Unconventional Wisdom: A Manny splendored thing?
I was sitting in front of a camera at about 4:45 p.m. yesterday, phone off, waiting to go on ESPNews to talk about what had been a very mild trade deadline. While wondering how I could stretch the White Sox' outfield/first base logjam into 10 minutes, with a kicker on the wonder of
I fired up my Blackberry -- it's the iPhone for people who aren't intimidated by moving parts -- and all hell broke loose. There was another
After getting the particulars, and coming up woefully empty as I wracked my brain for information on
A three-team trade can be broken down more easily by looking at three two-team swaps. Let's start with the part getting the most attention:
I like this trade for the Sox even if you ignore everything but the baseball. They trade two months of Ramirez, his options and two prospects who aren't in their system's top eight or so. They get back Bay, whom they'll have under contract for next season at a cost of $9 million.
The more I thought about this deal, the more I focused in on the Ramirez-for-Bay aspect. Hansen is a failed No. 1 prospect who in a supposed revival year has 25 strikeouts and 23 walks in the majors. He was never going to get an extended opportunity with the Red Sox. Moss is a fourth outfielder on a good team or a starter on a bad one, someone who'll hit .270 and be average in every other aspect of the game. Think
No, the key thing here is one small fact that gets lost in the names and the cities and the reputations: The Red Sox may have landed the best player in the deal. Outside of a 2007 season in which he played through a bad knee injury, Bay has been one of the most productive outfielders in baseball. Since 2003, he has been inferior to Ramirez, but not by nearly as much as you might expect.
Bay's defense has fallen off a cliff the past two seasons, and he rates as worse than Ramirez in this system. Even if Bay's knee injury has taken its toll it seems likely that the difference between the two defensively is exaggerated statistically. Bay is outhitting Ramirez this season by 15 points of
Now throw in everything else. I'm inclined to believe that if Ramirez had stayed in Boston he would have moved past his little snit, hit some homers, walked off to a standing ovation at some point, and all of this would have been forgotten. That has happened a number of times in the past eight years and it seems to have all worked out for the team that has won two of the past four World Series. The notion that Manny Ramirez absolutely, positively had to be with another team this morning is silly, and anyone who has watched this little drama play out over and over and over again should know better.
The Red Sox used the cover of Ramirez's bad behavior to make a trade that might not have flown three weeks prior. They made themselves better while making it look like they were addressing some nebulous chemistry issue. They picked up a great undervalued asset for 2009. This is a steal for
Los Angeles trades
This looks like a good deal for the Dodgers. They replace
The problem is that this trade is the equivalent of hooking your drive into the water, topping your third shot 25 yards, coming up short with the eight-iron, chipping way over the green and then back to the fringe...then burying the 35-footer for triple bogey. Sure, the putt was nice, but it's a seven on the card and you're down three strokes and a skin. (
By evaluating the trade the way I initially did, I ignored the salient fact that Dodgers GM
This Dodgers' roster is a mess, and it's no less a mess now than it was six days ago, except that for eight weeks the team can play Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake. Three very good prospects and a No. 1 pick are all gone, third base isn't really any better than it was, but man, that was a nice putt. Fist bump. You sure you only want six a side?
No, this trade is good if and only if you evaluate it in a vacuum, and I don't think you can do that. Ramirez makes the Dodgers about two wins better -- there's a lot of questions about his defense outside of Fenway and his adjustment to Dodger Stadium -- than they were before, but if the Dodgers had managed themselves in a remotely competent fashion up until now they wouldn't have needed him at all.
As it is, I'm not convinced that they won't shoot themselves in the foot. Manager
For each game that
It was not a bad week in Pittsburgh, maybe their best since either the tail end of the 1997 season or October of '92. GM
LaRoche, the prize here, should step in immediately and be an above-average hitter at third base. LaRoche becomes the best truly young player the Pirates have, and with
The rest of the package adds depth to the system. Morris, a No. 1 pick in 2006, missed a year to surgery and was pitching well in low-Class A ball. He's projected as a starter in the majors, and his upside is a good mid-rotation guy. Hansen and Moss are comparable to the three non-
If you throw out the three prospects, Bay for LaRoche is still a fair haul for the Pirates. They trade Bay at his peak, coming off an injury, with just 800 PAs or so to free agency. LaRoche will be theirs through 2013, he plays a more important position and he is just coming into his prime.
It may be hard to understand that a team could trade Manny Ramirez for Jason Bay and win, while at the same time another team trades Jason Bay for Andy LaRoche and wins, but this is baseball in the modern era: the time you have left to control a player is extremely important, and can almost override the talent considerations. Five-plus years of LaRoche is a better option than one-plus years of Bay, which is a better option than two months of Manny Ramirez with an option on future services. The Pirates win, and unlike with the other two teams my opinion of their work here is unchanged.
This was a fun trade that salvaged an incredibly dull day, one that was as unenjoyable as any deadline day I can recall. The
It didn't help that there was just so little going on. It wasn't just the lack of deals -- four, including a minor league one -- but the sheer quantity and constancy of rumors and the ever-changing details. The signal/noise ratio around the deadline is always low, but it felt even lower this year, and as the attention paid to the deadline rises that trend threatens to overwhelm the fun. Certainly BP was a part of that this season, and having increased our focus on the rumor mill and on breaking stories I find myself wondering if in doing so we're serving the audience or just serving ourselves.
That's a conversation for another time. For now we have minor upgrades in Boston and Los Angeles, as two second-place teams try and reach the postseason, and a new start on getting back to October by the new regime in Pittsburgh. It may not have been a busy deadline day, but it certainly was an interesting one.