Faced With a Decision: Will Fred Wilpon Bring Manny Ramirez to Flushing?

Nick GiarrussoContributor IFebruary 4, 2009

Every Met fan from Staten Island to Queens; Long Island to Westchester are all collectively thinking the same thing: We want Manny!

They think about the current Mets batting order: Reyes-Murphy-Beltran-Wright-DelGado-Church-Castillo-Schneider. It’s not that bad and probably good enough to win between 87-92 games. With the additions of J.J Putz and K-Rod the Mets, as currently constituted, could win the NL East. But realistically the Phillies are still better.

Now add Manny Ramirez. Add Manny being Manny. And more importantly, add the .330 average, the 30 home runs and the 100+ RBI’s. Now take a look at Jerry Manuel’s lineup: Reyes-Beltran-Wright-Manny-DelGado-Church-Castillo-Schnieder. At the press conference you become better than Philadelphia and Chicago.

Oh, and that little collapse issue everybody likes to talk about, well it would be forgotten, like the Dallas Green years. With Manny Ramirez this is a new team. The added payroll Fred Wilpon would need to sign off on would not only buy the best cleanup bat in the game, buy also some much needed distance from the team’s recent past.

So, if it’s such a great fit, what’s the delay? His name is Scott Boras. God only knows what he has Manny thinking these days. For starters, Manny was quoted towards the end of last season saying, “The price of oil is up and so am I.” Boras’ brainwashing was well underway. He entered this process with Manny thinking that $25-$30 million over five years, in the heart of a recession, was actually feasible.

Boras is the ultimate conqueror of landmark contracts, and in the twilight of this off-season he’s trying to stir up another masterpiece. This time he’s selling the best right-handed hitter of a generation. Like a real generation, say 25-30 years. Not one of those commonly tossed around generations that only go back 10-15 years.

As I post this column, Boras and Ramirez appear steadfast in their desire to get big bucks over multiple seasons. Yesterday the Dodgers offered Manny a one-year, $25 million dollar deal. They instituted a 48-hour deadline and Manny rejected it. Now Los Angeles appears content moving on without him.

What else can they do? Team Boras didn’t respond to LA’s previous two-year, $45 million dollar offer from earlier this off season. Man, would they to have that one back. But LA took it off the table. Then they offered salary arbitration. That was just a formality.

Now they get rejected, in swift fashion, on a deal that would have made Manny the second highest paid player in baseball next season behind A-Rod. Dodger fans can’t say that Ned Coletti didn’t try. He just refused to get Borased.

New reports have LA turning to Adam Dunn and Orlando Hudson. They can sign both of those guys combined for less than Manny. With Spring Training a stone’s throw away, LA looks to be kicking Boras and Manny to the curb.

So where does this leave Ramirez? Last season, when negotiations started going south with the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez traded in Scott Boras for a group of Goldman Sachs execs and Warren Buffett. This year, Manny seems content letting Boras run the show.

Though it must be asked: Does Manny have any say in this? Can he say, “Hey Scott, let’s take the Dodger deal, I like it in LA.” Or does his future solely rest in Scott Boras’ hands? Does Scott Boras EVER do what’s right for his clients?

Their strategy seems bizarre considering the suitors waiting in line for Manny’s services appear nonexistent. Boston is a non-factor for obvious reasons. The Yankees just spent half a billion dollars on three players. And even they have a limit, we think. The Angeles firmly stated they want nothing to do with this mess. Albert Pujols made his public cry for help, but that fell on deaf ears. Who’s left?

Well, the Giants were hoping for the Manny market to plummet to one-year at around $15-$20 million. That doesn’t appear to be the case with Manny refusing LA’s latest offer. Manny would certainly help replace the draw Barry Bonds brought to Pac Bell, but not at Boras dollars.

Again, who’s left?

Meet the Mets. After signing Oliver Perez on Monday, their 2009 payroll sits at about $140 million, an all-time high. That’s despite the recent Bernie Madoff ponzi-scheme debacle, which saw the Wilpons lose millions. That’s despite recent news that Citigroup is considering rescinding their 20-year, $400 million dollar naming-rights deal for the Mets new ballpark, currently called Citi Field.

The Wilpons publicly claim that the Mets and the Madoff mess are two completely separate money streams, and the $70 million spent on K-Rod and Perez suggests that’s true. With their off season pitching needs now fully addressed, the Mets are nose-to-ceiling with the Wilpon’s self-imposed player budget.

So the question become this: Can Omar Minaya convince Jeff Wilpon to bump that budget up over $160 million for the next two to three years? We know Omar Minaya has a man crush on Manny dating back to his Expos days. We know he sees the obvious impact Manny would have on this team.

Can Omar find a way to pull one more gigantic rabbit out of his hat? It would take one hell of a sales pitch, and Met fans don’t want anybody else in that room with Fred Wilpon except Omar.

The time has come for the conservative Wilpons to make a splash. Loosen your collar, untuck your shirt, kick off the penny loafers and get Manny Ramirez to Flushing, Queens. ASAP. We know the cost: Two years guaranteed, with a club option or incentives tied to a third. Financial impact: Between $60-$75 million.

You’re in a new ballpark. You have a team poised to compete for the whole ball of wax. They need one more serious bat in the middle of the lineup. They need a fresh start. Jerry Manuel has spoken. The fans have spoken. Fred Wilpon, the message is clear: Go get Manny Ramirez.

We are firmly entrenched in the final hours of this off-season saga.The balls in your court Fred. Manny Ramirez is a phone call away. The World Series might be a phone call away. Are you content being good, or do you dare to be great?


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