Friday, October 24, 2008

Manny = A-Rod?

There's a report in the New York Post indicating that the Los Angeles Dodgers are offered Manny Ramirez a 2 year contract worth $60 million. This is extremely interesting, because not only is Manny not worth what Alex Rodriguez is, but because of the effects it may have. Ned Colletti, in his short time has been a fan of overpaying for in exchange for less years on a contract, and that is a notion I actually agree with. If we look at just a few examples, Rafael Furcal received $52 million over 3 years, and Jason Schmidt received $47 million over 3 years. These examples couldn't have turned out more differently for Colletti, and unfortunately for him Andruw Jones is heading for Jason Schmidt territory. But at least they only have him for 1 more year...They're stuck overpaying Juan Pierre for the next 3.

The reason I like this strategy, is that as a big payroll team, the Dodgers have the financial depth to make mistakes like these, and as long as they don't tie up money for years to come, I'm fine with taking gambles with a resource that they have plenty of. I wish more clubs followed the lead of the Boston Red Sox, who make smart investments- especially in the draft, and go after the free agents they want. Sometimes they don't work out, i.e. Julio Lugo. But the advantage of being a big market team is that you can afford to make those mistakes. Lugo and Pierre can occupy bench spots while making $9 million a year, and that's ok because Boston and L.A. have the resources to handle that.

What cannot be allowed to happen is clubs talking themselves into playing a Pierre or a Lugo because of their contract. If they're not the best option, you don't play them. You're not going to get your money's worth either way, so you might as well give your team the best chance to win the games and if that involves paying someone $9 million to be a pinch runner/defensive replacement then so be it.

Now, "what does all of this have to do with Manny Ramirez?" you're asking. Well, $30 million annually is just entirely too much to pay Ramirez. He's not worth it even if he tried the whole season, which he won't going to do anyway. But, this is the kind of move that a large market team can make. Overpay financially...not in years, and it's much easier to swallow when the deal goes bad. As long as you know he's not worth $30 million in terms of production, and are cognizant that you are overpaying from the get-go, I am fine with that. It may seem insane, but it's better than tying up future money in a 41 year old Ramirez who will be even further away from being worth whatever he's going to be paid in 2012. Plus, if the deal goes south, he's only on the books for 2 seasons and the only thing you've lost is money. If your primary goal is winning, you'd much rather lose money than years, because ultimately the lost years will cost you more in the long run. Manny is much more likely to be worth closer to a $30 million hitter the next 2 years than he is a $22-25 million hitter in 4 years.

Paying someone too much is one thing, but I think we can all agree that Manny is going to get paid too much no matter where he goes. If I'm a fan of a team, I'd much rather make a 2 year mistake than a 4 year mistake. Word is that this offer is to appease the fans and say that they made an effort to re-sign Manny when everyone knows Boras wants at least 4 years. That may indeed be the case but while Manny isn't worth $25 million a year, much less $30 million, this is the type of risk that large market teams like L.A. should be taking.

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