Pinstripe Problems: Why The Yankees Can't Get Manny Ramirez

Gregory PearsollContributor IFebruary 3, 2009


We have all heard the news about Manny Ramirez rejecting a 1 year/$25 million contract from the Dodgers.

As a result, many people in New York (Mets and Yankees fans alike) are pushing for the New York Yankees to sign Manny Ramirez. However, for both teams, this is not possible for various reasons.

For the Yankees, while it would give the chance for Manny Ramirez to beat up Boston frequently during the season, as he has been said to want to do, it is completely impossible due to limitations on the 40-man roster and an outfield jam.


Issue #1: Outfield

The current outfield for the Yankees for Opening Day 2009 is as follows:

Johnny Damon LF

Brett Gardner CF

Xavier Nady RF

Nick Swisher LF/RF/1B

In addition, outfielder Melky Cabrera is out of Minor League options, which could force the Yankees to carry him or risk losing him to waivers, where many teams, such as the Padres, Mariners, and Brewers are coveting Cabrera. However, his contract might allow him to be outrighted to the Minors, due to the cost.

A trade of Nady or Swisher is needed just to clear roster space, and with the likelihood they will need to carry Melky, it limits the Yankees options and makes a signing of Manny Ramirez difficult.

Also, Damon is owed $13M this season, meaning the Yankees will need to play him every day.

Issue #2: Hideki Matsui

Hideki Matsui has a $13M contract for 2009, which makes him completely unmovable. With his knee injuries, Matsui is basically now a DH, unable to play the field. No team will take this player, even despite his 25 HR/100-RBI potential if healthy.

After injuries last year, no team will give up anything without the Yankees eating a good chunk of Matsui's contract, which is difficult with the Yankees payroll pushing well over $190-200M just on the 25-man roster alone, not including the other 15 players, and Kei Igawa's inflated contract.

Issue #3: Jorge Posada

There are still questions whether Jorge Posada will be healthy on Opening Day. If he is unable to throw out base-runners, he may have to be moved exclusively to DH, forcing the Yankees to carry three catchers, including Jose Molina, and either Kevin Cash or Francisco Cervelli.

If either of these players end up taking up the DH spot, it leaves no room for Manny to play regularly, if at all.

Issue #4: Lack of bench depth

After all the signings of Sabathia, Burnett and Teixiera, there is still an issue with the Yankees that needs to be solved: bench depth.

With Manny Ramirez needing to be an everyday player, he would not fit in with the Yankees, as he would force Matsui, Damon or Gardner/Cabrera to the bench, which is difficult given Matsui and Damon's large contracts, and Cabrera's lack of options.

So far, the bench for Opening Day looks like this:

OF/ 1B Nick Swisher

C Jose Molina

SS Cody Ransom or SS Angel Berroa

CF Melky Cabrera

In addition, more depth needs to be added at the 3B spot, because neither Ransom are Berroa are players to be run out every day. This bench may also change depending on Posada's recovery from shoulder surgery.

Issue #5: Money

While the Yankees could afford Manny Ramirez, they would significantly have to overpay due to the fact they are already over the luxury-tax threshold.

Adding Manny would put them well over last year's salary, which was well over $207M.

Even with a new ballpark, the Yankees must show restraint, with needs to get outfield help next offseason and arbitration to players such as Melky Cabrera, Chien-Ming Wang, and Brian Bruney, who will require raises depending on performance.

Issue #6: Attitude

There is the issue whether Manny Ramirez's behavior would be acceptable in New York. In Boston, he quit on his teammates during the 2008 season, faking a knee injury, forcing the Red Sox to trade him to Los Angeles in a 3-way deal that brought Jason Bay to Boston.

In the Big Apple, there are questions whether he would behave himself, considering previous precedent during his time in Boston.

With all these issues, it is difficult, if not impossible, to see Manny wearing pinstripes anytime soon.