Gordon Edes called out Manny Ramirez in the Boston Globe this past week. Few things...
I've detailed the struggles of Coco Crisp at earlier times this season, so I won't get into that too much now, but Mark Loretta is someone I haven't discussed much. Both players have struggled offensively: Crisp has a Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) of 7.0, while Loretta is at 12.2. For some context, Wily Mo Pena has 14.9 VORP in 390 fewer plate appearances than Loretta, and 163 fewer than Crisp. Crisp has also been awful in center field, worth -7.91 runs above average this year. His Zone Rating is only .837, while league average for center is currently .869. Loretta has been just as poor; -7.12 RAA, and an .802 ZR (league average of .822 at second). So yes, thank you Crisp for waiting until the season was a lost cause before surgically repairing your finger when there was a perfectly acceptable backup option on the roster. I understand that when Trot Nixon went down, the options were a little more limited, but part of the blame lays at the hands of an organization that quickly disposed of the useful Dustan Mohr, who would've slotted in nicely in an emergency. Mohr has lived in the world of the league average player before, which is territory good luck charm Gabe Kapler hasn't ventured forth in for quite some time.
And what exactly would the Red Sox get for Manny Ramirez? If they appear desperate enough to move him, the chances of getting anything vaguely resembling a fair deal are slim to none. When he was placed on irrevocable waivers, no one claimed him, and the cost was only financial rather than in talent. He's owed $18 million in 2007, and $20 million in 2008 before options years in 2009 and 2010. If he is dealt, he is given a $1 million bonus, which makes him even less attractive to cost conscious clubs. The only teams that could potentially afford him are the Mets and the Yankees; the Yankees are probably going to let Gary Sheffield walk and have no real place for Manny now that Abreu, Damon and Matsui are all under contract for the future, and the Mets are most likely done flipping top prospects for impact players in order to compensate for future decline of their current stars.
Let's also not forget that at age 34, Manny Ramirez has a .334 EqA -- higher than David Ortiz's .325 mark. He's a player who works to an insane degree on his hitting, and it shows, as he has not slowed down much, if at all, from his younger days. If sitting out on a season that was so obviously a crapshoot from about the All-Star break on -- don't believe me? Take a look at the records versus the AL for the Sox -- in order to be healthy for 2007 is a problem for Boston, then I'm not sure they have their priorities straight. When the Yankees dominated the Sox at home, it wasn't time to shut it down, but when Ramirez and Ortiz and Varitek were all missing, and Crisp and Loretta were playing hurt and half the rotation was nowhere to be found...well, maybe then it was time to shut it down and move on to 2007's needs.
The Sox would've been able to take a look at a few players from the minors, most notably, more of David Murphy and Dustin Pedroia, as well as letting Wily Mo Pena continue to work on his ability to hit major league curveballs. They seem to be stuck at this halfway point of rebuilding and contending, and unless they stick to their guns one way or the other, it isn't going to be fun to watch. Former Red Sox front office executive Josh Byrnes has committed the Diamondbacks to the future by aggressively promoting their wealth of prospects and replacing veterans when necessary. Granted, the Red Sox don't have this kind of talent at the upper levels of the minor leagues (because it's competing for the Jackie Robinson Award and closer to the playoffs than the Sox in Florida) but they certainly had a chance to deal away veterans to help build, or to rest injured players while giving more playing time to prospect hopefuls.
I'm not defending Manny Ramirez sitting out what has turned out to be most of the rest of the season. Ramirez certainly is an odd one to characterize, and he has had his issues in the past. He is also the most talented offensive player on the ball club, one of the top two or three right-handed hitters in the game, and dealing him is entirely not worth the effort it would take; that is, unless you want to sign another player that the media could dissect, like Gary Sheffield or Barry Bonds.
Speaking of Bonds, congratulations for passing Henry Aaron for the National League homerun record. It's incredibly impressive in this age, due to free agency and the rate at which players switch leagues. Also, take a look at Jeff Sackmann's idea on how to fix a few Brew Crew related problems all at once using Bonds.