Monday, November 27, 2006

Hot Stove, Bosox: ManRam gone, Matsuzaka not coming?

Is Manny finally headed out of the Hub?

The stove is really heating up amidst rampant reports that mercurial Red Sox leftfielder Manny Ramirez will finally be traded from the team, potentially as soon as this weekend.

Possible suitors who are trying to work out deals include the San Francisco Giants (which would almost certainly signify the departure of Bonds), San Diego Padres and Dodgers. The Texas Rangers, L.A. of Anaheim Angels and Cleveland Indians have reportedly also expressed interest but have backed out because they couldn't come up with the right package to land the star slugger.

So far the deals have been said to include top prospects and moderate major league talent, but perhaps most important to Boston, some of their unwieldy contracts (besides ManRam's) could be included in any deal, including $10 million dollar dud Matt Clement. (Red Sox Nation: "Hooray!")

What does all of this mean for the Sox as they enter this offseason in need of a complete overhaul but risk losing the core of their lineup by dealing Ramirez? You not only remove Manny's .300/40+/120+ production, but you render Big Papi nearly powerless by taking away the protective bat that has allowed him to become one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball these past four years. No one plugged into that hole, save for Phat Albert or Ryan Howard, is capable of making pitchers pitch to Papi out of fear of having to face Ramirez, one of the most prolific RBI men of all time. I would have liked to have seen Carlos Lee in that spot, but he just signed a ginourmous ($100 million for 6 years) deal with the Astros. Now the talk is centering around JD Drew, ironically a high-priced head case whose desire to play while hurt has been questioned by several sources and who will probably get eaten alive in Beantown unless he puts up Manny-type numbers, which ain't gonna happen.

But the Sox will have to make due because it has become abundantly clear after ManRam's latest "I don't feel like playing" stint in September and his 4,237th request to be traded that the time is now to part ways, and the time has never been more ripe to do so. With the market for his contract opened up now thanks to the mega-deals of Soriano, Lee and others Boston must realize that they need to act now or head into next season with the dark cloud of Manny's behavior and/or willingness to play hanging over them like a cloud. If they really want to start fresh in '07 and put the painful memories of 2006 behind them, what better way to clean the slate than by eliminating the man who gave up on his team down the stretch and became too much of a distraction for his own good?

Thanks for the memories, Manny. Time to take the sideshow known as Manny Being Manny to another town.

-Matsuzaka, Red Sox far apart in contract negotiations
Another story making its way around the wires today has the Sox & Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsazaka, whom Boston has $51.1 million reasons to want in a Red Sox uniform, far apart in their time-restricted contract talks. Gee, what a surprise seeing as notoriously hardheaded agent Scott Boras represents the 26-year-old Asian phenom.

According to a column by Tony Massarotti in today's Boston Herald the sides remain worlds apart in agreeing on how much money their man should make, and also for how long. Like, not even halfway to the numbers far apart. With three weeks left to seal the deal it's not panic time- yet. But with the sides so far apart, does that show that this deal may actually never get done, which would throw the Sox' restoration plans into a tizzy?

I've said all along that the Sox brass would not lay out that kind of cash just to talk with the kid, get the Nation into a frenzy over the thought of adding a frontline starter to a rotation that already will include Schilling, Beckett & Papelbon, and then not get him signed. I still subscribe to that theory. It would be a monumental PR, not to mention business, blunder to let the kid walk back to his old team, especially if they trade Manny Ramirez soon as is being reported. Boston would be left with a gaping hole in their lineup, rotation & reputation, with their future Hall of Fame rightfielder playing for another team and a $51.1 million dollar refund check in their hand with no one to spend it on.

Get the deal done, Theo. Period. With all the crazy money being thrown around to average players right now even $100 million isn't too much to pay. We need this kid more than ever, because it looks like the face of the franchise is taking his act to another city and now is the time for a young star to step into the void and become the next Boston icon.

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