Friday, August 8, 2008

Investigating Manny

Dan Shaughnessy claims that Major League Baseball is investigating Manny's departure from Boston, presumably regarding whether or not he and his agent Scott Boras concocted a plan in which Ramirez would intentionally lollygag in an effort to engineer the trade. I suppose baseball has an obligation to ensure competitive integrity and everything, but this investigation, assuming it isn't a figment of Shaughnessy's imagination, isn't going anywhere.

There are two reasons why many folks think that Manny was dogging it. First, he missed a couple of games with injuries which people are suggesting were imaginary. Second, there was that rumor that Manny intentionally struck out against Mariano Rivera a couple of weeks ago, married with a more general suggestion that his play appeared to be less than inspired in the days leading up to the trade.

There's a problem, though:

Games played while in Boston: 100 of 109
Line while in Boston: .299/.398/.529
Post-All-Star Break Line While in Boston: .351/.467/.622

All of those numbers are better than what he was doing last year, and after Dustin Pedroia, Manny played in more games than any of his teammates. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," counselor Boras might say, "It's no secret that my client wanted out of Boston. But, as the evidence shows, his strategy to get traded wasn't to loaf. Rather, it was to produce at such a high level in his final days in Boston that he would be a highly attractive trade target!"

OK, lawyerly spin aside, yeah, I suspect that Manny may very well have been loafing and malingering because he sort of looked like he was before the trade. But the problem is that the hard evidence -- the kind that gets presented in response to investigations because you can't admit a suspicion as an exhibit -- rebuts the story of a lazy, unproductive Ramirez. Maybe Scott Boras and Manny sat in a room and planned out their grand plot in just such a way as to maximize his damage while minimizing the actual evidence of it, but I think that gives Ramirez a bit too much credit for concentration, don't you?

Upshot: unless there's a smoking gun email or a squealing witness to a conversation in which Boras instructed Manny to do something wrong, this investigation will end before it begins.

(hat tip to BTF's Srul Itza for the Manny statlines)


Jay said...

In the article it says... "After the trade, the Globe reported that Boras called the Sox and said Manny would stay and play hard for the rest of this year if the club merely dropped the options."

Craig, could he do that openly? Everyone loves a good Boras conspiracy theory, but doesn't he have too much to lose to try and pull that off? Seems like a risky play for only one client.

I wish the league could punish Manny for bagging out against hard throwing righties and not busting it down the line, but there's just no way to prove that kind of stuff.

Craig Calcaterra said...

I missed that line, Jay. I agree, it would have been really stupid for Boras to have said something like that. If you're Theo, don't you respond "You know, Scott, if we don't trade him, Manny is contractually obligated to stay and play hard. Are you suggesting otherwise?"

Who knows what Scott Boras thinks, but even if he's trying to subtly communicate something otherwise, wouldn't you say something along the lines of "Manny will stop being a distraction," in reference to interviews or statements or something?

Eric said...

do we have any idea who was driving the bus behind starting an investigation?

was it the red sox behind closed doors feeling slighted? was it MLB?

and what, if anything, can possibly come out of this?

it seems like alot of huffing and puffing for no reason.

tadthebad said...

Great post, I thought the same thing about perceived vs. measured effort.

Ernesto said...

What bugs me about all this speculation, are the outright accusations by Buster Olney, Boston sports radio personalities and a few others I can't remember, using Manny's hot start in LA as proof that he dogged it. By this logic, any time a great hitter is not OPSing (is that a word) 1.300+ over his last 15-20 at bats, he must not be playing his best. Use his lollygag down the baseline on Lackey's no-hit bid if you want, but this shit is the worst sort of cherry picking you see in sports media.

Peter said...

Does anyone think we'd still be talking about this if it were Jose Guillen doing the supposed "tanking" to the tune of a 1.089 post-All Star break OPS?

Everyone knows this investigation is going nowhere, so with that in mind, we have to ask ourselves why it's (supposedly) happening.

The most interesting aspect of this whole affair is how quickly Boston turned on Manny, and how willing guys like Gammons, Olney (less of a surprise), and Shaughnessy (no surprise at all really) are to manipulate the story to suit the team's needs.

Jason said...

The only thing missing is Jim Caple blaming it on the Yanks.

Eric said...

peter - i have to object a little bit to your statement that boston "turned their back" on manny. the whole scenario is very convoluted so to play a big game of cause and effect and fingerpointing would be a waste of time.

but in a nutshell this was a long time coming. boston had simply grown weary of the manny saga and it was a genuine surprise when months would go by w/o some sort of drama.

after the jack mccormick incident the majority of fans had pretty much had enough. it was also the comments afterward where he ripped the red sox saying "they dont deserve me" etc..

so in defense of red sox fans (b/c i am one), i will say we didnt turn our back on him. we felt he turned his back on us and we had had enough nonsense. the focus now becomes embracing jason bay and trying to win another world series with a team that really seems united after all of it.

you have to take into strong consideration that fact that alex cora and ortiz, manny's two biggest allies in the clubhouse, agreed that it was time for him to go.

Daniel said...

I'm going to play devil's advocate here (/heads to arcade to play the video game), but isn't there more to this loafing thing than just his batting line? I totally agree that this investigation is a waste of time, but bear with me here.

There's an important distinction between "loafing" and "tanking." Manny was obviously NOT tanking since he was still hitting well after the break. But he was almost certainly loafing as is evidenced by his ridiculously slow time running to first base. Isn't that evidence? Can't you show video of him meandering down to first base? It won't be enough to get the investigation to go anywhere, but I think it would at least count more than a .351 batting line, considering it takes much less "effort" (at least for Manny) to stand in the box, hit a line drive and then jog down to first.

Eric said...

daniel is touching on the whole point of the fans beef.

add that to his abscences against joba and the king and the idea begins to spawn... will he go into hibernation like he did in '06 if he's not happy?

Peter said...

I understand where you're coming from. I guess I have two main objections to the coverage of this whole situation:

1. The same people who glorified the whole "Manny being Manny" thing are trashing him for something that fits into that same pattern of behavior. It's like someone owning a rottweiler, laughing at its playful nipping, then having it put down when it bites them.

2. The tone of the coverage by guys like Peter Gammons and Buster Olney. For Gammons' part, the talk about how Manny's alleged lack of effort should be considered worse than players taking steroids, the exaggeration of the hit the Red Sox took in swapping Manny for Bay (I would actually argue that they won), the suggestion that Terry Francona's physical health was in jeopardy, the revisionist "he was a ball and chain all along" stuff, etc. On Olney's, the gratuitous "Well he's not getting $100 million now!" blog entry. IMO, the coverage of this Manny situation is really a perfect example of journalists being too close to their subjects to be objective.

Eric said...

those are both fair points. perhaps when you say boston i think of the fans and youre speaking of the media.

gammons clearly took it personally. i thought some of his blog entries were pretty ferocious in attacking manny. i too, got a giggle out of the francona health line he dropped on BBTN.

i wont comment on olney b/c i think he stinks.

but perhaps gammons was so close to the situation that there is more there then meets the eye and has reason to be particularly peeved?