If there’s one thing the icy winter months in New England breed more than cranky city dwellers and jubilant alpinists, it’s hardball speculation. Especially when it comes to the residents of that hushed little bandbox over there in the Fens.
So, of course it is such that once we heard reports of Manny Ramirez’s desired meeting with the Red Sox brass, speculation began in earnest.
Does Ramirez, as reported, really want to discuss the future of the Red Sox, or is this a case of making sure the team will continue to cater to his demands and bend when he’s not feeling comfortable or the attention fails to be centered around him? Otherwise, he could, you know, dangle that trade demand over their heads again.
Might this be a plea for the club to re-sign Kevin Millar, or at least to fire the college kid that plays Wally so Manny’s good buddy can fit into the suit? Perhaps he’ll demand the team install plumbing in the left field scoreboard. Hire some clubhouse kid he met in Seattle this past season. Find out how the Red Sox make a profit off someone else’s “Red Sox Nation” catchphrase so he can market “Manny being Manny.”
Though the Red Sox haven’t said a word publicly since their aborted attempt to trade him on July 31, there is rampant speculation that Theo Epstein, if he’s around that is, will try to trade Ramirez this offseason in an attempt to free up an annual $20 million that could be utilized to fill other needs, primarily starting and relief pitching. Let’s not make any mistake, while Ramirez’s classic aloofness on and off the field — as well as his refusal to play, pinch-hit, or at times, show up — are a certain by-product of the team’s desire to move him, it is the $20 million Epstein sees as the motivation to make such a controversial move.
After all, Ramirez’s Hall of Fame credentials aren’t exactly the kind of thing you dispatch of in a hurry just to throw $10 million a season at the likes of Bronson Arroyo wannabe A.J. Burnett. If that is what the Red Sox are planning, it’ll go over as well in this town as … well, a heck of lot worse than watching Orlando Cabrera make fluid play after fluid play in the ALCS.
Depending on who you talk to, which day it is, what time, and which way the wind is blowing, Ramirez either wants to stay in Boston, wants to be dealt to New York, or has had a change of heart and wants to do the opposite of either. Frankly, it’s easier to find the pulse of nightlife in downtown Holyoke than it is with what Manny wants. David Ortiz said if the Red Sox deal Ramirez, they’d better bring Albert Pujols back in return. That won’t happen, but hey, Aubrey Huff is a close second, right big guy?
Now, are the Red Sox better by subtracting Ramirez, Millar and Trot Nixon and adding the likes of Huff, Brian Giles, and Paul Konerko? Possibly. But the likelihood of such a tradeoff is so small that it may not be worth trading your best offensive player to risk it. The Red Sox gambled with Pedro Martinez a year ago and got just Matt Clement in a last-minute shopping rush. And despite his late season swoon, Clement was decent enough, but you’d be an idiot to argue he was close to the value Pedro would have provided in that he won just two fewer games than Martinez did for the Mets in 2005.
Ah, yes. Pedro. The man who many thought fueled Manny’s desire to be traded during the summer is the same man who handed out business cards at the end of the season to New York beat writers with the instructions, “Call me when we get Manny.” Are we to expect his name to pop up again this winter as the man behind the curtains, the person pulling the strings on a marionette Manny in his final act of getting back at the team that “disrespected” him?
Heck, by the time we’re all done with the speculation surrounding Ramirez, there could be four or five made-for-TV movies chronicling the events leading up to this. And you thought local authors were going to go poor with no World Series chronicles to pen this year.
Down 200 miles to the south, it has already started, as the New York papers are starting to plan on a daily basis how they’re going to import both Johnny Damon and Ramirez to their respective metropolitan franchises. Newsday’s Jon Heyman suggests the Red Sox and Yankees work together on a three-way deal with the Mets that might net Boston Gary Sheffield in return. That’s a great idea. While we’re at it, we can give Chris House his seats back and put an end to the most overblown fan-player interaction in the history of Fenway.
Of course, Heyman also suggests the Yankees trade Chien Ming-Wang for Barry Zito because Zito seems like a guy “who could make it big in New York.” Now, besides the fact that the Yankees’ very problem is due to trading away all their young talent in the first place, has Heyman ever talked to or seen an interview with Zito, whose Zen-like state and laid-back attitude scream anything BUT New York?
One report says Manny wants to go to New York. Last night, a local news report said he wants to stay here. Ramirez on the Yankees? Perish the thought? Eh, sure he might tip the balance of power in the East, but could you imagine Derek Jeter putting up with “Manny being Manny” on a daily basis? His head might explode by Memorial Day.
Then again, for all we know with Ramirez, this little powwow on Yawkey Way could be about nothing more than him wanting to make sure the renovation of the .406 club is done tastefully. Who knows. That is after all, Manny being … well, insert speculation here.