If you are a regular reader of my columns, you probably know what I am going to say in regards to this issue.
In all honesty, I was fearful of the backlash I thought I'd receive in writing this article, and I put off doing it based on the negative response to my last piece on Manny.
However, I know in my heart that Zander Freund is a man of integrity and intelligence.
He also knows two things: That I'm a Boston sports fan, and that I will give a fair and honest assessment of this transaction.
That's why I believe he asked me to write this piece.
In all honesty, part of me misses Manny, but I'm mostly glad he's gone. In his final days, he was nothing more than a distraction.
Manny's days were numbered in Boston once he pushed traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground in Houston, after he denied Ramirez's request for 20 extra tickets.
He then gave a lengthy interview to ESPN Deportes in which he basically said his heart wasn't in Boston anymore, and he wanted to be traded.
Now comes the revelation that the commissioner's office is investigating whether or not Manny forced the Sox to trade him by dogging it during an important series against the Angels.
Clearly, something had to be done.
On Aug. 2, Sean McAdam of the Providence Journal reported that Sox GM Theo Epstien held a private meeting with veteran players such as David Ortiz and Jason Varitek, in which he indicated he was going to explore trade possibilities for Manny. No one objected to the news.
And so, the next day, Manny was sent off to sunny southern California and native Canuck Jason Bay came to the Sox as part of a three-team deal with the Pirates.
But what about Bay? Does he have the same offensive pop in his bat that Manny had?
In this reporter's humble opinion, yes.
When he came to the Red Sox, Jason Bay had more home runs and more RBI on the years than Manny Ramirez.
He's also seven years younger and admitted in his introductory press conference that he grew up a Sox fan.
Judging from those indications, it's hard to see why Jason Bay wouldn't fit in well with the Red Sox.
While it may be true that Bay isn't as feared a hitter as Ramirez was/is, his production is virtually the same as Ramirez's, and I believe he is a better defensive outfielder then Manny ever was.
Theo Epstien obviously knew this, and that's why he likely had no trouble pulling off this trade and agreed to eat the $7 million owed to Manny this year by getting him out of town.
In addition, the Red Sox no longer have to worry about picking up a $20 million option on Manny's contract for next season.
With Bay already under contract at a cost $7.5 million next season, the Sox can use the extra $13 mill they may have paid Manny next year to a lure a coveted free agent to Beantown.
In all fairness, I will miss Manny because I could always count on him to produce for the Sox, even when the going was tough for him.
I have a hard time believing that Manny was so adamant over a trade that he dogged it in his last series in Boston, mainly because of his dedication to the game.
Manny has the reputation as a feared power hitter and one of the best clutch performers in the game, while Jason Bay may be a better all-around player at this point in time, his arrival has a definite impact on the playoffs.
Potential playoff opponents can now breathe a little easier now that Manny is in L.A.
They can potentially pitch around David Ortiz to get to Bay because they know he doesn't have the reputation as a clutch hitter like Ramirez has.
That little bit of knowledge could work to the Red Sox's disadvantage come October, and that's why Jason Bay must consistently produce for the Sox in order to create the illusion that the Sox still have a stacked lineup from top to bottom.
What's forgotten in this deal is the fact that two Red Sox prospects have left the team as well.
Based on what he did in Boston, I won't miss Craig Hansen too much at the present time.
However, I am quite mindful of the fact that he is still only 24-years old and could potentially turn into a dominant closer.
He has the stuff; he just hasn't got it all together yet.
The same goes for Brandon Moss, who showed promise with both the bat and the glove before being dealt away.
This could really work to the Pirates advantage in the long run.
The trade has already paid immediate dividends for the Sox and Dodgers, as Bay is hitting over .300 and has led the Sox to a 7-3 record since his arrival.
The recent stretch of good baseball leads me to believe that the Sox are more focused as a team without Manny serving as a distraction for team morale.
Likewise, Manny already has four homers for his new team and is becoming a major factor in the NL West race.
So while I'll miss Manny for his bat and production, I am grateful that we got a bat that seemed to be just as good at this point in time.
Although Manny let off-field distractions lead to his demise in Boston, I firmly believe that he was a major contributor to the Sox's two world championships, and he will always be fondly remembered.
Likewise, Jason Bay could turn out to be a great pickup for the Sox, especially if Manny declines his option and goes elsewhere next season.
So, who made the better deal? We can only find out in the long run.
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