Time to Hash This Out

Nick Cafardo in today’s Globe says this:

So we are left with one compelling question: If the Red Sox still had Manny Ramírez, would they be working out at Fenway Park today and getting ready to host Game 1 of the World Series tomorrow?

One could reasonably conclude the answer is yes.

One could also reasonably conclude the answer is no. The Red Sox were awful-awful-awful in the two weeks leading up to the trade deadline, and terrific-terrific-terrific in the two months after. The question is how much of the rebound is attributable to the obvious relief the team felt upon the removal of Ramirez from the clubhouse.

There also seems to be a prevailing opinion that Ramirez would have shut it down had the Sox not traded him — an asertion I’ve never believed and certainly find no evidence for. During the time Ramirez was allegedly not playing as hard as he could for the Sox, he was raking the ball.

Even so, would Ramirez have gone on his epic tear in a Boston uniform, against AL pitching? I remain doubtful. Which leaves a question of exactly how well Ramirez would have performed, and whether that would have been better than the excellent, clutch production (plus star-caliber defense and solid baserunning) the Sox received from Jason Bay.

I don’t know the answer. Like Cafardo, I agree the trade needed to happen. And I think that means, deep down, we both suspect the Sox would probably be sitting home today, regardless of who was manning left field the final two months of the season.

23 comments… add one
  • Its certainly impossible to say what would have happened but I do think that the fact the sox played poorly before Manny was traded and then played better when he was gone was likely a coincidence more than anything. The sox have been successful for many years previous with Manny being Manny to various degrees. There are many other factors than can account for their bad play during this time.
    I also believe that Manny would have been very productive for the last 2 months of the year if he stayed in Boston. As productive as he was in LA? Maybe not. But he still would have been looking at a possible walk year. Furthermore, the guy just loves hitting and its hard to believe he wouldnt have gone on at least one hot streak during this time.
    To me it was pretty clear watching the ALCS this year that their lineup missed his presence. I realize Bay is a great hitter,etc but without him in the lineup it seemed like the Rays pitchers were more aggressive with Ortiz and the rest. The Ortiz/Manny 1-2 punch really powered the sox over the last few years and the offense keyed off this combo. Does this mean that the Sox win if Manny is there? Who knows. But I did feel that he was missed at least to some degree.

    Sam-YF October 21, 2008, 10:11 am
  • I don’t care to speculate how the Sox would have done if Manny was still around. This is a stupid article and a stupid topic, frankly (this is not meant towards Paul or Sam, by the way, but towards the journalist himself).
    The difference between the Series and going home was a hit in the eighth inning Sunday night, or Josh Beckett not pulling an oblique, or fifty other situations that Manny would have had nothing to do with. Manny wasn’t missed. Josh Beckett’s healthy oblique was missed. Mike Lowell was missed. JD Drew’s healthy back was, to an extent, missed. Jason Varitek playing at career average was missed. Manny’s absence as a cause of the season’s end is a stupid, sensationalist press’ red herring. I hate sh*t like this.

    SF October 21, 2008, 10:20 am
  • Amazingly enough I agree with SF, right on. Like I always say (yes, classy I know) I hate what ifs, What if Grandma had balls? She’d be Grandpa. Pointless.

    John - YF October 21, 2008, 10:33 am
  • Manny wasn’t missed. Josh Beckett’s healthy oblique was missed. Mike Lowell was missed. JD Drew’s healthy back was, to an extent, missed. Jason Varitek playing at career average was missed.
    This is an excellent point. Having a reliever starting the fourth inning of Game 2 (or at least coming in after the first two batters reached base) was missed most of all. Sox win the series in six games if that takes place.
    Both Boston papers this morning are discussing ways to shore up the middle of the lineup. I think they forget the Red Sox have been extraordinarily fortunate to have a 3/4 combo like Ortiz and Ramirez over the past five years. It was one of the best in history. You don’t just go out and get a replacement. And more teams have won the World Series without such a combo than with one.
    That said, if the Sox want to sign Teixeira, shift Youkilis and trade Lowell, I won’t complain.

    Paul SF October 21, 2008, 10:33 am
  • Manny is damn good, and would’ve made a difference.. but probably not dramatically over Bay. So I’ll go with the “probably not” crowd..

    Lar October 21, 2008, 10:36 am
  • “This is an excellent point. Having a reliever starting the fourth inning of Game 2 (or at least coming in after the first two batters reached base) was missed most of all. Sox win the series in six games if that takes place.”
    Along the same lines, its a bit simplistic to say simply doing this results in the sox winning in 6. Who’s to say the reliever who comes in doesnt give it up or exhausting the pen early on doesnt hurt later in the series, etc, etc.
    I make this point so, weeks/months/years from now, we dont see posts saying “if not for a different decision by Francona in game 2, the sox are in the series”

    Sam-YF October 21, 2008, 10:37 am
  • Oh, I forgot Ortiz’ wrist, too.

    SF October 21, 2008, 10:38 am
  • John – I think the classic one is the “what if Helen had a wart on her nose?” Then there wouldn’t be the war.. etc. Haha.

    Lar October 21, 2008, 10:38 am
  • Also, Paul do you really think the sox could find a taker for Lowell at his age, contract, and injury status?

    Sam-YF October 21, 2008, 10:38 am
  • And I don’t mean to list these things as excuses for why the Sox lost, but rather to show the multitude of factors that contributed to the Sox not making the series by TWO RUNS IN ONE GAME.
    Manny is a non-factor.

    SF October 21, 2008, 10:41 am
  • Also, Paul do you really think the sox could find a taker for Lowell at his age, contract, and injury status?
    Hopefully his contract wasn’t insured by AIG!

    SF October 21, 2008, 10:42 am
  • The Sox are in the series, and probably win it, with Manny. They lost the deciding game by two runs. His absence has shown how much he protected Papi in the lineup. It’s obvious. If the Sox had simply declined his options, he would have had plenty of rea$on$ to play hard. And he wasn’t the reason they played so poorly those two weeks prior to the trade, unless it was his inability to take the mound.
    Oh well. They would have lost him any ways (declining those options) and Bay is better than any free agent out there. And they save money on him that they can use on Fucal and Teixeira. One step backward, hopefully two forward.

    andrew sf October 21, 2008, 10:44 am
  • ‘That said, if the Sox want to sign Teixeira, shift Youkilis and trade Lowell, I won’t complain.”
    Furcal is more of a priority. Then Tex. Still, keep Lowell. Between him and Papi, they’ll get a full season of decent production.

    andrew sf October 21, 2008, 10:47 am
  • all I can say is – imagine if Manny played motiviated his whole career. Seriously, he has shown he is unstoppable when motivated. wow.
    That said, it’s a mute point, who knows how things play out – the media has a slow day, so they need filler. The team played well without him, and will continue to do so.

    dw (sf) October 21, 2008, 11:18 am
  • Give it a rest, Cafardo. Was he asking for Manny back when Bay was torching the Angels in the ALDS?
    I’m with SF. It’s monumentally stupid to pose bs hypothetical questions. Bad journalism, too.

    YF October 21, 2008, 2:42 pm
  • Any team will take any player if properly subsidized. That said, I wouldn’t expect much for him. If the Sox were to sign Teixeira, Lowell would essentially be a sunk cost. That would be an awful lot of money for, essentially, Mark Teixeira. But the Sox have a lot of money coming off the books, and the lineup is clearly their biggest area of need.

    Paul SF October 21, 2008, 3:03 pm
  • i’m late to this party, but i’m inclined to side with the crowd that says “what if’s” are not important in the grand scheme of things…but, they are human nature, and that makes them relevant, especially on this site, as long as they’re not far-fetched…what if my dad had taken the job in california, what if i hadn’t gone to that college and met my future wife, would i be a yankee fan if i grew up in canada?…silly, perhaps, pointless, perhaps, but a lot about human nature and what makes us rationalize stuff is…as to whether the sox may have missed manny, who knows really, but to dismiss it without even minimal consideration is counter to what so much of the discussion is based on at this site…isn’t the hot stove and spring training a big what if?…didn’t soxfans ask themselves what if schilling didn’t get hurt, or lester emerge, or for yank fans, what if wang didn’t get hurt?…didn’t paul spend a whole involved post examining how bay had effectively replaced manny by what-iffing manny’s 1st half stats with boston over the 2nd half IF manny had stayed in boston…maybe this is getting this treatment because it’s about manny, and you don’t want to admit that the sox may have missed his threat in the lineup…not trying to start something, i can empathize because i’d feel the same way if one of my heroes left on bad terms [the ‘we didn’t need that bum anyhow’ defense]…someone should ask ortiz if he misses him…

    dc October 22, 2008, 9:40 am
  • It has nothing to do with Manny, dc, it has to do with the circumstances: the facts are that the Sox excelled with Bay, they were a hit or two away from the World Series with Bay, and there were several other massive factors that contributed to their failures, not the least of which was the Tampa Bay Rays themselves.
    There would be a much bigger and far more legitimate discussion, one I might engage more vigorously, had the Sox skidded out of the regular season and not even made the playoffs. As it was, they almost won the division, they had I think the third-best record in MLB, they beat the team with the best record in the AL as the away team, and they almost won the ALCS as the away team, losing to the best team in their own division. Looking at Manny as the source of their failure, when his replacement played all-star grade baseball, is, to me, a big fat red herring.

    SF October 22, 2008, 9:56 am
  • i don’t mean to imply that it was all about manny sf…no doubt bay filled in very well, but i don’t think bay strikes fear in opposing pitchers, or causes teams to alter their strategy, like manny does…and assuming that manny would have posted similar numbers in the 2nd half that he did in the 1st half is a giant “what if”, and ignores what manny really did out in LA…and remember while you correctly point out that the sox finished up just fine [and did well against the angels], they did fail to catch the rays when the opportunity presented itself…were there other factors?…of course, as you say the rays had something to say about it…all i’m saying is that to ignore or dismiss the possibility that manny’s absence may have altered the sox history [good or bad by the way], is to ignore one of those factors…if you still don’t believe me, explain why paul did such a detailed post about it…the essence of his post was that the sox didn’t miss manny, but that’s not the point, what the post did was to play the “what if” game that’s now being poo-pooed in this thread, and it exemplifies the fact that even though he’s gone, he still has influence on the fans psyche…as a yf, i’m thrilled manny’s gone…it’s not a stretch to imagine that the sox missed manny, a guy some of you have referred to as the best right-handed hitter you’ve seen [and clutch too], just a little bit…i just think it feels crappy to have to admit it…

    dc October 22, 2008, 10:37 am
  • if you still don’t believe me, explain why paul did such a detailed post about it
    Paul’s post compared the performances of Manny before the trade to Bay after the trade, it didn’t ascribe blame to the trading of Manny as the reason for the Sox’ failures, or speculate about how things might have been different. And it was also in relation to the focus on Teixeira and the lack of focus on Bay. Paul’s piece was actually analytical, Cafardo’s piece has NO ANALYSIS in it whatsoever, it’s simply an editorial. It’s the standard arms-length “who is to blame, who isn’t to blame” BS, not a piece of analysis based on events.

    SF October 22, 2008, 11:01 am
  • but, the point of paul’s prior post was to declare that the sox were at least as good, if not better, with bay than with manny, using “what if”, as in ‘what if manny stayed’, logic…to poo-poo “what if” scenarios in this thread seems inconsistent to me…cafardo’s not a hack as far as i can tell, he’s just musing about what might have been…he didn’t say it was anything more than that…a lot of analysis beyond what manny meant to the sox past success is not necessary here…this is manny we’re talking about, not nomar…the kind of analysis that makes up projected stats based a player’s first half of a season and ignores what he really did, is of little value as well…all cafardo said was that manny could have made a difference, but the sox did the right thing getting rid of him, even if [a big if] it meant they didn’t go further in the playoffs, and they may have had a little dirt on their hands as far as how they handled him…his high maintenance personality was not news…cafardo also acknowledges the other contributing factors to the sox not completing the job…he admits it’s an opinion, it has to be given the circumstances, but it’s an opinion that belongs right up there with the one that says the sox didn’t miss manny…

    dc October 22, 2008, 11:54 am
  • Manny’s 2008 numbers against Rays pitching (12 games):
    .200 / .308 / .311 (1 HR)
    Bay’s performance in the ALCS (7 games):
    .292 / .469 / .458 (1HR)
    If anything, Manny may well have been worse than Bay in the series. The Rays had plenty of exposure to Ramirez during the regular season, and had little difficulty getting him out.
    This whole “Missing Manny” meme is really frustrating. Offensively, the reason we lost the series was that Varitek, Ortiz, Lowrie, and Kotsay struggled.

    Andrew F. (Sox Fan) October 22, 2008, 12:26 pm
  • ok, i’ll drop it…it’s pointless to continue a discussion where only 1 opinion matters…

    dc October 22, 2008, 12:47 pm

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