Two quick points on the Red Sox this morning:
* First, with regard to Manny Ramirez, thanks but no thanks. The Red Sox celebrated the 10th anniversary of their historic 2004 championship team at Fenway Park last night, and Ramirez was among the most notable headliners. Ramirez apologized to traveling secretary Jack McCormick, whom he tactlessly shoved in 2008, and acknowledged he ``behaved bad'' during his tumultuous time in Boston. He essentially asked for forgiveness.
Do we all have to give it him?
Personally, I refuse.
Please. Manny was the ultimate mercenary who always positioned himself to serve one person: Manny. He’s doing the same thing now. The trick is to show some level of humility while you’re at the top of your game, not long after you’ve been a putz and are seeking entrance into hardball heaven. The Red Sox paid Manny handsomely during his time in Boston and he played a big role in delivering two World Series titles, and he was a fascinating character, personality and entertainer. But he doesn’t get to show up and apologize now – six years after shoving McCormick – and write it all off.
Do people here forget that Ramirez may very well have cost the Red Sox another title in 2008? Manny all but shut it down during the middle of that season because the Red Sox wouldn’t give him more money on top of the approximate $160 million that they ultimately ended up paying him. They felt compelled to trade him as a result. The Sox then batted .234 in the American League Championship Series against Tampa Bay – even that number was deceiving – and lost Game 7 by a 3-1 score.
The bottom line is that Manny dictated the terms of the relationship between him and Boston from the very beginning. It was always about what was good for him. And now that he is out of the game and away from the one place where he really mattered – the batter’s box – he doesn’t get to just show up and say he’s sorry.
It is far, far too late for that.
I’d rather save the compassion for someone who truly deserves it, like Curt Schilling.
* Second, with regard to this current Red Sox team and their immediate future, there is no telling whether the Sox can actually play themselves back into the playoff race. In the astonishingly mediocre American League East, they are hardly out of it.
However, if the Sox further fade from postseason contention between now and the middle of July, the man whom they should absolutely, positively deal before the July 31 trading deadline is the man who ruled the mound last night.
As we all know, Lackey will be 36 in October. The Sox hold a 2015 option on his contract for a paltry $500,000. Lackey was the victim of poor run support last season so he is just 16-16 since Opening Day 2013, but he has a 3.45 ERA during that span. He has played on two World Series winners in his career and has a career postseason ERA of 3.03, and the Red Sox can get more on the trade market for him than they can for someone like, say, Jon Lester.
Under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, any team acquiring Lester would not be eligible for draft pick compensation if and when Lester departed via free agency. The same is not true for Lackey, who could spend all of next season, too, with his new team. That significantly increases the value of someone like Lackey on the trade market, making him arguably the most valuable trade chip the Red Sox possess if they elect to become sellers before the July 31 trading deadline.
No one is suggesting the Red Sox trade Lackey if they are in the race. Since the start of last season, he has been arguably the team’s best pitcher. But factoring in Lackey’s age, his value on the trade market and the Sox’ seeming desire (and cost) to retain someone like Lester, Lackey would easily make the most sense at the deadline for the Red Sox and any team interested in acquiring pitching help.