SAUGUS -- Another day in another winter of wondering about Manny.
Does Manny really want to be traded or will he forget he ever made the request? . . . Is Mrs. Manny driving the bus and insisting they get out of town? . . . Why is Ramírez's palatial Ritz-Carlton condo up for sale? . . . Will the Red Sox put a bathroom inside the left field wall to make Manny more comfortable next season?
Now it turns out there's another sign Manny might be leaving. A week after the Red Sox' season ended, he had somebody place a call to the region's No. 1 memorabilia merchant and invited the shop owner into his home to sell a bunch of Red Sox stuff. Yesterday, Sportsworld's Phil Castinetti unveiled some of the Manny Collection at the grand opening of a new store on Route 1 North in Saugus.
Manny was not present for last night's charity event. Patriots Adam Vinatieri and Matt Cassel plus Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky all signed autographs for the Joey Fund while Castinetti showcased George Scott's 1976 Gold Glove and the mitt Scott used throughout his playing career ($10,000 each).
But the Manny Collection was a big draw as Red Sox Nation continues to search for clues regarding the curious mind-set of the mercurial left fielder.
''It was all pretty strange," said Castinetti, who's been hawking sports stuff for 20 years. ''About a week after the season ended, I got a call from a guy saying Manny wanted to unload some stuff. He'd talked to a kid who sells stuff outside the ballpark and the kid talked to a guy who called me.
''Anyway, the guy called me and I went to Manny's house and Manny was there. I got the house tour before anybody else and he had stuff everywhere. Game-used jerseys and bats and gloves and cleats and baseballs. What a place. Manny's wife wasn't there. I think she'd already gone to Miami. Manny said he's been approached by a New York collector, but he wanted to keep the stuff around Boston. I asked him if he wanted to leave the Red Sox and he said, 'No, I'm staying right here.' "
Castinetti gave Manny a price for the entire inventory and Manny agreed. There was no negotiation. And the next day, Castinetti returned with a Chevy Suburban and a friend to help him cart the stuff to the curb. Manny dutifully signed 25 game-used jerseys (wonder if Larry Lucchino wants those back -- don't they belong to the Red Sox, like Dougie's ball?), five pairs of cleats, several hats, bats, and baseballs. The only things he did not want to part with were his favorite mitt (a Kevin Millar model) and a Red Sox batting helmet with pounds of pine tar smeared on top.
Castinetti peeled off a wad of bills (''Manny wanted cash"), handed it to Ramírez, and was on his way.
And now for $2,500 you can have one of Manny's signed Red Sox game jerseys. For $800 you can have a signed Manny bat (Louisville Sluggers, Carolina Clubs, and Sam-Bats for the most part). Manny's signed cleats (size 12 Reeboks) go for $800, and signed caps are $229. He also signed bats he used that formerly belonged to Bill Mueller, Jason Varitek, and Millar.
Does Lucchino have any problem with Manny making a buck by raiding the closets at Fenway?
''In light of the pending Mientkiewicz litigation, we will have no comment on these allegations," said the CEO.
Castinetti has had a store in Everett for many years but plans to transfer all his goods to the building in Saugus. He's a favorite among ex-athletes. Bob Stanley, Gerry Cheevers, and Wayne Cashman were among those who stopped by the new store yesterday before the evening event.
We still don't know if the Sox will honor Ramírez's request to trade him, but Lucchino said, ''We're doing our best to honor his wishes. We don't know how it's going to work out."
Most Sox fans would be OK with a Manny-for-Miguel Tejeda swap, but that's unlikely given that Tejada has softened his trade demand and Manny (as a 10-5 player) has the power to veto any deal. Let's not forget that Manny allegedly asked to be dealt to a West Coast team, and even Manny knows that Baltimore is not on the Pacific Ocean.
The betting here is that the Sox won't trade Ramírez and he'll arrive late in Fort Myers. We'll write a million stories about the disgruntled Manny, and at the end of September he'll have 40 homers and 130 RBIs to go with a .320 batting average.
And then he'll ask to be traded and we'll talk about it all through the winter of 2006-07.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.