At least if he never signs anywhere, Manny can spend all summer just being Manny

The start of spring training gets ever nearer, and Manny Ramirez still leads the list of big-name free-agents who haven’t signed with a major league team.  A number of other hitters — Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn, for example — have essentially been held in limbo while waiting for Ramirez’ contract to be inked;  knowing where Manny lands and for how much is the first domino that needs to fall in order for other free agents to sign.

So where exactly is Manny going to end up?  My first instinct initially was back in Los Angeles — but I wonder how much longer Ned Colletti is going to be left waiting for Scott Boras and Rarimez to come back to reality with their contract demands.  Everyone except the agent and the slugging outfielder seem to have realized that the double-play combination of a worsening economy and Manny’s less-than-stellar effort while in Boston in his attempts to force his way to a trade have damaged any hope of obtaining the four year or longer deal at $25 million per they were seeking.

Frankly, part of me hopes he ends up going unsigned all the way to the start of the season.  While the Red Sox organization was not entirely blameless in the way the Ramirez saga played out, I completely lost any respect for the slugger when he firmly placed his own contract interests over that of his team’s chances to win — most telling, is the way pretty much no one in the Red Sox clubhouse lept to Ramirez’ defense before or after the trade;  it was clear that his teammates, even someone like David Ortiz, who had always been in his corner, were tired of his antics.  For that, there would be some sweet justice to see Ramirez playing for even less this season on a one-year deal — though the real villain behind the scenes, Boras (who by many accounts, encouraged Ramirez’ actions so as to secure himself a commission on any new deal Manny signed this year) will emerged unscathed for the most part.

If I were Colletti, I would be pretty frustrated at this point — and it’s getting now to where the Dodgers should seriously consider just moving on.  There’s always Adam Dunn to sign if you want a power bat — he’s no Manny, but still a dangerous hitter in his own right and by all accounts, a tremendous guy to have in the clubhouse.  Also, with the money they’d save, they could add Orlando Hudson (as has been rumored) — another high-character guy who has been one of the more underrated second sackers in the majors over the last few years.

If not L.A., then where else?  How about St. Louis?  Albert Pujols has already expressed his interest in seeing Ramirez join him in the Midwest — and the feel of the Cardinals line-up would be completely changed by Manny’s arrival.  Manny’s presence behind Pujols in the batting order would give the Cardinals a similar dynamic to what we saw in Boston with Ortiz and Ramirez — I think you could pencil in Pujols’ career year right now if that happened (though this would leave the Cardinals without much in the way of a traditional lead-off man, so maybe that prediction is optimistic on my part).

The rumors of Manny to San Francisco don’t ring true to me — the Giants seem to be looking at a short-term deal as well, and I think Boras and Ramirez won’t bite at that, if for no other reason than the realization that the pitcher-friendly park and the weak lineup Manny would have around him could lead to depressed offensive numbers, and almost no chance of getting one more big payday before his career ended.  No, if Manny signs a short deal, I think it’ll have to be someplace where the situation is right for him to continue putting up big stats — and San Francisco just isn’t it.

How about the Mets?  One would think they have the money, but that may not be the case.  Owner Fred Wilpon lost a small fortune, apparently, in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, and that, coupled with the questions being raised about the future of Citigroup’s $400 million naming rights deal on the team’s new stadium and the still-unseen effects of the economy have all left the front office a little more cautious with opening the checkbook.  They could still be a late player in the game to sign Ramirez, however, depending on the deal Boras and his client are finally willing to accept.

From a fantasy perspective, any of the above mentioned locations for Ramirez to land — other than San Francisco — would be attractive to his owners — and the potential for a monster season if he landed in the middle of the Mets lineup would be enormous.  Fantasy players should take closest note, however, to Manny’s body language as much as anything once he signs — last year’s L.A. explosion taught us that a happy Manny can carry your fantasy squad, while an unhappy Manny can be a huge disappointment.  A one year deal might be the best scenario for fantasy purposes, as Manny would have to produce to try landing his mega-deal again next off-season — no better motivation could there be.

Of course, Manny has supposedly said he’d sit around until May or later before signing a deal if the numbers aren’t right.  That would represent a nightmare scenario for fantasy owners — how much does Manny go for on draft day then?  There’s no way he would sit out an entire season, but possibly missing up to two months — or more — makes bidding for him a nightmare (though in most leagues, he’d be an immensely attractive target to any already rebuilding team looking for a stud keeper for 2010, as any salary he’d go for on draft day if he were unemployed would be well under his value).  For me, most of the drama surrounding Ramirez on draft day makes me think he’s a risk in more ways than one — and because of that, I won’t be seeing him on any of my rosters unless I’m trading for him in-season once I see which Manny I’d be getting.


3 Responses to “At least if he never signs anywhere, Manny can spend all summer just being Manny”

  1. sprentiss47 Says:

    Manny Ramirez, $20….

    Going once, going twice…

  2. thelasthonestman Says:

    You won’t get him for that — at least, I don’t THINK you will.

    A lot depends on how close he might actually be to signing by that point — if it gets that far. If it looks like he’s in uniform by May, he’ll still be fetching $30+ bids, I would imagine.

  3. rollthebones Says:

    I’ve never seen a ballplayer with the ability to “turn it on” or “turn it off” like Manny. That’s crazy. He’s incredibly talented, and certainly annoying, but definitely fascinating to watch. I’ve got to admit, I’m a fan of Manny. I’m sure the Dodgers are dying behind the scenes to get him signed.

    Where will he go? Here are my thoughts:

    – San Fransisco may be an option, becasue if there is any city that can handle the circus that surrounds Manny, this is the one.
    – Pujols needs another stick, this is true. But I’m not sure Manny is the right fit for St. Louis, a town full of baseball traditionalists and enthusiasts. They will certainly tire of his antics, and Pujols will one day look back and say to himself (in Spanish, of course) “What the fuck was I thinking?”
    – The Mets are a possibility, but they will probably swoop in and steal Abreu from the White Sox.
    – And finally, the Nationals…..ummmm…no.

    I think he’s West Coast bound, baby. No doubt about it.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: