Possible Manny Ramirez Scenario: Rick Ankiel To The Yankees

Joel KochSenior Analyst IJanuary 30, 2009

Yesterday, I wrote an article about Manny Ramirez coming to St. Louis. Today, I am expanding on a situation I mentioned within the article: Rick Ankiel traded to the Atlanta Braves.

So, here's the scoop. The Cardinals need pitching help, the Braves need outfield power, and the New York Yankees need a real center fielder. How can all three teams be accommodated? Like this:

New York Yankees receive: OF Rick Ankiel, C Bryan Anderson, LHP Steve Evarts

Atlanta Braves receive: 1B/OF Nick Swisher

St. Louis Cardinals receive: RHP Phil Hughes, LHP Jonny Venters

In this deal, the Yankees dump off $2.3 million in salary, plus a pitching prospect that has not reached his potential in New York. What they add is important: left-handed power and they replenish their system with two good prospects at positions of need.

Ankiel is a large upgrade over Melky Cabrera. Ankiel has 30 home run power, along with the ability to hit well in the clutch. His arm is extremely strong (thanks to being a Major League pitcher) and he has great range, along with good speed.

The Braves are in need of power, along with an outfielder who can play in center. They also do not want a player who will be a free agent after 2009. Their best option (and a player they have been going after for weeks) is Nick Swisher.

Swisher has power, is a switch-hitter, and can play all three outfield spots. They give up two left-handed pitching prospects to land Swisher, which could hurt their pitching depth, for a player signed to a club-friendly contract through 2011, with a 2012 club option.

The Cardinals plug two holes in this deal. Venters is not a need, but he helps add pitching depth, with Anderson essentially being dealt straight up for Venters.

The deal fills the Cardinals hole in the outfield, adds power to their lineup, and provides some pitching depth. Hughes can win the fifth starting job out of Spring Training, if Chris Carpenter is not able to take the role or if Joel Piniero pitches ineffectively during the spring. Hughes hasn't reached his full potential in New York, but pitching in a fan-friendly environment like St. Louis would certainly help him get to that potential.

The other need filled here, and this is the tie-in for this article, is Manny Ramirez. This deal clears $3 million off the books for 2009, which isn't a heck of a lot, but would ease some of the financial restrictions for the 2009 season. With $10 million or so left to spend, this would only add $9 million to the total payroll (which would bring it to around $120 million).

This deal also clears a spot for Ramirez. With Ankiel out of the picture, Ramirez can sign with the Cardinals and not hog an outfield spot from Colby Rasmus.

Now, will this happen? More than likely not (99 percent chance it doesn't), but it is fun to think about.

Let me just add a personal feeling here: Bill DeWitt is cheap, at least that's how he comes off. If he makes a play for Ramirez, he would erase that assumption and fans may start respecting him. He has the money to make the move, and Ramirez is a known revenue generator (approaching 600 career home runs, and his antics get fans to come watch what he will do next).

So, this begs the question (something I have decided to coin because it is very explanatory of DeWitt and his situation in St. Louis): DeWallet or DeWin?