How the Manny trade went down (cont.)
So sometime on deadline day the Red Sox went back to the Dodgers. At that point some Red Sox people remained skeptical that the Dodgers would relent or ever be reasonable. There were different points on deadline day where they began to doubt that they would trade the player they were determined to trade.
The Red Sox requested struggling shortstop prospect Chin-lung Hu (.159 average in 107 major league at-bats this season) but were told that he was on L.A.'s untouchable list. At that point Boston people understandably began to wonder whether the Dodgers would be any easier to deal with than Florida.
The Pirates were also driving a hard bargain. Their new GM, Neal Huntington, had gotten slammed in the media for his Yankees deal involving Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte (in baseball circles it was somewhat better received), and the Red Sox sensed that Huntington was determined to get a haul for Bay.
At one point, after the haggling with the Marlins and Dodgers appeared to be going nowhere, the Red Sox became frustrated enough to talk to Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, about the viability of keeping Manny. Boras told them what they suspected all along, that he'd be much happier to stay if the option years were dropped. That appeared to have reinforced Boston's long-understood belief that Ramirez was too distracted by the contract to perform for them.
Boston's players and staff showed no real interest in keeping Manny around, anyway. One landmark moment came when Ramirez complained of knee pain but couldn't recall which knee was hurting him. Red Sox doctors had to take the unusual step of evaluating both the right and left knee in an MRI exam. Neither showed any damage, furthering Boston's suspicion that Ramirez's real problem wasn't physical.
Eventually, Boston got L.A. to agree to sign off on LaRoche, one player that the Pirates sought. (They already had LaRoche's brother Adam.) But the Pirates wanted more. They gave a list of names to the Red Sox to present to the Dodgers.
With the clock ticking (it was actually 3:59 by this point), the Dodgers agreed to pick one of those names, Class-A pitcher Bryan Morris, and include him with LaRoche. The deal was done, and Manny was a Dodger. The Dodgers agreed to pay a $1 million bonus to Ramirez as stipulated in the $160-million Red Sox contract that he grew to hate (technically, it was now called a roster bonus instead of an assignment bonus).
But that money was made up by the Dodgers within hours. Thirty thousand walkup tickets were sold within 24 hours of the trade, and 300 rest-of-season tickets were sold. Manny Mania was taking off in L.A.
The Red Sox were determined to move Ramirez once he showed that his main interest was getting the $20 million club options removed. Epstein's big goal was to get a reasonable replacement, that being Bay, and he did that. But there wasn't real celebrating in Boston. They didn't want to have to trade Ramirez; rather they felt they had to.
The Red Sox did well to get seven-plus years out of Ramirez, along with two World Series rings, then replace him with a reasonable player. Ramirez is a big loss to the defending World Series champions. But no one inside their clubhouse voiced one word of objection to the deal. Bay was welcomed in, and Boston went back to business, sweeping the A's at home over the weekend with Bay off to a fast start playing his first meaningful games in his new, tough town.
Eventually, Ramirez left the Red Sox little choice through his self-centered actions and words over the past few weeks. The celebrating was being done in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers capitalized on Boston's misfortune. Now Ramirez is threatening to lead an L.A. revival. He has begun with eight hits, including two homers, in his first 13 at-bats. The game is easy for him when he's trying.
More celebrating was being done by Ramirez, whose misbehavior will probably make him millions. Ramirez was thrilled to be in more laid-back L.A., dreaming of free agency to come.
Around the Majors
The Dodgers already had a glut of outfielders, and now it's a bigger glut. They were already looking for takers for Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones (the dreadful Jones would need to be accompanied by a hitting instructor), and their search can continue because both are certain to clear waivers. In either case the Dodgers would have to eat a lot more money than Boston did with Ramirez.
Other name players with a chance to clear waivers include Adrian Beltre, Jarrod Washburn, Jose Vidro, Bronson Arroyo, Brian Giles, Randy Winn, Paul Byrd, Dave Roberts and Jose Guillen. Mark Grudzielanek, Bengie Molina and A.J. Burnett. Players on the trade market unlikely to clear waivers and who will thus probably stay where they are include George Sherrill, Ron Mahay, David DeJesus, Will Ohman, Tim Redding and Huston Street. Among others likely to be blocked are Raul Ibanez, Adam Dunn, David Weathers and Jack Wilson.
Street is pitching so poorly that his market value wasn't much at the end. Competing execs predict that A's GM Billy Beane will wait for him to build his value back up, then trade him next year.
Livan Hernandez, recently designated for assignment by the Twins, could still help someone, though one scout said he's throwing 82 mph.
The first-place Twins are amazing. They are doing this even after losing Torii Hunter, Johan Santana and Carlos Silva. Hats off to the them.
We all should have known that White Sox GM Ken Williams would go get Ken Griffey Jr. He's been wanting to do it for years, and he hadn't made a big trade in weeks. While not many folks have high hopes for Griffey -- even Griffey told Williams not to expect the guy he saw in Seattle -- it's not like Paul Konerko was hitting great. And the Sox do have capable defensive replacements in center for Griffey, including Alexei Ramirez and Jerry Owens.
It shouldn't have been such a surprise that the Tigers traded Pudge Rodriguez, either. There was a lot of debate about whether to pick up his $12 million option, and apparently owner Mike Ilitch is the one who encouraged the call to keep him. He looks like a rental with the Yankees, but that may depend of how quickly Jorge Posada recovers from shoulder surgery. Posada may need to do some DHing next year.
The Pirates' deadline dealing was triggered by a belief that their organizational depth was lacking. They did the right thing but were hurt by an incredible resistance on the part of competing clubs to trade top prospects. They're also going to come out looking better than some suspect if Jeff Karstens keeps pitching the way he did in shutting down the Cubs. Karstens was a valuable member of Team USA and maybe he'll turn out to be one who just slipped through a crack in the Yankees system.
The Rays were one of many teams reluctant to trade their top prospects in their efforts to land Nady, Bay or any right-handed bat. Had the Rays relented on their better prospects and gotten Bay, Boston probably would have been stuck with Ramirez. So maybe the Rays viewed it as a positive that Bay went to Boston instead of them. In any case their first-place position in the AL East didn't sway them, as they kept a "hands off'' sign on pitchers Jeff Niemann and Jeremy Hellickson and shortstop Reid Brignac. Their cautious approach is debatable, especially on Brignac, since Tampa appears to have a decent situation at shortstop. The Rays made a nice deal to land defensive whiz Jason Bartlett this winter (along with Matt Garza for Delmon Young) and spent the No. 1 overall pick this June on shortstop Tim Beckham.
Best to Mark Connor, the Rangers pitching coach who was fired over the weekend. He's been a credit to every organization that he's worked for.