Caveat Emptor: Manny Ramirez Says, "I Want to See Who Is the Highest Bidder"

Don SpielesCorrespondent IOctober 22, 2008

Back in April of this year, Manny Ramirez said he wanted to play for six more years and retire with the Red Sox.

In late July, Manny told reporters that he has been unhappy for eight years in Boston.

On Aug. 3 of this year, Manny told ESPN Deportes the words that Frank McCourt immediately planned to have tattooed onto his buttocks: "I think that I'll play here for the remainder of my career."  The "here," of course, referred to Los Angeles and the Dodgers.

On Oct. 20, Manny was quoted as saying, "I want to see who is the highest bidder."

This is really what "Manny-Being-Manny" has come to mean.  One shovel full of manure after another.

Now, the clamoring will begin as teams take hard looks at their wallets and try to decide if they can be the next place where Manny wants to retire (or be miserable, depending on when the interview takes place.) 

Manny is reportedly looking for upwards of five years at over $80 million.  He's got Scot Boras as his agent, the man who makes Darth Vader look like an Avon Lady, so that's probably what he'll get.

The better question is what exactly will the team that pays him be getting?  In the beginning, it will undoubtedly be the LA version of Manny—the one that sprints to first, steals bases, hits about a home run per game, and even threatens violence against opposing batters who object to balls being thrown at their heads.

But is there any doubt that at some point the team that buys him will end up with the Manny that surfaced in Boston every so often?

You know, the guy who would refuse to swing in a crucial at-bat because he was pouting.  Or maybe the guy who couldn't be bothered to run to first or to fly balls.  Or who couldn't be bothered to get out of the dugout when there was a bench clearing brawl, but then tried to deck a teammate for "over enthusiasm."

Ultimately, after the five years pass, when Manny is ready to retire, will his final team listen to him tell reporters how he was miserable there from the get-go?  At that point, he won't have to worry about pending free agency, as if that was ever really a motivator for him to behave anyway.

As I'm so often reminded, baseball is, first and foremost, a business.  The team that Manny plays for next will undoubtedly see their bottom line improve.  Maybe, all the rest of it doesn't really matter.

Manny will most likely hit his 600 home runs.  He's most likely a first ballot Hall-of-Famer.  He might even manage to bring a World Series to his new employer. 

And yet, like some others of recent memory, there will always be a "but" in the story when folks talk about Manny Ramirez.