L.A. Story: Manny, Teixeira could decide fates of city's teams
On the night of September 27, as
Teixeira and Ramirez have been linked since late July, when the Angels acquired Teixeira for the stretch run and the Dodgers countered with Ramirez two days later. Even though the Angels and the Dodgers are not in the same league, they compete for just about everything -- fans, media attention, sponsorship dollars, and the right to call Los Angeles their own. Clearly, the Dodgers are L.A.'s team and probably always will be. But the Angels have made obvious and impressive inroads over the past five years.
Now that Teixeira and Ramirez are free agents, their fortunes are again bound. Boras likes to say that every negotiation is separate, but Teixeira and Ramirez are both his clients, and it would greatly benefit Ramirez if Teixeira were to spurn the Angels and sign with the Red Sox, Orioles or Nationals instead. With Teixeira no longer in the picture, the Angels would inevitably turn to Ramirez and Boras would be able to start an epic intra-city bidding war -- Dodgers vs. Angels, local favor on the line. It is bad enough for the Dodgers to lose Ramirez after he single-handedly took them to the playoffs last season. But it would be humiliating if they lost him to the Angels, their supposed little brother in Orange County.
On the surface, Teixeira and Ramirez are nothing alike. Teixeira is reserved and businesslike, Ramirez flamboyant and unpredictable. But they are both fairly keen about the economics of baseball. Ramirez forced his way out of Boston last season so he could hit the free-agent market this winter. The Red Sox were enraged, but ultimately, they will be rewarded if Ramirez and Boras help grease the skids for them to land Teixeira. Ramirez may be a bat-wielding folk hero in Boston and Los Angeles--
Boras will have no trouble finding a team to pony up at least eight years and $160 million for Teixeira, a 28-year-old Gold Glover who switch hits, has power to all fields, and does not take bathroom breaks during games. Rather, Boras will be judged this winter on the deal he swings for Ramirez, a 36-year-old outfielder whose level of motivation always seems to be in question. If the Angels are involved in the Ramirez sweepstakes, Boras can try to push the Dodgers to a long-term deal. But if the Angels get Teixeira, Ramirez may have to return to the Dodgers at a cut rate, or leave Southern California entirely. Ramirez is not the only heavy hitter waiting on Teixeira. A handful of others --
Ramirez has been good to Los Angeles, and it has been good to him. He spent less than three months with the Dodgers, but because of the buzz he created in those three months, he arguably has more value in L.A. than anywhere else. The Angels and the Dodgers are both playoff-caliber teams with stocked minor-league systems and who draw more than 3 million fans a year. But at times they suffer from a shortage of identifiable stars. If the Dodgers re-sign Ramirez, they will sustain the momentum they built at the end of last season. If the Angels sign him, they will simultaneously help themselves and hurt their cross-town competition. From a PR point of view, the Angels would probably create more of an impact in Southern California by signing Ramirez than Teixeira.
At this time a year ago, Boras suffered one of the few public embarrassments of his career, when
Southern California started out as the epicenter of free-agent activity this winter. The Angels had exclusive negotiating rights with Teixeira, the Dodgers had exclusive negotiating rights with Ramirez, and Bay Area native
The Dodgers and the Angels could be left fighting over Ramirez to salvage their respective offseasons. Ramirez, obviously, will not command as much cash as Sabathia or Teixeira, but his negotiations may generate the most entertainment, and in Los Angeles entertainment is still a large part of his appeal.