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Friday, October 21, 2005

MAN RAM
Anyone here in the right age group to remember He-Man and his assorted allies? One of them was called Ram Man. Ram Man was a short little man with a big metal helmet who had incredible strength of head. He could bash that head into just about any impediment and get it out of the way of He-Man and his other friends.

Despite this awesome power, Ram Man was, as that site I link above notes without irony, "not to brite." Which brings us to a Ram Man with even more power: Manny Ramirez.

(Of course, I don't actually know if Manny is "not to brite," but he does have a rep as kind of ... let's say, a space cadet.)

It has been reported that Manny would be amenable to a trade to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. If Manny is interested in the Angels, should the Angels be interested in Manny?

Ramirez is of course a very formidable hitter. His OPS+ the past two seasons have been 152 and 156 (Vlad's have been 154 and 156), and hitting in the middle of a good lineup in a good hitters' park has led to Manny driving in 277 runs in those years. I'm not a big proponent of RBI, but good hitting environment or not, that's an impressive figure.

So what Manny has going for him is his bat, and that counts for a lot. What is there against him?

There's a lot, actually. Ramirez is a poor defensive player; though playing left field in Fenway causes all sorts of problems with evaluating defense statistically, Manny's just clumsy enough out there that we all know he's pretty bad. If you check out his Baseball Prospectus card, you'll see that Clay Davenport's system says he's been -11 and -13 runs each of the last two seasons. He has also ranked dead last amongst qualifying major league left fielders in zone rating each of the last three years; part of that might be his park, but he ain't good out there.

So you have a guy who's 40-45 runs above average offensively, but gives back 10 to 15 with his glove (including positional adjustments). So he's really around three wins above average. That's very good, of course, but it brings you right up to another big negative he has "going for" him: his salary.

Manny is due $19M next year, $18M in 2007, and $20M in 2008 -- with a $20M option for 2009 (or a $3M buyout). This is, in technical accounting terms, a buttload of money.

And, quite frankly, he ain't worth it. Three wins above average should not be worth $19M. That's just ridiculous.

And there are all kinds of other factors to hold against Manny, as well. He's a lousy baserunner. He's (apparently) something of a malcontent. He would cost a lot in Angel top prospects -- I would guess at least two of Wood, Morales, Weaver, Kotchman, and Kendrick, along with maybe someone on the level of Shell, Callaspo, or Aybar. Current major leaguers? Unless Boston is convinced that they've solved their second base situation with the acquisition of Tony Graffanino, they could demand Adam Kennedy or even Legs Figgins (remember, they're looking for a center fielder, too).

What's more, you'd have to DH him. An outfield of Manny, Garret in center, and Vlad in right would allow roughly 3,901 doubles. Would Manny be open to being a permanent DH? I don't know, but it doesn't seem particularly in character.

So you're looking at paying $19M per year for a DH who can't run the bases and will be 34, 35, and 36 years old over the course of the contract, and to get him you'd probably have to give up some guys that project to help your team for a decade. Does this sound like a good deal to you?

I mean, it's certainly tempting; I'd like another 150 OPS+ in this lineup more than anyone. But, you know, there's more to life than OPS+. Given the likely costs involved, I don't think trading for Man Ram would be to brite.

Comments:
If the Sox really want to get rid of Man-Ram, and Man-Ram threatens to use his 10/5 status to pick his destination, the Sox might not be in such a great bargaining position. If the Angels held firm at an offer of GA, Kennedy and ONE prospect not named Brandon Wood (Aybar?), I have a hard time believing that the Sox could seriously expect to get anything better, especially if the Halos take on the entire contract.

So we're talking about an Angels outfield of Juan Rivera in left, Erstad/Finley/Figgins in center, and Vlad in right, with Man-Ram as DH. I'd probably opt for Figgins (or other to-be-acquired player) in CF, and Izturis at 2B until Callaspo or Kendrick is ready.
 
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