Lack of Contract Had Manny Ramirez Freaking Out

All that nonsense about having confidence in Scott Boras to get a deal done was apparently rubbish. Just like I said here about a month ago, Manny was telling Albert Pujols that nobody wanted to sign him. Truth is, he really was worried. From Newsday:

A person close to the situation told Newsday on the condition of anonymity, is that Manny spent most of his free agency “freaking out.” Not only about his lack of suitors but about people discussing that situation publicly.

In all, the person said, Ramirez grew increasingly frustrated by his situation and became more paranoid — so much so that he changed his phone number “six times.”

Manny put a lot of trust in Scott Boras when he changed agents last offseason. They engineered the strategy to get Manny traded away from the Red Sox by having Ramirez dog it. As a result, Manny was penalized in free agency because teams were worried about his character and attitude. Manny lost because his legacy was tarnished by that ordeal (he certainly lost my respect for his lack of hustle), Boras loses because he got Manny nothing better than what Ramirez already had contract-wise, and the Dodgers lose because there’s a player option after the season. The only party that won when Manny finally signed was the fans, and that’s only for about five months before Manny starts making noise about opting out once again. And check this: Manny has so much power that Torre’s not even going to bother with asking him to cut his hair this year. I think we know who holds the power in that relationship.

Poor Manny, Nobody Wants to Sign Him :(

It wasn’t long ago that Manny dropped one of the best lines by an athlete in recent memory. In October of last year, while Manny was crushing NL pitching, my stock portfolio was riding high, and gas was $4 a gallon, Manny proclaimed, “I want to see who is the highest bidder. Gas is up and so am I.” Unfortunately for Manny, the declaration of a national recession has curbed spending and free agents have settled for less than market value based on previous years. As fate would have it, Manny who loafed it in Boston to escape the bounds of a contract that would have paid him well over $40 million for two more years, now might not be able to score that kind of loot. His asking price probably hasn’t changed much, and he’s feeling left out:

Albert Pujols is encouraging the St. Louis Cardinals to sign Manny Ramirez.

“I speak with Manny every three days and he tells me, ‘Man, no one wants to sign me,’ Pujols said today during a news conference. “I’m not an agent or general manager, but I can’t understand how Manny has not signed.”

Plenty of teams would want Manny’s stick in their lineup, but I’m sure none want to meet his asking price. They’re probably still seeking nine figures and Boras having negotiated a nearly $200 million deal for Mark Teixeira means he’s probably inclined to keep waiting until the sticker price is met. No one wants to sign me? Yeah, at four years for $100 mil. Drop that to two years for 30, and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of takers. Perhaps karma is taking its toll.

Don’t Buy Dodgers’ P.R. Spin on Manny

I love the way the Dodgers are trying to play this whole Manny Ramirez free agent negotiation. It’s going down exactly as I expected. Anyone who follows the Dodgers knows that Frank McCourt can’t afford to pay Manny the type of money he wants and probably deserves. At the same time, Manny is ridiculously popular with the fan base and McCourt can’t afford to have the fans be disappointed when the team doesn’t re-sign Man-Ram. So what do the Dodgers do? Exactly what they did Wednesday night.

In case you missed it, GM Ned Colletti made it abundantly clear to the free world that the Dodgers made Manny a contract offer. They used buzz phrases like “highest paid in franchise history” and “2nd highest annual salary” to sell the fans on their efforts. The Dodgers are trying to make it known to every reporter and fan that they are putting their best foot forward. They’re trying to position themselves as the good guys and Manny/Scott Boras as the bad guys when Manny goes to accept a longer-term deal worth more guaranteed money.

I’m guessing the Dodgers are offering two years, probably no more than three, at around $25 million or more per season. That’s fine for them because it’s short term and they can’t be hurt too much if Manny’s skills or interest start to decline. Everyone knows Manny won’t accept that; if he was willing to take a short-term deal, he could have stuck with the Red Sox and the guaranteed $40 million he was set to make with them over the next two seasons. He’s in it for the long-term guaranteed money — his one last chance to cash in. He’s probably going to get a four-year $100 million deal from some team. When Manny goes to take that deal, the Dodgers — McCourt, and Colletti — can say “We offered to make him the highest paid player … blah blah blah” and be absolved. They can say it’s not their fault that Manny and Boras are greedy. Meanwhile, I got headlines all over swallowing the Dodgers bait. Even Steve Levy on ESPN took the line and said “Colletti was refreshingly honest about the bid …” yeah, no crap, of course he’s being honest — he has a P.R. game to play. And so far the Dodgers are winning that war … if you don’t see the big picture.

McCourt Goes Parcells on Manny, Calls Him ‘The Player’?

Surfing through what was otherwise a fairly boring T.J. Simers column, I came to one note that stood out in particular. According to Simers, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt was referring to Manny Ramirez in an interview with Mason and Ireland on 710 ESPN in Los Angeles as “the player.” Simers made a crack about McCourt forgetting his name, but that got me thinking. Without actually being able to hear the audio, I couldn’t be sure of the context (the podcast wasn’t downloadable for some reason), but is he going all Bill Parcells here and pulling the T.O. “the player” crap? Who knows.

What we do know is that Manny has the Dodgers by the ***** (nuts), and that they’re probably going to ante up somewhere between $70-75 million over three years. I’m guessing he winds up signing around a 4-year $100 million deal elsewhere and McCourt makes his excuse to the fans that they made an offer and tried their best. McCourt pretty much has no choice but to step up to the plate here unless he wants the Dodgers averaging another 2.5 runs per game next season. Maybe he has some underlying frustration because he knows he’s screwed, or maybe he’s just mad about having beer dumped on him by Manny. That could be it.

And I thought these two were pals!

Manny Ramirez Serves as Angel Berroa’s Translator in Post Game Interview

Angel Berroa homered on Wednesday night, his first since ’06. Even though he’s mostly a Spanish speaker, he was interviewed on FSN after the Dodgers’ win. One caveat however: he had Manny Ramirez — the two instantly became friends when Manny arrived in LA — translate the interview for him. As you could imagine, pure hilarity ensued. Turn up your volume for this one, and make sure you’re paying attention around the :50 mark.

How great was that when Berroa got busted? He couldn’t even play his role properly! Once again of course, Manny does not cease to provide entertainment.

Nice to See Manny’s Head Is in the Game

Amongst the many knocks on Manny Ramirez are his lack of focus and his lack of effort on defense. I don’t think there’s a better example of these shortcomings than what Manny did in his Dodgers debut on Friday night against Arizona. It was the top of the third, and Randy Johnson led off the inning by flying out to Manny in left. To repeat, Randy Johnson was the first batter of the inning and had made an out. Check out how many outs Manny flashed to center fielder Andruw Jones after making the catch:

Thanks to commenter Gene for his sharp eye noticing that. And like I said, nice to see that Manny’s head is in the game. I guess just another example of Manny being Manny.

Dodgers Finally Have a Real Superstar

So a few days ago it was a great day to be an Angels fan (and it’s still a great time to be one too, with plenty of room left on the bandwagon), but of course now it has become a great time to be a Dodgers fan as well. Despite tossing away $100 million on the likes of Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones, and Juan Pierre, Ned Colletti made all the pain and suffering go away with one swift, deadline-beating blockbuster on Thursday. Colletti pulled off the ultimate coup, getting Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox. If you really examine things, he has acquired Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez for the bargain price of Jon Meloan, Carlos Santana, Andy LaRoche, and Bryan Morris — all without spending any cash — much to the delight of Mr. McCourt. Even though I was completely on board with both the Schmitty and Andruw signings which turned out to be busts, I agree with Simers who says this is finally a fullproof deal. That just means something bad is bound to happen.

Putting pessimism aside, the Dodgers finally have a legitimate superstar on their team — something they’ve lacked for a very long time. The Angels got one when they signed Vladimir Guerrero — a player who was in his prime and a legitimate MVP-candidate. Manny might not be a regular season MVP candidate anymore, but he still is one of the most entertaining players in the league, not to mention best clutch hitters. With Manny, the Dodgers finally have a legit superstar on the team for the first time in years and that’s enough to make the trade work. I’ll tell you this much — and this is probably all that McCourt really cares about — the first thing I thought of when I heard the Dodgers got Manny was “Man, I need to get to the stadium to see Manny play!” And that’s exactly it — Manny puts asses in seats. People don’t go to the ballpark to watch Juan Pierre drag bunt his way on, Russell Martin throw a runner out, or even to see Matt Kemp hit a home run. They go to watch Manny be Manny, and that includes tripping over a ball in left field turning a single into a triple, not running out a grounder to short, and of course, getting that monster clutch hit. With Manny, you have to take him as the complete package and embrace the great with all the bad.

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