Tagged: MANNY

Five best LF’s in baseball

No, I haven’t forgotten about my top five lists.  This is actually my favorite part of blogging.  And I still have two positions remaining after this: RF and C.  And then of course I will come up with some kind of list with the top starters, maybe even the top five relievers after that–although I may stay away from relievers because it will be so difficult to do.  Other than my Kevin Youkilis tragedy, I feel that I am doing pretty well with my lIsts, and the number five spot always seems to be the most debated. 

On to the list…

  • Manny Ramirez:  I guess until Manny proves us that he cannot play great, then we must assume that he is great.  Manny was a good hitter with the Red Sox IN 2008, but was having a year in which everyone realized that this wasn’t 2004 Manny anymore.  Manny posted an OPS+ of 136, which is good, but was the second worst that he posted since 1994–when he played only 91 games at age 22.  Ramirez was clearly having trouble with the harder pitching in the game, and then of course the fiasco that followed…Then out of nowhere, whether it was the weaker NL pitching, or another level of being motivated, Manny absolutely killed the ball for a few months.  Posted an OPS+ of 219, and it rivaled some of the greatest stretches that I have ever seen as a fan.  A .396 average over those 53 games.  An incredible .743 slugging percentage.  An unheard of 32% of his balls in play were line drives.  32%!!!  Over the past 4 seasons, plus his 100 games with the Red Sox, the closest Manny has come to that is 24%.  And we are talking about one of the greatest hitters to ever step into the box.  Granted, it was a fairly small sample size, as 53 games isn’t 153 games.  But it is still pretty remarkable.
  • Matt Holiday:  It truly is difficult for me to post what I think is such a question mark this high.  After all, Holliday isn’t great away from Coors, although his splits have been becoming a bit more comparable, a bit less deceiving, it seems.  As far as I have heard and researched, Holliday is a better baserunner than the next guy, and a better defender,  which is really what separates him.  And both Holliday and the next player will be making difficult transitions to the American League this season, meaning we will really be seeing what kind of players they are.
  • Jason Bay:  I know Jay Bay sucked in 2007.  But in both 2006 and 2008 he was a very good player, maybe not a great player, but very good.  Bay has a weak arm and doesn’t exactly play defense all that well.  But Bay is a great hitter and has been for a while now.  Bay has posted OPS+’s of 132 or greater in 4 of his five years in which he has earned enough playing time to matter.  It is funny that some seem to be down on Bay.  Pecota doesn’t love him this season, but still thinks he will be a pretty good player.  And after seeing what Manny did with the Dodgers, and what Manny has done over his career, Red Sox fans seem to be weary of Jason Bay.  Understand that he is NOT Manny.  And he will probably hit between .270-.280.  But Bay will slug .500 and get on base well above the league average.  He isn’t Manny, but it could be much worse, definitely.
  • Ryan Braun:  Braun could move up after this season, but I cannot go any higher than this yet.  And the players he would be passing aren’t exactly finished playing well.  Braun is a very good hitter.  His 2007 season was incredible in only 113 games, and Braun wasn’t quite as good in 2008.  But the guy can swing the stick, posting OPS+’s of 153 and 128 in what is a very young career.  I chose him over the next few guys (that ones that could fill slot number 5) because his flaws seem to be less detrimental to a team.
  • Adam Dunn:  The fifth spot is up for grabs.  All Dunn can do well is hit, and hit he does.  Gets on base a ton, and hits for lots of power.  A simple description, I know.  Dunn also hits very consistently, as everyone makes us aware of.  But move any of the following names into this spot and I have no problem. 

The “stuff your sorry’s in a sack, Mr.” section:  Carl Crawford:  Hit more.  Pat Burrell:  You could have been fifth I guess.  Carlos Quentin:  Continue to play well and you will take away the fifth spot.  Alfonso Soriano:  Could have been fifth too, I guess. 

That fifth spot is not exactly set in stone.  None of them are though, I guess.  So place whichever player you wish in that last spot, as long as it isn’t too ridiculous.  


The Magical Land Of Fastballs.

     In a magical world, a far off place.  Dreams are made for “The Carriers of Wooden Clubs.”  90 MPH enemies shoot at their existence, yet they welcome the consistent approach of these “enemies.”  They welcome the same mundane attack methods they induce upon the “Clubbers.”  The “Leatherfaces” are tirelessly coming up on them, around 15 of them per day.  They approach them in different locations, but always at the same speed.  So there is no confusion on the “Clubbers” part.  Different spots, but relatively the same location, they are an ease to fend off, to send on their way.  Fairies aid in the process of ultimate completion, ultimate success.  The magical fairies fly around recognizing each, telling them the secrets of the small, but deliberately shot “leatherfaces.”  As each approaches, a fairy, whichever fairy recognizes it first, will yell something relating to the speed of which the enemy approaches.  But in this world, there is no mix up, there is no change.  Each fairy has grown tired, as they all yell in harmony–in that little fairy voice–“Gunner.”  Gunner stands for fast, straight attack.  The Gunner is the most convenient, the easiest for the “Clubbers” to club.  Yet they seem bored.  The “Leatherfaces” in the other forests have different strategies, different ways to try and win the battle.  It must be since the omnipotent, most feared clubber stands behind them today.  He makes everything easier.  He is the leader of the “Clubbers,” the greatest of them all.  For some reason, each time he follows the others, they have it easy, they laugh and smile, and have fun as they all have success in their own defense.  Each will not admit it though, each is a little bored, a little too successful in defending their own on route to the nexus of creation, their chosen destination.

     But it wasn’t always this simple, it wasn’t always this easy for “The Carriers of Wooden Clubs.”  The previous forests, most of them, were without their omnipotent leader, their great wise-one.  The “Leatherfaces” that have proceeded with their attacks, changed on them, they weren’t as predictable.  Screaming through the air, changing speeds, differing, unpredictable approaches.  There was success for the enemy.  The object of defense when coming across these types was to stay back, wait as long as possible, then snap those clubs around.  But it wasn’t that easy to apply it.  The “Clubbers” would come out wounded, scarred after these battles.  They felt banged up, bruised, and felt as though they could not go on.  But they always found a way to continue on their path, to continue from one forest to the next, through the infested swamps, over the wretched hilltops.  They made it, but it wasn’t as pretty.  No, it wasn’t pretty, quite difficult in fact. 

     So they always wondered why with him, it was so much easier.  Was it psychological?  Was it the mind controlling abilities of the one who followed them, guiding their quest?  Did the “Leatherfaces” feel that the best way to retire “The Carriers of Wooden Clubs” was to come at them as fast and as straight as possible?  It just didn’t make sense.  But they continued on, they didn’t ask questions, and they answered as if it was their own doing, their own victory, even though deep down, they knew that this “follower” had a lot to do with it, a lot to do with their own success.  

     The “myth” of protection.  Is it a myth?  Does it exist?  Do pitchers throw more fastballs in this situation?  “Baseball Between the Numbers,” a great book I might add, essential to all fans, attempted to dissect it.  But what they ended up doing was making a mild stab, and then came off very dismissive of the subject.  Their conclusion was basically this:  “If protection exists, it matters very little.”  I am not one to dismiss something on such a questionable study, but I do agree with the basic result; protection is overrated.  I touched up on this in my early blogging days, but felt like expanding on it now, just a little expansion though.

     Protection does matter to an extent in my opinion.  I will use the current Nationals team as an example.  Let us put Albert Pujols in the Nationals lineup.  Now, without even digging much deeper, we all know that lineup is lacking danger around him.  Why give him anything to hit?  Why not nitpick most times Pujols comes up?  Exactly.  In a lineup like this, Pujols will probably see fewer hittable pitches, because there is no reason to let him beat you, as the rest of the lineup, in most cases, will not come through.  Now, this lineup does have Ryan Zimmerman and Nick Johnson.  But this lineup also does not Nick Johnson.  Confusing?  Nick Johnson does not play most of the time.  And while Ryan Zimmerman is a pretty good all-around 3B, he is nothing special at the plate, yet.  The team has a few promising bats, that also carry heads that aren’t exactly on sewn on solid.  But those “promising bats” have yet to prove much at all in the Major Leagues.  So maybe, MAYBE Zimmerman sees a few more pitches that happen to be to his liking, as he bats in front of Pujols.  But if Zimmerman actually, you know, hits incredibly well, pitchers would have no choice but to adjust to him, and start changing their approach, and treat him as a good hitter, too.  

     This came up a lot last season.  Drew moved in front of Manny, and Drew started killing the ball.  Manny moved to the Dodgers and Jeff Kent began killing the ball.  And before 2008– back in 2003–David Ortiz moved into a lineup, and for basically a six-year period, killed the ball.  Having never done anything beyond average in his career, Ortiz started crushing the ball in Boston.  But it wasn’t just Manny hitting behind him in my opinion.  If it were that simple, then there would be no way around it.  But if Ortiz started hitting much better because there was a great hitter behind him, then pitchers would have adjusted.  They would have changed their approach.  I could see for a few weeks where a pitcher might come after Ortiz a little differently, not wanting anyone on base when Manny steps to the plate.  Maybe the pitcher doesn’t mind catching a little more of the strike zone.  But eventually, very quickly, pitchers would have to come after the hitter differently if he started having a lot of success.  And the changing approach that the pitchers encounter would take place well before an extended period of 5 or 6 years.  Ortiz was a great hitter, with or without Manny.  There is almost no way that pitchers would continually let David Ortiz beat them the way that he did, simply because Manny Ramirez was on deck. 

     And about the studies that have been done…there have been studies as to whether or not Chipper Jones saw more fastballs once Mark Teixeira arrived in Atlanta.  Chipper said he saw more fastballs, but if my mind is correct, I seem to recall a study where it discounted what Jones said.  If “protection” increases the number of fastballs that the batter in front sees, then wouldn’t a higher number of fastballs be thrown, percentage-wise to that hitter?  That is something that would have been seen through statistics.  Yet, I believe that it was not seen.  Maybe Chipper’s minds was playing tricks on him.  Maybe Chipper just had more confidence because another great hitter was added to the lineup, and it gave him the feeling that he didn’t have to hit a home run every time he came up.  I do not know the exact answer, but if a player says he sees
more fastball, and the numbers say that is not seeing any more fastballs, then, well, I have to agree with the stats. 

     What about having success with more runners on base?  In 2008, hitters had an OPS of .769 with runners on base during their AB.  But without runners on base, hitters had an OPS of .749.  Hitters hit .264 with the bases empty, .270 with runners on.  That isn’t a large difference, yet it is still a difference.  But isn’t that skewed?  Great pitchers are going to allow fewer baserunners over an extended period of time, so hitters will face poorer pitchers, in general, when there are runners on base.  Livan Hernandez is going to allow more baserunners than Johan Santana.  Dan Haren is going to allow fewer baserunners than Sidney Ponson, etc, etc, etc.  So does this even matter much?  Players are going to have more RBI’s with runners on base, that is through chance though mostly.  Which is why I do not look at RBI’s.  I look at percentage stats. 

     So how much does Manny Ramirez batting behind another hitter even matter?  I can see Manny batting in a lineup by himself, mattering some maybe.  But that isn’t very realistic.  Most lineups consist of more than one quality hitter.  In terrible lineups, with one great hitter, that hitter can be walked most times if that opposing team chooses.  But lineups on average, are not as bad as the Washington Nationals lineup.  I just don’t know if protection “is what we think it is.”  Of course, I am far from the first to question this.

     So what are your thoughts? 

Simmons’ Logic Flawed.

Bill Simmons: See, another team that should sign him –
the Nats. People in DC do not care about that team. At all. Manny
doesn’t make them more interesting????? They’re willing to give Tex 170
million – a guy who has played on bad teams for nearly his entire
career – but Manny isn’t worth $75m for three? He wouldn’t sell
tickets? He wouldn’t hit?

     Not intending to rip on Bill Simmons, again, for simply the sake of ripping on Bill Simmons.  As I included in my last post referring to a Simmons ‘flaw of logic,” it is the way he thinks in regarding to certain baseball and football related topics that I disagree with.  Simmons does do something that I could never do, entertain a large crowd.  The way that he introduces the readers to entertainment-intersecting-with-sports is pretty much unparalled on a national scale.  But for someone who is in the national spotlight, someone who most likely spends more time than I do perusing the internet, one would think that he would dig a little deeper to find out what value in baseball is, what the worth of an individual player is.  Maybe spend a few minutes on Baseball Prospectus or The Hardball Times.  Ok, one doesn’t have to be infatuated with the numbers to understand baseball.  That seems to be a popular misconception nowadays.  But it helps, trust me, it does.  If one understands why there are numbers in the first place–to aid in the process of evaluating players, teams, etc, not to eliminate scouts, talent evaluators, etc–Then they will simply have a greater understanding of the game.  I may be adept with the numbers, somewhat, but I am no scout, nor do I think I know more than the average scout.  But it is much easier for someone to research stats, and what they mean, then to learn how to evaluate a player based on what they see.  I am not asking Bill Simmons to grade Buchholz’s change up, I am simply asking him to try and understand an established players value.

     So what does this mean when speaking of Teixeira?  “A guy who has played on bad teams nearly his entire career.”  Maybe I am looking too much into it and maybe my thinking is flawed.  But for some reason it sounds like Tex is being penalized because the Rangers only addressed one side of the ball over the duration of his time spent with Texas.  Manny has played on winning teams, and been part of the reason they have been winners, arguably the largest part at times.  But Tex never had Schilling and Pedro on the mound.  Tex never had a great season from Josh Beckett and another quality year of Curt Schilling.  And while Tex had some hitters in his lineup, “plus-talent” around him at times, so did Manny.  The Red Sox won two championships while Manny was with them.  But replacing Manny with an average LF would have resulted in winning seasons, probably not the playoffs, but still, winning seasons.  Those Indians teams were stacked with good hitters, and while they too, like the Rangers, did not exactly address the pitching as much as they should have, at least they had a few good pitchers. 

     The reason that this irritates me so much is that Mark Teixiera is now a Yankee (winner).  This season, maybe the Yankees don’t win a championship, but they will be a winning ballclub.  So all of a sudden Tex is a winning player because he has more talent surrounding him than he ever has in his career?  That is why I hate this.  Some baseball writers think that a player can win 40 games on his own, or so it seems.  Statistically, that isn’t the case at all.  Players cannot be that large a part of a team.  Did you know that accoring to WARP1 Manny Ramirez was worth 9.8 Wins above a “replacement player?”  That is basically 10 wins.  So Manny would have been 10 wins better then some Minor Leaguer that comes up and plays with the team when there is no one else to field the position.  Maybe that statistic is not perfect, but it provides a much greater understanding of how many wins a player is worth, rather than simply guessing a number as some appear to do.  Simply put, you put Manny Ramirez on the Pirates this season, and the Pirates will still miss the playoffs, probably by a lot.  You put Manny Ramirez from any season of his career on next years Pittsburgh Pirates, and they still miss the playoffs.

     These are the pitching staffs summed up in ERA+ in Tex’s Rangers years:  88, 111, 93, 100, 95 (95 was a partial season for Tex).  That 111 stands out a lot.  But the problem is that the offense was actually slightly below average that season (97).  Tex may have had some “hitters” around him during his time in Texas, but the offense as a whole was, believe it or not, better than average only one time (105).  There was a season of 101 in there too, but that is basically average, since average is 100.  It may seem like the Rangers have a great offense more often, but that ballpark does help their case in most seasons, excluding last year, when they actually had a really good offense.  

     While Manny played in Boston, the Red Sox have had team pitching, and team offense numbers in eight seasons, giving us eight years of offense, and eight years of pitching; 16 total.  During that time, the Red Sox have below average pitching twice (96, 98).  And a below average offense only once (99).  And those numbers of 98 and 99 are dangerously close to being average.  Basically, Ramirez played on teams that had just about an average offense 8 times in eight seasons.  And an average pitching staff basically 6 of 8 times, possibly even 7 if you want to include the 98.  And average is an understatement.  Each side of the ball has been well above average in several seasons, including pitching seasons of 121 and 123.  Those, my friends, are great pitching staffs.
     So sure, Manny Ramirez was a part of why those Red Sox teams were great, but that part seems to be magnified in Simmons’ eyes.  There was only so much that he could do alone.  And while Tex will probably end up the lesser player when their career’s are all said and done, both will be considered great, I would imagine.  Manny’s career is great already, Tex seems likely to finish what will be a great career–maybe not a Hall of Famer–but he should be very close if he continues to stay healthy.  And I understand that part of the point Simmons is trying to make is that Manny will sell more tickets in Washington.  That, I do not dispute.  But I feel that it is unfair for Simmons to include that Tex has played on “losing teams,” because that is not his fault.  He was a great player on a team with below average talent around him most years.  And just one more thing; Tex actually does play defense, and plays it very well.  Something that 37 year old Manny Ramirez will not do, and has never done. 

     So, Bill.  Continue writing, you do have a lot of talent.  But seriously try and find a better way to understand a players value in the sport we know as baseball.  Because pinning the failures of a team on an individual just doesn’t make much sense to me, or present much logic.    


Manny Ramirez is Underrated.

    Bill Simmons says so

     Manny Ramirez underrated?  Is that logical?  Manny Ramirez has been glorified for many seasons now, especially after he joined the Red Sox.  People constantly refer to Manny as being one of the greatest right handed hitters of all time.  There is no one, at least that I’ve come across, that doubts his greatness, or that he is a Hall of Famer.  Maybe I am missing the point Bill Simmons.  I know what you are saying, you seem to think that teams that don’t want to pay him $25 million are undervaluing him.  On this market, a 37 year old player should get paid $25 million a season for multiple seasons?  It doesn’t mean that Manny is underrated, it means that Manny is asking for too much, in a time when the economy is struggling, and even baseball teams seem to be feeling the effect. 

     Bill Simmons is actually an entertaining writer.  Bias?  Yes.  Ill-informed at times?  Yes.  But the way he mixes in popular culture with sports is a talent that I respect.  Simmons, ever since Manny was traded, has sided with Manny, rather than with the Red Sox.  I guess he thinks that the Red Sox treated him poorly by not letting him know whether or not they were going to pick up his option.  Simmons, if you think that, then so be it.  But there is no one out there that denies that Manny makes any team better.  But is that “better” worth $75 million over three years, or $50 million over two?  Whatever the figure is, it is very logical for a team to pass on it.  That much money tied up in one player isn’t exactly the best route, especially one that is 37 AND has a history of self-motivation, and is somewhere in the same arena as being a “defensive liability.” 

     I will always appreciate Manny Ramirez as a baseball player.  And I will continue to read Bill Simmons’ sports column because I find them entertaining–although lacking sports logic at times.  But I have to say that Bill is wrong on this subject. 

Hitting To The Opposite Field.

     Forget drawing walks for a minute.  Forget on base percentage for a sec.  Forget the long ball, as exciting as it may be.  What is one beautiful aspect of hitting?  Turning on one and pulling it out of the yard is excitement no doubt, but sitting on a pitch away and driving it to the opposite field, now that is truly a pretty sight.  So much respect and admiration for a hitter that looks to hit the ball to all fields, for it is a sign that the hitter is mentally aware of what is going on while he is in the batters box. 

     Our natural tendency is to try and pull the ball.  Anyone who has played at any level, even wiffle-ball, can understand this.  If a pitch comes on the inner half of the plate, we want to rip over the left field fence.  Or the right field fence, depending on which side of the plate we are standing.  And sometimes if the ball is located on the outer half, we still want to drive it over the wall that corresponds best with our pull-happy mentality.  There is a reason that announcers, as clueless as they can be at times, say that a hitter is at his best when they are “hitting the ball to all fields.”  No player, that has the spotlight, is more adept at hitting the ball to all fields than Derek Jeter.

     I know, I praise the way Jeter plays the game a lot, and I am not oblivious to what he fails to do well.  But what he does very well, and always has, is use all of the field to be an effective hitter.  Last season, Jeter used the right side of the field to the clip of 38.6% of the time.  That is batted balls we are referring to, not all At Bats.  This is no mystery for we all hear about it every time Jeter appears on ESPN for a Sunday Night game.  Or anytime the Yankees play the Fox Saturday Game of the Week.  Jeter likes to go the other way.  Everything he does on a baseball field, and some off of it, we hear about.  But that doesn’t take away from it any, it is remarkable that he continues to show such discipline, such focus, in driving the ball to the first base side of the diamond.  That level of focus is why Jeter is a Hall of Fame caliber player, it is why stats actually do not sum up everything a player does, even though those same stats are a darn good indicator most of the time.  All of this in what was the worst season that Jeter has had at the plate in a while.

     While Jeter does it well, Manny Ramirez also does it well, except with exceptional power.  Manny goes the other way as well as any hitter I have ever seen…when he feels like it.  Ramirez is hands down, clear cut, a much better hitter than Jeter.  But while Jeter may lack the power that Manny has, he maintains that high level of focus much more so.  During Manny’s tenure with the Red Sox, he went through periods where one could tell he was determined to drive the ball the other way, and that is when Manny was being Manny, which first and foremost meant crushing the ball.  But it seemed that he could focus for a few weeks, then when Manny got bored, when his mind cluttered, he begin to disregard it, it seemed anyway.  If Man-Ram wants to pull the ball, he can do so, but golly was he great when he would drive the ball into the gap in right-center.  I sometimes wonder if Manny had the kind of focus that other players have, how much better he could have been.  It’s truly scary, because he is already one of the greatest hitters ever, especially from the right side of the plate. 

     It seems that whenever a player gets hot, they are hitting the ball to all fields.  It is impossible to maintain the level of concentration that Jeter has, at its highest, at all times.  Which is why it is so astonishing that Jeter does it as much as he does.  Maybe it’s just me, I lack the ability to focus for extended periods of time, or even for a short period of time.  Maybe that is why I have so much respect for athletes, baseball players in particular that can sit on the outside half of the plate (or stay focused in between pitches, but that is a different story).  Players that can look to drive the ball to the right fielder if they are right handed.  Players that can drive the ball into the left-center field gap if they stand from the left side. 

     So remember, when player x catches fire this season, listen for the phrase “hitting to all fields.”  Trust me, it will come up.    

Manny is Not the MVP.


     Rob Neyer (ESPN Insiders Only)


     I thought about this literally one day before Manny commented on “Manny” not being worthy of the NL MVP.  I just chose not to write about it at the time, regrettably.  And the “expert” Rob Neyer attacked the subject the following day after he heard the comments.  I have to say, Neyer and I agree on the subject, along with Manny Ramirez.


     But before I start on the subject…isn’t it funny how now Manny is being embraced once again by the public?  This was a guy that did not even feel like playing for a championship contender because he was worried about whether or not the Red Sox would exercise a team option that they had.  Now, out in Los Angeles, he knows that he can go out and get the contract he desires following the season, so he is back to being that fun loving Manny that most fans enjoyed. 


     Hint: He is still the same person.  Teammates, media and anyone else following are being sucked into his game.  I agree that LA needs a guy like Manny to make baseball seem more fun out there.  He is actually in the perfect situation, but that great teammate stuff is obviously just a cover up from what he really is, and was just two months ago.  And I don’t know that Manny was ever a BAD teammate up until this season, but he was definitely a bad teammate in 2008.  Dodgers fans should cheer for him, because the team is more important.  But I feel like the media is showing to much of the fun loving Manny in LA, and it is hindering the perception that we should of the guy, and the perception that we had of him only two months ago.  And that perception was, well, not good. 


     But that is not why he is not the MVP.  The reason that he is not the MVP is because he has only playing for an NL team for two months.  One cannot win an award like this if they have played in the league for only 1/3 of the season.  I actually don’t know that it is fair, because I generally want the best player to win, not just the best player on a team that stays in contention.  But the award has qualifications, and what he did for four months in the AL just doesn’t transfer over.  Not that I feel bad for him, he wanted this…and got it.  But Albert Pujols has four extra months of great production, all within the National League, no way Manny can top that. 


     However it is funny, because an ESPN commentor on some article or blog had a good example of how it is kind of flawed.  It went a little something like this: If Manny had been traded to another AL team then all of his stats would transfer and his cumulative numbers would be used.  Yet he could not have helped each team enough to be the “MVP.”  A four month period on one team, and a two month period on another team would not be valuable enough to a team, to help them enough.  Yet, because all the numbers would be relevant toward the award he could win it.  Seems kind of peculiar.


     Manny, nevertheless, has been awesome since joining the Dodgers.  Truly awesome.  But Albert Pujols, one of the greatest players of all time, and arguably the best in today’s game, has been having a TRULY great season all year long.  And more importantly for this discussion, he has accomplished it all season long in the same league.  Of course, he isn’t a lock as people will find a way to vote for less deserving candidates just because they are on good teams.  But that was the topic for another past blog that I wrote, and will once again be a topic when the awards are being determined after the year concludes.   





Goodbye Manny.


     Manny Ramirez.  One of the greatest hitters to ever set foot in a batters box.  Not just from the right side either.  One of the greatest hitters, period!  Combine all of the left handed hitters and right handed hitters together, and Manny comes out in the top tier, the upper echelon of all time sluggers.  I have seen Manny do things in the batters box that I have not seen from anyone.  I have seen him crush a slider over the right center field fence, with consistency.  I have seen him hit the ball away better than anyone I have ever witnessed.  When he was completely focused, and was determined to hit the ball to the opposite field, there was no better hitter in the game, outside of the only hitter that was better, the one that resided in San Francisco.  Last season, when the Anaheim Angels came to town, Manny and David Ortiz together, put on a show that I had never come across in my time of watching baseball.  A tear that the two players basically took upon themselves to win the series singlehandedly (there was plenty of other help, it just felt like that).  Manny posted a line of .375/.615/.1.125.  Ortiz added in his hand which went a little like this: .714/.846/1.571.  And they both continued there dominance in the second round helping the Red Sox hammer two “Ace” pitchers, at least last season, in Fausto Carmona and CC Sabathia.  Some say those two “Aces” tired out as the season stretched out, but Carmona had just dominated the Yankees in the previous series.  I think it was more of what might have been the greatest 3-4 combo that any lineup has ever seen.  I know it is easily the greatest that I have ever seen.


     Manny added an offensive game that few have ever contributed to a ball club.  Manny’s “stick” has been 54% better than the average hitter over his career.  And I would agree that he is a sure fire Hall of Famer, and still is.  I will happily endorse his worth if anyone asks me.  He is one of the greatest players of all time.  The Los Angeles Dodgers just acquired a bat that may help them win the division, and they are getting a hitter who will be able to perform well come playoff time, if the opportunity does in fact present itself.  But one player does not make a team, so the Dodgers look a little better than the Diamondbacks now, but it doesn’t propel them into the World Series, like some may think…


     Which leads me to the Red Sox situation…The difference between Manny and Jason Bay down the stretch should not make too much of a difference.  Manny is a better hitter and he has been doing it in a tougher league, and a tougher division than Bay has.  But if the adjustment to a new league, and a new city isn’t too much for Bay, then the difference down the stretch shouldn’t be impossible to overcome, in terms of a postseason berth.  The thing that worries me most, is the privilege that we had of watching the Ortiz and Manny combo.  I don’t feel that Jason Bay could fill Manny’s shoes at the highest stage of the game, the playoffs.  I am not saying that Bay won’t have success, because he may, but to do what Manny did last season is a lot to ask, for anyone.  The rest of the Boston offense is good enough where they will still have one of the best in the game, but it isn’t quite as scary as it once was.  And to rid of that distraction that was Manny Ramirez may loosen the clubhouse a little and help them get back on track.  Jason Bay is a good player, who is cheaper, and a better defender.  But he is not Manny Ramirez..  Although ultimately they get a fine player in return, who is more important looking forward toward the future.  Because the Red Sox needed to get younger on offense eventually anyway.


     And this…”Manny is misunderstood.”  “Manny keeps the clubhouse loose.”  “Manny never talks about his contract while working out in the Winter with teammates.” 

…But right smack dab in the middle of a pennant race, he will not hesitate to speak his mind and disrupt what was as talented a team in Major League Baseball, seemingly tampering with a beautiful formula that won a championship in 2007. 


     “I love Boston fans.”  Then Manny, hustle down the damn line when you hit a ground ball.  “Show” the fans that you love them.  Nothing speaks louder than the actions that you show to us.  And if you are saying garbage, spewing garbage, and showing us a product that is good, but has some garbage mixed in, then we notice that.  Without the fans, Manny, you don’t get paid.  It is as simple as that.  The consumer is needed for the product to be bought.  And the product we bought was starting to widdle away the fine exterior, into the hostile, self absorbed and shall I say “fake” interior that was “Manny being Manny.”  If Manny Ramirez truly cared about the Boston fans then he would have helped them try and win a World Series title this season, while keeping his mouth shut.  He would have let the Red Sox exercise their right as to whether or not they were going to pickup the option by the deadline.  A “right” that Manny Ramirez himself thought was ok in the offseason just before his first year in Boston, 2001.  Apparently, Ramirez did not look ahead.  Because had he done so, he wouldn’t have allowed a team option, let alone more than one of them. 


     Manny Ramirez one of the greatest hitters of all time.  Manny Ramirez, someone I thought of as a fun loving guy, with a few flaws for many years, turned out to be a fraud.  He wasn’t what we thought he was.  And I am not just bitter because a future Hall of Famer walked out the door, I am bitter because he couldn’t shut his ******* mouth for two months, for the sake of the fans, and for the sake of his teammates.  A player who wanted a four year contract more so than another World Series ring.  We don’t see everything that goes on behind closed doors, but Manny presented us with enough to come to the conclusion that his next contract was more important than the fans that he said he “cared about.”    


     So the Red Sox did what they had to do.  They parted ways with one of the greatest players of all time, while still giving themselves a chance to win a World Series by getting a return of Jason Bay.  I am bitter because we lost a player that has been with the club for nearly eight years.  I am bitter because the habit of seeing Manny’s name penciled in the fourth slot of the lineup card is now lost.  And I am bitter because the chances of winning a World Series just became a little less likely.  But I am not bitter that Manny wanted to leave, I am bitter that he couldn’t wait until after the year to try and solve this problem.  That he couldn’t let the Red Sox do what he himself signed them off to do.  And that he couldn’t let the ones who ultimately pay his contract, the fans, watch him for two more months while trying to obtain World Series ring number 3.