On the Mark: Clubs are scared of Manny
Mark Teixeira, whose best efforts were not enough to get the talent-laden Angels beyond the divisional round of the playoffs, has a new deal with the Yankees, eight years for $180 million.
But Manny Ramirez, who single-handedly transformed the Dodgers from a non-descript, underachieving, also-ran into a legitimate World Series contender, is still without a contract. If his two-month tryout with the Dodgers is any indication, he remains the best hitter in baseball. But with just nine days before pitchers and catchers report, his destination remains unknown.
Only this much is clear: the market for Manny never shaped up as forecast. Ramirez can blame the economy if he wants. Or he can point to his agent as the culprit, citing expectations of that four-year, $100 million contract that were stoked by Scott Boras. But if Ramirez wants to accurately assign blame, he's well-advised to look in the mirror. The market for Manny was discounted by Manny himself.
Take it from me, a guy who campaigned for him to win the MVP (I was right) and lashed the Dodgers for being cheap (I was wrong). After all these months, and all these phantom suitors, it seems that Ramirez' best offer was his first: two years, $45 million from Los Angeles.
Those numbers didn't work for Manny. But at this point, I'm not sure they would work for the Dodgers, either. You see, it's not enough to pay the market price for Ramirez. You have to pay a surcharge to make him happy. Happy Manny is the guy who transforms your lineup and makes you an instant contender. But as baseball people know too well, Happy Manny can become Unhappy Manny with little or no warning. Unhappy Manny is a clubhouse carcinogen. No one wants to deal with Unhappy Manny, much less give him a third or fourth year.