Whelan & Dealin’

Whelan & Dealin

Whelan & Dealin’

Ben Whelan

It seems as though every Red Sox off-season is now characterized by a Manny trade watch, and inevitably it ends in disappointment as the eccentric slugger returns to the team as if nothing happened. Now, finally, it looks like the Sox have a legitimate chance to unload this guy and there is an outcry in Red Sox nation. Everyone has suddenly become an expert, regurgitating the same points over and over: You can’t get replace his production and there will be no protection for David Ortiz. This phrase has become the mantra of Red Sox nation, which is a shame because we have a reputation in this city for intelligent fans that come up with their own opinions and aren’t coerced by the media into adopting the popular opinion. This position is not scripture, so let’s think this through before we decide to commit to another season of Manny-Being-Manny.

First off, even if these claims were true there is a very convincing value argument that can be made here. Manny Ramirez is still going to make a truckload of money over the next two years and it’s pretty clear that is dramatically overpaid for what he is. Manny is in essence a DH who plays a Ted Williams style of left field, treating defense as a necessary evil in order to do what he loves (If you recall, he publicly pushed very hard to be the left fielder on this team, but for some reason isn’t that interested in actually playing when he’s there; Another Manny mystery). Granted he is one of the top two righty hitters in the game and one of the best pure hitters to play over the last decade, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that he is an incomplete player and should be paid as such. Manny’s contract is unfortunate leftover from a period of severe market correction, and despite how much money you think the Red Sox ownership have, it doesn’t mean that they’re willing to throw away an extra four or five million dollars a year. The entire team’s management concept revolves around value, and Manny simply doesn’t fit.

As for replacing his production, it may be true that there is no single player other than Albert Pujols that could single handedly replace Manny’s production, but that may not be as necessary as we think it is. Over the last five years, the Sox have consistently had one of the best offenses in the majors and all they have to show for it is one World Series and numerous playoff defeats, but they have also had the second highest payroll in baseball all of those years so they had better make at least make the playoffs. The difference between a ring in ’04 and early exits in they years before and after was not offense, it was pitching. From what I have heard, most of the Manny trades involve front line pitchers, the most brought of whom is twenty-five year old Padres ace Jake Peavy. If the Red Sox were to acquire Peavy, they would have an unparalleled stable of young talent and rotation of Schilling, Josh Beckett (26), Jonathan Papelbon (26), Daisuke Matsuzaka (25), and Peavy (25). Other than Schilling (who would be replaced by Wakefield who would go to the bullpen for the season), this rotation would be intact for the foreseeable future and will only get better as these wunderkind enter their primes. The fact is that every team recognizes the value of a young talented starter so they are locked up pretty early and thus the only way to get front line pitching is today’s league is to trade for it.

Finally, the problem of protection for David Ortiz is dramatically overstated, as while he may not get as much protection as he would get from Manny, it’s not like there aren’t other players on this team. J.D. Drew, who will likely be signed by the Sox by the time you are reading this, is an adequately dangerous hitter so as to prevent Ortiz from walking 200 times, as some have suggested he might. Granted Ortiz will get walked more often and his offensive production will probably drop a little bit, but once again, a dominant pitching staff will more than make up for not being the very best offensive team in the league (although still a pretty damn good one).

Bottom line: It’s time to end the Manny Malaise and begin the Age of the Ace.