Earlier this summer, for a research project, I had occasion to review the career of former Dodger slugger Pedro Guerrero, a favorite player of my youth. Guerrero spent the first few years of his major league career-or 1978-1980, for those too young to remember-waiting for Steve Garvey and company to grow old. In the interim, he was forced to learn other positions, playing every spot except for catcher and shortstop, finally cracking the Dodgers’ lineup as a right fielder for a couple of years. When Ron Cey was traded to the Cubs following the 1982 season, Guerrero began a nasty, short, and brutish war of attrition with third base. His range at the hot corner was above-average, and his arm was strong, but his footwork was lousy. The media tended to focus on his errors (46 in 1983-1984) rather than the plays he made, but Guerrero paid his critics no mind. “I can f—ing hit” was his blunt refrain, and brother, could he ever. Guerrero finished in the top three in Equivalent Average three times over the 1982-1985 span, often carrying a meager Dodger offense on his back for weeks at a time.

I’m reminded of Guerrero because I swear I’m seeing the reincarnation of that one-man Dodger blue wrecking crew in the form of Manny Ramirez right now, night after night after night. Ladies and gentlemen, in case you haven’t been paying attention, know this: Manny Ramirez can f—ing hit. Since coming to the Dodgers in a three-way deal consummated just moments before the July 31 trading deadline, he’s batting .396/.498/.776 with 14 home runs in 166 plate appearances, while helping his new club climb from two games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West to 3½ ahead of them. On the heels of his controversial exit from Boston, he showed up in Tinseltown, chose jersey number 99, promised to cut his dreadlocks in due course (but barely obliged), ignited a merchandising craze, and charmed his fans, teammates, and even his stony-faced manager with his between-innings misadventures. Amid all of the distractions, he’s simply beaten the tar out of the ball, and the Dodger offense has begun to click. On Wednesday night, he crushed a pair of opposite-field home runs in Petco Park, one of the majors’ least homer-friendly venues.

Ramirez is taking advantage of an easier league and a softer schedule than he faced in Boston, not to mention a slate of pitchers that appear to have little idea of how to pitch to him. If they bother at all, that is; Ramirez has drawn 14 intentional walks as a Dodger, a total that already ranks fifth in the league, and may well rank second by season’s end (nobody’s going to catch Albert Pujols at 32 and counting). As well as he’s hit, Ramirez’s presence in the lineup hasn’t had as drastic an effect on scoring as you might expect due to the Dodgers’ notorious streakiness, as can be seen in a recent 10-game span in which they scraped together just 21 runs. Ramirez hit .297/.381/.405 during that stretch, and didn’t drive in a run until the final game, but he wasn’t the only one at fault; his teammates hit an even more feeble .239/.293/.350 while going about 1-for-75 with runners in scoring position. As such, the overall uptick in scoring since Ramirez joined the lineup isn’t huge, though his impact on the offense’s underlying performance is more clear:

Period      R/G   AVG/ OBP/ SLG    W-L
3/30-7/31  4.17  .256/.321/.376   54-54
8/1-9/10   4.37  .277/.346/.450   21-17

Since his arrival in LA, much has been made about Ramirez’s effect on the hitters in front of him as well. The notion of lineup protection-the mere threat of a fearsome on-deck hitter elevating the performance of the hitter ahead of him by inducing pitchers to throw more hittable pitches so as to avoid a walk-has been at least somewhat debunked over the years, but you wouldn’t know it to look at the Dodgers’ stats, as Jeff Kent and Andre Ethier have enjoyed their hottest stretches of the season batting in front of Manny. Indulge me, and let’s compare the performances of his teammates with and without him batting behind them:

In Front         PA   HR    AVG/ OBP/ SLG
David Ortiz     241   14   .252/.349/.500
J.D. Drew       161   10   .252/.391/.591
Kevin Youkilis   34    2   .379/.412/.724
Sean Casey        1    0   .000/.000/.000
Red Sox Total   437   26   .262/.368/.548
Jeff Kent        83    1   .380/.410/.481
Andre Ethier     55    3   .500/.582/.957
Russell Martin   23    0   .227/.261/.227
N. Garciaparra    4    0   .000/.000/.000
Pablo Ozuna       3    0   .333/.333/.333
Hong-Chih Kuo     1    0   .000/.000/.000
Dodgers Total   169    4   .381/.432/.568
Total Total     606   30   .297/.386/.554
Top 4           540   28   .299/.394/.568

Not in Front     PA   HR    AVG/ OBP/ SLG
David Ortiz     192    4   .282/.414/.455
J.D. Drew       290    9   .295/.417/.485
Kevin Youkilis  526   23   .309/.386/.550
Sean Casey      187    0   .347/.406/.424
Red Sox Total  1195   36   .308/.401/.500
Jeff Kent       383   10   .252/.305/.394
Andre Ethier    480   17   .277/.340/.476
Russell Martin  568   12   .280/.382/.401
N. Garciaparra  154    6   .241/.292/.404
Pablo Ozuna      84    0   .253/.280/.316
Hong-Chih Kuo    13    0   .273/.273/.364
Dodgers Total  1682   45   .268/.338/.416
Total Total    2877   81   .284/.364/.450
Top 4          1345   40   .274/.357/.450

Now, I’m not going to stand on the observation deck of the gold-plated Baseball Prospectus World Headquarters skyscraper and proclaim this to be the most statistically valid sample set of all time. But it is interesting, particularly if we narrow the focus from the performances of all the players who have batted in front of Ramirez with and without his presence (where we have almost five times as many PA in the “without” heap, the majority of which were accumulated by players with less than 40 PA in front of him this year) to the four most frequent hitters (Ortiz, Drew, Kent and Ethier, who have about 2½ times as many PA in the “without” heap). With the Red Sox alone, the effect is mostly a wash; with Ramirez in the lineup, the hitters in front of him have a lower OBP that’s largely canceled out by a higher SLG. With the Dodgers, the difference is dramatic, though dismissable as a small-sample fluke (what, you’re expecting Ethier to bat .500?). Still, the latter is a torrid enough performance that the overall difference among the top four hitters still comes out to more than 150 points of OPS. Apply as much salt as you want before digesting that; it’s still part of the weird arc of Ramirez’s season and the two teams who have employed him.

I’ve been saying this since I covered the Red Sox for Baseball Prospectus 2007, but feeling it for the better part of his tenure in Boston: Ramirez deserves to be considered among the game’s all-time greatest hitters. Among players with at least 5,000 career plate appearances, he ranks 15th in Equivalent Average (adjusted for all-time version), and if you raise the bar to 8,000 PA, he’s 12th:

Batter             EqA    PA
Babe Ruth*        .363  10617
Ted Williams*     .359   9789
Barry Bonds*      .355  12606
Albert Pujols     .345   5311
Mickey Mantle#    .342   9909
Lou Gehrig*       .341   9660
Rogers Hornsby    .337   9475
Frank Thomas      .336  10074
Mark McGwire      .334   7660
Stan Musial*      .332  12712
Willie Mays       .330  12493
Ty Cobb*          .330  13072
Dick Allen        .328   7314
Hank Aaron        .328  13940
Manny Ramirez     .328   8938
Mel Ott*          .328  11337
Joe Jackson*      .327   5690
Johnny Mize*      .327   7371
Joe DiMaggio      .326   7671
Dan Brouthers*    .326   7676
Edgar Martinez    .326   8672
*: left-handed; #: switch-hitter

How about this: among right-handed hitters with at least 8,000 PA, Manny Ramirez ranks fifth all-time in EqA, behind just Hornsby, Thomas, Mays, and Aaron. Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that some of those guys could hit.

It will be fascinating to see what lies ahead for Ramirez. His trade out of Boston quashed the pair of $20 million club options that his employers held on his services for 2009-2010, but before that, his in-season agitation for the Red Sox to decide whether to exercise the first of those options generated a firestorm of controversy which included accusations from teammates, club officials, and some of the most powerful baseball writers in the business that he faked injuries and ultimately quit on his team. Reading the coverage back in late July, one would have thought we were amid a cross between the Boston Strangler, Godzilla, Derek Bell, and the second coming of Hal Chase. There are rumors he’ll be seeking a four-year, $100 million deal this winter, outrageous, Boras-fueled numbers for a player in his age-37 to age-40 seasons, and one who may already be unfit for any position this side of designated hitter.

Both before and after the trade, I viewed the anti-Ramirez coverage with a jaundiced eye, though I say this while disclosing that I do have partisan interests on both ends of this deal: I live in New York and root for the Yankees and against the Red Sox, having done so for the past 13 years; and I’m also a lifelong Dodger fan, remaining so even beyond the influences of my current geographical locale. Even with that in mind, one can’t ignore the combination of the following without inducing a fair amount of skepticism that we were getting the real story regarding Ramirez’s departure:

  • A long history of particularly gruesome endings that numerous superstars’ Boston tenures have come to (Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, Luis Tiant).
  • The cozy relationship between certain high-profile Boston-linked writers and Red Sox brass.
  • The consistent manner in which the current John Henry/Larry Lucchino/Theo Epstein regime has aired its laundry by attempting to negotiate its most controversial proceedings through the media (the Alex Rodriguez non-trade, the Curt Schilling trade, the departures of several members of the 2004 champions)

Given all of that and the need to fill a 24-hour news cycle, how much of the Manny-quit-on-the-team meme can one endure before such “news” starts to fail the smell test? At the end of the day, all we really know is that the Red Sox had been making more or less annual attempts to trade Ramirez by placing him on waivers following the baseball season since at least 2003, when he was less than halfway into the eight-year, $160 million deal that he’d signed back in December 2000, but that they were unable to complete a deal until July 31, 2008. Perhaps that’s because Manny was universally viewed as a head case and a pernicious influence on clubhouse chemistry. Or perhaps that’s because the Red Sox were unwilling to kick in more than a fraction ($7 million) of a single season’s salary before they were willing to punt a hitter whose production over the past seven and a half years was surpassed only by Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols.

No matter which team he’s playing for, Ramirez is a unique and occasionally frustrating ballplayer, with a back story stocked with urban legends, provocative and often counterproductive statements and actions, visible lapses (particularly afield) and absences… and one of the most potent bats you’ll ever see. As a fan of a rival team, I used to loathe his presence while selectively buying into much of the negative hype surrounding him, but Ben McGrath’s excellent New Yorker piece heightened my appreciation for his talents and his idiosyncrasies. Beyond the microscope of the Boston media, Ramirez is renowned for his work ethic as well as his quirks, and the coverage of his brief tenure in LA has been as glowingly positive as that of his final days in Boston was negative; he’s been hailed by Joe Torre and his new teammates in a manner that suggests imminent knighthood if not sainthood. Slugging .776 will do that, even if-to borrow a phrase from Ball Four-you have hair halfway down to your ass.

To put it another way: if Ramirez is such a negative presence on a club, how come Matt Kemp had to double over to avoid visibly busting a gut in front of the cameras after Manny made a running basket catch of a fly ball late in Wednesday night’s contest? I don’t know the answer to that beyond a weak invocation of the old saw about how winning creates good chemistry, nor do I know what to think about the craziness that his future almost certainly holds. I just know that Ramirez is as hot as any hitter in baseball right now, and he constitutes as entertaining a show as the game has to offer. I’ll be watching.

Thank you for reading

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As a Sox fan, and having seen the Sox FO take a pretty interesting approach with Manny, with no less than two legitimate attempts to deal him from the roster, I figured this was the time it finally HAD to happen.

That said, he was and is a terrific ballplayer, and I wish him the very best. Whose hat do you think he will end up wearing on his HOF plaque?
As a Red Sox fan I have to say I am not going to enjoy the fact that a man making $20 Million a year quit on me as a fan, on his teammates, and the people that paid him the money. Yes Manny being Manny at times was just fun and I wish him no ill will... but I will not endorse or enjoy someone who clearly quit on everyone as he did. I\'ll take 1 Jason Bay, who leaves it on the field, and enjoy watching him put a complete effort in day in and day out.
robyhood - where\'s the evidence that he quit? Look at his numbers in Boston this year. They were very good and didn\'t decline at the end either.
This season, game in NY against the Yanks. Manny doesn\'t start because of apparent illness. Called on to pinch hit against Rivera in the ninth. How many pitches does Rivera throw? Oh, that\'s right, ONE! A CUTTER! That\'s it! Manny takes three straight pitches right down the middle and is called out on strikes. Maybe Manny was looking for a change up or a curve from a guy who hasn\'t thrown either pitch for 15 years. Or Maybe Manny was tanking. You be the judge!
because nobody has ever looked like a fool facing Rivera...
The odd thing about that at bat (and I more or less woke up my wife when it happened to talk about) was he never even tensed up to swing. He would do that sometimes on the first pitch and always on 3-0. He had decided not to swing before the pitch is even thrown.

But in that at bat he did it on strike 1, strike 2 and strike 3. It was not that he struck out. He clearly had no intention of ever swinging. Rivera after strike 2 kind of did a double take at him. I think he was deciding whether Manny was trying to set him up or whether he was just taking the at bat off. I think Rivera realized it was the latter and through strike 3 right down the middle. It wasn\'t even a particularly nasty pitch. I think Rivera surmised he wouldn\'t swing.

Earlier in the game, Morgan had mentioned that Manny had said \"he would start hitting on Monday\". I assumed that Manny was so convinced that he could not hit until the next day that he psyched himself out. And maybe that is the case. But that was the strangest at bat I have ever seen in a professional game. By a wide margin.
just look at the video clips @ and say it again.
Last weekend against the D-Backs, Webb walked Martin and Ethier back to back on 8 pitches to load the bases and bring up Manny. What did he do? Swung and missed badly at three straight balls way out of the zone to K. I guess that means he quit on the Dodgers too, despite homering later in the game and his other exploits? Or does he have the occasional bad at bat? My guess is the latter.
Jay -
Love your work. Hate your teams! With all the good will I can muster, I only hope this season results in no playoffs for either LA or the NYY.

Rob Moore -
Not really going to be able to look at the numbers with any kind of authority for \"manny quitting at the end\"; small sample sizes and such. Relying on the anecdotes -- and I will agree that they were overblown by the media -- he appeared to stop trying even as much as he had before.
Why are Manny quitting or threatening to do so on the Red Sox and being a charming rascal on the Dodgers mutually exclusive? A lot of people have a certain shelf life in any situation and then become intolerable.
I\'ll preface this response by saying that I am both a Red Sox fan and a Manny fan. Whatever you think about his relative merits as a ballplayer, the game is better with personalities like his in it.

I do think, though, Jay is playing a little fast and loose with the truth in certain sections of the article. It\'s not that the Red Sox were desperate to get rid of Manny every year of his contract; it\'s that Manny would complain about how unhappy he was in Boston every year and ask the team to trade him. That the Red Sox did their best to take him up on that wish isn\'t a reason to criticize the team. I think the franchise was pretty consistent in their dealings with Manny -- we\'ll put up with all the stupid crap you do, and we\'ll try and trade you if you want, but the only way we\'ll let you go is if we get what we perceive as fair value for one of the best hitters in baseball.

It\'s also interesting to hear someone complain about the Red Sox mistreating Manny by putting him on waivers. Manny wanted out of town, and they gave him every opportunity to get out. It\'s also surprising that you\'re criticizing the Red Sox for not being willing to cover more than $7 million of salary in the same article as you make the case he\'s one of the top 5 right handed hitters of all time. One would think an all-time top 15 hitter probably was worth the $20 mil.

It\'s not like all of the issues with Manny are completely unfounded, either. Yearly, and with greater duration when the team isn\'t contending, Manny takes a vacation with general leg soreness or hamstring pain that no doctors can find an explanation for. While the sample size of his performance with the Dodgers isn\'t big enough to draw too many conclusions from, it\'s entirely possible that he just decided to start trying harder. It\'s hard for me to imagine that the same teammates who were willing to completely ignore his assault of a club official would turn on him and start making up character attacks just because he got traded.
It should be mandated that he no longer be called Manny. His name is Money. For two reasons:

If you love him, it\'s because he\'s money when he\'s at the plate.

If you hate him, as I do now (yes, a Red Sox fan, you guessed it), it\'s because he\'s alllllll about the money.

I haven\'t really been following Manny since the trade, but how many games has he missed since landing in LA? I didn\'t have any problem with Manny when he was willing to take the field, but he seemed to be increasingly unwilling/sore this season.

He did play more games in August than he did in any other month this season. And his output has shown a significant uptick since moving from the bandbox to the ravine. If he continues his pace, he could have more HR and RBI for the Dodgers this season than the Sox. He has stolen 2 bases for the Dodgers?! He stole 7 during his Sox career. Guess the hammy, knee, groin, etc. are feeling better.

There is a reason I haven\'t been following him. Now I\'m all irritated again. Thanks.
Interesting how just reading the name \"Pedro Guerrero\" I hear Vin Scully\'s voice in my head...
He appeared to quit on the Red Sox. What\'s to prevent him from doing the same in L.A.? With that said, Colletti would probably throw 100 Mill at him. Just ask Schmidt, Jones, and Pierre.
I watched every inning of every game that Manny did and did not play in this year, and it was obvious that Manny quit. Manny quit on the owners, on the fans and on his teammates because it was the only way he could get another $100 million contract. I did not find that amusing and I do not wish him well in his greed-fueled future.
I\'ve got to agree with Ben Solow on this one. The Sox tried to accommodate Manny\'s trade requests every winter... including the winter after the historic Series win.

And, for me, Manny stopped being Manny in the press when he assaulted an old man and team employee for not getting him enough tickets. Being a goof and a flake and a slacker? I\'m okay with that. It\'s part of the package with this particular star. Assault? I\'m less amused.

And as for the \"blind eye\"? Only Ortiz voted to keep Manny. Schilling and Manny had a pretty big falling out in 2004. There\'s a blind eye and there\'s keeping things in the clubhouse. I think it was the latter.
I enjoyed watching Guerrero and I enjoy watching Ramirez. (Am I supposed to refer to him as Manny?) This is a perfect example of someone who should only be offered an incentive-laden contract in the future. Large dollars for high incentives. If he doesn\'t like it, don\'t consider signing him. As great a hitter as he is, there needs to be trust on both sides that he won\'t willingly take time off or play at less than 100% effort.
I saw the at-bat against Rivera that has been referred to, and I couldn\'t believe what I was seeing. That alone made me think the (biased Boston-based and respected) writers were probably right.
He\'s similar to a Terrell Owens in football. All the talent in the world. Some may idolize him. A lot would like to see him fail.
I am a Red Sox fan and have enjoyed watching Manny play. I am the first to admit that the Boston media is brutal and completely capable of driving someone out of town by trying to turn the fan base against him. I stopped reading Dan Shaughnessy when he began his \"Dominican Diva\" campaign against Pedro, a guy who was still in the process of leaving it all on the field -- his arm -- to help his team win. So Pedro wanted to take a trip to the DR during the season? Who cares?
On the other hand, this Sox front office has so far been \"right\" on not offering huge contracts to aging stars. Harsh but true. And I don\'t know that you can compare this front office\'s handling of the Manny-Pedro-Nomar situations to the way other Sox front offices handled Fisk-Rice-Tiant-Clemens. I\'m pretty sure all the faces have changed.
Furthermore, comparing the Manny situation to the Pedro situation is ridiculous. Every Sox fan knew that at least once a year we were going to go through a phantom Manny injury during a big series and/or a Manny trade-me request. I didn\'t care about the fielding gaffes or the occasional oddball story about Manny being late to spring training because he was scheduled to attend a car show. That just made him colorful. But it seemed pretty obvious that Manny quit on his team on various occasions, and this year was one of them. I assume his teammates were wondering if Manny was going to show up to play, just like Red Sox fans were. I thought the silence from Manny\'s teammates during this year\'s high jinks was telling.
It bothered me that Manny went to an off-season conditioning program in Arizona just in time for his option year. It bothered me that Manny started his annual whining during a key stretch. It bothered me that the conditions existed -- Manny\'s seemingly indifferent attitude being the most notable -- that we could even suspect that Manny deliberately took three strikes from Rivera.
Now Manny is on a tear for the Dodgers. He\'s a first ballot Hall of Famer. And when he arrived in LA and promptly announced that he wanted to stay there forever, all I could think was, \"There\'s a sucker born every minute.\" I have yet to watch him play; maybe I am suffering from Manny overload.
Someone may give him a 4-year deal. That owner had better hope Manny doesn\'t get bored or the season doesn\'t take a turn for the worse, because Manny seems to pack it in at times.
Finally, it\'s interesting to start the article with an indirect comparison to Guerrero, who \"was acquitted of drug conspiracy charges Tuesday, after his attorney argued that his low IQ prevented him from understanding that he had agreed to a drug deal.\" (, 7 Jun 2000) I hope Manny has invested his millions more wisely!
Mention of Pedro Guerrero brings me back to my mispent youth.... he was my favorite player for years. Yes, he could hit, but he could also play a very decent corner OF, he was fast (in his youth) and athletic and had a strong RF arm. The Dodgers kept moving him around so much that he got the reputation as a poor fielder, when in fact he was good enough to be passable at several positions. 3B, well, not so much.

But as you point out, he as an amazing hitter, and should have had a longer career.

He also had a couple of the best quotes ever, and I can still remember Vin Scully explaining: \"I asked him what he was thinking out there in the field at 3B (in the 9th inning of a critical game with 2 out and (I think) the bases loaded)?\"

Pedro: \"He answered: \"I was thinking, God, please don\'t let him hit it to me.\"\"

Vin: \"Wow! What else were you thinking?\"

\"Pedro answered: \"Please, God, don\'t let him hit it to Saxie either.\"\"

Those of you with long memories will recall that was the year 2B Steve Sax could not for the life of him throw the ball accurately to 1B on easy plays.

Maybe you had to be there.
How many WS titles did the Red Sox in in the last 90 years without Manny? Zero. Good luck getting stomped by the Angels in October. Combine that with Brady going down and it\'s going to be an ugly fall in beantown...
From the above referenced article:

\"In 2003, James identified fifty-three instances in which Red Sox players had demonstrated a game-altering failure to hustle; twenty-nine of them involved Ramirez.\"

Being a great hitter does not negate a players obligation to his teammates, employer, and the paying customers to play the game.

Any team that signs him deserves him.


I think Manny quit on Boston. I think Boston needed to trade him. But I don\'t want to hear any nonsense from Boston fans that Bay is somehow a player that can provide similar production. Very few players can be compared to Manny, and Bay is not one of them. Boston will miss Manny\'s presence in October.

The Red Sox needed to trade Manny, and they did. Don\'t spin it any more than that.
No question Jason Bay isn\'t in the same class as Manny as a hitter. That\'s among the most obvious of all the world\'s facts. Over the short term, any hitter can outproduce any other, but very few can compare to Manny in terms of sheer plate talent. Who would make such a ridiculous argument?

The Sox could certainly benefit from a hitter like L.A. Manny come October, but they can\'t miss what they never had. The Manny who is currently tearing it up in L.A. is not the same Manny the Red Sox traded. The only Manny they had access to was a sullen quitter who had the team by the short hairs and yanked with all his might.