Much of the discussion surrounding Manny Ramirez and Mark Teixeira on their new teams here on the Left Coast revolves around their impending free agency and what they would command on the open market. The stakes are a bit higher for the Halos, as they dealt away a very good first baseman in Casey Kotchman for a great one in Teixeira, with no guarantee that he will stick around after the playoffs. (Let’s admit it: barring an incredible collapse that would make last year’s Mets swoon look like amateur hour, the Angels will be the AL West winners. That division needs a fifth team badly.)
By contrast, the Ramirez trade only makes the logjam in the outfield worse, as Joe Torre continues to believe that Juan Pierre is his sole option to lead off, thus putting his lousy arm in center field and relegating either Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier to the bench. (Our obvious, objective solution: Kemp wasn’t too bad as a leadoff guy a while there. Run him out there again.)
However, I’m pretty convinced that both teams will make plays to hold on to both of their new acquisitions, and will likely be successful. Scott Boras represents them both, and is looking for a deal reaching the $200 million range for Teixeira and a four-year deal for Ramirez at about the $20 million he gets now (which probably won’t happen at that length.) We are dealing with two owners — Arte Moreno and Frank McCourt — with deep pockets and few reservations about spending the cash on their teams (although, in McCourt’s case, he could get a better GM than Ned Colletti to do his spending for him.)
Moreno will cut a deal with Boras and Teixeira will stay an Angel not only because the team will have to come up with another first baseman on short notice, but also because it looks like Francisco Rodriguez is going to walk. He’s going to break Bobby Thigpen’s single-season save record of 57, but I’m not convinced that the Angels have to pay $15 million a year when they can put Scot Shields in the closer’s slot. (Remember, K-Rod’s ascendancy allowed the Angels to let Troy Percival go.) Locking up Teixeira and getting Vlad Guerrero to stay are vital to the strategy, particularly if they go as deep into October as expected.
Ramirez has told an ESPN Deportes reporter that he wants to stay in L.A. to finish out his career. Now, I usually file stuff like this under the “bullshit athletes say when they make their debut for a new team,” but I buy it — for now, until Manny changes his mind. Sadly, as a Dodger hater, McCourt has deep enough pockets to spend the money to keep Ramirez in left field — which could make the team good again, if the decline isn’t that steep in his offense, and as long as McCourt can elicit a promise out of Colletti and Torre to make Andruw Jones a very expensive pinch hitter and Pierre a defensive replacement type. Essentially, McCourt has to ink Ramirez if he gets the Dodgers to the playoffs; it would be a way to start rectifying the many errors of the Ned Colletti era.
These are owners who can and will deal with Boras — and may get the players for less than the bluster than he is talking for either one of their services.
Photo: AP/Chris Carlson