Oct. 22, 2008
It’s no secret that General Manager Omar Minaya is, and has always been, infatuated with Manny, as a trading deadline never seems to go by without his name being connected to the Mets in one way, shape, or form.
His divorce from Boston now official, Manny proved during the season’s final two months and into the postseason why he deserves to be mentioned among the greatest offensive talents the game of baseball has ever seen.
The stats support it, but the argument can be made for the Mets signing him without analyzing them or picking them apart.
A World Series MVP and two-time champion with Boston, Manny has been a winner and has always shown the ability to produce when he needs to.
We all know about Manny being Manny and all of the baggage he brings with him.
His lack of hustle and more than occasional lack of interest plagued his final days in Boston, while his fielding ability has never been among his greatest strengths.
But anybody who has watched him play when he’s at his best, as he was wearing Dodger blue, knows that when properly motivated, Manny is an MVP candidate who will play the game the way its supposed to be played. Plus, the dude can flat out hit like nobody else when he’s in a groove.
A four-year contract probably hovering near triple digits sounds absurd for a player with as many issues as Man-Ram has dealt with (most self inflicted), but at the same time, nobody will admit that he’s a "bad guy."
He is, without question, one of the goofiest players to ever grace a major-league field, but he’s good spirited, and talking about the Mets, he would fit right in with guys like Jose Reyes and Ramon Castro, who love to have fun and joke around.
For what it’s worth, and I doubt many other Mets fans share in this belief, the Mets, should they sign Manny, would be smart to bring back Manny’s former Boston teammate Pedro Martinez for one more year, as the two were close and would only prove to be beneficial for the rest of the clubhouse which at times needs to stay loose, perhaps, ahem, down the final weeks of the season?
You want to argue that giving him four years would backfire; there are certainly cases to be made. Manny’s final three months in Los Angeles (playoffs included) were up against the end of his contract, so figuring out his motivation shouldn’t stump anybody.
In addition, he’s 36, meaning by contract’s end he would be 40, and believing that he would be as productive then as he was this past season sounds unlikely.
However, the Mets are and always seem to be in a win-now mode, and you can count on Manny putting up "Manny numbers" for at least another season or two. Plus, even if he doesn’t put up the exact same numbers he did in Los Angeles, the drop-off wouldn’t be severe enough to deter the Mets from going hard after him.
Committing another $40 million to Frankie Rodriguez and Manny sounds crazy, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and the Mets right now have more pressure to win than they probably ever had before.
The 2007 collapse was unacceptable and delivering a repeat performance in 2008 was just incomprehensible. Dramatic changes need to made in order to shake things up enough to make sure a disastrous three-peat isn’t achieved.
Rodriguez and Ramirez are proven, winning veterans who will not only bring a winning mentality, but a toughness the team has lacked since Bobby Valentine was in charge.
The presence of a Manny Ramirez will impact the David Wrights and Jose Reyes, who both struggled down the stretch, as they put too much pressure on themselves to deliver the big hit night after night, yet failed to do so.
Manny has never minded being "the guy," and putting him fourth between Wright and Delgado, or whomever manager Jerry Manuel would insist on assembling a batting order would be downright scary and would provide Wright the sort of protection he needs to take his offensive game to another level.
A possible 2009 Mets lineup could look as follows:
2B (Castillo won’t be around, so maybe Daniel Murphy?)
(The bottom half of the lineup may be heavy on the lefties, but both Delgado and Church proved at different points during the season they could hit lefties, so that wouldn’t be as great of a concern as it appears to be.)
Think about the year David Wright would have with Manny hitting behind him. And think about the opportunities Manny would have with Reyes, Beltran, and Wright hitting ahead of him, all of whom score close to or more than 100 runs last season.
If the issue is money, it shouldn’t be, because you can’t put a price tag on the foul stench that will hopefully fade away as Shea Stadium is bulldozed into a parking lot this winter.
For all of his baggage, and all of antics, Manny Ramirez in left field and in the middle of the Mets order would be scary for any opposing pitching staff. For everything Manny does being Manny, he also happens to hit, and hit well, especially when guys are on base, as his RBI totals have been stellar throughout his career, typically well north of 100.
They might be pricey solutions, but two of the Mets biggest problems would be addressed and a demoralized fanbase would once again be re-energized and would provide Citi Field with the type of inaugural season that Shea Stadium failed to receive during its final curtain call.
So to Omar Minaya, Fred and Jeff Wilpon, the message is clear and simple:
If you want to reassure your fans that the last two seasons were nothing more than a once-(or twice)-in-a-lifetime occurrence, open your wallets, get the checkbooks out, and bring in Francisco Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez and make the ongoing nightmare which has haunted Mets fans since the end of 2006 go away once and for all.