Tuesday, November 28, 2006
By John McMullen
ESPN talking head Buster Olney has intimated that the Boston Red Sox are aggressively shopping outfielder Manny Ramirez and may jettison one of the game's all-time best right-handed power hitters by Saturday.
You would think the Philadelphia Phillies, a team supposedly looking to protect Ryan Howard would be the first in line to try and fleece Boston's woefully inept general manager, Theo Espstein.
Olney's thesis goes something like this -- By Saturday, the Red Sox are expecting to lock up free agent outfielder J.D. Drew with a multiyear contract.
As comical as replacing Ramirez with Drew sounds, let's leave it to the people in Boston to worry about that and rejoice that Epstein is one of those geeks that abhors listening to scouts that actually watch people play the game.
Once Drew is officially in Beantown, Epstein feels he can get rid of Ramirez, who is, to say the least, a bit of a handful on and off the field. For the purpose of this piece, let's concentrate on Manny's on-field production.
Ramirez has driven in more than 100 runs in each of his six years with the Red Sox, and in 11 of the past 12 seasons. More importantly, he also turned David Ortiz from an underachieving power hitter in Minnesota to the most dangerous clutch hitter in the game because, no matter how hot Ortiz got, opposing managers never wanted to pitch to Manny.
Imagine what Howard would do with Ramirez batting behind him or vice versa for that matter.
That said, in the Phillies defense, Ramirez has two years left on a deal that pays him $19 million a season and has 10-and-5 rights so he can veto any deal. Anyone working to get him will likely have to offer an extension to get Ramirez to accept the swap.
And that's why the bottom-line conscious Phillies have no interest. To most of us, after the recent salary eruption, $19 million for Ramirez seems like a steal. Heck, even the overrated, hibernating Pat Gillick can realize that. But, add years and more money to that and try and make Dave Montgomery and Company believe it.
That's a tall task and frankly an untenable situation for "Stand Pat" but he knew that when he came here. Just over a year into his tenure, Gillick has accepted his fate and is just picking up a paycheck while staving off retirement for a few more years.
Manny in red pinstripes would guarantee a playoff spot for the Phillies and that's all you can ask for.
Unfortunately, the Phillies aren't listening.