Hey, with two World Series wins in four years, including the '04 curse-busting edition, it was a productive 7 1/2 years in Boston. And the batting numbers were consistently superb. But this year, Manny, you jumped the shark. Pushing down an older Sox traveling secretary because he couldn't come up with enough tickets for you and fuming about a contract that pays you $20 million this year (as it has for the last seven, and could have for another two with good behavior) finally pushed Theo Epstein where he didn't want to go.
Maybe it's Scott Boras behind the scenes creating enough turmoil to get his new client a new contract, the only way he can make any money off of said new client. In any event, it became apparent that Manny's time in Boston would end either at the trade deadline, as it did, or at the end of the season when they'd let him go to free agency.
And the strange thing is, from my view at least, all he had to do was to be a little more of a good citizen, be more appreciative of the $160 million the Sox paid him over the years, and give 90% 90% of the time to be one of the more revered legendary Red Sox players. With four more years of production (he's 36) he could have stats that only one other player in major league history has. He already helped bring Boston two championships. He puts up .300 - 30 - 120 - .900 (or better) virtually every year. He's a classic four-hole hitter who makes opposing teams plan around him.
So he'll move to LA and put in a productive two months, and Boston will adjust to having Jason Bay in left field. As Gerry Callahan notes, Bay does a lot of good things Manny doesn't do.
Maybe Jason Bay will not be quite the cleanup hitter that Ramirez was (then again, maybe he will be), but we know this much before he even takes the field for the Red Sox: He is a better fielder, a better baserunner, a better teammate, a better person.
But as Steve Phillips noted on ESPN last evening in discussing the trade, the Red Sox on the field are likely a slightly worse team today than yesterday. Based on their performance since the All-Star break they might not be going anywhere this year anyway.
8/2/08 0840: So they win game one without Manny, and the new guy leads the way. Go figure.
[Jason] Bay set the winning rally in motion with a towering fly ball to left-center against A's lefty Alan Embree that took one of those friendly Fenway caroms, turning what would normally be a double into a triple. It was Bay's first hit as a member of the Red Sox, but the fourth time on the night he reached base. He added a terrific sliding catch against Ryan Sweeney to end the top of the fifth.
Could Bay's first Fenway night have turned out any better?
"If that ball could have snuck out for me," quipped Bay. "I don't think so. I would have liked to do it in nine innings. It's been a long day. But it definitely ranks up there with one of the best moments I've had."
Some interesting comments from Manny's teammates. I'll second Mike Lowell's take.
"To me, Manny is not a bad guy," said Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell. "He's a different guy. But he's definitely not a bad guy. I think there was definitely a different sense that was going on in the clubhouse over the last week..."
"To me, he's the greatest hitter I've ever seen, being able to play with him," said Lowell. "I know there's other great hitters in the league, I just haven't been able to be their teammates. His swing is unbelievable. He really worked hard at trying to perfect it, which seems almost ridiculous, when you have such a perfect swing and you're trying to make it better..."
"He had a remarkable run here," said [Sox GM Theo] Epstein. "His whole career has been remarkable. He's one of the best right-handed hitters in history and his numbers speak for themselves. He was a key part of two World Series teams. No one can ever take that away from him. We're not going to..."
1B Kevin Youkilis: "We're happy that Jason Bay is here, because he's a great guy. I've talked to a couple of teammates in Pittsburgh, and they say he's a really good teammate and a really good guy. If you're going to replace Manny Ramirez, you're not going to replace his stats. If you're going to replace him, you're hoping to get a good teammate, and that's what we got."
[DH David] Ortiz wasn't overly retrospective when asked what he will remember most about Ramirez. "Everybody knows," Ortiz said. "Ain't no cleanup hitter like that, you know what I'm saying?"
I certainly do, David.