Well, it finally happened. The Boston front office and the media sharks succeeded in making it an absolute necessity to deal away the best hitter in baseball.
It was obvious the last few days that the suit didn't fit anymore. Manny would be gone after the season if not before. I kept holding on to a shred of hope that this, like all those other MBM moments, would just go away, that he would get back to being the most feared hitter in the game, and that by the end of the season he would be talking about finishing his career in the Red Sox uniform. But as Wednesday wore on the talk got worse, and then Manny himself started to show signs that he was ready to move on. Even then I held on to the fact that he had acted like he wanted out before, but had always come around to a "I like it here and want to stay" stance after the spat.
But this time the vitriol was just too sour. And as much as I would have loved for Manny to Be Manny in Boston for the remainder of his career, I'm also glad that this whole affair is behind us now. I still blame the FO and the media MUCH more than I blame Manny, (although he certainly made his contribution to the fuel supply on the fire), and I think the idea that it was "necessary" to move him was created and sold to the public by those entities.
Did he sit out a couple of games recently complaining of a sore knee? Yes, but Manny actually had played in more games than any other player this year. Go back through the game logs. Practically every person on the team, and every other team too, has sat out here and there just because they were sore and needed to recupe a bit.
Did he occasionally not hustle out a ground ball? Sure, but watch the games. The same can be said for almost every other player in the game. And yes, it drives me mad when they do that, especially as I try to teach my younger Little League players how important it is to ALWAYS beat it down the line. But as I said, they ALL do it. At least all of the veterans.
Did he occasionally make a gaff in the field? Sure he did, but there are quite a few outfielders in the game , not to mention some first basemen and even third basemen, who are not there because of their defense. And Manny would sometimes make a spectacular play. It was obvious he was not the most accomplished defensive player when he arrived in Boston. But to his credit, he took his position there very seriously and worked very hard at making himself better there. He took countless reps in the outfield, often long before his teammates had even showed up at the stadium. He learned something every time a ball came off of that wall, and in the last few years it has paid off in an almost uncanny ability to be at the right spot when it happens. It will take Mr. Bay a while to replicate that experience.
Did he occasionally come out with some completely knee-jerk comment or action? Sure, but this is what I'll miss more than anything. Jason Bay will probably come close enough to Manny's numbers to keep us in contention for a repeat title. Who knows? He may even end up with better numbers by the end of the season. And if not this season, maybe next year he'll just break things wide open. I certainly hope so. But I doubt he'll ever be the character that Manny is. And I just LOVE a good character. Give me Bill Veek and his midget, Wade Boggs and his chicken, Ozzie Smith and his gymnastics. I love a colorful character, and that's what we've lost. The most colorful character in the game today, AND one who could produce like no one else as well. That's a rare combination. Not to mention he was the MVP of the team's first victorious World Series appearance in 86 years for God's sake.
Having said all that, the trade itself was not as bad a deal as it could have been. I wouldn't rank it as a fire sale or anything. Bay's an accomplished major league hitter with quite a few good years in front of him, probably more than Manny. I think this was better than just letting Manny go after the year, although being in the thick of a pennant chase kind of trumps that normally. But this wasn't normal, was it? Losing Hansen was certainly no big deal, given the way he's been pitching lately. I do kind of regret not having Moss around to use as trade fodder for some bullpen help, but we certainly don't need another outfielder at the moment.
In all of this, I also hope that Jason Bay makes out all right. I can't help but think that he'll end up being compared to Manny in every move and every stat possible. Manny's stats will be hard to replace. I hope that those who felt like I did, and wanted to keep Manny, will not be too hard on Bay if he doesn't match those lofty numbers.
Best of luck to Manny in LA. I've never disliked the Dodgers, which is something I can't say about many teams. I always liked Lasorda, and Gibson's gimpy homer in, what, '88 wasn't it, is still one of my all time favorite moments. A "colorful" moment I guess. I'll probably follow them a little closer now that Manny is there. May he tear up the NL, and only suffer letdowns if and when he plays against the Red Sox. And may the fans at Fenway always cheer him when he comes back there. As a matter of fact, if it was a meaningless game, it wouldn't bother me a bit to see him single-handedly rip us apart one game. Kind of a F-You to the management.
If Jason Bay ends up a flop, we will certainly hear someone say "well it's better than having that misfit out there".
I kinda like misfits. Let the conformists pull for the Yankees
Adios Manny, buena suerte