December 1, 2006


In This Market, Ramirez Is Actually a Bargain (TIM MARCHMAN, December 1, 2006, NY Sun)

The Red Sox have, through the years, tried to rid themselves of their left fielder several times. In 2003, they put him on irrevocable waivers. Any team could have had him for nothing, but none took him because they would have been insane to do so. He was due $97.5 million over five years, and wasn't worth it. The same year, Miguel Tejada signed a six-year, $72 million contract. Who would want to pay $20 million a year for a left fielder with a bad glove when a younger, power-hitting shortstop with a good one was going for a bit over half as much? This, and not his irritating persona or inane trade demands, was basically the reason the Red Sox have constantly tried to get rid of Ramirez, and the reason they weren't able to. He was monstrously overpaid, and everyone knew it.

Given the free agent market this fall, though, Ramirez suddenly is no longer the proud owner of a preposterously bloated contract that symbolizes a previous era's excesses, but instead something of a bargain. Carlos Lee is 30, has slugged above .500 twice in his career, and has had an on-base percentage above .360 only once. He just signed a six-year, $100 million contract. Ramirez is 34, but has slugged below .600 twice since Lee came to the majors (neither time falling below .587), a period during which his OBA hasn't fallen below .388. At his worst, he's in a completely different class than Lee. If Lee is worth $17 million a year, Ramirez is worth something like $25 million a year.

So this is how things have changed. A few years ago, Ramirez — as prodigious a hitter as he was — had negative value to a baseball team. He was worth less than he was being paid. The Red Sox, were they to deal him, would not only have received no notable talent in return, but would have had to pay another team to take him. Rightly, they figured this was stupid. They have a lot of money, enough to vastly overpay a great hitter rather than make their payroll more efficient. With Ramirez, they won a World Series.

Now, though, Ramirez has positive value. The market has shifted so rapidly that he may actually be underpaid. At the least, if he were a free agent, someone would offer him a contract worth more than he's now making. The Sox can demand valuable talent in exchange for the rights to his contract, get it, and then spend his salary on other ballplayers.

We want double Jonathans.

Sifting through the fog: Preconceived notions cloud Manny vs. Drew debate (Jon Weisman November 30, 2006, Sports Illustrated)

Though Ramirez is on a path to the Hall of Fame, there are statistical reasons for moving into the future with Drew. Despite his reputation as a player likely to disintegrate at the first strong gust of wind, the 31-year-old Drew racked up 645 plate appearances in 2004 and 594 in 2006; his 2005 season was curtailed with a hit-by-pitch, not a case of the vapors. Using the Wins Above Replacement Player stats (which include defensive contributions) calculated by Baseball Prospectus, in his last two full seasons, Drew was more valuable than Ramirez: 9.8 to 8.2 in '04, 8.6 to 7.7 in '06.

Given that Drew will make millions less than Ramirez, even with the frothy salaries that free agents are commanding, given that Drew is 2 1/2 years younger, given that Ramirez has battled health problems himself that found him playing fewer games than Drew last season, there's a worthy argument to be made that Drew, plus any savings in Ramirez's salary that Boston can invest in other players, plus the loot the Sox can reap in a Ramirez trade, is a sound step forward.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 1, 2006 9:38 AM

The Sox need a shortstop and a closer. They ought to get at least one for Manny. Too bad the Angels want to hang on to their young shortstops.

Posted by: pj at December 1, 2006 10:28 AM

Jonathan Broxton can close. If you can get another pitcher and/or young outfielder that's a good deal.

The Angels would part with Aybar, though not Wood, if you can get a pitcher -- Santana, Saunders, etc. -- and a couple other young guys--McPherson, Mathis, Kotchman--that's a good deal. If you can get Juan Rivera it's a great deal.

Posted by: oj at December 1, 2006 11:15 AM

The notion that Drew can succeed in Boston is utterly insane. If they really sign him for the money that's been rumored, it will surpass the Soriano deal by far for the worst contract in at least a half-decade, and probably ever.

Posted by: b at December 1, 2006 12:49 PM

He's succeeded everywhere. He'll be fine. He'll also be in the first really good hitter's park of his career.

Posted by: oj at December 1, 2006 1:51 PM

The Lake Wobegon effect strikes again!

Posted by: Bob at December 1, 2006 2:58 PM