The Manny Ramirez Option

Yanks ink a pair of pitchers to minor league deals
Saturday Night Open Thread
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

There’s nothing more tempting to fans than a future Hall of Famer on the free agent market, especially after they’ve watched him do unheard of amounts of damage to their favorite team for the last decade. “I want that guy to do that in our uniform” is the feeling, and for the last three years there’s been a decently sized contingent of Yankee fans that have pined for Manny Ramirez in pinstripes. If you’re reading this site, then you’re no doubt very, very familiar with Mr. Ramirez, perhaps more familiar with him than you care to be. He tormented the Yankees for years, hitting .322/.413/.607 (.422 wOBA) with 51 homers in 861 career plate appearances against them. That’s MVP caliber production over a year-and-a-half worth of plate appearances.

Manny is a free agent this offseason, two years after his last crack at the open market. Over the summer he was placed on waivers and claimed by the White Sox, meaning that even if the Yanks wanted to claim him, they didn’t get the chance since the ChiSox had a higher priority. Just three years ago he posted a .432 wOBA, whacking 37 homers with the Sox and Dodgers. The “Manny quit on Boston” narrative is blatantly untrue; he had a .398 wOBA with the Sox that year, and hit .407/.500/.712 (.480 wOBA) in the weeks leading up to the trade. If only every player would quit on his team like that. Yeah, Ramirez has had more than his fair share of off-the-field issues that have occasionally spilled over into his on-the-field effort, but he was a baseball mashing machine.

The problem is that over the last two seasons, the baseball mashing has occurred with less and less frequency. After averaging 39.75 homers per year from 1996 through 2008, Manny dipped down to just 19 homers in 2009 and then just nine this year. After a solid but injury plagued effort with the Dodgers (.393 wOBA in 232 plate appearances) this season, he really dropped off with the White Sox, picking up just two extra base hits in 88 plate appearances. His .353 wOBA with Chicago is inflated by five hit by pitches; if we remove those, he drops down to a .314 wOBA. Here’s a graphical look at his power decline…

The Fall of Manny Ramirez.

Buster Olney thought it would be a good fit to poll various talent evaluators around the league to see what everyone thinks of Manny at this point in his career. It’s behind the iron curtain of Insider, but for the most part all of their opinions can be summed up by: “he’s a DH,” “solid bat, mid-.800 OPS guy,” “incentive-laden deal,” and “slow.” One called him a healthier version of Nick Johnson, meaning his offensive value stems from the ability to control the strike zone and get on base rather than drive the ball with authority.

The Yankees need a replacement for Marcus Thames, some kind of right-handed bat that will crush lefties, but Ramirez isn’t that guy. Not now anyway, it just doesn’t make sense. Manny offers negative defensive value and in fact the health of his legs is a concern (he was on the DL three times with leg related issues in 2010), so he probably couldn’t even play the field in an emergency spot. They’d be wasting one of three non-backup catcher bench spots on a guy that couldn’t do anything other than walk to the plate and occasionally run the bases. He would also take at-bats away from Jorge Posada as the DH, which in turn would take at-bats away from Jesus Montero, which is clearly bad for the long-term outlook of the franchise.

Manny is first ballot Hall of Fame lock, one of the greatest right-handed hitters we’ll ever see, but there’s no place for him on the Yankees at this time. They need someone more flexible defensively and frankly a little cheaper to be in a reserve role, not someone used to playing everyday that could become a distraction if things don’t go his way. I fully respect Manny’s absurd career accomplishments (how the hell did he never a) win an MVP, or b) finish higher than third in the voting?), but there’s no fit here. The Manny Ramirez option is a non-option for New York.

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Yanks ink a pair of pitchers to minor league deals
Saturday Night Open Thread
  • http://www.or.ly JM

    I’d only want him for MAYBE 5M (even that’s pushing it, to me anyways). But Boras is his client and he’ll be all like “He can EASILY play for 5 more years at MVP levels with fantastic defense” and, thus, will demand more guaranteed money that I would invest into other areas, like pitching. In conclusion, Thames is fine.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      It would be worth the $5 million just to make him cut his hair.

  • Big Bertha

    Manny is no 1st ballot HOF lock. He cheated the game and for that he probably never gets in. Why don’t we focus our attention on retaining a true 1st ballot HOFer, our captain Derek Jeter? Manny destroys teams with his antics. We don’t want or need that here.

    • Kevin in Delectable Princeton

      .313/.411/.586 with a 155 OPS+ is a first ballot hall-of-famer. PEDs don’t turn a marginal player into a beast like Manny, I’m confident he would have put up similar numbers without the drugs.

      • Big Bertha

        I agree, but the fact is he was caught using the drugs. And for that he will not get in on the 1st ballot, if at all. Just saying he that he is doesn’t make it so.

    • Dr Van Nostrand

      Not fully in agreement here but I’m with you on Manny not being a hall of fame lock. Can’t imagine anyone associated with PEDs will be a first ballot HOF lock, though I do hope he eventually gets in.

      • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S

        Barry Bonds? A-Rod? They’re both 1st ballot locks. Manny is close enough to them that he’ll make it.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com bexarama

          I would think that there’s a pretty decent chance Bonds doesn’t make it in on the first ballot. Same with Clemens. Same with A-Rod – but he’ll be eligible for the HOF in so many years that we might all be past the whole STEROID ERA!!!! thing.

          Bonds and Manny (and Clemens and A-Rod) are not HOF locks, but they should be. I just don’t know how the voters will treat them.

    • pete

      I agree to an extent about the first ballot lock thing. I think it’s a tad optimistic to call him a first ballot lock. I think he’s a lock to get in to the HOF, no doubt, but I think there’s a chance he doesn’t make it in on the first ballot. Small chance, but a chance nonetheless.

      I completely disagree about the “Manny destroys teams with his antics”. Not only do his two WS rings and oodles of playoff appearances empirically disagree with that, but I’ve lived in Boston my whole life, and he and Ortiz were the heart and soul of both of those WS teams, especially 2004. Whether or not there is a correlation between media/fan-perceived team atmosphere and actual team success, I can promise you that Manny played a HUGE part in dragging the perceived atmosphere of depressing mediocrity of that team before his arrival to its Manny-filled, fun-loving (and very good) counterpoints.

      As for the Jeter thing, I would say that it’s more than reasonable to call offering a 36 year old shortstop coming off a year of unprecedented mediocrity a three year deal worth $45 million “focus[ing] our attention on retaining” him? I think on the open market he could maybe, very optimistically, get a two year deal worth 22.5 million. The Yankees have beaten that offer by 1.5 times the years, and by twice the money. Everything he has already done for this team has been more than fairly compensated for by the Yankees. All they owe him for right now is what he’ll produce in the future. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that four or five years down the road (the deal he’s looking for, in other words), he could very well be a replacement level player. How on earth would that merit a $23m salary?

      • T of N Y

        Leaving out my emotional reaction to Jeter, I have to agree with your assessment, in general. One interesting take I read – I think it was a YES blog – makes the argument that because the Yankees were willing to throw away money recklessly before on such busts as Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, Kevin Brown and even AJ Burnett, the team should not hesitate to pay Jeter whatever he wants. Let’s look at some aspects of this argument.

        First, the idea that if you made a mistake before, someone can demand that you make the same mistake again is completely illogical. It deserves no more discussion and is facially ridiculous.

        Second, Jeter is a shortstop, not a pitcher. Shortstop is at best the third most important position on the field, pitchers are definitely the first. All the above-mentioned names are pitchers and all had pedigrees of World Series success when the Yankees chased after and signed them. Cashman likely disagreed with some of them but he certainly signed off on some of them, as well. Overpaying for pitching is a modern day Yankee business tool, was responsible for the 2009 title (Sabathia and Burnett were responsible for putting the Yankees over the hump) and will be cheered again this off-season once Cliff Lee is safely on his way to Tampa this February. Applying the model of bringing pitching to a team is incompatible with how to deal with a shortstop.

        Third, though many of us have emblazoned in our minds the memory of Jeter steadying what was at best a mediocre infield in 1996 and reminding us all how great the Yankees franchise is and has been for nearly 100 years, he and we have to accept that time and the aging process catches up to us all. Jeter is simply not physically capable of doing what he could 14 years ago, 10 years ago or even five years ago. Few athletes ever accept or admit to this, but it is very much the case.

        Fourth and finally, the Yankees are not obligated to pay Jeter for any “good will generated”, “ambassadorial behavior” or “brand-name building” unless it is written into the contract. Even if it were written into a contract, how would it be measured and quantified? Jeter has been turned into the face of this franchise through his hard work, copious talent and clean living. Most fortunate for him, though, has been the success of the franchise as a whole. Just as Joe Torre benefited from the success of the end-of-the-century Yanks, so has Jeter. Wouldn’t those teams have likely been as successful with a Nomar, A-Rod or Tejada at short?

        Jeter has played the game of baseball the right way and has played the game of public relations even better than anyone since, probably Cal Ripken, Jr. The zeitgeist of his era has been steroids and is more than ably represented by three of his teammates (Clemens, Giambi and A-Rod; that’s not to mention Andy Pettitte). Jeter has represented the anti-zeitgeist, if you will and has benefited and profited handsomely. The problem he now faces is recognizing that because he has been “perfect” in his public face (even winning the PR battle nearly a decade ago when a still cantankerous George Steinbrenner insisted Jeter stayed out too late to be a serious baseball player) he now cannot afford a misstep in his last contract negotiation. Yes, his public persona is based on his being a “Yankee for life” and not playing second for the Pittsburgh Pirates, or even Tampa Bay Rays at the age of 38. Whatever mistakes the Yankees have made or will make, paying Jeter as if he were still worth nearly $25 million a year would be counted among the largest mistakes they ever made.

    • Hughesus Christo

      The HOF voters have been freezing out anyone caught with steroids. This is documented fact.

    • Skippy

      Ball players have been using performancing enhancing drugs of some sort for decades upon decades. I’d tell you to go ask guys like Mickey Mantle, but you can’t, because he destroyed his body due to it. Not to mention that the Hall has several members already who were associated with the KKK, which is much worse than PED’s by any account. Manny most definitely deserves to be a 1st ballot HOFer, and it’s time for the “outraged steroid-whiners” like to yourself to just go away, permanently.

      • Loyaldog7

        You’re kidding about Mantle right? He did performance DECREASING drugs AKA alcohol, played with torn knee ligaments and knees that later were ‘bone on bone’ and still was a much better player than any the steroid cheaters. ARod, Bonds, Sosa, Palmiero, Ramirez, McGuire and all other cheaters should have their records erased. Guess it takes a cheater to condone cheating

      • yankeehater4life!!!!

        SKIPPY WELL PUT!

    • yankeehater4life!!!!

      and a-fraud didnt?

  • http://twitter.com/kschmidt2 Kiersten

    To put it simply: No.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      You’re just in a cranky mood.

      • http://twitter.com/kschmidt2 Kiersten

        Yes, but I also hate Manny Ramirez.

  • E6

    “If you’re reading this site, then you’re no doubt very, very familiar with Mr. Ramirez, perhaps more familiar with him than you care to be”

    Never heard of him..

  • Stan the man

    I think the 2 positive steroid tests will probably keep Manny from being a first ballot hall of famer and since he was so bad in the field for his entire career one could make the argument he will only see Cooperstown if he pays for a ticket.

    • brockdc

      While the concept of “team chemistry” is generally overblown, Manny presents one of the rare cases in which a player’s attitude and baggage outweigh the possible rewards. Manny version 2008, however, that would be another story.

      • brockdc

        Omit the “that.” Stupid grammar.

      • pete

        I already made the argument above, but I completely disagree re: Manny’s attitude. I saw him play just about every day for six years or so, and from what I saw, his teammates generally loved him, apart from Youkilis, and he was a big part of a major reconstruction of the atmosphere in Boston from the late-90s boredom and scrotal mediocrity to a fun-loving atmosphere that dominated the mid-2000s for that team. It wasn’t until they decided to don the “scrappy” hat that his team-friendly image went downhill.

        Now, like i said before, I have no idea what effect that had on his team’s performance, and I would guess that it was not enormous. I can guarantee, however, that his absurd level of offensive dominance contributed rather fancily to his team’s massive improvement during his tenure there.

  • Teh Comp Pick

    Can he play short?

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      As well as Jeter.

      • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S

        IETC

    • I Voted for Kodos

      He makes an excellent cutoff man. Just ask Johnny Damon.

      • pete

        #myfavoriteplayinthehistoryofbaseball

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    If we needed a DH I would love, love, love the idea of Manny in pinstripes. As much as people want to call him a cancer his teams have always had success.

    • Jimmy McNulty

      Yeah, two of my favorite players that I always wanted the Yankees have no need for. No Dunn or Man-Ram.

      :(

  • I Am Not The Droids You’re Looking For

    I don’t believe the obviously negative PED bias of HoF voters is going away in say 6-7 years when Manny will likey be eligible for the first time. No first ballot lock therefor.

  • Plank

    Even though he always killed the Yankees, I always loved the Man Ram.

  • dalelama

    Sorry if I missed it but why do we need a replacement for Thames? Has he already signed elsewhere?

    • Plank

      He hasn’t signed as far as I know.

      What I’m wondering is a zero-defensive, 4th OF-ish, platoony DH really a position that needs filling?

      Thames was a nice surprise last year, but attempting to refill that role isn’t really realistic. It’s more the position that get’s filled internally with the options available or done at the trade deadline if necessary.

    • I Voted for Kodos

      The thought is that Thames, coming of a good year, will want a prohibitively large raise.

    • The Three Amigos

      Thames has offers from Japan supposedly.

  • Ben j

    Hell no to Manny, he’s a washed up , braid wearing, roider-cheat, THAT’S A CANCER TO ANY TEAM HE’S ON.

    YANKEES DON’T WEAR DRED-LOCKS!!

    • AndrewYF

      He’s such a cancer that Boston can’t win a World Series without him.

      • Ben j

        Without his juice he can’t hit the juice balls anymore. He’s also NOT a team player, it’s all about him.

        • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

          You said he was a cancer TO ANY TEAM HE’S ON. Now you’re amending that statement?

          • Ben j

            nope, he’s bad news, besides Bashman is avoiding Boras for the Damon crap last year.

            • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

              Manny always plays on winning teams. Always.

              • AndrewYF

                Well, except for that Dodgers team this year. To be fair to Manny, it was managed by Joe Torre.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H
    • T of N Y

      Why are braids so bad?

  • theyankeewarrior

    He doesn’t make much sense for this team right now. But that could change by the trade deadline. Last year was Lance Berkman, this year it could be Man-Ram.

  • AndrewYF

    Boston needed to make Manny the villain, because they would be crushed by the fanbase for dealing him, one of the biggest reasons they won 2 WS, for a lesser hitter.

    Theo always hated having Manny on the team. Don’t forget they put him on irrevocable waivers after the 2003 season, and was about to happily swap him with A-Rod (although they wanted A-Rod to take his salary under $20M so they could continue to pretend to be the ‘little engine that could’.) I would be willing to bet that Theo hated that one of his players was making over $20M, a player that was signed to a 10-year deal while not under his watch.

    The funny part about it is that once Boston traded Manny, suddenly their postseason ‘magic’ disappeared. Bay was good in the postseason that year, no doubt, but does anyone doubt that Boston doesn’t beat out Tampa in the ALCS if they had Manny rather than Bay? If Boston didn’t completely smear him, making him yet another beloved-then-hated figure in Boston history (for a ‘storied franchise’, they have curiously few beloved players, wonder why…), the fan base would catch on to the FO’s flagrant mismanagement with him and start to turn against ‘Theo and the Wonder Team’. Their biggest strength as an FO is public relations. It’s amazing the way they lead their fan base around by the nose.

    • motoman

      Kind of off the mark bashing Boston’s management. They’ve won the WS twice since Cashman took complete control in NY.

      • AndrewYF

        And they probably would have won zero world series had they succeeded in getting rid of Manny after 2003.

        They completely mismanaged Manny, but spun it into Manny being the villain and the innocent front office being the victim. That’s what this post was about.

    • Teh Comp Pick

      This.

  • Bump

    I’m a lifelong forty+ year old Yankee fan. I won’t cheer for a team with Manny on it.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      Because he was a Yankee killer?

    • Ben j

      Amen brother me neither. He’s a big No!

      • Tom Zig

        I have a hunch that you and Bump are one in the same. I apologize if I’m wrong, but it seems almost too coincidental.

  • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com bexarama

    Unless he is hitting against the Yankees, words cannot describe how much I adore Manny. But yeah – there’s no place for him on the 2011 team and he won’t really be cheap. Le sigh.

    PS. Gentlemen, Google Image Search his wife. You’re welcome.

    • BART

      Y.U.C.K-Manny

    • the other Steve S,

      She is fine but not quite Vanessa Bryant. Close…

  • Kyle

    I think last season clearly demonstrated the value (and team need!) in a veteran OF who can play the outfield and not cost the team wins. Manny is not that player. Thames wasn’t either. We need a versatile bench.

    • whozat

      Um…what? At what point was that the most pressing issue the team faced? I think last year showed that, when your rotation is only two deep, you can’t win in the post season.

      • Kyle

        Maybe when Gardner and Swisher went down and we were putting Thames out there regularly….down the stretch…falling out of the division lead….

        I don’t recall stating that this was our greatest issue either…

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com bexarama

          …that was like in June

          • http://twitter.com/Carlosological Carlosologist

            More like May.

    • T of N Y

      You hit it on the head, as to the issue in question. Manny is not necessary to the team’s success and any benefit an older, much decreased Man-Ram could bring would be countered by the media circus he would generate as a Yankee. The team currently has too many DH options available to it. Outside of whatever emotional reactions one may experience, strategically bringing him in makes no sense and economically it makes even less sense. Obviously, the largest issue to be addressed is bringing in reliable pitching (starting and relieving) and then settling the Jeter question as quickly as possible – if for no other reason than to ensure Yankee fans have a pleasant holiday season and happy new year.

  • OMG Bagels!

    I hated the old “Manny being Manny” thing so much. Meaning Manny is being a jerk but that’s how Manny is. His on-field skills have declined but the Manny being Manny thing has not subsided. Even at his peak I would have said no.

    • yankees1717

      are you kidding me? the guy hit 300 with 40 Hrs basically every year in his peak, and you’d still say no?

  • http://twitter.com/Carlosological Carlosologist

    I’d be down having Manny on the team. Right now he isn’t an option considering we have Montero/Posada at DH, but if some team chooses to sign and then dump him at the deadline, I could see us getting him for relatively nothing (a la Austin Kearns). He could probably look alright (at best) in RF.

  • http://twitter.com/mgrieco Matthew G.

    I was unaware that there was a contingent of Yankees fans that pined for Manny Ramirez in pinstripes. I’m glad I hang out with the other contingent.

  • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S

    The whole Manny’s a winner/Manny’s a loser is bullshit. There’s really no such thing; he may have turned a few .500 teams into powerhouses, but Boston and Cleveland were pretty good besides him. Put him on the Yankees, we’ll win either way; put him on the Pirates, they’ll find a way to lose.

  • bonestock94

    No, he’s a douche and can’t stay healthy.

    • bonestock94

      There would probably be a parade in the Bronx the day he signed though.

  • The Three Amigos

    He could be an interesting option if Montero does not break camp with the team and Posada catches a slightly heavier workload earlier in the year. Incentive laden deal with low base so when Montero is ready hopefully sooner rather then later, you can shift posada to the DH and Manny can be traded or released.

    Granted that is probably an overkill scenario, but you just know Manny would beast as a yankee and definitely slaughter the Sox.

  • mustang

    NO, no a thousand times NO.

  • JerseyDutch

    Dump Jeter, sign Manny.

    (Just kidding.)

    • Monteroisdinero

      Dump Jeter. Sign Crawford. Move Gardy to right and Swish to DH.

      All problems solved.

      • Dirt

        Lay glove on ground at shortstop before each pitch. All problems solved.

      • Ray

        Except…you’ve just taken away Posada’s job & you don’t have a shortstop. Gardner’s arm also sucks in RF.

        You are simply brilliant as a GM. Sure you don’t work for the Pirates?

  • Kevin G.

    I kinda hope we sign Ramirez just to piss off the “get off my lawn” crowd.

  • Professor Longnose

    Of the many mistakes the Yankees have made since 2001, the biggest might be not claiming Ramirez when he was put on irrevocable waivers by Boston.

    But now I don’t think he’ll help.

  • http://dannyslifka.wordpress.com dannyslifka@aol.com

    One of the best on-base getters ever IMO

    • mickey7

      We do NOT want Ramirez in pinstripes. He stinks, He does not now, nor ever will belong in the NYY clubhouse. Bad Karma if you ask me…

  • Sal

    Thanks for doing the heavy lifting on Manny Mike but your kicking flat tires with this guy, it’s not even an option.Off the top of my head I’d look into Wigginton,Andruw Jones, even Nady, maybe he can bounce back or even Cantu before Manny. Why isn’t Wigginton already a Yankee? Who cares if he has a below-average UZR/150. the fact his OPS has dropped vs LHP makes him even cheaper in negotiations, and at 33 playing for the pinstripes for $2M or so is almost a no brainer. Unless he’s injured this guy can rake.

  • http://yesnetwork.com solamon

    manny ramirez is great hitter he helped the redsox beat us in the 2004 ALCS and helped them win the world series and he was the clean up hitter for the redsox manny ramirez could hit it would give us another backup out feilder and anther power hitter

  • roidmirez

    manny without steroids is no better than anyone else, about .260 avg. and the guy is pure 100% tard. you all know he sounds like a moron in english, well guess what, he sounds just as stupid in spanish. he’s a spoiled brat whose time has come and gone and it would be a complete failure to hire the over the hill dunce. leave hiring has-beens to the red sox, lol.

  • Frank g

    Manny in pinstripes???? Why would the Yanks disgrace the Franchise?? Let him go back to Boston to rot!!

  • Ross

    Manny Ramirez is NOT a first-ballot HOF selection. So far NO steroids-tainted hitter has made it and it will be years before one does. Nope…not Barry Bonds either though I do think he’ll get in eventually.

    Manny should play for a 2nd tier team hoping Manny-land can happen in their ballpark and bring in some extra jersey and ticket revenue.

  • Bill Tsoupas

    Um, NO! Who in their right mind would want fatal cancer?

  • jm44

    Manny is a Freakin Joke! I want NO part of his act in the Bronx.

  • Lord Al

    Manny would be a good Yankee.He may not have to cut his hair.most players have long hair now

  • armandito torres

    forget about Manny and go after Crawford….be smart