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$95m Ramirez there for taking

Red Sox offering slugger on waivers

Fresh from dumping their manager after one of the most devastating defeats in the history of Boston sports, the Red Sox last night were trying to part with their most richly paid superstar, Manny Ramirez, in a daring gambit aimed at reshaping the team and ending the franchise's 85-year championship famine.

The other 29 teams in the major leagues have until 1 p.m. today to claim Ramirez -- and the approximately $95 million balance of his contract over the next five years -- after the Sox stunned the baseball world by placing one of the game's top sluggers on irrevocable waivers.

The archrival New York Yankees quickly rejected the opportunity, according to an industry source, leaving only a tiny number of teams, including the New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles, wealthy enough to consider bankrolling the balance of Ramirez's eight-year, $160 million contract. But there were no immediate takers, which raised the possibility the Sox would be left to try to trade the former American League batting champion on the condition they assume much of the remainder of his contract. Otherwise, the Sox would be left to retain Ramirez or release him outright and continue paying his full salary.

"He'll be just fine if he's back in Boston next season," said Jeff Moorad, Ramirez's agent. "He always expressed a desire to play for the Yankees, and in a strange twist of fate, the Red Sox certainly gave him an opportunity to make that happen, although it seems unlikely to me it will.

The waiver move was precipitated both by Ramirez's desire to play elsewhere, preferably in the Bronx, and the team's hope of using the savings from his exorbitant salary to invest in a front-line pitcher and help underwrite possible contract extensions for stars such as Nomar Garciaparra. The top free agent pitchers on the market, including Andy Pettitte, Bartolo Colon, and Kevin Millwood, could command at least $12 million a year.

"Manny is a great player, but if he doesn't want to pull on the same rope as the rest of his teammates, then, you know what, he can go somewhere where he can be happy," said first baseman Kevin Millar. "We continually hear he's not happy in Boston."

Since the Sox cannot revoke the waivers, they effectively offered the seven-time All-Star to the Yankees and others for nothing but their freedom from his salary. Teams often place players on revocable waivers to gauge interest in possible trades, then pull back the players if other teams claim them. But there is no pulling back from irrevocable waivers, which in this case run for 48 hours. American League teams have the first dibs on Ramirez. If more than one team were to claim him, the team that finished last season with the worst record would be awarded his contract. If no AL teams were to claim him, the same process would apply to the National League.

Sox principal owner John W. Henry and his top executives declined to discuss the development.

"There is a $250,000 fine for commenting on waivers," Henry said. "I can't say if a player is on waivers or not on waivers."

The only player who averages a higher annual salary than Ramirez is Alex Rodriguez, who is in the midst of a 10-year, $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers. Ramirez signed his megadeal with former Sox general manager Dan Duquette before the 2001 season. The pact calls for Ramirez to receive a $1 million bonus if he is traded.

"The guy is one of the greatest hitters in the game," said Sox pitcher John Burkett, who filed for free agency Wednesday. "The only problem is, it seems the days of the $20 million contract could be gone for a while. I still find it odd they're willing to give him up for nothing."

To the bitter dismay of Sox officials, Ramirez, 31, a native of the Dominican Republic who attended high school in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, publicly expressed interest this year in playing for the Yankees. But the Yankees, like other deep-pocketed teams, apparently see little value in acquiring Ramirez for more than $20 million a year through 2008 when they could sign the likes of free agent superstar Vladimir Guerrero, who is 27, for less money over fewer years.

The reasons for Ramirez's unhappiness in Boston never have been entirely clear, though he has periodically chafed at playing for the Sox since his first spring training in 2001. He rarely speaks with reporters and insists when he does that everything is fine. But teammates said his displeasure relates partly to his perception that the team and its fans do not fully appreciate him.

"He always came out and said, `I want to be traded,' " said David Ortiz, Ramirez's closest friend on the team. "I never asked him what his reasons were. But one thing I'll never understand as long as I'm in Boston is why people criticize the players so much. I mean, I saw the fans out there booing Pedro [Martinez]. That takes a lot."

Ramirez, whose occasional lapses in judgment and commitment have become legend, has endured his share of catcalls at Fenway Park, much like Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and Jim Rice, the star left fielders who preceded him. But Ramirez seems to have taken the criticism more closely to heart than his precedessors. High-ranking team sources have said he privately complains far more than they would have imagined for a star who is so well compensated.

Even Ortiz has been surprised by Ramirez's displeasure.

"I mean, if I'm making that kind of money, I'd be happy even if I'm playing for the Tigers," Ortiz said, referring to the losingest team last year. "That's some money, $160 million."

To his credit, Ramirez's teammates said, he generally has prevented his personal feelings from poisoning the club's chemistry.

"He continues to hit more than 35 home runs and drive in more than 100 runs, so he must not have disliked playing there so much that it affected his performance," Burkett said. "That's what people lose touch of."

Yet Ramirez has angered fans and teammates with some of his behavior with the Sox. In one of the most infamous incidents, he endured withering criticism when he failed to run out a ground ball Sept. 9, 2002 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. But the reaction paled in contrast to the wrath he triggered in August when he missed a pivotal series against the Yankees with a sore throat. Aggravating matters, he socialized with Yankee infielder Enrique Wilson after missing a Saturday game, then failed to report for a doctor's appointment the next morning.

A day later, Ramirez repeatedly spurned requests to pinch hit in a crucial game in Philadelphia, prompting Millar to confront the superstar.

"I wasn't sure he understood guys were a little upset," Millar said. "I wanted to know if we were all still on the same page. We had a nice talk. He said he was on the same page, and he got back to playing."

But the fallout continued for days, adding to the sour part of Ramirez's Boston legacy. And that downside hasn't been lost on the fandom. People gathered at South Station yesterday speculated on the merit of the Sox' decision, and most reacted favorably.

"I think it's probably a good move," said Kirk Maurer, a veterinarian from Randolph. "Too much money, too little effort."

"Get rid of him," said Tom Fontez, a student at Suffolk University. "The money invested in Ramirez could be put into the bullpen."

But not everyone is gung-ho at the idea of Ramirez departing.

"I'm not happy," said Judy Celidonio, a Brockton resident. "He's a baby, but they are all babies. They have a good team, I don't want them to break it up."

The Sox placed Ramirez on waivers Wednesday, the same day he won his sixth Silver Slugger award (and a $75,000 bonus) as the top hitter among American League left fielders. The move came two days after the Sox announced they would not exercise their option to retain manager Grady Little and 13 days after the historic 6-5 loss in 11 innings to the Yankees in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Gordon Edes of the Globe staff and correspondent Emily Werchadlo contributed to this report.

Fresh from dumping their manager after one of the most devastating defeats in the history of Boston sports, the Red Sox last night were trying to part with their most richly paid superstar, Manny Ramirez, in a daring gambit aimed at reshaping the team and ending the franchise's 85-year championship famine.

The other 29 teams in the major leagues have until 1 p.m. today to claim Ramirez -- and the approximately $95 million balance of his contract over the next five years -- after the Sox stunned the baseball world by placing one of the game's top sluggers on irrevocable waivers.

The archrival New York Yankees quickly rejected the opportunity, according to an industry source, leaving only a tiny number of teams, including the New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles, wealthy enough to consider bankrolling the balance of Ramirez's eight-year, $160 million contract. But there were no immediate takers, which raised the possibility the Sox would be left to try to trade the former American League batting champion on the condition they assume much of the remainder of his contract. Otherwise, the Sox would be left to retain Ramirez or release him outright and continue paying his full salary.

The waiver move was precipitated both by Ramirez's desire to play elsewhere, preferably in the Bronx, and the team's hope of using the savings from his exorbitant salary to invest in a front-line pitcher and help underwrite possible contract extensions for stars such as Nomar Garciaparra. The top free agent pitchers on the market, including Andy Pettitte, Bartolo Colon, and Kevin Millwood, could command at least $12 million a year.

"Manny is a great player, but if he doesn't want to pull on the same rope as the rest of his teammates, then, you know what, he can go somewhere where he can be happy," said first baseman Kevin Millar, a team leader. "We continually hear he's not happy in Boston."

Since the Sox cannot revoke the waivers, they effectively offered the seven-time All-Star to the Yankees and others for nothing but their freedom from his salary. Teams often place players on revocable waivers to gauge interest in possible trades, then pull back the players if other teams claim them. But there is no pulling back from irrevocable waivers, which in this case run for 48 hours. American League teams have the first dibs on Ramirez. If more than one team were to claim him, the team that finished last season with the worst record would be awarded his contract. If no AL teams were to claim him, the same process would apply to the National League.

Sox principal owner John W. Henry and his top executives declined to discuss the development.

"There is a $250,000 fine for commenting on waivers," Henry said. "I can't say if a player is on waivers or not on waivers."

The only player who averages a higher annual salary than Ramirez is Alex Rodriguez, who is in the midst of a 10-year, $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers. Ramirez signed his megadeal with former Sox general manager Dan Duquette before the 2001 season. The pact calls for Ramirez to receive a $1 million bonus if he is traded.

"The guy is one of the greatest hitters in the game," said Sox pitcher John Burkett, who filed for free agency Wednesday. "The only problem is, it seems the days of the $20 million contract could be gone for a while. I still find it odd they're willing to give him up for nothing."

To the bitter dismay of Sox officials, Ramirez, 31, a native of the Dominican Republic who attended high school in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, publicly expressed interest this year in playing for the Yankees. But the Yankees, like other deep-pocketed teams, apparently see little value in acquiring Ramirez for more than $20 million a year through 2008 when they could sign the likes of free agent superstar Vladimir Guerrero, who is 27, for less money over fewer years.

The reasons for Ramirez's unhappiness in Boston never have been entirely clear, though he has periodically chafed at playing for the Sox since his first spring training in 2001. He rarely speaks with reporters and insists when he does that everything is fine. But teammates said his displeasure relates partly to his perception that the team and its fans do not fully appreciate him.

"He always came out and said, `I want to be traded,' " said David Ortiz, Ramirez's closest friend on the team. "I never asked him what his reasons were. Manny's a little bit complicated. But one thing I'll never understand as long as I'm in Boston is why people criticize the players so much. I mean, I saw the fans out there booing Pedro [Martinez]. That takes a lot."

Ramirez, whose occasional lapses in judgment and commitment have become legend, has endured his share of catcalls at Fenway Park, much like Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and Jim Rice, the star left fielders who preceded him. But Ramirez seems to have taken the criticism more closely to heart than his precedessors. High-ranking team sources have said he privately complains far more than they would have imagined for a star who is so handsomely compensated.

Even Ortiz has been surprised by Ramirez's displeasure.

"I mean, if I'm making that kind of money, I'd be happy even if I'm playing for the Tigers," Ortiz said, referring to the losingest team in the majors last year. "That's some money, $160 million."

To his credit, Ramirez's teammates said, he generally has prevented his personal feelings from poisoning the club's chemistry.

"He continues to hit more than 35 home runs and drive in more than 100 runs, so he must not have disliked playing there so much that it affected his performance," Burkett said. "That's what people lose touch of."

Yet Ramirez has angered fans and teammates with some of his behavior with the Sox. In one of the most infamous incidents, he endured withering criticism when he failed to run out a ground ball Sept. 9, 2002 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. But the reaction paled in contrast to the wrath he triggered in August when he missed a pivotal series against the Yankees with a sore throat. Aggravating matters, he socialized with Yankee infielder Enrique Wilson after missing a Saturday game, then failed to report for a doctor's appointment the next morning.

A day later, Ramirez repeatedly spurned requests to pinch hit in a crucial game in Philadelphia, prompting Millar to confront the superstar.

"I wasn't sure he understood guys were a little upset," Millar said. "I wanted to know if we were all still on the same page. We had a nice talk. He said he was on the same page, and he got back to playing."

But the fallout continued for days, adding to the sour part of Ramirez's Boston legacy. And that downside hasn't been lost on the fandom. People gathered at South Station yesterday speculated on the merit of the Sox' decision, and most reacted favorably.

"I think it's probably a good move," said Kirk Maurer, a veterinarian from Randolph. "Too much money, too little effort."

"Get rid of him," said Tom Fontez, a student at Suffolk University. "The money invested in Ramirez could be put into the bullpen."

But not everyone is gung-ho at the idea of Ramirez departing.

"I'm not happy," said Judy Celidonio, a Brockton resident. "He's a baby, but they are all babies. They have a good team, I don't want them to break it up."

The Sox placed Ramirez on waivers Wednesday, the same day he won his sixth Silver Slugger award (and a $75,000 bonus) as the top hitter among American League left fielders. The move came two days after the Sox announced they would not exercise their option to retain manager Grady Little and 13 days after the historic 6-5 loss in 11 innings to the Yankees in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Gordon Edes of the Globe staff and correspondent Emily Werchadlo contributed to this report.DESHAN 30-OCT-03,22:29

Possible homes
Though Manny Ramirez’s obvious offensive skills would be a welcome addition to any club, his hefty contract and defi ciencies in other areas would limit the number of teams that would consider claiming him on waivers. These are the teams that would match up best with Ramirez, although none appeared poised to make a waiver claim today:

Baltimore Orioles
They have the money to spend and have made it clear they are going to make a big splash in the offseason to bring the fans back to Camden Yards.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Pitching-rich team desperately needs something to improve baseball’s worst offense, but fi nances are uncertain with sale of team to Boston developer Frank McCourt still pending.

New York Mets
They have the money and seem to be always looking to spend it, though new GM Jim Duquette indicates their big-spending ways are about to change.

New York Yankees
Word is they are not interested, but they do need a big bat in right fi eld (Ramirez’s original position) and always have money to throw around, especially to bring home a New York guy.

In today's Boston Globe

$95m Ramirez there for taking
Ramirez claim seen as unlikely
 Shaughnessy: Nice try
 SporTView: Remy not in mix

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