The cost of getting rid of perennial headache Manny Ramirez was steep for the Boston Red Sox. Probably too steep, but still very much worth it. Boston, with its struggling offense, not only had to give up two months of hitting from a future Hall of Famer, but also had to pay the last $7 million of his contract, had to give up on a bright hitting prospect and a downtrodden pitching prospect, and now will not get the two first round draft picks that the team would have received as compensation for losing a type A free agent to another team in the off-season. In return, all they got was a younger left fielder. Oh yeah, and they also got their peace of mind back.
You won’t find “peace of mind” listed in the official MLB trade transaction transcript, but trust me, it is huge and it can not be underestimated. I didn’t mind when Ramirez slapped Kevin Youkilis and [allegedly] told him to “cut that shit out” (in reference to Youk’s constant whining and bitching about the strike zone, not to mention his bat and helming throwing tantrums). Other Sox players were fed up with Youk, so I hear, and so the team was glad that someone finally got in Youk’s face. However, I’d bet that the team would have prefered a more discreet way of dealing with him.
Anyway, when Ramirez assaulted the Sox travelling secretary, that was just plain wrong. Ramirez should have been suspended for at least 10 games without pay immediately. Nope, didn’t happen. The Sox brass allegedly fined Ramirez about $10,000 or $15,000. For a guy nearing the end of a $160 million contract, that is pocket change. But in retrospect, maybe the team didn’t want to make a bigger national issue out of the incident. Maybe they knew that keeping Manny in the starting lineup was the best way to ensure they got maximum value in return. Well, if so, then it didn’t quite work out. Jason Bay is a nice hitter and Fenway Park should bolster his stats even further, but there was never any way to get equal value for Ramirez. Boston knew it. Manny knew it. Scott Boras knew it. And the rest of MLB knew it.
That’s exactly why Boston had to give up so much. And I, for one, think this is addition by subtraction. I wish the Sox didn’t have to give up two young prospects, but this deal had to happen. Even David Ortiz was losing his patience for his little buddy and that spoke volumes to the Sox brass. I think the most relieved men in Boston right now are Theo Epstein and Terry Francona. Boston might have hurt its chances of repeating as World Series champions in 2008, but in the end, they did the right thing. I’ll miss your bat, Manny, but you can take that Hall of Fame attitude out to LA. Adios!