As I expected, the Yanks’ decision to decline arbitration has fired up the Manny-to-the-Bronx rumors with Jon Heyman leading the charge. I’ll have more on this tomorrow — law-school work permitting — when I get around to delving into the Abreu decision, but I’m not at all surprised to see Heyman’s pursuing this line of reasoning right now.
Continuing the non-stop Saturday coverage of Manny Ramirez comes a piece from Ken Davidoff. Unnamed Yankee insiders claim the team is more likely to wind up with Manny Ramirez than with Mark Teixeira, and Davidoff believes the determining factor is the number of years each player wants. While I’d like to see Manny in pinstripes, I have no qualms about committing to seven years of Mark Teixeira. I believe that Teixeira fills a need now and in the future and would have a greater impact on the team in the long run than Manny would in the short run. If I’m picking one, I take Teixeira.
Via The Star Ledger staff comes another Hank Steinbrenner gem:
Ramirez in pinstripes?
Hank Steinbrenner said the Yankees will explore all options during the offseason, including the possibility of making an offer to the free-agent slugger.
“There’s nothing we are not looking at,” the team’s co-chairperson said Friday at the team’s spring training complex. “And personally, I like Manny. He’s one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game. He’s a free spirit for sure, but he knows how to win. We like some of the other guys, too. We just don’t know yet.”
Personally, I too like Manny Ramirez. Despite his age, despite his baggage, he is still one of the top five hitters in Major League Baseball. What I don’t like, however, is Hank Steinbrenner spouting off about the Yankees’ off-season plans.
I have no problem with Hank’s tendency to talk too much. But as he did last year, Hank is in danger of overplaying the Yankees’ hand. He may not have the baseball prowess or power to make a move, but he is part of the family that signs the checks. If he says he wants Manny Ramirez, then Manny and Scott Boras have even more leverage. The Yanks are better off if Hank says nothing. Whether Manny comes to New York is an entirely different story altogether.
On the eve of the NLCS between the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers, FOX broadcaster extraordinaire Tim McCarver ripped into Manny Ramirez. Said the former player, “Some of the things he did were simply despicable, despicable – like not playing, refusing to play. Forgetting what knee to limp on. And now it’s washed, it’s gone.”
Update: Joe Sheehan takes McCarver to task for these comments. While McCarver is certainly free to hold his opinions on Ramirez, some of the facts he asserts in the Inquirer interview are flat-out wrong.
For better or worse, the Yankees are bound to kick the tires on Manuel Aristides Ramirez this off-season. After all, it’s not every day that a first-ballot Hall of Famer who just so happens to be one of the greatest hitters of his generation becomes a free agent. The Yanks know they need offense, and no one player on the market could better supply them with that than Manny.
But at the same time, the Yankees don’t quite need another long-term contract backloaded to provide some 40+ DH-type with a $20 million payout. The Yankees, in other words, will be in on Manny only if the years are right. The years might very well be wrong.
According to Tracy Ringolsby, Manny wants at least five years and $85 million. Earlier this year, as MLB Trade Rumors reminds us, Peter Gammons believed that a four-year, $100-million deal would land Manny. So it seems that Manny is looking for four or five years and between $17-$25 million a year. That’s not an unrealistic assumption for Boras.
Of course, for Manny’s suitors it is. The Dodgers seem to be pricing themselves out of the race, but that could be just be a marketing ploy. They want Manny; Manny likes L.A. Their demands just need to match, and by negotiating now through “sources” and columnists, things might be easier during face-to-face meetings next month.
The real problem with Manny’s potentially signing a long-term deal with the Dodgers though is the duration. Manny is 36 right now and funnily enough, is not getting any younger. He’s never been a great defender, and he’s only getting worse. He can still hit though and belongs on an AL team.
The Dodgers, Yankees and Mets figure to be in on the bidding. After their amazing offensive showing against the Red Sox this week, the Angels should consider Manny’s services as well. Perhaps he’d fit on the White Sox too. But at these prices and at these years, not too many teams are going to call upon Manny as appealing as his numbers are.
You could argue that Ramirez should return to the Dodgers for 2009 and beyond, given his success in 119 at bats (.403/.500/.748). But we have to face the facts that most players go for the money. That means, for me, that there’s a pretty good chance Ramirez will end up in pinstripes next year. Especially given that there’s going to be extra pressure in New York to win in 2009.
I like Ramirez in New York for two reasons. First, he’s an elite player – one of the game’s best five hitters and future Hall of Famer. Bottom line is that he produces. Bundle Ramirez with Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui, and you have the game’s best line-up.
Second, Ramirez in New York would be great drama. It would take the Boston – New York rivalry to a whole new level, and I wouldn’t miss a game.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard analysts suggest that the Yanks pursue Manny Ramirez this off-season. In fact, we wrote about the very same idea in early August, and while Peter Gammons doesn’t believe Manny will be Bronx-bound, this story just won’t go away.
Now, while Pags has been known to be wrong — Kei Igawa, anyone? — his ideas actually make a lot of sense. First, the Yankees will have oodles of money to throw around next year, and while Manny isn’t a spring chicken, it’s nigh impossible to find a better hitter than he will be on the free agent market. He’ll also command fewer years than Mark Teixeira, the only other comparable offensive player.
Meanwhile, the Yankees have to keep the outfield warm when and if Austin Jackson is ready to play. They have Johnny Damon or perhaps Melky — who has yet to play since being recalled last week — for center. They have Xavier Nady for one of the corner slots. And if it’s a choice between overpaying Bobby Abreu or Manny Ramirez for three or four years, Manny is the far superior choice, differences in age notwithstanding.
In the end, this is probably nothing more than idle musings from idle minds attempting to quote-unquote fix the Yankees. But if Manny Ramirez didn’t carry the baggage of being the Manny Ramirez, he would be an obvious target for the Yankees this off-season whether we like to admit it or not.
When Manny orchestrated his departure from Boston, you knew this gem of a news item would come sooner or later. Manny, according to news reports, wants to play in New York, and it seems as though he simply wants to don Yankee pinstripes in order to stick it to the Red Sox 19 times a season. Five years ago, I would have drooled over the idea of Manny in the Bronx, and five years ago, the Yanks could have had him for the price of his contract. But now I’m not so sure. He’s better than Bobby Abreu, but is he, as he approaches 37, worth $100 million over four or even five years? I doubt it.