Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Last Straw

The RedSux under Theo Epstein as GM have a reputation as the best organization in baseball. First, they've won -- two World Series since Theo became GM. Second, they have a strong minor league system -- usually regarded as top 5 or, at worst, top 10. Third, they have a top notch manager in Terry Francona who is an answer to the calm, quiet strength of Joe Torre, whose Yankees the RedSawx had to catch up to in the early '00s. (They might as well retire Francona's number now after he outmanaged the stirrups off Torre in the '04 ALCS).

And now they've shown they take care of their problems.

Manny Ramirez has been a donkey's rear-end for years -- mopey, lazy, petulant, self-absorbed. But he can flat-out hit. Manny may one day be regarded as the best righthanded hitter since DiMaggio and Jimmie Foxx. Seriously. He had nine consecutive years of 30+ HR and 100+ RBI (11 total for each milestone), and his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage are better than those of Frank Robinson, Willie Mays and Henry Aaron. Even adjusted for era and ballpark, his OPS is equivalent to Robinson, Mays and Aaron (Manny's Adjusted OPS+ is 154, Robinson's is 154, Mays 156, Aaron 155).

You read that right, he runs with that crowd . . . as a hitter.

But between his lollygagging style, temper tantrums, general dopeyness, and faux injuries, his act wore thin. Last year, the Sawx weathered a Manny mental breakdown, Francona drew him back into the fold of his teammates and the Beanturds won the Series. This year, between knocking down a traveling secretary for the team over a lack of tickets for his family, barely jogging to first base on groundballs, and b*tching incessantly, there was no more "Manny being Manny" -- now he was a problem.

The RedSax did the right thing in excising this mental abscess from their locker room. There is a line that has to be drawn. And, unfortunately, they'll be fine. They continued to nearly top the league in scoring without David Ortiz, so with Ortiz, Lowell, Drew, Pedroia and Jason Bay, their offense is fine. With Bay replacing Manny, their defense improves. They still have four viable starters (Beckett, Lester, DiceK and Wakefield). And the Beanheads won in 2004 after trading Nomaaaaaaah for Orlando Cabrera.

Now Manny is Joe Torre's problem in LA. Have fun with that.

No comments: