Monday, August 04, 2008
Given the circumstances, this is a great deal for the Sox. The Olde Towne Team had to trade Manny. As George proved, you can’t rip your owner, bosses, co-workers, quit and the next day, come to work as if everything is fine. Okay, maybe it worked for Manny in the past (George could only hit like Manny when he gave up sex), but we now know it can’t be done publicly even for a future HOFer.
As Sean McAdam said on Comcast Sports, the clubhouse vets made it known that Manny could be detriment to playing October baseball, which is a change from the team’s position in the past, and this was likely the last straw.
Even though other clubs probably didn’t know that Manny’s teammates have given up on him, the Sox leverage in negotiations was terrible. To Manny’s credit, he did aid in getting himself out of Boston by waiving his no-trade rights without being compensated beyond 2008, but also agreeing to not accept arbitration thereby decreasing his value this winter. With the Sox picking up the remainder of his 2008 salary, it made the future HOFer, with all of his warts, an attractive enough commodity to bring back a player to help the Sox get to the playoffs this year.
The Sox not only got a guy to help them this year, but in 2009 for $12.5M less than Manny. Jason Bay appears to be a solid player. He is an upgrade over Adam Dunn on the field and the balance sheet, and not the PR nightmare that would surface with bringing in Barry Bonds. The Sox did a great job!
Only Bay’s prime year of 2005 compares to a Manny season at the plate, but he is no slouch with the wood, is a better defensively (although not as much as many metrics would indicate due to Manny playing ½ his games at Fenway) and on the bases. Bay’s numbers to date alleviates the concern that his 2007 season was a sign of bad things to come; he did play through a knee problem. The only risk with this deal is can he adjust to a new League in a completely different kind of working environment? Hopefully, the Sox did their homework on Bay’s personality, and concluded that he could succeed in Boston.
As for the other items the Sox gave up for Bay - the $7M sent to L.A., Brandon Moss and Craigslist Hansen to Pitt - none are that critical. First the money, the $7M was already budgeted so it is not an issue. The Sox can absorb a third of Bay’s salary - $1.9167M – by keeping beer sales open one inning later for the rest of the year. Moss like David Murphy is a tweener – not good enough with the leather to play center and doesn’t hit enough to play a corner. These types usually are not part of an October club unless they have big bats up the middle. With the Sox organizational depth in the OF and MLB club‘s makeup, Moss was expendable. Hansen, due to his sleep disorder, being rushed, pro-ball using different baseballs than the college game, has never live up to the hype. Hansen reminds me of Nuke LaLoosh, great arm and stuff, but can’t command anything. The New Yorker still hasn’t learned how to breath through his eye lids, where a garter belt and bang cougars like we said Hansen was rushed to the Show. Regardless, the Sox will probably never miss Moss and Hansen.
In summary, the Sox are taking a risk for two months at a higher cost, assuming Manny would have been Manny for the rest of the season but even his past defenders or teammates thought that may not be the case this time around, so I’d like to think of this as a push in 2008. After this year, it is all good. They get a comparable leftfielder and freed up $12.5M for whomever maybe Yu Darvish.
The Dodgers got a nice return assuming their assessment of Andy LaRoche is correct. LaRoche has hit well at every level, but his 150 or so ABs with the Dodgers. LA never gave him a shot and shipped him to Pitt. LAD also sent a minor league reliever coming off Tommy John. From the Dodgers perspective, they gave up very little to get a guy that should push him into October baseball and forget about the terrible contract given to Juan Pierre and the disaster known as Andruw Jones.
The Pirates didn’t need to move a valuable asset like Bay. He won’t be a free agent this winter. The Pirates are not in contention. Bay isn’t causing a fuss. He wasn’t caught with altars boys in the basement of the wonderful Pirates Park. They could have and should have waited until this winter to trade Bay. The Pirates still would have had both the Sox and Rays bidding against one another and I would guess more than just those two. More demand with the same level of supply equals a higher price. The Pirates settled for one quality albeit questionable prospect (LaRoche), a fourth outfielder, and two volatile bullpen arms. They could have gotten more for a quality cheap player like Bay.
THE FAN IN ME
The first thing that comes to mind about Manny is the Manny Being Manny moments and not the walk-off I think I was at against K-Rod or the HR in St. Louis during the W.S. With other players even those who spent less time here (Trot Nixon, Pedro, Schilling, Big Papi, Mo Vaughn, Troy O‘Leary), I have or had a more meaningful connection with for some reason. Basically, I got good stories where they made my day, night, or decade. Manny just didn’t do that for me, even though he is a HOFer. Maybe that says something about me or something about Manny; probably both of us.