Baseball: The Red Sox unloading Manny Ramirez?

manny.jpgManny Ramirez going to the Florida Marlins?; if the trade is made the Red Sox will get Jason Bay. If he replaces Ramirez, Bay will bring speed, defense, a better than average arm, and youth (he’s 29) to the Sox. It’s unclear whether Ramirez is on the decline– his last two seasons suggest that age is catching up with him. The question is whether he has still has some good years left in him. Even though he has been considered one of the best hitters and offensive forces in the game– he is still underrated. And he is clearly, bad personality and all, going into the Hall of Fame.

Ramirez will be a good pick up for the Marlins if they are able to get him– even if only a rental. (He would be a free agent after the end of the reason and it is doubtful that the Marlins would keep him both because of high salary and also because he would work much better as DH in the American League.) He would be a veteran among younger players, and would give the Marlins a fearsome offense hitting after Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla.

Good trade for everyone if it gets made.

Update: The trade has been done. The Red Sox got Jason Bay and unloaded Ramirez, but in the end the deal was done with the Dodgers. From the NYT:

The nasty divorce between Manny Ramírez and the Boston Red Sox is final and is finally here. The Red Sox separated themselves from the unhappy Ramírez by sending him to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday in an expensive three-way deal in which Boston netted Jason Bay from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In their eagerness to unload Ramírez, the Red Sox paid the $7 million left on his salary and shipped reliever Craig Hansen and outfielder Brandon Moss, two promising young players, to Pittsburgh. The Pirates also received the Class AAA third baseman Andy LaRoche and the Class A pitcher Bryan Morris from the Dodgers, who did not shed any of their elite young players to add the slugging Ramírez.

Fatigued by Ramírez’s petulance and concerned that his presence could damage them over the next two months, the Red Sox worked furiously to coordinate a trade that moved him to the other league and the opposite coast. They were adamant about jettisoning Ramírez, whom they perceived as deserting them when he sat out two games recently.

As Thursday’s 4 p.m. deadline approached, the Red Sox pushed to complete a three-team trade with the Florida Marlins and the Pirates, or the Dodgers and the Pirates. Bay, who will replace Ramírez in left field, is a talented hitter whose numbers this season are comparable to Ramírez’s, although he is not as intimidating or as established.

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre, who studied Ramírez from the Yankees’ dugout during so many dramatic games, called him “one of the four or five best hitters in baseball.”

To read the more, click here. My instant analysis: The Dodgers didn’t give up a lot in this three way trade, and this gives them a dominant power hitter for the run-up to the playoffs. Bay’s statistics are as good– in fact better than Ramirez’ this year. And Bay who will be 30 in September is still a youngster who brings defensive abilities and speed to the Sox– while allowing the Sox to move beyond all of Ramirez’ drama. The thing that might be gone though is the pure fear that Ramirez adds to any lineup. David Ortiz was getting a lot of better pitches to swing at with Ramirez batting behind him– even if pitchers were thinking of a Manny Ramirez from years past.

The Boston Herald’s Tony Massarotti is a great sports writer… in part because he agrees with me

Even if the Sox are fortunate enough to reach the postseason this year, prepare now for the sight of David Ortiz [stats]

Here’s the thing: As much as Ramirez was a pain in the pillows, as much as he caused angst and disgust, you can’t help but get the feeling that the Red Sox ultimately caved in here. Ramirez got what he wanted. Ramirez kicked and screamed and made a sizable stink, and the Sox broke the way that Colin Farrell did in “The Recruit.”

Admittedly, none of us had the misfortune of dealing with Ramirez and his antics on a daily basis, and nobody knows the real trouble the Sox have seen. But as recently as Wednesday, there were indications that Sox owner John Henry was among those who wanted to keep Ramirez in Boston, who believed that the latest Manny storm would blow over the way that all of the others did, who believed Ramirez would go right back to doing the one thing he has unfailingly done – hit.

Does that mean Ramirez now is the same hitter he was three years ago, even two? Hardly. He isn’t. Yet the sight of Ramirez is still imposing enough that Angels manager Mike Scioscia recently walked him intentionally in the first inning of a game in Anaheim, a reminder that Ramirez still can change the game merely by stepping into the batter’s box.

dropping his bat and taking off his elbow guard, then walking down to first base.

To read Massarotti’s entire column click here.

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