Manny Being Manny

Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez

I hesitate to even contribute to the blogosphere on the state of Manny Ramirez.  In all likelihood, he will wind up with a fat contract from the Los Angeles Dodgers and all of this posturing between the equally unsympathetic agent Scott Boras and Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt will be forgotten in the end.

But there are a few items to explore in tonight’s news that Manny and agent Scott Boras neglected the Dodgers two-year, $45-million contract offer.  As easy as it may be to call this another example of “Manny being Manny“, what it really comes down to in the end is “Boras being Boras”.

For a detailed look at how we got to this point, re-read Bill Simmons’ mini-novella from last fall, “Manny Being Manipulated“.  A key passage from the story is right here in black and white:

Manny had canned his old agents and hired Scott Boras, one of the worst human beings in America who hasn’t actually committed a crime.  Manny’s contract was set to expire after the 2008 season, with Boston holding $20 million options for 2009 and 2010.  Boras couldn’t earn a commission on the option years because those fees belonged to Manny’s previous agents.  He could only get paid when he negotiated Manny’s next contract.  And Scott Boras always gets paid.

Look, as easy and justifiable as it would be to take shots at Boras, the fact is that major league baseball owners have always pulled out their checkbooks in the end to satisfy Boras and make his clients the richest in the game.  McCourt is no exception.  In fact, it was just last year that he and the Dodgers ponied up $36 million in wasted money for Boras client Andruw Jones, who promptly “rewarded” them with three home runs, 14 RBIs, and a .158 average in 75 games prior to his outright release this January.

It will be very interesting to see if McCourt holds his ground and if indeed the Dodgers are only negotiating against themselves.  The offer that was rejected would have made Manny the second-highest paid player in MLB (behind Alex Rodriguez) for the 2009 season.  Is there another team out there willing to pay more or guarantee more years?  For the record, the Yankees are not an option

Rumors persisted throughout the league that Boras was looking for a 6-year deal at the onset of free agency this past November.  Deals of that magnitude have been few and far between.  Yet, there is no doubt that a motivated Manny Ramirez remains one of the most productive players in the game today, not to mention his growing status among the all-time historical greats.  His total compensation package theoretically should be commensurate with the top echelon in the sport.

Perhaps this is a tipping point that nobody, including Boras, saw coming.  Perhaps this signals a cosmic shift in a world where the thoughts of an individual TURNING DOWN $45 million in guaranteed money to play a game for two years is so ridiculous as to be otherworldly.

Don’t count on it, though.  If the Dodgers don’t break down, some other team will figure out a justification to break the bank one more time.  The real world would indicate that there is no justification at all for this. 

And with today’s news that the NBA is lining up cash for teams in need of additional reserves, it stands to reason that the Ramirez situation is ultimately a microcosm of why MLB may someday rue the ridiculous sums of money that have been thrown to the players over the years. 

In the end, baseball fans shouldn’t have to care what any player makes to ply his trade; but when the price of 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs, and 4 beers equals the monthly mortgage, it’s clearly a matter of simple economics that will determine if, not when, enough is enough.  The next few days will give us some indication if that time is now upon us.

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~ by acm213 on February 26, 2009.

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