Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The State of Manny

Speaking of Manny, it's been a bizarre ten days in Manny-World, punctuated by today's quote:
The Red Sox don't deserve a player like me. During my years here, I've seen how they [the Red Sox] have mistreated other great players when they didn't want them to try to turn the fans against them. The Red Sox did the same with guys like Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez, and now they do the same with me. Their goal is to paint me as the bad guy. I love Boston fans, but the Red Sox don't deserve me. I'm not talking about money. Mental peace has no price, and I don't have peace here.
In fact, fan sentiment has turned against Manny, at least as judged by the callers on nitwit, er, sports radio.

But why has Manny gone off the deep end all of a sudden? After a relatively quiet first half of the season, where the only news Manny made was that he was actually talking to the media, why are we getting another edition of Manny-World with, seemingly every news cycle?

As every one knows, the Sox own two successive options over Manny for 2009 and 2010, each for $20M each. (The Manny contract, by the way, although negotiated by Sox anti-Theo Dan Duquette, has looked better and better over time.) As also has been made clear to everyone, Manny turns 37 next May; while a 36-year old player might get a 4 year deal, it's unlikely that a 38-year old (going on 39) would get one in the winter of 2010-11.

So let's say that Manny is looking for one more contract. With each year that goes by, it becomes less and less likely that some GM will invest $90-100M to a 37 or 38-year old.

After all of that, what if I told you that Manny switched agents (to Scott Boras) last winter?

And what if I told you that if the Red Sox exercise one or both of the existing options on Manny, Boras gets paid nothing for the next two years and his previous agent collects 5% (or a cool $1M per option) for each year?

And what if I told you that as a 10/5 player, Manny can veto any trade unless the new team meets his agent's, rather, Manny's conditions? And what if those conditions included getting a four-year extension, the commission on which would be payable to Boras rather than the previous agent?

Do you think a new contract is something Mr. Boras -- or rather, Manny -- would be interested in?

Of course, there is more than a little irony in the fact that agent Boras may be trying to orchestrate the revocation of a team option; it was little more than a season ago when JD Drew opted out of his (player) option with the Dodgers to take a big payday with the Sox.

JD's agent? The same Mr. Boras.

September Scheduling

The trading deadline looms tomorrow, and teams are making a decision between trying to make a move to get them deep into the playoffs, and thinking about 'next year.'

With the Yankees having addressed two major and one minor problem (catcher, left-field, and situational lefty) with moves in the past few moves, it's clear that the Bronx Bombers have stepped up their efforts to close in on the AL East-leading Rays, and the (slumping, but still) Wild Card-leading Red Sox.

But the Yanks had best be in good playoff position when September 1st rolls around (when, by the way, Chien-Ming Wang is scheduled to return from the DL). In the month of September, the Yankees have just 10 homes games, against 16 road games; the homes series in the Bronx are against the East-leading Rays (3 games), the Central-leading White Sox (4 games), and the Orioles (last place in the East, although owning a respectable 51-56 record).

The Rays have a similar September, with just 10 homes games (against the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Twins (currently 0.5 game out of first place in the Central, and 1.5 games out of the Wild Card spot); Tampa also has 17 away games, including a double-header the last week of the season against Baltimore.

And what about the other AL East contender? The Red Sox have the reverse schedule: 16 home and 10 away. The home series for the Sox include Baltimore (3 games); Tampa (3); Toronto (3); and a final week that includes 4 with Cleveland and a final 3 with the Yankees.

So how come the Yankees finish the season on the road, even though it's the last year at Yankee Stadium? You'll have to ask the schedule-makers at MLB; the last scheduled home game at the "House that Ruth Built" will be on September 21st.

And with the Yankee's September schedule, there's no guarantee that there will be baseball in the Bronx in October.