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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.

Ned Colletti Explains How the Manny Ramirez Trade Went Down

The Manny Ramirez acquisition has been one of the most intriguing story lines the Dodgers have had in the past 20 years, no doubt about it. The fan response has been incredible, with merchandise and ticket sales exploding, and for good reason. ManRam has been crushing the ball since coming to Los Angeles and figures to keep driving runs in like usual. One of the questions that really was yet to be answered was the how. As in, how exactly did the Dodgers wind up getting Manny at the deadline? Ned Colletti joined Peter Brown on Sporting News Radio to explain how the trade got done:

I had talked to [Red Sox GM] Theo Epstein the night before [the deadline] on a different matter, on different players, and sent him an email with a response back to that conversation at night and wished him well with the reported three-way that everyone was talking about. I left it at that, went back to where I live and took a nap for a while, got up early, checked the email, and there was a note there from Theo thanking me from the note. But he didn’t sound real positive suddenly. I went into the office, worked a few hours, called Joe Torre at 8am and brought him up-to-date on some other talks we had on other fronts, and told him it was kind of interesting that the Red Sox, Pittsburgh, Florida deal had not come to fruition. And I was wondering if we might be getting a call at some point in time so I wanted him to start thinking about it.

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