It's Aug. 1, 2008 A.M. (After Manny). Do you know who your left fielder is?
Jason Bay is heading to Boston and Manny Ramirez is expected to be suiting up for the Dodgers tonight at Chavez Ravine, where LA will take on the D-Backs. Here's a quick roundup of the local and national commentary on the big deadline deal that went down yesterday.
First up, WBZ-TV has video of Manny leaving Boston today for Los Angeles, where the former Sox slugger basically ignored reporters on his way to Logan airport.
In today's Providence Journal, Sean McAdam writes that Sox GM Theo Epstein met with veteran players on Wednesday night to discuss moving Manny:
General manager Theo Epstein was working with a mandate from within his own clubhouse. After his team’s dispiriting loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Wednesday night, Epstein met with a handful of Red Sox veterans, all of whom delivered the same message: Manny had to go.
If his antics weren’t directly responsible for the team’s slide — the Sox have lost five of six on the current homestand, their worst stretch of play at Fenway all season — they were certainly serving as a distraction.
Worse, the players feared that if Ramirez remained with the Sox for the rest of the season, he couldn’t be counted upon in the middle of a pennant race. In their minds, there were no guarantees that Ramirez wouldn’t engage in further petulant displays that could sidetrack the team’s playoff push.
ESPN's Peter Gammons weighed in with a blog entry last night and says this was a deal that had to get done:
... They already had threatened him with an unpaid suspension, but in a world in which the union fights for those who don't work, the last two months were going to be a living hell of sit-down strikes, followed by suspensions. It would have been a half-season of what the past two weeks have been, namely a choke hold on the team's baseball culture.
Ramirez tried to sit, citing his knee. Problem is, after Felix Hernandez and Joba Chamberlain had come and gone, the Red Sox ownership and medical staff ordered him to take an MRI. If Ramirez hadn't forgotten which knee was bothering him, he would have been more convincing, but he got mixed up. Massachusetts General Hospital performed MRIs on both knees and found nothing, and the next day, ownership served Ramirez with a written notice that if he did not play, he would be suspended without pay.
Someday, when we really understand the whole 1980-2005 steroids era of which one admitted user says, "The only guys who didn't do them after 1994 were either stupid or scared," we might ask the question: Was it worse to take performance-enhancing drugs to perform better and win, or to decline to play and steal money? ...
The way Boston looked at it was that, fine, Ramirez was gone, and Bay seemed the best replacement with his season averages of 32 homers and 102 RBIs. To get him at the end of the season would have cost more than Moss and Hansen, so they did the deal now. Their feeling was that if Bay adjusts to Boston right away, and they settle their bullpen, they will contend. They do not think they would have contended with their $20 million player on strike.
The Boston Herald's Gerry Callahan writes that Manny really was a bad man:
There was always something uneasy about the love and adoration that Red Sox fans showered on Ramirez. The hard-hitting half-wit was born with the ability to put a bat on ball better than most mortals, but that’s where his virtues end. He doesn’t play the game right. Too often he doesn’t play the game hard. He cares about his contract and his hair and not much else.
He didn’t care about the wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center this past February. When most of his teammates, including all of the big stars, made the trip to Washington, he stayed behind. Probably no one on the team had the ability to make a down-on-his-luck Sox fan smile like Manny Ramirez did, but as usual, Ramirez couldn’t be bothered. As usual, teammates, fans and media made excuses for him. Again, the great hitter was allowed to be a rotten human being.
Also in the Herald, Tony Massarotti writes that Manny won this showdown with the Sox:
Make no mistake, Ramirez wore out his welcome here, and in some ways it is a miracle that the breakup took this long. Ramirez had lost virtually all support in the Boston clubhouse by the conclusion of Wednesday’s unsightly 9-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, after which just about anyone in a Sox uniform seemed prepared to toss Ramirez from the right field roof deck.
Said one Sox player when asked about such a level of frustration with Ramirez: “We’re way past that.”
And then this: “He just doesn’t care.”
Nonetheless, the Red Sox have had more than their share of chances to trade Ramirez over the years. Each time, the Sox came to the same conclusion: they couldn’t get anything remotely resembling equal value. ...
Now Manny gets it all - the get-out-of-jail-free card from Boston, another chance at the World Series, a two-month audition with a Dodgers team that was willing to bet that Ramirez will play August and September with dollar signs in his eyes.
In today's LA Times, Bill Shaikin has Nomar Garciaparra supporting Manny's contention that the Sox tried to paint him as the "bad guy" on his way out of town.:
"There's a lot of truth to what he said," Garciaparra said at his Dodger Stadium locker Thursday, two hours after the Dodgers acquired Ramirez. "I can definitely understand and relate. Maybe he'll be next to me [in an adjacent locker], and we can chat and laugh about it."
The Red Sox rid themselves of a contract dispute by trading Garciaparra at the deadline four years ago, and they rid themselves of another one Thursday.
"Manny said he didn't want to leave there," Garciaparra said. "I didn't want to leave there. . . . Were we the only ones that have gone through it? There's a track record. I played with Mo [Vaughn]. I played with Roger [Clemens]."
Bill Plaschke of the LA Times checks in with a column on the Dodgers' big trade for Manny:
Three hours after the trade, Ned Colletti, Dodger general manager, was asked whether he had spoken to Ramirez.
"I left him a message," said Colletti.
Four hours after the trade, Dodger Manager Joe Torre was asked whether he had spoken to Ramirez.
"I left him a message," said Torre.
Days after the Angels grabbed the national sports spotlight by trading for quiet slugger Mark Teixeira, the Dodgers have thrown a massive counterpunch by acquiring a guy who is part Hollywood and part Dagwood.
A guy who occasionally swings like Babe Ruth and is consistently as nutty as a Baby Ruth.
The only thing that flops around more than his trademark dreadlocks are his moods.
Nobody in baseball history has hit more postseason homers -- 24 -- yet when the 2007 world champion Red Sox visited the White House, Ramirez didn't show up.
"I guess his grandmother died again," President Bush said at the time. "Just kidding."
LA Times columnist T.J. Simers checks in with a piece on the Manny trade and has some comments from Dodgers' Derek Lowe and Jeff Kent:
"He's a difference maker," pitcher Derek Lowe said, and with my apologies to Angel Berroa, the Dodgers don't have any of those.
Lowe, who played with Ramirez in Boston, was almost giddy at the prospect of playing with him again, calling this the biggest move in his time with the Dodgers.
How soon he forgets the trade for Mark Hendrickson.
"This may be the best right-handed hitter I have ever seen," Lowe said. "It's like Barry Bonds coming up. There is a different intensity in the place -- very few people catch your attention like Manny can." ...
Some people might not know it, but Kent and Ramirez were teammates in Cleveland, "before he had the dreds," Kent said. "I see the dreds now and I feel I'm on vacation in Jamaica. We went there and my wife came home with dreds just like Manny has now."
The fact that Ramirez might remind Kent of his wife on vacation, along with his previous rocky relationship with Bonds, explains why so many people e-mailed wanting to know how Kent is going to get along with Ramirez.
"Barry Bonds and I went to the World Series together," Kent said. "Barry Bonds and I each won a MVP award playing together."
Bill Burt of the Eagle-Tribune writes in his blog today that the Jack McCormick incident was the beginning of the end of Manny in Boston:
“That was it for Manny in terms of 2009 and beyond,” said a source with ties to the Red Sox. “If there was any chance of him returning after this season, it ended there. (Ownership) had had enough.”
But there was no suspension, which surprised several players.
According to one player, Ramirez’s incident with McCormick crossed the line.
“Jack is the nicest guy you’d ever meet,” said a Sox player who requested anonymity. “A lot of guys on this team were ticked about that.”
As for notion of trading Ramirez, in 2008, that occurred when the Yankees came to Boston last week and he said his knee was too sore to play.
“When you quit on your team, that’s the worst thing you can do,” said the Red Sox player. “He had to go after that.”
In today's New York Post, George King has Jason Giambi being thrilled that Manny is out of the Red Sox lineup, and some thoughts from former Ramirez teammate Johnny Damon:
"It's huge for us," Giambi said of the deal that sent Ramirez to the Dodgers and Jason Bay from the Pirates to the Red Sox. "He kills us every time we play him. Having him in their lineup makes every hitter around him better. With him and [David] Ortiz it was pick your poison. If you are a Yankee fan you have to be excited big time." ...
Johnny Damon, a Red Sox teammate of Ramirez's, showered him with praise and took a poke at the Boston playing experience.
"We know we don't have to deal with Manny," Damon said. "Nothing surprises me about Boston. Not too many players leave there happy. It's very well documented going back to [Mike] Greenwell, [Roger] Clemens, Mo Vaughn and Nomar [Garciaparra].
The Post's Joel Sherman writes that a few teams complained about the lateness of the deal:
He was shipped to the Dodgers as part of a three-team blockbuster that was concluded so close to yesterday's 4 p.m. deadline that a few outside teams contacted the Commissioners Office with complaints that it had gone illegally beyond the allotted time.
Newsday's Ken Davidoff writes that the Yankees weren't celebrating as much as one might think at the reality that Manny won't be knocking in runs against the Bombers in the near future:
In general, however, you didn't sense celebration in the Yankees' corner as much as you inferred suspicion. A hesitancy to get too excited, fueled by respect for the people who run the historic rivals.
"They're pretty smart up there," one Yankees sympathizer said, after news broke that Manny was a Dodger and Jason Bay had joined the Red Sox as part of a three-team deal. "They know what they're doing."
Mike Lupica of the Daily News writes that Manny could wind up in pinstripes after all:
In the end, the Red Sox were willing to essentially pay the Dodgers to get Ramirez off their team and out of their clubhouse and out of town. He is replaced by Jason Bay, who has the same basic numbers this season that Manny does, but is now asked to deliver with the spotlight on him at Fenway Park.
The Yankees are happy because Manny goes to play for their old manager now. Maybe it makes it easier for them to beat the Red Sox the rest of the way. Yankee addition by Red Sox subtraction. The Yankees still needed another starting pitcher and didn't get one. But then they've needed one since they passed on Johan Santana.
Manny? He gets out of Boston, which he wanted. Gets one more big stage. Next year he'll probably be DH-ing at an even bigger one: The new Yankee Stadium.
LA Daily News columnist Steve Dilbeck writes that Joe Torre is thrilled to have Manny:
Over the years I have never heard anything negative about him from his teammates," Torre said. "That's usually a particularly good sign."
Ramirez is actually a rather likable guy. It figures he can be liked here just fine for a couple of months. If he leaves via free agency and the Dodgers offer arbitration, they get a team's No. 1 draft pick.
What's not to like?
He arrives with his 20 home runs and 68 RBIs. A true cleanup hitter. With one of the biggest bats and the longest hair in baseball.
A difference-maker has fallen into the Dodgers' laps, a gift from the baseball heavens.
Tony Jackson of the LA Daily News has more from Torre and Nomar on what a great teammate Manny is:
"My job is to find a way to make it work," Torre said. "If it's a challenge, it's a challenge. I look forward to it. ... When (Colletti) asked me if I would be interested in (Ramirez), I said, 'You bet.' He has done some things that have gotten a lot of attention, obviously. But to me, the big key to this whole thing is that I have never heard anything negative from his teammates.
"To me, that is a pretty good sign, because they are usually the first ones to know about something they don't want in the clubhouse, and that isn't the case with him." ...
"He is an awesome guy and an awesome teammate," said Dodgers infielder Nomar Garciaparra, who played with Ramirez in Boston from 2001-2004. "But he prefers to just go out there and play. He is a quiet guy, a shy guy. He doesn't talk much, and he doesn't like attention. He just wants to show up at the ballpark, play the game and go home to his family. There are a lot of guys like that."