It’s true that the country is going through an economic downturn, but this is ridiculous. How it possible is that free-agent outfielder Manny Ramirez hasn’t been signed by a big-league team and spring training is fast approaching?
Can it be that only two teams – the Dodgers and the San Francisco
Giants – have any interest in the 12-time All-Star, while every other club has backed off?
The Dodgers have offered Ramirez three separate contracts, and the Giants are on their heels. Most surprisingly, none have been long-term.
What team can’t use a power source like Ramirez to bat third or fourth? Sure, Ramirez turns 37-years-old in May, but the man can still hit.
Then again the economic situation may have some bearing, but equally important is having Scott Boras as your agent.
Owners and general managers don’t like dealing with Boras, who has a well-earned reputation for being a “hard-ball’’ negotiator. This is good for him and his client, but bad for the team.
Initially, it was believed that Boras was seeking a six-year, $150-million deal, comparable to what the New York Yankees offered pitcher C.C. Sabathia and first baseman Mark Teixeira.
After playing eight seasons with the Cleveland Indians, and hitting 40 or more homers twice and driving in 100 or better five times, Ramirez then signed a free-agent contract with the Boston Red Sox before the 2001 campaign.
All he did was help lead the club to its first World Series title in 86 years in 2004, and then added a second banner three years later.
Matters soured for Ramirez and the Red Sox over the next several seasons, and when one thing led to another, the Red Sox dealt the sometime moody slugger to the Dodgers at the July 31 trading deadline.
A good soldier, Ramirez, who has 527 home runs with 1,725 runs batted in, kept his nose clean and behaved himself.
After blasting 20 homers with 68 RBIs for Boston, Ramirez added 17 home runs and 53 RBIs for the Dodgers in 53 games.
His presence in the clubhouse was just as stirring. Where there was quiet and uncertainty before, Ramirez made it fun to come to work. Young players like first baseman James Loney, catcher Russell Martin, center fielder Matt Kemp, and right fielder Andre Ethier, suddenly came alive and produced with a calm confidence.
This was due in large measure to Ramirez being there. After toiling around .500 for much of 2008, the Dodgers finished first in the National League West, and in somewhat surprising fashion, swept the Chicago Cubs in the Divisional Series, but lost to the eventual champion Philadelphia Phillies in the NL Championship Series in five games.
Considering that the Dodgers hadn’t gotten out of the first-round since 1988, this was a remarkable achievement, and Ramirez was largely responsible.
A lifetime .314 hitter, Ramirez batted .500 against the Cubs and .533 against the Phils. In each series, he smashed two homers, and drove in 10 runs with nine runs scored.
A hitter for the ages, the Dodgers should sign Ramirez to a three-year, $75-million deal with a club option for a fourth.
If they’re smart they will. It’s not too late. They’re on the clock.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a contributor to trufanboxing.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.