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DAN SHAUGHNESSY

Nice try, but they can't give him away

Manny Ramirez is on special irrevocable waivers until 1 p.m. today. Good.

No one will take him. Bad.

I applaud the Sox on this move (and not just because Daddy Globe is owned by The New York Times Co., which is the second-largest investor in the Red Sox). The Sox have made a bold statement to their 31-going-on-12-year-old slugger. Next time Manny and his greedy agent, Jeffrey Moorad, start talking about Manny not being comfortable in Boston and wanting to be traded, the Sox have an answer. We couldn't give you away, Manny. Not with that contract. Not with your childish history of Manny being Manny.Forget the idea that the Sox have embarrassed Manny. Ramirez and his agent asked for this. They've been begging the Sox to trade him to the Yankees. The Sox have told them the Yankees won't pick up his contract, never mind part with players. To prove their point, the Boston ball club is demonstrating the Yankees won't pick up Manny's deal even if there's no trade involved. Nice going, Sox. We're not sure if this is Theo being Theo or Larry being Larry, but the move proves there is no market for Manny and his whopper ($95 million over five years) contract. It also shows that the ball club is willing to reconfigure a roster that came within five outs and one brain cramp of a World Series.

Sox CEO Larry Lucchino yesterday would not comment on any of this, citing Major League Baseball rules that prohibit any discussion of players on waivers. The Sox can't even confirm or deny that they've waived Manny.

So where does it go from here, this shotgun marriage (arranged by Dan Duquette, thank you very much)? What happens in spring training when Manny shows up knowing the team doesn't want his contract anymore?

Short of installing an FAO Schwarz gift shop in Fenway's home clubhouse, the Sox have already done everything they could to make Manny feel comfortable in Boston. They hired beau-beau teammates (Carlos Baerga) and staff members (Ino Guerrero). They did nothing when he failed to run out a ground ball. They allowed him to visit Mom when she had those mysterious, pre-All-Star-break fainting spells. They let him blow off the final weekend altogether in 2002. They benched him for only one game after he put on the Ritz with Enrique, then refused to pinch hit in Philadelphia. They let him show up the A's in Oakland. They defend him when he charged at Roger Clemens with a bat in his hand after a pitch that was almost a strike.

And all this for what? A guy who knocked in 104 runs. Manny's 2003 RBI total, hardly embarrassing, was less than that of Aubrey Huff, Carlos Lee, Bret Boone, and Garret Anderson.

Manny's pact is strangling the Red Sox. He's a productive hitter, but you'd have to be Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds to earn the money Manny is making in today's marketplace. Given that Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Jason Varitek, and Trot Nixon are all going into the final year of their contracts, the Sox could do a lot of things if another team assumed the Manny note.

There's still the possibility the Sox may be able to trade Ramirez if they pick up a hefty portion of his contract. A National League team (Dodgers or Mets) would be the best market for this type of deal. But if that doesn't happen, the next manager of the Red Sox is going to inherit the same Manny who walked all over Grady Little.

The good news is that Manny is not likely to be any different in the wake of the news that the Sox couldn't give him away. He always looks like a guy who doesn't care. How will we notice the difference if he's truly angry or distracted? Fortunately, his attitude doesn't seem to bother other players in the clubhouse. Teammates have resigned themselves to Manny being Manny.

It might be different in the stands. Manny has just about used up his reservoir of good will in our town. Now that everyone knows he wants out of Boston and that his unmovable contract is hog-tying the ball club, fans might be less eager to forgive more bowser ball from the silent slugger.

Manny can always make things right with the fans by hitting a couple of well-timed homers. But just as $95 million is a lot of money, five years is a long time. The Sox are right to try to move him, but they're probably going to have to live with him.

As least there's no confusion about where the parties stand. We know that Manny wants out and we know that nobody else will pay him what the Sox are paying him. Till professional death do they part. He's here. For better or worse, richer or poorer.

Especially richer.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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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