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The Manny and Joe Show
2008-10-09 05:25
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The headline on the back cover of the Daily News today reads:

Torre & Manny's succes in L.A. turns into...YANKS' WORST NIGHTMARE

They've got to sell papers, I get it, but the only nightmare I can see is the Red Sox winning the World Serious again (and even that's not enough to keep me up at night). I don't think the Yankees would have made the playoffs if Torre had stuck around, do you? Which is not to say that I don't hope he wins it all with the Dodgers--the story is just too good to pass up (though I'd rather see Tampa to win it all at this pernt). I would smile from ear-to-ear if Torre wins a Serious in Hollywood.

Of course Manny is the superstar getting the most ink right now, deservedly so. In this week's Sports Illustrated, Tom Verducci's article on the Manny and the Dodgers has some good nuggets on Manny's brilliance on the field.

Dig:

In the signature at bat of the series, in Game 1, Ramirez swung flat-footed at a wicked shoe-top-high 0-and-2 curveball from reliever Sean Marshall and blasted it 420 feet into the Wrigley Field bleachers.

"Just sick," teammate Greg Maddux says. "Even we look at Manny and go, 'That's just on another level.' It's like watching Tiger Woods hit an eight-iron a thousand feet in the air and knocking it stiff. Normal people just don't do that. Guys like Tiger and Manny are out there in a class by themselves."

...Says L.A. general manager Ned Colletti, "Normally, as a pitcher gets strikes on a hitter, the hitter becomes more and more defensive. But with Manny it's different. It's like the more pitches he sees, the more he knows about what the pitcher is doing and where the pitcher wants to go, and the odds swing more to his favor. And the pitcher knows that.

"I've been around Maddux, [Barry] Bonds and Manny. Those three guys are the smartest baseball players I've ever seen. They're in a class by themselves. They see and understand the game at a higher level than everybody else. The game slows down for them. It's like they see everything in a frame-by-frame sequence. It's different from everybody else."

Then of course there is the other side of the cern---pointed out by Tim McCarver in a piece by Anthony McCarron in the News:

"It's extraordinary - the dichotomy between what he was in Boston and what he is in Los Angeles.

"I mean, talk about wearing out your welcome in a town, and it was a long welcome with the Red Sox. But some of the things he did were simply despicable, despicable - like not playing, refusing to play. Forgetting what knee to limp on. And now it's washed, it's gone."

McCarver goes on to say that Ramirez scoring from first on a double is just something that he didn't do in Boston.

Over at BP, Joe Sheehan takes exception to McCarver's critique:

Not only does Manny Ramirez score from first on doubles to right more often than Tim McCarver thinks he does, and in no different proportion post-trade than he did pre-trade, but he scores from first on doubles to right more often than the average baseball player. The league gets home around 37% of the time, with some of the failures being very costly outs at the plate. As shown above, Ramirez gets home around half the time, and hasn't been thrown out at the plate on that play since 1999. If the idea is to pick on Manny Ramirez, this is the wrong place to make a stand.

Of course, Tim McCarver doesn't care, and that's why this is important. See, come Thursday night, Tim McCarver is going to look into a camera and tell tens of millions of people what he thinks about Manny Ramirez. He's probably going to revisit this theme any number of times over the following couple of weeks, especially if the Dodgers reach the World Series. When he does, there isn't going to be a graphic showing Ramirez's stats during the timeframe when he was supposedly being such a detriment to his team. There won't be a cutaway to Joe Sheehan in the studio pointing out that Ramirez outplayed most of his teammates and carried two or three of their carcasses while not getting the three-day paid vacation they got. We won't hear Joe Buck come over the top of McCarver and point out that Ramirez played nearly every day in July.

...Manny Ramirez played in 90% of his team's games in July and hit like a beast, coming up huge in a critical division matchup late in the month to help the Red Sox avoid a sweep and sustain their place in the standings. Those are my...no, those are the facts.

Bill Simmons's long e-ticket story on Manny and the Red Sox last week for ESPN has more on what happened in Boston...

Manny is the greatest right-handed hitter Joel Sherman has ever seen but the veteran columnist warns:

But don't be a sucker. This is no feel-good story. No matter how many homers Manny hits for Joe Torre. No matter how much he channels his inner Paris Hilton in suddenly craving media/fan attention/adoration.

He is a con man in dreadlocks, the kind who can say - as he did yesterday - "I can play for anybody. When you play hard, you can play for anybody." Yes, Manny Ramirez, Charlie Hustler.

Anyone who falls for this - are you listening New York teams - deserves what will come during the three- to five-year, $20-million-annual deal he is angling for this offseason. He will not run the bases or defend in left field with quite the energy/skill combo he has shown as a Dodger. At some point he will just not play due to an ailment that smells fishier than an aquarium.

He suddenly will stop being the life of the party, but start wondering why he is not paid more and/or signed for longer. He is a Venus flytrap right now, tempting you toward a poor decision with his great bat and best behavior.

Love him or hate him Manny does give you something to chew on.

Comments
2008-10-09 06:21:26
1.   Bagel Boy
I really, really hope the Yanks sign Manny. Not only would he go a long way to helping them make up those 200 "lost" runs but he'd take a huge amount of pressure off of A-Rod - in the lineup and on the backpages. And better, Manny has shown he can handle the press even as they turn up the heat.

Give him something like 80M over 3 years. That would get him in pinstripes.

Sure worry about where he'd play, but he's still better than re-signing any of Abreu (this year) or Damon, Matsui, Nady (next year). Besides, I'm not convinced his defense would be any worse than Abreu in the short RF. For all the gnashing about how he quit on the Sox, he hit .340 in his last month there. And he played in 563 games over the last 4 years. That's many more than Matsui and 18 less than Damon.

2008-10-09 06:50:38
2.   KJC
1 Do you really think he/Boras will sign just a 3 year deal with any team?
2008-10-09 07:02:16
3.   williamnyy23
1 I really hope they sign Manny too. Unlike McCarver and others, I have never been offended my Manny's antics. I mostly consider myself a bottom-line guy when it comes to pro-sports, and Manny is definitely one who puts you in the black. Like Clemens and Pedro before him, I have eagerly anticipated Manny's exit from Boston so I could root for him. Should he don the pinstripes, it would be all the more fun.
2008-10-09 07:05:52
4.   rbj
Generally I haven't been offended by Manny's antics. His work slow down at the end of his Boston tenure does, as does his throwing a 64 y.o. guy. No Manny, please.

And considering Manny played half his games in the small Fenway Park, not going first to home on a double may have been the smart play.

Still, I want the Yankees to get younger, not sign yet another older free agent. Particularly to a big, long term contract that's going to be a millstone the last couple of years of the contract.

2008-10-09 07:06:52
5.   Bronxer
2 As with any high-priced player, there will be very few teams bidding on his services.

LA Dodgers
LA Angels (?)
Mets
Yankees

That might wrap it up (but I probably missed a team or two).

He is a machine at the plate, no doubt. But at some time, probably not in 2009, but at some time he will simply not play for a while (as Joel Sherman comments) and infuriate his teammates.

Sign him, and the Yankees have gone a long way (LONG WAY) at improving their offense. But buyer beware come 2010 and beyond.

2008-10-09 07:08:28
6.   Shaun P
2 No. The only thing I've read (BP maybe?) was that he's looking for a 5 year deal. Which makes sense. What happens if he stops hitting at 40? He wants someone to pay for his decline.

1 As Steven Goldman pointed out yesterday, scoring was down in the AL almost 10% (9.8 to be precise) versus last year, so the 179 run difference between '07 and '08 is not accurate.

If I understand the math right, I think last year's offense, in this year's run scoring environment, would have scored ~870 runs. In reality, they scored 789 runs, for a difference of 81 runs. That's a lot less to overcome, especially when you add in how bad Molina, Cano, and Melky were, and all the lost time of Posada and Matsui.

In any case, Manny is too old IMHO to give him more than a one or two year deal. He's already in decline, his 2 months of beating up on the AAAA-quality NL (and pitchers who'd never seen him before) aside. Another older, on the decline, poor OF defender best suited for DH is exactly what the Yanks don't need.

2008-10-09 07:08:57
7.   williamnyy23
I'm probably in the minority, but if the Dodgers and Red Sox meet up, I think I meet root for Boston. Ever since Boston broke the curse, I have had less incentive to root against them (other than when they are competing against the Yankees). Win or lose the WS again, the Sox will still have had more recent success than the Yankees and will still be lauded by the MSM. Besides, I can deal with all that...the Yankees still lead 26 to 8.

If LA wins, however, there will be a second front in the war. All you will hear is how Torre won without the Yankees, and the Yankees didn't even make the playoffs without him. Logic will be ignored and a direct correlation will be assumed. I think I would find that more overbearing than another year of how great RSN is.

Another factor is Torre quit on the Yankees. Regardless of whether it was justified or not, he walked away from a very lucrative contract and then proceeded to portray himself as a victim going through the same media channels that protected him all season.

Finally, yesterday on ESPN 1050 Michael Kay shared some less than flattering stories about Joe Torre. It seems as if Joe had guys in the media whom he trusted; and those whom he did not. Judging by how Torre dealt with Kay, I can now understand why so many big bad media guys stepped so lightly around him.

2008-10-09 07:11:50
8.   Bronxer
I had forgotten the "knee". He complained that his knee was bothering him, then couldn't remember which knee (and ended up pointing to the one that wasn't originally bothering him). He did, quite frankly, quit on the Red Sox this year. He hit like a monster, but ended up quitting on them.

I love him at the plate - but ...

2008-10-09 07:14:02
9.   williamnyy23
6 The Yankees OPS+ dropped from 118 to 104. That's huge.

While I agree the I would think twice about 4 or 5 years, I think 3 years or less is very reasonable. Sure, the Yankees have their share of DHs, but none of them come close to hitting like Manny.

What I don't get is so many people are touting Abreu has a good deal for three years, but then suggest Manny is a risk over the same term.

2008-10-09 07:17:31
10.   williamnyy23
8 Even if you assume that Manny did sit out games in protest, he most certainly did not quit. After all, he did have an OPS of 1.060 in July. I wish the entire Yankee team would have quit like that.
2008-10-09 07:19:07
11.   Bronxer
7 Good point about the possible misguided "cause/effect" of Torre possible winning a WS with the Dodgers and the Yankees not making the playoffs.

If it ends up Red Sox - Dodgers, I'll simply turn off the tv. However I think it'll be Rays - Dodgers, with the Rays winning it all.

2008-10-09 07:21:59
12.   Bronxer
10 He quit because he didn't play. He simply did not play in games and didn't have a valid excuse. That is quitting. He made up an excuse about his knee and would not play. He stopped playing for them with no valid excuse ("which knee is it again?")

When he did choose to play, he was awesome, and he'll be a terror at the plate next year for whoever signs him - at least for 2009.

2008-10-09 07:27:16
13.   williamnyy23
12 Considering that he did play in over 90% of the games in July, and did so by performing excellently, I can't label him a quitter.

Who is to say that he didn't have a sore knee? I know I am not going to take the word of a Boston media who has pretty much become a mouthpiece for the team. For all we know, the whole Manny pointing to the wrong knee is a fabrication. I prefer to let the results speak for themselves.

2008-10-09 07:36:10
14.   Bronxer
13 When someone says "I will not play today, or in this series", and they don't have a valid excuse (which knee is it again) ... call it quitting, call it a work stoppage, call it whatever you want to ... he simply chose not to play.

However, you cannot argue with the results when he does decide to play. He is a terror at the plate.

2008-10-09 07:41:48
15.   williamnyy23
14 Maybe you can call it a man in need of a rest? Again, you can choose to believe stories from the Red Sox media relations department (i.e., Peter Gammons, the Globe and the Herald), but I'll go with the numbers. Manny has rarely played fewer than 130 games in a season. If the Yankees sign him, I would sign up for that now (along with his 160 OPS+).
2008-10-09 07:47:19
16.   monkeypants
I pretty much despise Manny, but then a again, I tend to be a moralist.

Putting that aside, the greater concern in my mind is one number: 37 (as in y.o.).

Yes, historically, top-tier HOF talent like Manny continue to produce well into their thirties (and even forties), but there remains a major risk here. Most posters on this site want to jettison Giambi. BUt if the team is going to gamble with almost-forty players, Giambi might be the safer bet because he can be had--guaranteed--for only one year. The odds of getting Manny for less than three very, very costly years is pretty low, I suspect.

Now, if Manny would be the only 35+ y.o. on the roster, I might be more inclined. But we saw this season how devastating injury and decline can be with a roster that has aging players at multiple key positions. Heck, even A-Rod is no spring chicken.

I also do not share in the Tex lovefest, but I would rather they throw the millions at him than at Manny, at least in this particular context.

2008-10-09 07:48:49
17.   Bronxer
14 While I don't believe the theory about the second shooter on the grassy knoll in 1963, I do believe the Manny stories out of Boston. Sure we all need a rest, but again, which knee is it??

However, he certainly should be a force in 2009 and 2010, and I doubt he will cause any waves in the clubhouse for his new team.

2008-10-09 07:52:32
18.   ms october
the ny media and even the national media is going to be insufferable about the whole torre taking his team forward/yankees not making playoffs regardless - and especially if the dodgers win. nevertheless i will be happy for torre and especially mattingly if he finally gets a ring.

i also like the idea of manny with the yankees. especially if the yanks don't get tex, hopefully either matsui or damon can play some 1b, then you give manny some games in lf or rf, a good bit of dh time, and you can get away with playing gardner in cf fo this year. it doesn't really screw things up long term and when matsui and damon's contract is up the following year you mostly let manny dh, make a decision on nady, hope jackson is ready and maybe go after a real of in holliday or crawford. i think manny is a good way to provide offense through this transitioning of the roster.

i am not so quick to accept that the whole situation is on manny. the red sox front office has some very shady tendencies. the shoving of the front office employee is the most disturbing aspect, and i am certainly not condoning anything like that, but even then exactly what happened is pretty murky.

2008-10-09 08:12:15
19.   williamnyy23
16 The problem with Giambi is he is an even greater injury risk and really is no longer the hitter that Manny still is. RLYW did a nice analysis on why Giambi should go.

I realize that the Yankees need to get younger, but if they don't bring in Manny, who will be taking his roster spot? If the issue was Manny or acquiring a young star who might be a notch below, you'd have a point. Right now, however, it basically boils down to Manny or Abreu. I think that is a no-brainer.

2008-10-09 08:14:54
20.   Shaun P
9 If the Yanks don't jettison Abreu and take the picks, I'm going to be very disappointed.

16 I'm with you. The consensus, I thought, was that the Yanks needed to get younger on offense, and better on defense. Adding Manny is a step in the wrong direction. Sure he can hit, but I believe he's in his decline phase. As you say, the Yanks don't need another hitter with his best years behind him; they have enough of those already.

I am curious though why don't think adding Tex is a good idea. It is because you're against giving him 6 or 7 years?

2008-10-09 08:22:17
21.   williamnyy23
20 Is Manny really in his decline phase? Here are his last 5 OPS+: 152, 153, 165, 126 and 164. That doesn't look like much of a decline to me. What's more, even if he was in decline, he would be coming down from a career OPS+ of 155, which means it would likely take a couple of years before he fell below the level of very good.

Manny is not just another very good hitter...he is one of the best in the game and of all time. Regardless of whether your mission is to get younger and athletic, you make an exception for a bat like Manny. Besides, by all acounts, teams like the Pirates are very young and athletic. Instead of trying to attain so kind of ideal, the Yankees should just simply strive to get better.

2008-10-09 08:25:05
22.   monkeypants
20 Re: Tex--

I have been skeptical that he is as good as everyone seems to think that he is (career 134 OPS+ is just not that good for a stud 1B), and he's already 28. He will command mainly on reputation, I think, a 6 or 7 year contract. So what we would get is Giambi version 2, except that Teixera is not nearly the hitter that Giambi was.

19 Oh yes, I agree that Manny is the far better bet to be a better hitter next year. My main concern is with years and decline. If Giambi stinks it up next season, or gets hurt, he's gone at the end of the year regardless. With Manny, I have a sneaking suspicion that winner of his sweepstakes gets him for 4 or 5 years, at a yearly salary in the neighborhood of what Giambi's option for next year will be.

It's not that the YAnkees can't afford to overpay for studs, or to eat the last couple years of a contract in order to get front end production. It's just that the team has done this too often in the past, and their roster continues to be at least somewhat hamstrung by these deals.

2008-10-09 08:30:55
23.   Shaun P
19 And if Manny won't take a 3 year contract?

Even so, his age worries me. I think he is in decline, and I think his destruction of NL/AAAA pitching for 2 months (and playing in hitter-happy Fenway before that) might be masking it. Here's what PECOTA projected last offseason for Manny over the next 3 years:

2009: .279/.376/.484
2010: .269/.365/.470
2011: .273/.369/.470

It will be very interesting to see what PECOTA has to say this winter.

2008-10-09 08:31:27
24.   Just fair
Stay out west, Manny Stay out west.
You are probably one of the greatest right handed hitters of this generation, but I never enjoyed your clownshow. I will enjoy watching you over the next 1 or 2 series, but after that, I only hope to see you on an occasional game of the week next year.
And FWIW, I'll take the Dodgers over the Sox 7 days a week an twice on Sunday. That's a no brainer for me. : )
2008-10-09 08:31:42
25.   monkeypants
21 True, but at age 37, the decline is coming sooner rather than later. Sure, Ted Williams continued to mash in his final year (190 OPS+), but he was limited to at most about 135 games per season for his last 7 years. If the Yankees are really, really luck, they end up with Ted Williams v. 2, or Barry Bonds v. 2.

Or, they end up paying a lot to get Manny in the year that his 37 or 38 y.o. body suffers a catastrophic injury, or declines along the lines of other all time great players (like Musial, though he was still a pretty decent bat at age 40).

2008-10-09 08:32:06
26.   williamnyy23
22 Fair point, but with Matsui and Damon coming off the books after 2009, Manny could pretty much slot into the role of full-time DH for a couple of years. Having he an Arod in the middle of the order for the next 4 years strikes me as being a good thing.

Also, in fairness to Texeira, he has had an OPS+ over 150 in the last two seasons (which is elite) and has been 144 or better in 3 of 4 seasons. At 28, Tex is in the midst of his prime, so I don't think it's unreasonable to expect 3 more years of 150 OPS+ performance. Throw in his gold glove and ability to hit well from both sides of the plate and I think Texeira is very much a player worth pursuing.

2008-10-09 08:37:59
27.   williamnyy23
29 I am not sure PECOTA has had anywhere near the success that I would rely on it for accuracy. Also, Manny is an outlier...trying to cram him into a formula based on historical patterns seems counter productive.

Basically, I would definitely give Manny 3 years and consider giving him 4.

25 Maybe it is coming sooner than later, but I would rather gamble on an all-time great player approaching his 40s than even a very good player in his mid-30s (like Abreu). Again, with Manny and those of his very rare talent, I think you throw the historical patterns out the window and take a chance on his immense ability.

2008-10-09 08:39:19
28.   Schteeve
I like Manny just fine, and I don't care about his antics, I'd be fine with him in pinstripes, but if you think Cashman is going to give a 38 year old dude a long term big dollar deal again, after what happened with Posada this year, you're dreaming.
2008-10-09 08:48:04
29.   Shaun P
21 I prefer any of the metrics that rely on replacement level, as opposed to league average, but YMMV.

Manny's WARP3 the last 5 years (which of course includes defense): 7.3, 7.4, 6.5, 5.8, 10.8

His all-time adjusted EqA over the last 5 years: .322, .328, .344, .303, .317 (in Boston)/.403 (in LA)

2008-10-09 09:01:27
30.   williamnyy23
29 I like to shy away from replacement level because the concept is rather arbitrary. Also, those metrics account for playing time. The two dip years in your series are the years Manny played 130 games instead of 150. So, that doesn't show a decline as much as it points to less playing time. If you promised me 130 games at Manny's peak ability, I would gladly take it.
2008-10-09 12:32:45
31.   livewire33
"Besides, I can deal with all that...the Yankees still lead 26 to 8."

I hate to break this to you, but there is no giant scoreboard in baseball.

But thank you, I hadn't seen that one pulled out in a while.

2008-10-09 12:54:40
32.   Raf
If Bonds wasn't signed, and Manny wasn't signed the first time around (and subsequent times when on waivers), why would the Yanks pick him up now?
2008-10-09 13:03:42
33.   Biscuit Pants
31 Spoken like a true resident of Red Sox Nation.

Go Rays!!!

2008-10-09 13:09:24
34.   rbj
One more item to consider re: Manny. What with the costs of the new stadium plus getting CC, would the Yankees be able to afford Manny? Yeah, they're the richest team around, but are those luxury boxes and $10K seats going to get filled, what with the Dow now below 9000. Somehow I think there is going to be some empty seats next year, or else sharp discounts to get fannies in the seats.
2008-10-09 23:30:45
35.   nick
the problem with being a moralist and a sports fan is that you have to rely on the sport media to give you accurate info on which to ground your moral judgments.

the sports media doesn't do that. they like players who give them good copy. they like access. they're no more trustworthy than the political campaign media...

that said, I think Manny is too old for a long term deal. did you guys watch the Angels-Sox series? Texeria does everything well; he's not an absolutely great hitter, but he's smart, he fields very well, and he's in his prime, which we desperately need. he's my #1 priority, given the roster we have right now.....

2008-10-10 12:21:20
36.   iowayanksfan
I think Manny in pinstripes would be good for a year or 2 (especially when we play the Red Sox) but I think by next year Big Popi is a free agent and , like in that commerical, he would look great in a Yankees cap. (he is also a lot younger than Manny). we DON'T want or need Giambi back. you can be sure that if a man needs to grow or shave his mustache in order to hit, then he really has some major issues. What the Yankees need to be looking for is a replacement at second. ever since Knoblach we have not had a great (or good) 2nd baseman. (Knobby earlier yrs he was great). with the Yankees getting rid of Giambi and Pavano it should clear up quite a bit of money. shop, shop, shop and get Tex.

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