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10.30.2003

Manny: Waiving Bye-Bye?

The Red Sox are determined to keep the off-season interesting, eh? They just put Manny Ramirez on waivers, according to reports, which means any team has 48 hours to claim him and the $100 million and 5 years left on his contract.

Rob Neyer speculates that the Sox did this with one taker in mind: George Steinbrenner. George is so fried over the World Series loss that perhaps he would be rash enough to take Manny off the Sox' hands. Otherwise, no one's going to want a harebrained, apathetic, defensive liability, even if he hits 35 homers and challenges for the batting title every year.

For a brief second I thought about Manny patrolling right field at Pac Bell, at least for a couple years until Barry retires/moves to Anaheim, but I realized it was just the Naan 'n' Curry talking, and it wasn't talking pretty. No way, no how. Even if the Sox paid half of his salary from here til doomsday, I can't imagine the Giants doing it. I can't imagine ANY national league team doing it. Ramirez has "Full Time DH" written all over him, starting, oh, in 2005, or so.

But the Sox will certainly try to trade him this winter. It could have a huge impact on the Vlad/Sheff free agent situation. I'm sure Theo Epstein et al are thinking, What's better? Paying Manny $20 mil to play left field, or paying Manny $7.5 mil a year to play for the Orioles and paying Sheff $12.5 mil a year to play RF for two more years?

It's another Mike Hampton deal waiting to happen.

Peter Gammons reports that Manny "likes" Boston but wouldn't mind a trade. He also casually drops that Tom Hicks looked into unloading A-Rod to Boston but refused to take Manny in return.

Has there ever been a mammoth, artery-clogging contract that didn't, for one reason or another, go sour, either because the player broke down and earned his money on the DL (Darren Dreifort, Matt Williams, Kevin Brown) or with obviously declining skills(Jeter, Giambi this year); or because the player realized that lots of money doesn't make up for a shitty location (Hampton -- who, let's recall, said the motivating factor for him was the quality of the Denver schools, except for a certain high school in Littleton, of course) or a shitty team (A-Rod)?

Even Bonds, in the first few years of his massive contract (remember, it was the biggest when he signed in 1993), bitched and moaned about being underpaid. Show me a happy superstar making superstar money and playing at superstar levels, and I'll show you... Curt Schilling? Nope, contract wasn't long enough. Shawn Green? Close, but the jury's still out. He slipped this year due to injury, and he still has two years left on his contract at $16M per.

The only signings I can think of that seems to have paid off are, strangely enough, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson: 83 Cy Young Awards between the two. Pedro's been nagged by injury the past few years, but nothing major. Johnson broke down a bit this year, but I'd say he's been worth it to the D-Backs.

By the way, Derek Jeter's going to make $21 million in the year 2010.

Instead of escalating salaries over the lifetime of a long contract, why not start high and decrease, with a larger percentage tied to performance goals? To a very limited extent, Bonds' contract does this, as the 2006 year ($18 M) doesn't kick in unless he has 500 plate appearances in 2005.

But as the Giambis and Jeters and Ramirezs of the baseball world start to miss significant chunks of time in the next few years, even as full-time DH'es, we're going to look back on the pre-September-11 world of baseball, mumble "Dreifort, Neagle, Dreifort, Neagle" and realize that for a few absurd years, the players got away with murder, and the owners were aiding and abetting.

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