Barry Zito

Why the Giants shouldn’t sign Manny Ramirez

At least the Giants know the secret to signing him.

“I want to see who is the highest bidder,” Manny told the L.A. Times.

Sure, get mad. What a jerk that Manny is. Can you imagine, a ballplayer going somewhere for money?

I actually love that quote more than anything I’ve heard from a professional athlete this year. Every single player going into free agency has had that same thought, although nobody but Manny would ever admit it (even Bonds, who would always drop the cursory “I want to bring a world championship to my hometown of San Francisco” after each contract extension). Even if a free agent ends up taking the second best offer for some crazy reason like wanting to win (which happens what, 4% of the time?), everybody still wants to see how much money they could command.

At 36, Ramirez is looking for $20 million-plus per year for five or six years, which would make him an extremely expensive 41 or 42-year-old left fielder at the end of said contract.

Sound familiar?

Brian Sabean ripped on Peter Gammons a little bit on KNBR last week, focusing on Gammons’ practice of throwing trade rumors out there with little to no merit, leading Sabean to throw a dig at Gammons for pretty much living in Terry Francona’s office, something that’s “known in the industry,” according to Sabean. Gammons probably caught wind of that — why else would he go on Mike and Mike this morning and mention that the Giants are sleepers to break the Dodgers’ hearts and sign Manny to function as Barry Bonds 2.0 (my words, not his)?

“That’s right Sabes, maybe next time you won’t badmouth P-Gam on the Razor and Mr. T. Just wait until I tell everyone you tried to trade Tim Lincecum to the Padres for Brian Giles!”

This brings up two questions. One, is there any chance of a Mannyocalypse in San Francisco? And two, would that make any sense for the Giants?

Bill “Duke” Neukom is getting ready to start his reign as Managing General Partner of the Giants, and even though Mr. Bow-tie has championed a new team wide philosophy called the “Giants way,” nobody really knows what the “Giants way” could possibly be (besides settling on Rich Aurilia when times get rough and ideas get scarce), let alone what Neukom’s style is going to be. Will he make a big splash and throw the payroll above and beyond the nine-figures range, or is he going to focus on the farm system and run the team like a business?

I’m not sure, but from his press conference it certainly sounded like his predilection would be towards the latter. And in an economic climate where company luxury suites are going to start becoming a thing of the past, it’s going to be tough to convince an entire ownership group to raise the payroll much above the $76 million they paid for players last season. Attendance looks to be down in every professional sport next year that charges dollars for tickets, especially since several corporations are going to have to give up those company seats and suites. So unless Neukom is rolling to the Giants party with some of his own money, I don’t see the Giants throwing $100 million at Manny.

But for the purpose of this discussion, let’s say Neukom gets carte blanche to raise the payroll by about $25 million to boost season ticket sales. Would spending this money on Manny be a smart move for the Giants?

For one or two years … maybe. Manny’s going to be happy to have his big new contract, especially because Scott Boras might stop calling him every 13 minutes. Ramirez would make the Giants feeble lineup look downright imposing overnight, and San Francisco would immediately be the favorites to win the NL West, right?


Say the Giants decide to do big business with Boras again, to the tune of, hmmm … $120 million over five years. Here’s the shiny new lineup:

1. Randy Winn (all apologies to Nate Schierholtz and Fred Lewis, but Manny means Randy)
2. Kevin Frandsen
3. Pablo Sandoval
4. Man-Ram
5. Bengie Molina
6. Aaron Rowand
7. Rich Aurilia (that’s right)
8. Manny Burress (Man-Burr)

Does that lineup scream pennant contender to you? Whenever right-handers are starting against them (which only happens like, 65% of the time), the Giants will only have two lefties in the lineup (Winn/Schierholtz/Lewis and Sandoval). They’d also be going into next year without a viable fifth starter or half a bullpen, and signing Manny would mean all but maybe one or two of those pitchers would be supplied by Fresno (Mr. Correia, Mr. Walker, will you be keeping your same uniform numbers?).
If there’s really a “Giants way” that the team is going to start living, playing, signing and trading by, is it possible that it would mean signing another genius hitter who acts like a child?

Remember, this is a team that was visibly happier not to have Bonds around this year. Sure, the team can sign Manny, re-live the Bonds years and make Gary Radnich and Ralph Barbieri happy to have a Giants star to talk about who doesn’t look like a roadie on the Angels and Airwaves tour. That doesn’t mean signing him will make this team an 85-win ballclub. As much as it hurts to say, the Dodgers were a much more potent, talented team than the Giants without Manny, and it took Manny to get them to the NLCS. If the Giants sign Manny, they’ll still lose the long-term battle to the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, teams that have much more young talent at virtually every position.

I’m ready for a Giants way that leads to pennant contention for four to five year increments, not just one season that might turn out well unless Manny realizes that San Francisco will never be as warm as Oakland and starts taking weeks off at a time due to hamstring strains and migraines. The question isn’t whether or not the Giants can figure out a way to sign Man-Ram, because we all know he’ll go to the highest bidder. The question is why the Giants would want to put themselves and all of us through a new Bonds era, only this time with a Bonds who doesn’t have Willie “The Godfather” Mays looking over his shoulder.

For these reasons I urge Bill Neukom to vote no on Manny Ramirez.

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