Four quick thoughts on the White Sox’s acquisition of Manny Ramirez.
• The White Sox are convinced that even an average Manny will be an upgrade over their current DH combination of Mark Teahen, Mark Kotsay and Andruw Jones. But how can they be so sure?
Manny started only three of eight games for the Dodgers after coming off the disabled list last Saturday. He has only 13 major-league at-bats since June 29.
He no longer hits for the same power. He is a plodder on the bases. Some with the Dodgers think he is out of shape. And let’s not forget, while he is moving to a hitter’s park, he also is changing leagues.
While his .311/.405/.510 performance in 66 games proves that he can still hit, he will not go off the way he did for the Dodgers in 2008.
• Please, let’s not hear any applause for Manny declining to demand compensation in exchange for waiving his no-trade clause. He had no choice.
The Dodgers could have benched him for the entire month if he rejected a move, crushing his value. In reality, Manny is receiving a form of compensation — he gets to play, giving him a chance to prove that he can be an effective DH.
• So much for the idea that no one team would take Manny’s remaining salary. Three teams put in claims, taking the risk that they would be stuck with the approximately $3.8 million left on Ramirez’s contract. And one of those clubs was the low-revenue Rays.
For the White Sox, the money is less than one-fifteenth what they assumed when they claimed outfielder Alex Rios and the $60 million left on his deal last August. On the other hand, they were getting five-plus seasons or Rios, as opposed to one month of Manny.
• Manny’s Hall of Fame chances took a dramatic hit when he received a 50-game suspension last season for using performance-enhancing drugs. But even if you remove PEDs from of the equation, he flunks the "character, integrity and sportsmanship" criteria — badly.
He quit on the Red Sox. He quit on the Dodgers. The Hall includes its share of miscreants, but Manny has routinely engaged in conduct detrimental to his team.
True, these were relatively isolated incidents. Some statistical analysts might look at his career numbers and say, "What more can you want?" My answer: Basic professionalism.
I generally do not give much consideration to the Hall’s subjective criteria, applying it positively (as in the case of Andre Dawson) but not negatively. Albert Belle was an exception, for he embarrassed the sport with his behavior. Manny, for different offenses, will fall into the same category.
Yes, he produced great numbers. Yes, he was a joy to watch. But certain standards of decency apply.