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Manny being a spoiled brat


 

imagesIt’s no secret that Manny Ramirez thinks and acts on a different wavelength than the average professional athlete. In a game last July at Fenway Park against the Twins, he climbed into the Green Monster and was seen chatting on his cellphone during a pitching change. A few months later he held up a handwritten sign in a game against the Angels that read: “I’m going to Green Bay for Brett Favre straight up.”

Such odd behaviour is somewhat endearing, if not good for the game. But after turning down a $25 million, one-year offer from the Dodgers yesterday—which would have made him the second-highest paid player in MLB behind Alex Rodriguez—Manny is coming off as a little bit of a spoiled brat. Perhaps nobody told him that at age 36 he’s not exactly a spring chicken anymore, and that turning down such an offer at a time when millions of people around the world are losing there jobs is, well, a little selfish.

But in this situation, Manny’s greed is only half the problem. The other half is his agent, Scott Boras. Boras has played an integral role in the past decade of increasing salaries to the point of absurdity. Using tough, if not downright intimidating, negotiation tactics he’s secured mammoth deals, like Alex Rodriguez’s $250 million, 10- year  contract with the Texas Rangers in 2000, Barry Zito’s seven-year, $126-million deal with the San Fransisco Giants in 2006, and of course just a few months ago made CC Sabathia $160 million richer.

Such deals no doubt garner a tremendous amount of attention for MLB, but in doing so they’ve created a level of disparity in the game that has made it virtually impossible for more than half of the teams in the league to compete. I know that critics will point to Tampa’s amazing run last year as an example of a low-budget team making it big, but such a breakthrough came from collecting a slew of excellent draft picks through years of squalor and combining it with sound baseball development and a lot of luck. And when those players go looking for a raise in a couple of years after their current contracts expire, thanks to Boras the only way the Rays will be able to keep them is if they go door-to-door around the Sunshine State asking seniors for donations. Maybe they’ll find Manny’s house and he’ll give them a few bucks, or he just might shrug as he’s doing above and continue chatting on his cellphone.


 
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Manny being a spoiled brat

  1. You seem to be making two conflicting arguments:

    1) Manny is old and not worth the huge contract
    2) Because the best players like Manny sign huge contracts, small market teams cannot compete

    • 2) doesn’t preclude that some huge contracts are also doled out to those undeserving.

  2. Of course, then there’s Jason Varitek, another Boros client. He made $10 million last year, and God knows why, but he and Boros decided to NOT go to arbitration (where most feel he probably would have got around $11 million, certainly not less than 10, as it’s pretty rare for a player to take a pay cut in arbitration).

    Instead, he ended up signing to a one year deal at $5 million with a club option for a second year at $5 million, and a player option for a second year at $3 million.

    That just seems weird to me. Boros client Manny turns down a $25 million offer, while Varitek arguably leaves MILLIONS of dollars on the table by not going to arbitration.

    Weird.

  3. I see your point, Chris B. It’s not so much that Manny is old and not worth the money. He’s still a quality player but there is no argument that he is well past his prime. So in giving such a player that amount of money makes it even more difficult for small-market teams to attract top-end players (i.e. CC) who are in their prime, or decent, younger players who will point to Manny’s salary and demand more. By demanding such a salary Manny is driving the market and creating a benchmark that other players, especially aging superstars, will look to when negotiating contracts. Maybe a team like Kansas City was thinking of getting Ivan Rodriguez for next year and was willing to pay $5 million. That number could rise significantly if Manny signs a massive deal. Anyhow, sorry to ramble. Manny is a great player, but he ain’t worth $25 million in my books.

  4. Well past his prime? His OPS+ was 164 last year — nearly ten points higher than his career average. Even if you want to say that the second half was a fluke brought on by him going to a weaker league, he still had a 136 OPS+ in Boston over the first 100 games. That’s lower than his career norms, for sure, but do you know how many guys in the AL had an OPS+ that high? Five. A “past his prime” Manny was a better offensive player than all but five other guys in the league. He may be getting older, but there’s no reason to believe his production is suddenly going to plummet.

    The Rays were hardly an example of getting lucky…more like playing to what was expected of them. Baseball Prospectus/PECOTA last spring pegged them as contenders, and anyone paying attention would’ve seen they had a core group of young players who were all about to hit their strides.

    As for saying baseball has “created a level of disparity in the game that has made it virtually impossible for more than half of the teams in the league to compete”…like everything else you wrote, that’s just wrong. I don’t feel like looking up the stats (though I know that one of the ESPN baseball bloggers wrote about it just last week, and King Kaufman at Salon has written about this several times), but since the start of the decade, the MLB has had a competitive balance that blows the NBA and the NFL out of the water. They’ve had more teams win it all and more teams make the playoffs than those other two sports, and they’ve done it even with fewer playoff spots to spread around.

    Did you actually do one moment of research for this post, or did you just throw random words together and hope they would somehow make sense?

  5. I think you need to take a chill pill, Matthew. I think what the author was trying to get at was that Manny is 36, thus in the twilight of his career and not worthy of being the second-highest paid player in the league. As for parity, explain to me how the hell teams like Kansas City, Washington, Oakland, and Pittsburgh are ever going to make the playoffs. They have no hope because they have no money.

    • Henry,

      Why not add the two Florida teams to the list? They have no money and have no chance of ever winning anything. Oh wait…

      There are cellar dwellers in all sports leagues. What about the Hawks, Clippers and Bucks in the NBA? Does their consistently poor performance prove that salary caps don’t work? Last year, 7 NBA teams won less than a third of their games. It’s been years since an MLB team did so poorly. What about the Twins? They’ve won their division, what, 4 times in the last 8 years? They don’t have a much larger fan base than the Nationals or Pirates, but they seem to find ways to win.

      As for Ramirez, if the Yankees are willing to promise A-Rod $25+ million when he’s forty, ten years in advance when they have no idea if he’ll still be half as good as Manny is at age 36, Manny is certainly worth $25 million and then some for one year.

    • If Manny is still producing at a very high level — as, you know, he did last season — I see no reason why he shouldn’t get paid accordingly. I think most players would kill to have the “twilight” he’s apparently having.

      As for parity…Minnesota is definitely one good example. And you betray your ignorance by including Oakland on your list…last I checked, they made the playoffs as recently as 2006, and they’re in pretty good condition to contend this year, particularly if the Angels (one of those large market teams that allegedly has all the advantages) decline as much as it seems they’re going to. Washington is in rebuilding mode, and they’ll be contending in a couple of years. As for Kansas City and Pittsburgh…they’ve just been plagued with horrible owners and GMs who don’t seem to have any idea of what they’re doing (see: Cam Bonifay and Dave Littlefield and everyone else they’ve had running the Pirates for the past decade, while the Royals have just made a series of mind-boggling personnel decisions). Sure it’s harder for teams with less money to contend (though Pittsburgh is mysteriously not a small market when it comes to football), but it’s clearly not impossible if you have someone who knows what they’re doing running the show.

  6. What a load of crap. Baseball is a hugely successful business, and the players are getting less and less of the total revenue every year. There’s nothing wrong with trying to get a few more million from the billionaires. Or in this case, the longer term deal he probably wants.

  7. Manny maybe a quality hitter but he’s a lazy fielder who can barely run. Add in that he is often just totally disinterested in the game and he doesn’t even deserve half of $25 million.

    • Rather than basing what you say on lazy, ignorant caricatures, why not review the facts? Manny’s Fielding Percentage last year was just above league average, and for his career he’s only a few points below the average. Not precise enough for you? Fine…then his Range Factor last year was above average, too; even if his career numbers are a bit below average, I’m willing to bet that his 155 career OPS+ (that is, he’s 55% better than the “average” player, and he’s in the top 25 for that category all-time) indicates that whatever runs he’s cost his team with his glove, he’s more than made up for with his bat. As for running…who cares if he can’t steal bases? SBs are highly overrated. He gets on base and creates runs a lot better than, say, Juan Pierre or Jose Reyes. Really, if you’re criticizing Manny for not stealing enough bases, you obviously don’t have a clue as to how to measure a player’s value.

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