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Aging Manny may be expendable for Red Sox


Aging Manny may be expendable for Red Sox
Manny Ramirez's latest outburst irritated Red Sox owner John Henry, but barely registered among other team executives who are accustomed to Ramirez saying things that make little sense.

Ramirez appears to be feeling the heat as the Red Sox visit the Angels this weekend (MLB on FOX, Saturday, 3:55 p.m. ET). He was embarrassed by his disgraceful confrontation with traveling secretary Jack McCormick, and he seems worried that the Sox might not exercise his $20 million option for next season.

It's mostly pointless to analyze the comments of a player who demonstrates the maturity and attention span of a 12-year-old. Ramirez, in his remarks to the Boston Herald's Rob Bradford, seemed to accuse the Red Sox of double-talk. Maybe that happened on occasion in the past, when the team would try to placate him during one of his many trade requests without intending to move him. But not now.

The Sox surely did not promise Ramirez that they would pick up his option or give him an extension. They always take a wait-and-see approach with veterans under expiring contracts, whether the player is Pedro Martinez or Johnny Damon, Mike Lowell or Jason Varitek.

Here's the scary part for Manny: Martinez, Damon and Derek Lowe were replaceable. Ramirez, who turns 37 next May, would be replaceable, too. The Sox could decline his option and trade for a right-handed hitting outfielder such as Holliday or the Pirates' Jason Bay. They even could sign first baseman Mark Teixeira as a free agent and move Kevin Youkilis to left field. Either way, Ramirez would find it difficult to get $20 million per season on the open market.

Of course, the trade and Teixeira scenarios would not necessarily appeal to the Red Sox, either. The Sox loath trading prospects for high-priced, short-term talent. If they coughed up the players for Holliday or Bay, it would be with the idea of signing the player long-term. And with Holliday, who is represented by Scott Boras, there would be no guarantees.

Teixeira, another Boras client, is certain to seek a monster free-agent contract at the end of the season — the type of contract the Sox diligently try to avoid. Renting Teixeira through a trade, meanwhile, would make little sense unless the Sox had dire concerns about David Ortiz's ability to contribute in the second half.

Yes, the Braves would want a first baseman back for Teixeira, but the Red Sox would not give up two-plus years of Youkilis and a young reliever such as Craig Hansen for two months of Teixeira — especially when Youkilis has proven he can play in Boston and is outperforming Teixeira this season.

The Phillies: Holliday, too?

The Phillies were working multiple fronts before acquiring right-hander Joe Blanton from the A's. Among the possibilities that reached a standstill: A blockbuster for Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday and closer Brian Fuentes.

The talks probably will not revive, major-league sources said, even though the teams continue to scout each other and the Phillies used different players to obtain Blanton than they would need for Holliday and Fuentes.

The A's: Sitting pretty

Some will say the A's got too little for Blanton, just as some said they got too little for right-handers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin from the Cubs. In both cases, however, A's general manager Billy Beane struck before the markets for Blanton and Harden might have turned worse.

Blanton, 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA, was a hotter commodity at last year's deadline, when a potential trade with the Dodgers failed to transpire. His road performance was a concern for the A's, and he was likely to pitch more on the road after the break; 14 of his first 20 starts were at home.

If Blanton failed to revive, it would have been more difficult to trade him in the offseason, when his salary in arbitration would have risen significantly from $3.7 million. Harden, meanwhile, was one more injury away from losing all trade value.

In the bigger picture, the A's have built one of the game's strongest farm systems over the past 12 months, acquiring 17 prospects — most of them well-regarded — in their trades of Blanton, Harden, Gaudin, right-hander Dan Haren and outfielders Mark Kotsay and Nick Swisher.

During that time, the A's also have signed 16-year-old Dominican right-hander Michael Inoa, drafted second baseman Jemile Weeks and continued developing homegrown players such as right-handers Trevor Cahill and Henry Rodriguez.

In theory, the A's now could use their talent surplus to acquire a veteran right-handed hitter and remain competitive in 2008, but such a move would be counter-productive to their overall goal: Assembling a team with the same type of staying power as the Oakland clubs that advanced to the postseason five times in seven years earlier in the decade.

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Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: July 18, 2008

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