I’m as sick of hearing all the fuss over Manny Ramirez, Manny Ramirez being traded, Manny Ramirez’s ’09 option, Manny Being Manny, and all the rest of it as you are. Believe me. And I’m at the front of the pack when it comes to Manny enablers, so this means something.
This means, as Peter Gammons suggested on Sunday, that things are different this time around. It’s just just some fans and some media. It’s not just more fans, more media, and some of the organization. Pretty much everyone, including the players, seem to be fed up with him.
Rather than go on about whether this is right and hash over, for the 1000th time, what Manny’s thinking, maybe it is time to move on. The question on my mind became not whether or not to keep him, but, can we trade him and stay in the pennant race?
I think we can. Everyone says Manny won’t net much because of his distractions and because he’s a rental. Well, he’s still Manny. We could get something for him, surely. What we need to do is find another undervalued commodity.
That commodity is Adam Dunn. MLBTradeRumors (yes, a blog, but the best source for this stuff that you’ll find) has continually reported that there’s no interest in the Reds’ mashing outfielder. The reasoning is the same for Manny (his contract his up at the end of the year, so he’s a rental), but he’s also a frustrating player in that he hits for a low average and might field even worse than Manny. He’s even had some off-the-field questions, with some recent hullabaloo about not liking baseball that much.
As the guys at Fire Joe Morgan will attest, his high on-base percentage renders his low batting average unimportant, and he still crushes the ball with regularity (28 homers already in 2008). And we saw first-hand with 2004 World Series should-have-been MVP Keith Foulke, loving baseball is not a prerequisite to being good at it.
All indications are that the Reds will let Dunn, 28, walk this offseason and collect draft picks. With no interest in him around the league, all we’d have to do is find value to beat the draft picks. Obviously, the Reds, well out of the race, have no use for Manny, so we’d have to find a third team. What team could use Manny, would not find as many distractions for him, and wouldn’t necessarily care about his contractual situation (since Manny wants his options declined so he can chase another mega-deal in the offseason)?
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels for years have had a stockpile of young talent and never push toward the postseason. With their pitching, this is the year to do it. They can afford to give up one of their prospects for a two-month rental. MLBTR has already noted that they aren’t interested in Dunn, and that their assistant GM laughed off a Robb Quinlan and Brandon Wood for Mark Teixeira deal. A Manny acquisition would be in the same vein. If the price dropped just a bit — just to Wood, a once big-time prospect whose promise has tarnished a bit having moved to third from SS — the deal makes sense for all sides. It wouldn’t have to be him necessarily, but one of their guys who hasn’t reached the bigs yet would suffice.
The Angels go from regularly batting Maicer Izturis (!!!) third to batting future Hall of Famer Manny Ramirez there, protected by Vlad Guerrero. Their front six (Figgins, Kendrick, Ramirez, Guerrero, Hunter, Kotchman) looks really strong, and their pitching staff is unaffected. Further, with a surplus of outfielders, they can DH Ramirez and hide his fielding woes (which are hidden, a little, at Fenway).
The Reds get something for Dunn. While draft picks are becoming more valuable with the way organizations are being run, picking up a prospect like Wood, further along in his development, would be great for this team. They could try and slide him back to short, or let him compete at 3rd with Edwin Encarnacion (who they are strangely attached to). In any case, it’s another young guy they can add to their core of pitchers and Brandon Phillips, hopefully with aims of competing at some point.
And the Sox replace Manny with a guy who, while not as good of a hitter, will produce 90% of the numbers and whose defense will be hidden thanks to the Monster.
These teams match perfectly — the Reds have a million young pitchers; they’re maybe the only team who can get away with a rebuilding effort where they need to bring in a position player instead of a pitcher. The Angels have a gazillion (I looked it up, that’s the exact number) young guys, so losing one doesn’t hurt them long-term, and adding Manny helps them tremendously short-term. And the Sox keep plugging along toward the Series sans distractions, though, admittedly, they become predominantly left-handed.
It’s a win-win-win as long as the Angels realize that at some point they have to cash in one of their young chips and make a run at the Series.