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Why do teams make trades? To get better. In the case of a contender, they do it to solidify a playoff birth or, in the Angels case, make a serious run at a title. For a struggling team you trade in order to get better in the future, take a shot at some young guys. (Indians getting Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, and Brandon Phillips for Bartolo Colon comes to mind.) These are why teams make moves at the deadline. (Note: NBA and NFL teams often make moves to dump salary; last time I checked, there wasn't a salary cap in MLB.) This is what frustrates me most about the Manny trade. The Red Sox did not get better, in fact they got worse.
Manny Ramirez has been a huge headache for this team the past few weeks, maybe longer. I understand some of his actions have been inexcusable, but that's exactly how I would describe this trade. The Red Sox essentially traded Manny Ramirez, Brandon Moss, and Craig Hansen for Jason Bay. You serious!? There were a total of 6 players involved in the 3 team deal between the Sox, Dodgers, and Pirates. How did Boston manage to give up the best player AND 2 prospects? Unbelievable. They got relief help right? Nope. Same bullpen (minus Hansen, which isn't a bad thing) and now you got Jason Bay in LF with no Manny. Before getting into how Bay will replace Ramirez I want to look more at the deal itself. Just when you thought what the Sox gave up was bad enough, how about this... they're paying the rest of Manny's deal too. Wow. Why not throw Jon Lester or Dustin Pedroia in the trade too.
Calling this a "trade" is unfair. The Sox simply "got rid" of Ramirez. A trade implies both teams (or all three teams) giving something up to get something. The Dodgers traded a 3B who doesn't play and a AA pitcher for Ramirez. The Pirates traded Jason Bay for two young pitchers, a young 3B, and a young OF. The Sox panicked. They wanted to get rid of Manny, and made that abundantly clear, which doesn't exactly help the value. Everyone knew Boston was looking to get rid of Manny any way they could. So why offer them anything, or better yet, why not ask for a couple prospects to boot? Done and done.
Part of this "deal" was having the two club options for Manny at $20 million a pop be waived. OK, so he is playing 2 months for a playoff run/his next contract. Why does he have to do that in LA? I'd take Manny's crap for 2 more, hopefully 3 more months with a legitimate shot at winning back-to-back World Series. People say how do you know he would play for them? The guy wants $100 million over 4 years, how is he going to do that sitting on the bench. Is he not trying now? Really? In July, Manny is hitting .347 (the highest month of the season for him) with 4 HR and 16 RBI. Those numbers are better than J.D. Drew's and Mike Lowell's. Are those guys tanking it? Let me guess Lowell is giving up on the team. Come on. Pedroia is the hottest hitter in the planet and he's only hitting .003 points higher than Manny in July.
Jason Bay now finds himself in the same spot as Omer Epps did when he signed on for Major League II, replacing Wesley Snipes as Willie Mayes Hayes. Bay is a nice player, don't get me wrong, but the Sox are asking a ton from him. Here's a guy who plays in front of family and friends for the worst team in the NL Central. The Pirates could not be further from the Boston Red Sox. Bay has a grand total of 0 post season at-bats. Manny has 24 post season home runs. That's a record. Hey Jason Bay, no pressure, but you need to replace a 12-time All-Star, 500 Home Run Club member, World Series MVP, and future Hall of Famer with 2 months to go in a pennant race in the most baseball crazy city in the world. At least the Sox helped their bullpen and got a couple prospects back... I forgot, they didn't.
In the end I feel like the Red Sox got caught with their pants down, and went from a team with World Series aspirations to a team that's really hoping they can get in the playoffs. A lot has changed. How can the front office honestly turn down a Mark Teixeira for Kevin Youkilis and Craig Hansen deal, yet sign off on a Jason Bay for Manny Ramirez, Craig Hansen, and Brandon Moss. I can't describe it. They see the Angels getting much better, the Yankees making moves to improve themselves, even the White Sox reaching out for some help. Theo and the crew were so caught up in throwing Manny away that they forgot to actually help the team. Sure they don't have to see what the new quote from ESPNDeportes is today and the team can now have picnics together and go to water parks, but they'll feel it on the field. You think David Ortiz won't get intentionally walked every chance they get? These guys are supposed to be pros. It's not the ideal situation, but it was their best chance to win.
I hope I'm wrong here, but I don't see the Red Sox making the post season this year. Even with the Rays not making a move, they didn't get worse like the Sox. Tampa and New York will take the division in the final 2 months of the season with one of them squaring off with the Angels in the ALCS, while the new Sox have sleep overs together watching the games on TV.