A few days ago the Denver Post reported in a small blurb at the end of an article that the Giants are aggressively pursing Manny Ramirez. After getting picked up by other media outlets, it ignited a buzz across the media.
Now, it's probably just Ramirez' agent, the notorious Scott Boras, putting it out there to get a better offer from the Giants, but it's still an interesting thing to look into.
For starters, Manny's an amazing hitter, one of the best ever. He's one of those rare guys who will still be able to hit no matter how old he gets. Yeah, he's lacking defensively, but his bat makes up for that.
But, obviously, it's not about ability. If it was, he'd have no problem finding a team willing to give him a multi-year contract with eight figures. The longer he holds out, the more his value keeps dropping, as teams forget how he ignited the Dodgers second half run while remembering all the headaches he caused the Red Sox, ultimately quitting on the team.
The glaring question is this: Is he worth the problems he may cause?
You can look into his past. With the Indians, things never went sour. He led them to five straight division titles and two American League championships, only leaving because he got a better offer from the Red Sox. With the Dodgers, he may have been there briefly, but he did nothing but good things for the team.
Even the Red Sox and their fans can't regret the move of signing him. Regardless of how it ended, he gave Boston over seven great seasons, leading them to two World Series. Without him, the Curse of the Bambino would have reached 90 years this season.
Problem is, he's not young anymore. And yes, I did say he'll still be able to hit how no matter how old he gets, but how well? He'll always be a good hitter, but for how long will he be great? How well does he have to play to be worth the defense and potential problems? Will he need to continue to put up an OPS over 1.000 every year? Or will .900 suffice?
Anything more than two guaranteed years would be a complete mistake. The shorter the contract, the less amount time you have to worry about something happening that turns him into the Manny Ramirez we saw force Red Sox fans to be thankful to say goodbye to the former World Series MVP, despite leading the club to their first championship in 86 years.
I figure that he would have a honeymoon period lasting through the first season of the contract. So the Giants would only have to worry about that second year for things to go bad, and if even they do, they'd be able to find some team willing to take a risk for the remainder of the season like the Dodgers last year, and who knows, they can even get someone like Jason Bay out of it like the Red Sox did.
If things go well through those two years, they can exercise the option and give him the third year.
Another thing that is a must is have it loaded with incentives. You can even give him the same base contract you would've given him without incentives, because when Manny is on his game, he's worth every penny you're paying him, no matter how much it is. Giving him something to play for will make Manny motivated to stay at the top of his game.
It would be nice to have some sort of out-clause in case he starts acting up again, but we all know neither Ramirez nor Boras would ever agree to such a thing.
Overall, signing Ramirez is a good fit, even if they don't add in the little things I suggested. He'll make the Giants the hands-on favorite to win the weak division, bring fans and revenue, and take pressure off the pitching staff, as his presence in the lineup would give them more leeway to give up an extra run or two.
And possibly most importantly to Giants fans, Ramirez not returning to the Dodgers would kill their playoff hopes in 2009.