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The Manny Bird Already Chirping to Leave LA for Cleveland

For those of you who had the first week of the season as the date Manny Ramirez would have his first “Manny Being Manny” moment, congratulations and please step forward to claim your prize. Even though the city jumped for joy when Manny arrived at camp, I cautioned that it was only a one-year deal with a player’s option for a second year, meaning Ramirez could be gone after the season. Looks like he already has his eye set on new (but old) scenery:

“I would like to play for Cleveland one more time, to go back where I started,” said Ramirez, with the Dodgers playing their home opener Monday against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. “I have so many good memories there, why not? I think to go back where you started is everyone’s dream.”

So much for the honeymoon in Los Angeles. Wasn’t this the same Manny who proclaimed how much he loved LA and how it was the best spot for him? I’m not even sure why this guy would mention his interest in the Indians considering Cleveland’s budget constraints compared to his salary demands. Now if Manny takes a pay cut and is willing to DH in the future, I could see him going back. Just one question though: Why make this announcement now? Is he just intentionally trying to piss people off and get the McCourts nervous all over again? I guess so. He won’t even let fans enjoy the one year they might have left with comments like this one.

Jose Canseco 100% Sure There’s 90% Chance Manny Ramirez Used Steroids

Hey, laugh off what Jose Canseco says and odds are you will end up being the one laughed at in the end. Canseco proved that he’s probably the most credible figure in the messed up world of baseball; everything the guy wrote in his books turned out to be true. Rafael Palmeiro tried to tell us that the book was wrong. We all saw how that one turned out. So when Mr. Juiced appeared at USC to speak over the weekend, listeners were wise to heed his words. Even when he’s asked whether or not Manny Ramirez used roids:

Canseco laughs and offers his theory. A-Rod was exposed only when his name was leaked from a list of 104 major leaguers who in a 2003 test showed up positive for steroids. Because the test was anonymous, those names were not supposed to be made public. But in Canseco’s mind, baseball’s power brokers know who is on it: players he is sure will be seen as toxic if the truth comes out.

To Canseco, the drawn-out negotiation, the lack of a long-term deal, the lack of interest all raise red flags, and so he tells the Bovard crowd that Ramirez’s “name is most likely, 90%,” on the list.

I thought the bad economy and the Mets’ owners losing money in the Madoff scandal is the reason he wasn’t signed. Oh yeah, that whole quitting in Boston thing doesn’t help either. But if that’s what Jose thinks, then I’ll say there’s a 75% chance his 90% feeling is 100% credible. By the way, USC must have paid sweet bucks to get him to come and talk; last time I saw him at the gym he wanted $100k for an interview.

Jonathan Papelbon Says Manny Ramirez Was a Cancer with the Red Sox

This is probably something a lot of people thought, and something the press and fans said, but it’s another thing when a player says it. Then again, if any Boston player were to speak up about an issue, odds are it would be Jonathan Papelbon. Check out his description of Manny Ramirez and how Man-Ram single-handedly brought the Red Sox down:

Papelbon described Ramirez as a “cancer.”

“It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that’s exactly what was happening,” Papelbon told Esquire. “Once we saw that, we weren’t afraid to get rid of him. It’s like cancer. That’s what he was. Cancer. He had to go. It (stunk), but that was the only scenario that was going to work. That was it for us.”

The high-energy Sox closer said that he has no issue with anyone on the team being called out once they’ve crossed the line.

If there are any wonders as to why Manny was lingering on the free agent market for so long, I think Papelbon just answered the question. I hope Papelbon doesn’t catch any flack for this comment considering it seems more than fair and appropriate. I also appreciate that Papelbon is unafraid to open his mouth and act like a fool sometimes, even if it makes him look bad. That is something that needed to be said.

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!