Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Told You This Would Get Worse Before It Got Better

"During my years here I've seen how they have mistreated other great players when they didn't want them to try to turn the fans against them. The Red Sox did the same with guys like Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez, and now they do the same with me. Their goal is to paint me as the bad guy. I love Boston fans, but the Red Sox don't deserve me. I'm not talking about money. Mental peace has no price and I don't have peace here."

-- Manny, in an interview with ESPN Deportes

Is this it?

Various sources -- Buster Olney, Peter Gammons,, Fox Sports, etc. -- are absolutely buzzing right now over a rumored three-team deal that would result in the deportation of Manny Ramirez to Miami and the John Henry Secretly Still Owns Us Marlins. In return, the Sox would receive multiple (the number is currently believed to be three) prospects from the Fish, including one of their two young outfield prospects, Jeremy Hermida or Josh Willingham. Olney reports that the Sox have brought the Pirates in on the deal, with some (or all) of the Marlins prospects headed to Pittsburgh for outfielder Jason "Willow" Bay and LHP John Grabow.

Gratuitous Willow Bay Picture

Any way you look at it, this is clearly a deal that the Sox will jump at... IF they can overcome the non-trivial hurdle of Manny's 10/5 rights. For those of you not well-versed in the arcane technicalities of the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement, under the CBA a player with 10 years of accumulated MLB service time AND 5 years of accumulated service time with his current team has the functional equivalent of a no-trade clause imputed to his contract, whether or not it already has one. Hence, Manny must approve any trade that the Sox come up with. (There is a report that an additional hurdle -- a Florida demand for a Sox prospect in addition to Manny -- also is out there.) Manny hit that point back in 2005, right after the will-they-or-won't-they trading deadline afternoon where Manny wound up pinch-hitting a single to win the game for starter Jon Papelbon. But I digress.

When push comes to shove, would Manny accept a trade to the Marlins? Well, he's pretty much made his feelings about staying clear: he wants the Sox to give him a big warm fuzzy hug (i.e. a 4-year extension), or they should cut bait and "send him a letter" saying that he won't be back. This employer/employee relationship is clearly beyond repair -- the "fuck you, we know you're lying" double-MRI last Friday pretty much sealed that deal. Manny has a home in South Florida, and given his long-standing discomfort with English, he'd probably welcome being in a community where Spanish is effectively the primary language. He'll have to play the field -- every night -- but he's always appeared to prefer that to DHing. So I say yes, Manny would probably go along with the deal. Of course with him you never know... but I don't see any real deal-breakers that would absolutely preclude any cooperation from him.

Now, what would the Sox get back for the #4 hitter in their lineup? Well, Bay is ABSOLUTELY the real deal. Since his 2004 Rookie of the Year campaign, he's been one of the better hitters in the NL, putting up numbers in the .280/30/100 range in both 2005 and 2006, before his numbers fell somewhat in an injury-plagued 2007. And NOBODY KNOWS THAT, because he plays for the poor, unloved Pirates. He's under contract until the end of 2009, so he wouldn't be a two-month rental. The bottom line -- in exchange for Manny, the Sox would be getting back someone who is basically a right-handed J.D. Drew (2008 version). And he's only 29, so if he likes it here, you could be looking at the long term answer in left.

The Marlins outfielders are nothing to sneeze at, either. The likely primary target of the Sox is Hermida, who's probably best known for being the first player ever to hit a pinch-hit grand slam in his first MLB at-bat. Hermida's numbers in 2007, his first full season in the bigs, aren't jump-off-the-page awesome -- .296/18/63 in 429 AB -- but his OPS+ was an impressive enough 125, and he showed a lot of discipline at the plate for a 24-year-old. I'd compare him -- sort of -- to a younger Kevin Youkilis offensively. Josh "The Hammer" Willingham is older at 29, and has show an BIT more power in his three MLB seasons. Either of those guys could slip right into left field and contribute at the major league level, with Hermida probably having the better upside potential, but Willingham closer to his prime years as a player.

Grabow is a slider-throwing lefty whose main claim to fame is his effectiveness with RISP. Yeah, I think the team could probably find a use for him....

If you want my opinion -- and I know you do -- you do this deal if you're the Sox. I like Hermida as the consolation prize for ending Manny's sideshow. I LOVE Bay as the consolation prize. If a Manny deal would net you Bay AND a quality lefty bullpen arm.... Um, why are we even discussing this?

Oh yeah -- because he's the greatest pure hitter we've seen in our lifetimes. That's why. And I'll miss the galoot if he goes.

Also, if you haven't figured out yet -- the Angels, right now, are a MUCH better team than your Red Sox. It isn't even close.


GHABB,Y~! said...

It'll also be fun to call him John Grabow Your Nuts.

Pepster said...

As a Marlins fans, I absolutely want either of the deals to go through (the straight trade of the three team trade). The Marlins have a number of young very good arms in the AA and AAA levels, which could go great with Hermida or Willingham.

As a Marlin, I'd rather see Willingham go. More pop, but very poor defense, having come into the big leagues as a catcher. He couldn't play right at all, whereas Hermida could play either, if necessary.

I would think the Sox's best deat would be the three way with Pittsburgh getting Bay, Grabow, and maybe one of the Marlins prospects.

Pepster said...

Apparently the Sox are getting Bay in a three way trade with Pittsburgh, with Manny going to the Dodgers.