The Day After Manny

1217600746We’ve had a night and a morning to digest the news that Manny Ramirez will no longer be hitting fourth in the Red Sox lineup, and the only thing we can say for sure is that we will soon know every rotten, dirty thing that Manny has ever done in his life. It’s already begun on NESN, the team’s television network, which had more than one host refer to him as a “mercenary,” and a “hired gun.”

That makes JD Drew, what? Saintly?

For all the stuff that Manny has pulled over the years he remains one of the best hitters in franchise history, and possibly the most intriguing personality to ever come through Boston. Here’s hoping people remember that over the next few months, but what we need now are answers.

Is this like the Nomar trade, where the Sox dumped a beloved civic institution but uncomfortable presence in the clubhouse, and peace and the World Series followed?

No. Whatever in-house relief the Sox might have felt once Nomar left was more than trumped by the fact that in 2004 Orlando Cabrera was a much-better shortstop than Nomar. Manny is still producing.

Can Jason Bay handle Boston?

Who knows? I used to think that stuff was overrated but then Edgar Renteria, Matt Clement, and Julio Lugo made me think otherwise. By all accounts Bay is a good guy, and he is a good player, but time will tell. Plus, there is the inevitable adjustment that comes from switching leagues.

How will Manny do in LA?

With the caveat that predicting what Manny will do is a fool’s game, there’s no reason to believe that Manny won’t have a monster two months. It will be interesting to see how he handles playing for Joe Torre, who while having a rep as a veteran player’s manager, also expects a modicum of professionalism. If he jerks Manny around the way he messed with A-Rod you can expect all kinds of problems. Even more interesting: How Manny handles the L.A. freeway system.

Did the Red Sox make a bad trade?

If you agree that Manny is a better hitter at this stage of his career than Bay, and you throw in the fact that the Sox are paying both players, and that they gave away two guys currently in the big leagues, then yes, they got crushed. But, it’s not that simple.
Let’s start at the end. Brandon Moss could turn into David Murphy, but it wasn’t going to happen here. Craig Hansen had failed to make a positive impact in three attempts, so let’s not pretend that the Sox gave away the farm. Money is money and the Sox have it. When you have money, one of the things you get to do with it is make problems go away.

So, the Sox traded cash, easily-replaceable players, and a great hitter who was a huge problem for a very good hitter who won’t make waves. Which brings us to…

Did they have to do this?

No one knows but them. The Sox will certainly try to spin that they had no choice, that Manny had finally crossed the line. What we do know is this: In the past the Sox had insisted on getting back full market value for Manny’s services. They got value back, but it wasn’t full value, which leads one to conclude that they felt like they had no other option.

It shouldn’t have ended like this. You can blame Manny for acting like a brat. You can blame the Red Sox for allowing him to get away with all the stuff that led to this moment. You can blame the agent for whatever it is that he’s been telling Manny. But, whatever the reason, it’s over, and it’s hard not have regrets.