Manny unlikely to be traded
Red Sox people don't seem very hopeful they'll be able to trade embattled superstar Manny Ramirez and proceed with a quick divorce between team and superstar -- though if there's a team that Red Sox organizational insiders believe could show interest, it's the Phillies.
While Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said on TV Saturday that he'd try to trade Ramirez if the troubled hitting savant would agree to waive his veto rights -- and Ramirez claimed yesterday that he would agree to do just that -- too many complications and quirks will probably prevent anything from getting done and Manny from going anywhere.
Ramirez himself said of Boston, "Boston's not stupid ... when it comes to making a deal, they're not going to pull the trigger.'' Even if they wanted to, it's a long shot they'd be able to find a trading partner for Ramirez while also finding comparable offensive production elsewhere.
As of mid-day Sunday, there was no evidence of any substantive trade talk with Philly or anyone else regarding Ramirez. His trade value is oddly low because of his contractual situation, but mostly because of his public dissatisfaction and overt petulance related to his contractual situation.
Ramirez also said on radio in Boston, "I'm tired of them, and they're tired of me.'' Good quote, but everything he says now appears aimed at improving a contractual situation that seems onerous to him and him alone. His contract, which will wind up being worth $160 million, $180 million or $200 million, is obviously overtaking his mind and life.
Ramirez even suggested he'd OK a trade, saying, "If they can get a trade, I'd approve it. If they can't trade me, then they will simply have to inform me by the end of the season that they won't use the options and we'd go our separate ways.''
I'd love to believe him, but he seems to have forgotten the most basic of facts: the $20-million options for 2009 and 2010 stipulated in his Boston contract belong to the team, not him.
No matter what he says, there's no guarantee Ramirez would OK a trade only unless one of the following conditions is met: 1) the acquiring team agreed to waive the '09 and '10 options, which would make him a free agent after this year, 2) the acquiring team agreed to extend Ramirez, or 3) at the very least, the acquiring team guaranteed both option years now.
Boston people have batted around potential suitors and have wondered whether the Phillies, in particular, could have an interest. Though there's no evidence those teams have spoken, Red Sox officials wonder whether the presence of Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who was close to Ramirez when Manuel was hitting coach in Cleveland, could provide a lure for the hitting star. The New York Post first speculated Philly could be a possibility.
There may not be another realistic landing spot. While Mets GM Omar Minaya is a longtime admirer, it appears the Mets have little or no interest. Ramirez himself is believed to relish the thought of playing either in Arizona or Anaheim, but his $20-million salary and contractual situation would discourage the Diamondbacks, and an Angels person said they are "pretty well set'' unless something would "fall into our lap.'' Can't blame 'em, as they've been the best and most consistent team in baseball.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox are also unlikely to trade Ramirez unless they can find an immediate replacement, a near impossibility considering the small number of potentially available players who could approximate his production. The Red Sox don't want to break up their team to trade for Rockies superstar Matt Holliday. "We'd wind up worse if we did a deal for him,'' one Boston person said.
The Braves haven't quite decided yet whether to deal Mark Teixeira (Manager Bobby Cox is said to want to go for a title; other Braves people think it's time to pack it in, a case bolstered by all their injuries, the latest to Chipper Jones and Brian McCann). And Boston would have to become extraordinarily desperate to start thinking the decidedly un-clutch Adam Dunn could replace Ramirez.
Ramirez's recent transgressions shouldn't be such a stunner since he's always been, shall we say, quirky. It's too bad, because earlier this year he appeared to be following the sage advice he was getting from new agent Scott Boras and his good friend Alex Rodriguez to become more serious, and to upgrade his defense and demeanor. It seemed to be working, until he apparently lost it over the contract. It's hard to feel sorry for him since he's made $160 million in Boston and is probably on his way to $200 million total. Plus, there's the two rings he helped win.
There's been a lot of alarmism in the city of Boston over Ramirez's recent antics. You have to wonder whether his ridiculous recent comments (he suggested that Red Sox bosses have been two-faced with him) could become a breaking point. Organizational insiders suggest all this is really nothing new, just Manny being you know who. And that means that as fast things soured, they could get better, and Manny could yet remain a Red Sox, even into 2009.