The Los Angeles Dodgers were warned about this, loudly and clearly, but sometimes people just have to learn for themselves. Manny Ramirez came. Manny Ramirez went. And Manny left them holding the bag.
Now Manny is back in the American League, back at Fenway Park tonight with a Chicago White Sox team fighting for a playoff spot, and we have just a few words for the people of Los Angeles: We told you so. We told you this day and time would come. We told you that life with Manny was fine so long as there was at least one RBI for every headache, so long as the scoreboard was turning over like the odometer on a '57 Chevy while the Advil was eating away at the lining of your stomach as if it were sulfuric acid.
But the moment the RBI stopped, the irritation would come. For that matter, the irritability would come, too. And now that all has been said and done, here is what the Dodgers got from Manny Ramirez after those two aberrational, inflated months in October 2008.
A year’s worth of production for two years of salary, a combination that might have made Ramirez one of the most overpaid players in baseball since the start of last season.
You want the specific numbers? Since signing what amounted to a two-year, $45 million contract with following the 2008 season, Ramirez played in 170 games for the Dodgers, the rough equivalent of one season. He batted .297 with 27 homers and 103 RBI. Those numbers translate into roughly 14 home runs and 52 RBI for roughly $20 million a year – the White Sox assumed the balance of this year’s contract, about $4.5 million – which means the Dodgers essentially paid $20 million for production comparable to that of Toronto catcher John Buck.
And you thought J.D. Drew was overpaid.
Oh, the Dodgers do not regret acquiring Ramirez, particularly when they got a supercharged version in August, September, and October 2008. That Manny was focused. That Manny was driven. The mistake the Dodgers made was in subsequently committing to someone who should have been the classic one-night stand, the middle-aged gold digger trolling for another poor sap. Manny went into Operation Shutdown once he worked his way into the will, first serving a 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s steroids policy, then playing in a mere 66 games this year while shuttling to and from the disabled list as if it were a vacation home.
For the Red Sox, the fallout from the Ramirez years is now fully complete, the final pieces falling into place during the annual June draft. With the compensation picks awarded them for the departure of outfielder Jason Bay – the man whom the Sox acquired for Ramirez – the Red Sox selected outfielder Bryce Brentz (36th overall) and pitcher Brandon Workman (57th). At least those two men have a chance. By letting Ramirez go via a waiver claim, the Dodgers received no such compensation.
During Ramirez’s time in Boston, let there be no doubt: he was worth every darned penny. Ramirez played at least parts of eight seasons with the Red Sox, during which Boston qualified for the playoffs five times. The Sox won two world titles. The Red Sox may or may not have been wise to trade Ramirez at the July 31 deadline in 2008 – we can (and will) debate that forever – but the Sox got their money’s worth on what proved to be an eight-year, $160 million contract. Manny hit. The Red Sox won. And interest in the team reached unprecedented heights, peaking during his final full season year here in 2007.
When Ramirez was traded, Los Angeles welcomed him with open arms, Dodgers fans and followers going so far as to mock and scoff at all of Boston. The Red Sox blew it, they said. Boston chased away another superstar. Maybe they were partially right. But now Manny is gone from LA almost as quickly as he arrived there, and the Dodgers don’t have much to show for it. They certainly do not have as much as Boston does. Now Ramirez belongs to the White Sox, for whom he will serve as a designated hitter, and for whom the picture is now crystal clear.
He’s not the marrying type, folks.
Enjoy him while you have him, but keep him out of the will.
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