sam. Rice was arguing that instead of helping teammates, Manny was off by himself. That struck me as silly because the team clearly was highly successful despite that lack of leadership.
    The last two weeks seem different, particularly based on the reports coming out today about how the veterans on the team essentially begged Theo to move Manny. That’s not just failing to be a leader.

    Paul SF August 1, 2008, 5:35 pm
  • Yes but the sox had been down this road many many times over the past 8 years apparently with no effect.

    Sam-YF August 1, 2008, 6:00 pm
  • “Sorry to go a bit off topic but I dont think this is a fait complete. I think our 3b gives him a serious run for this title. Id be satisfied if the phrase “one of” was inserted…”
    Sam, any other day I’ll give it to you. But our heads are still spinning over the last day or so, so indulge us our delusions a little while longer. And besides, factor in post-season play and it’s not even close.

    I'm Bill McNeal August 1, 2008, 6:07 pm
  • Seems like the report on Manny’s presser in LA belongs in this thread too.
    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3515527
    Torre asked him to cut his hair.

    A YF August 2, 2008, 7:39 am

Leave a Comment

Next post:

Previous post: