The Manny vs. Dodgers saga is getting real interesting. The cojones Manny has to turn down their 2-year, $45 million offer. But here’s the thing: the tables might actually be turning in his favor.
A few weeks ago I wrote how the Dodgers had Manny over a barrel. And they did. Manny had no other suitors and the market was crashing. Playing hardball had left Manny and agent Scott Boras without the teams to create a bidding war, and, with salaries dropping, they were out of options. Meanwhile, the Dodgers had the luxury of being Manny’s only true option, and they could have played hardball and dropped their offer below $20 million a year, or gone out and got another slugger (or two) in guys like Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu.
Fast forward a few weeks, and the Dodgers are starting to look like the desperate ones. They’ve mismanaged their Manny dealings, and now they may be forced to pay through the nose for him after all. Instead of drawing a line in the sand, giving Manny a deadline and threatening to go sign other players, the Dodgers stayed idle and watched as their other options (Dunn, Abreu) all signed elsewhere. Now they are the ones out of options.
The Dodgers didn’t NEED Manny. They fooled themselves into believing that after his performance last season, but they didn’t need him. They needed a good bat. They still need that bat, but now Manny is their only option. They must have been shocked when he turned down this latest offer.
Where things go from here is anyone’s guess. Both parties are out of options; it’s now a game of chicken. Given how weak the NL West is, the Dodgers could play hardball and stick with what they now have and be very competitive in their division. But the Dodger brass might be getting desperate to add Manny’s bat, and Manny and Boras might sense that. Don’t be surprised if the Dodgers give him a third year, possibly with a club or incentive-triggered option for a fourth.
Oh, Manny. What are you thinking?
The Dodgers just handed Manny Ramirez a big, fat stack of cash to play for them next year — $25 million. And Manny said, “No thanks.”
I know Manny wants a 4-year deal. But it’s time for him and Boras to admit they’ve had a bad offseason, take their lumps and move on. They’ll be better off for it in the long run. Nobody is going to give them a 4-year deal at this point. Nobody. Maybe they can squeeze 2 years at around $25 million out of the Dodgers . . . maybe. Maybe another team like the Giants or Angels sweep in and give him a 3-year deal for around $20 million . . . maybe. But that’s it. The reality is there aren’t a lot of buyers for Manny, and without that demand there, the price won’t be high. It’s basic economics.
Manny would be better served taking the obscene $25 million to play ball next year, hit .300 with 35 homers and 120 RBIs, and look to cash in next offseason, when there might be more buyers. Right now, Manny isn’t in a position of strength (see Jason Varitek). Teams would be smart to sit back and wait him out; they might ultimately be able to land him for under $20 million, although the Dodgers seem a little desperate.
Actually, the real question might not be “Manny what are you thinking?”, it might be “Dodgers, what are you thinking?” They don’t seem to be approaching this very rationally. They seem blinded by Manny’s incredible two months last season. But the fact is he won’t perform like that over an entire season. He can’t; nobody can. So why are they bidding against themselves? And why are they throwing so much money at him? For $25 million, they could probably land both Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn for next season. That would give them a better team than having just Manny. What about signing a Ben Sheets?
The smart teams will look for deals and steals right now. The dumb ones will overpay when they don’t have to, and then watch the playoffs on TV in October.
- How do I get through the offseason? Preparing for fantasy baseball. It’s never too early to build a champion.
- At this point, there’s only one way the Jason Varitek saga can end: The Sox get him at a bargain-basement price. The Sox still want him back, but on their terms. And they have the captain over a barrel. With other teams signing catchers, his potential other options have all but dried up. Given that, he has zero negotiating leverage. Sure, the Sox could still go out and get a young catcher like Saltalamacchia or Montero, but if they don’t like the pricetags — which they don’t — they know they can just wait Tek out at this point. He’ll come calling. He’ll end up with a base salary around $2 or $3 million, with a bunch of incentives built in.
- I keep thinking about doing pre-Spring Training team predictions, but there are still so many impact free agents that it is impossible to do them. I’m surprised the Angels – weakened after losing Teixeira and K-Rod — haven’t been more proactive in pursuing a bat like Abreu, Dunn or even Manny (despite that they’ve said they’re not interested). I also keep waiting to see when the Rangers will pull the trigger on Ben Sheets, who could be a difference-maker in Arlington. If the Angels don’t improve themselves, with the A’s bringing in Holliday and the Rangers possibly snagging Sheets (and/or a power bat), the AL West could turn out to be surprisingly open. And — call me crazy — don’t be surprised if the Mariners have a big bounce back year; they could do it with Bedard and King Felix carrying their rotation, and if they sign one of these available bats . . . well, remember you heard here first.
- I love the Pirates, and would love to see a bounce-back year from Pedro in Pittsburgh. With talented young arms like Ian Snell and Tom Gorzellany hitting the age of 27, you could see the Pirates start moving in the right direction. (But, then again, I’ve been saying that for years.)
- Considering how the prices for free agents have been dropping, don’t be surprised if the Yankees make another move that drives fans crazy.
If the Philadelphia Phillies make it back to the World Series next year, Philly fans will look back at today as the reason why.
The Phillies made one of the best acquisitions of this offseason today by signing . . . no, not CC, not Tex, not Manny or AJ . . . but Raul Ibanez.
Raul Ibanez is the most underrated baseball player in the major leagues . . . by far. And he has been for a long time. Over the past six years, Ibanez has toiled in relative obscurity with the Mariners as Seattle has been mired in mediocrity. While he isn’t a flashy name, and most fans who don’t play fantasy baseball probably don’t know him, for the better part of this decade he has been one of the Top 25 most productive hitters in baseball. He’s been a model of consistency year-in and year-out. And he just signed a contract that pays him “just” $10 million a year for the next three years. His value should easily put him north of $12 mill annually.
While it is true he is no spring chicken (he’s 36), his production has yet to drop off, despite most experts and fantasy players waiting for it to happen. And even if it drops off a little, his numbers will still be worth every penny of his $10 million a year. Now he’ll be playing in a tiny, glorified wiffleball park in Philadelphia, with a lineup consisting of big bats like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. He’ll finally be playing on a contender next season. And don’t be surprised if you hear a lot about Raul Ibanez in 2009; and don’t be surprised if he helps keep K-Rod and the Mets home come October.
I used to think SI’s Tom Verducci was one of the more respectable baseball writers out there. It might be time to rethink that.
While the Devil Rays were cruising to an 8-1 beatdown of the Sox today, Verducci made a comment during the broadcast saying that when the Sox traded away Manny Ramirez, they changed from a run production team to a run prevention team.
The Red Sox didn’t trade Manny to get Alex Gonzalez or Doug Meinkewicz. They got Jason Bay — a .300/30+/100+ type of hitter. And, last time I checked, Bay’s bat wasn’t the problem with the Red Sox offense this October. On paper, they still have a great offense. But the reality is this:
-Lowell is injured, replaced by one Mark Kotsay — who has been hitting like a pitcher.
-Ellsbury, Ortiz and Varitek have been an abyss of outs. Ellsbury just simply hasn’t been hitting, Varitek looks like he is auditioning for retirement, and Ortiz is just behind on pitches he normally takes deep (and he isn’t shooting to the opposite field). Important Note: Don’t think Ortiz isn’t getting the pitches now that Manny is gone. He’s been getting the pitches; he just hasn’t been hitting them.
-The Jed Lowrie/Alex Cora slot in the offense has been mediocre at best these playoffs. But, if Ellsbury and Ortiz are hitting (and maybe Tek starts hitting north of .230), that isn’t an issue.
Fact is, right there are five unproductive slots in the lineup, all of which are currently underperforming. Hard to score runs with that being that case . . . with or without Manny.
And let’s not fool ourselves. The Manny you see currently playing for the Dodgers IS NOT the Manny who would have finished out the season with the Red Sox. Before the deadline, Manny was already shutting it down. Theo and Co. absolutely made the best of a bad situation.
Now, if three of those five slots would start hitting around .250, we can start getting back in this series.
Has there ever been a better example of Manny being Manny than this clip of his catch in Baltimore: Takes a horrible line toward the ball, makes a lucky no-look behind-the-head catch, absent-mindedly runs up to high-five a fan, and then throws it in to double-up the runner. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it. Check it out.