Oh, Manny, Manny, Manny. What ever will baseball do with you?
At age 36, Manny Ramirez had a season for the ages. Spending time in Boston and Los Angeles, Manny hit a combined .332/.430/.601 with 37 HR and 121 RBI. Despite racking up just 229 NL plate appearances, he finished fourth in the league’s MVP voting, and the writers wouldn’t have been wrong had they given him the award.
With free agency looming, he seemed to be playing inspired baseball, and clearly, he was hoping for a big pay day. Well, the Winter Meetings have come and gone, and Manny is still unemployed. The Dodgers have offered him a two-year deal, and the team is prepared to wait him out. In other words, if Manny realizes that nothing will top that offer, the Dodgers will tack on a third year and call it a deal.
For his part, though, Manny will have none of it. In fact, the Manny Ramirez camp has unleashed the retirement “threat” on the baseball world. According to Ken Davidoff, sources close to Manny say the slugger would retire if no team were to offer a deal to his liking. In a line straight out of the Dugout, Manny supposedly spends his days working out, watching cartoons and playing video games.
Now, clearly, Manny isn’t going to retire. He seems rather focused on some personal milestones. Both 600 HR and 3000 hits are within his reach. But these are the antics that lead teams to stay away from Manny Ramirez. Personally, I’d love to stick Manny’s bat into the middle of the lineup. Bat him fourth of fifth behind A-Rod, and the Yanks would pummel opposing pitchers.
Then, I realize that we’d have to deal with Manny’s mood swings too. We’d have to deal with his tendency to remove himself from games at key points, his tendency to threaten retirement, his tendency to do the whole Manny being Manny thing. Is it worth it? Probably. But it’s not a shock that teams aren’t rushing to sign Manny Ramirez when his camp starts dropping the r-word as though Manny’s retirement is a threat to anyone other than Manny.
As the Yanks near a deal with A.J. Burnett, the trade talks for Mike Cameron are back on, according to multiple reports. This is almost as fun as the now-dead Jake Peavy-to-the-Cubs deal. Anyway, use this as a blanket open thread as sorts. If nothing else happens tonight, you won’t be hearing from me for a few hours. · (307) ·
Numerous reports, all of them relying on the same Post article, contend that Brian Cashman left the Winter Meetings today bound for Andy Pettitte’s home. According to the reports, the Yanks feel confident enough in their efforts at landing A.J. Burnett that Cashman is going to issue a “take it or leave it” ultimatum to Andy Pettitte. The Yanks will play Pettitte $10 million to take the fifth spot in the rotation or they will move to some combination of Derek Lowe, Ben Sheets and Phil Hughes. While we can’t be sure of the veracity of this report, I think it’s a perfectly reasonable move to make at this stage in the winter. · (119) ·
As I study for my contracts final and Joe and Mike get ready to come back to rainy New York, the winter meetings are officially winding down. While it’s unlikely that any major deals will get done before the GMs make it back home tonight, we’ve got rumors galore to share.
- Forget Nick Punto. MLB Trade Rumors notes that the Twins have resigned Punto to a two-year, $8.5-million deal with an option for 2011. Punto has a career OPS+ of 74 and is going to make $4 million a year. I’m in the wrong line of work.
- Tyler Kepner sums up the Cameron stituation. The Yanks and Brewers are haggling over money and extra players. Kepner notes that perhaps Kei Igawa could be shipped off to Milwaukee. He’d be the perfect replacement for CC Sabathia. Not.
- Dan Graziano says the Cameron deal might not happen because the Yankees hurt the Brewers’ feelings. By asking for money a day after giving CC Sabathia the largest pitching contract ever, the Yanks have supposedly insulted the Brewers. Somewhere, the world’s smallest violin player is playing for Doug Melvin.
With the Winter Meetings wrapping up today, I just wanted to take a minute to thank everyone who has stopped by over the last days. On Monday, we set a new RAB record with a hair under 30,000 page views; on Tuesday, we topped that record and hit 34,000; on Wednesday, we blew past Tuesday’s total to end the day with over 42,000 page views. In other words, with Mike and Joe in Vegas covering the meetings and my running the wires in New York, we’ve pulled in over 108,000 page views in three days.
On a similar vein, Rob Neyer penned an interesting piece on his acceptance into the BBWAA. He’s certainly a bit ambivalent about inclusion, and one of his passages strikes a chord:
when I was hired to write for ESPN’s Web site in 1996, nobody told me to respect my elders. So I didn’t. If I thought Tracy Ringolsby was writing foolishly, I said so. If I thought Tom Verducci had crossed the line from intelligent analysis (of which he’s highly capable) into subjective dim-wittedness, I said so. And usually not with any surplus of grace. I believed then (and believe now) that my job, my responsibility, is to entertain and to educate, and that “not ruffling feathers” falls way, way down on the list somewhere.
That gets at the root of what we do. Yes, we’re fans covering our favorite team. But at the same time, we don’t give the Yanks and the papers that cover them a free pass. I cover the stadium issue quasi-fanatically because there’s been an utter lack of skeptical and accurate reporting. Joe takes issue with the New York Post because they more than push that line Neyer mentions. Mike delves into the minors because few others do. We like to hope that we bring something new and unique to the table, and I guess we’re doing something right.
So thank you to the regulars and thank you to the new folks who have stopped by. We’ll be here all winter and into the season as well. Make sure you come back.
Don’t buy your Cameron jerseys quite yet. The deal may have hit a roadblock. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Brewers want another player, and the Yanks want the Brewers to pick up some salary. Neither team is budging on this issue quite yet, but if the two sides want to get it done, they will. The idea that Melky is somehow enough compensation for Mike Cameron and salary is objectively preposterous. · (149) ·
I’m camped out in the Rule 5 Draft war room, and I have to say there’s way more people here than I would have thought. I’m not going to take a picture of the room because there’s not much to see; lots of chairs, a podium on the stage and two big projection screens with a simple yet fancy R5D logo. I’d estimate that there’s room for about 500 people in here.
The big event starts at noon eastern, and I’ll be live blogging the whole schabang. Until then, you can check out some previews from Chad Jennings, Jonathan Mayo, and John Manuel. I know it’s the same software, but it’s not a chat, it’s a liveblog. I expect this thing to go by pretty fast, so I won’t be answering any questions. Maybe afterwards if I have time, but our flight is leaving pretty soon.
Mike’s about to start his Rule V live-blog, but let’s sum up some Yankee rumors. The mill never stops around here.
- According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yanks are the frontrunners for the services of A.J. Burnett. If no team is willing to top a five-year, $85-million offer the Bombers have outstanding, A.J. is theirs for the taking. At the very least, the Yanks will not be outbid by any other team.
- Derek Lowe likes the Yanks’ signing of Sabathia, and while common sense would dictate that Lowe wouldn’t sign if A.J. does, Jayson Stark says that’s not true.
- The Yanks are keeping a close eye on Mark Teixeira. You have to figure at this point the Yanks will land a bat and that the bat will either by Teixeira or Manny Ramirez. But that’s just my idle speculation.
According to conflicting reports, the Yankees and Brewers have either agreed or are very close to agreeing on a trade that would send Melky Cabrera to the Brewers and Mike Cameron and his $10 million contract to the Yanks. Bill Hall may or may not be involved. More in a minute.
Update By Joe (10:32 a.m. EST): Dan Graziano says that the Yankees could include a pitching prospect, though it won’t be Ian Kennedy. The Haudricourt piece says that both teams are willing to explore Bill Hall, whom we do not like. The Brewers aren’t just going to give him away, though, and I don’t think he’s worth surrendering anything of value. If you want another utility guy, sign Nick Punto.
Joel Sherman says that the pitching prospect will depend on how much of Cameron’s $10 million salary Milwaukee is willing to absorb.
Unless something major is breaking, odds are good that the three of us are sleeping right now. It’s about 6:30 a.m. in Vegas, and while I woke up Joe with a 5:30 a.m. Vegas time text about Sabathia, I promised I wouldn’t do that today unless the sky happens to fall.
As we gear up for the last day of Winter Meetings and Mike’s upcoming Rule V draft live-blog, I wanted to play a little what if game based on an Anthony McCarron tidbit. In the few hours between K-Rod’s signing and the CC Sabathia news, the New York newspapers quickly filled up with glowing articles about Francisco Rodriguez. As part of the Daily News’ wall-to-wall coverage, McCarron unveiled a K-Rod timeline featuring this juicy tidbit:
September 24, 1998: Rodriguez, only 16 years old, signs with the Angels as an amateur free agent. The Angels beat out several other teams, including the Yankees, with a $900,000 offer. Yanks were reportedly ready to go higher than that, but Rodriguez believes Angels when they tell him he’d have a quicker path to the majors.
Now, I haven’t really been able to confirm this 11-year-old piece of news. 1998, the year the Yanks won 125 games and dominated the Padres in the World Series, was a year before time. We had no blogs; we barely had the Internet. No one paid attention to signings of 16-year-olds out of Venezuela. Jesus Montero would have been just a blip on the radar of the Yankee Universe a decade ago.
But it does pose an interesting “what if.” What if the Yanks had been the ones to sign K-Rod? What they offered him more money, as McCarron said they did, and he bit? It’s safe to say that the last six years would look much different.
In 2002, in the ALDS, K-Rod, then 20, had thrown just 5.2 innings at the Major League level, but because of a quirk in the rules concerning injuries, the Angels were able to add him to the Major League roster. He took the playoffs by storm. He earned the win in two of the Angels’ victories against the Yankees, and Anaheim would go on to capture a ring. All told, K-Rod earned the W in five of the Angels’ 11 playoff wins that year. It’s not a stretch to say that the 99-win 2002 Yankees would have suffered a far different fate had K-Rod been in their system.
Beyond that, it’s too tempting to play even more dangerous “what if” games. What if K-Rod and not Tom Gordon had faced David Ortiz in 2004? I’ll let you turn that one over in your mind, knowing that the Red Sox have beaten K-Rod the closer a few times. K-Rod the premiere set-up man would be an entirely different beast.
Of course, baseball is filled with these what if’s, and as Rodriguez finally comes to New York, it’s interesting and dangerous to imagine what could have been had he chosen the Yanks’ money over the Angels’ promise.