Saturday, August 28, 2010
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Now that the waiver claiming mystery is over, if the Sox really want Manny Ramirez they need to create their own leverage in the situation.
With the Dodgers on a winning streak and the NL Wildcard suddenly in play for them again, GM Ned Colletti is playing coy on whether he will actually trade Ramirez. Faced with the rampant rumors about Ramirez, Colletti said he is "not inclined" to trade anyone, as long as the playoffs are a possibility for his Dodgers.
Whether it is just a ploy to raise the price or a genuine effort to win, it's clear he's looking for a significant return of prospects, not just some Kyle McCulloch.
Here's the last thing I want to see happen: the Sox scramble on Tuesday afternoon to convince the Dodgers to move Manny, upping their offer to convince Colletti to let him go, and end up trading Brent Morel or Jose Martinez (my two favorite position prospects in the organization) to overpay to get the deal done.
To prevent this, Williams has to pull out a few bluffs of his own in this poker game. The place to start: leak a report that the Sox are in dialogue with the Diamondbacks about Adam LaRoche.
LaRoche has been hot lately (which comes as no surprise because he is always a second-half performer), to the tune of a .326/.366/.663 line this month with 8 HRs. How he made it through waivers, I don't know. But he did, at least allegedly, making him fair game for any team to acquire via trade. LaRoche could be billed as the answer to the Sox DH woes. The Sox don't seem to have any genuine interest in LaRoche, but getting a story out there about a possible trade could motivate Colletti to move more quickly on Ramirez.
Ultimately, the Sox are banking on the notion that the Dodgers, win or lose, don't want Manny, his dreadlocks, his loafing and his salary on the team for the next month. And he doesn't want them. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, in cost-conscious mode, definitely wants to shed some if not all of that $4+ million
So if Williams can get McCourt nervous that the Sox are looking in other directions, McCourt might command Colletti to get a deal done quickly or else give Ramirez away for nothing but salary relief. It appears Williams has his heart set on Ramirez, but he can bluff a little here. Hey, a little gamesmanship never hurt anybody.
While they're at it, the Sox could actually seriously looks at LaRoche, who would still be a significant upgrade over Mark Kotsay, if not a splashy one. Of course, it might be that the Diamondbacks aren't looking to trade him at all. It's not looking like my longshot Carlos Beltran trade will come to fruition, so it might be Manny or bust in the bat department.
In any case, it will be an interesting game of poker played out over the next four days.
With all the Manny talk, let's not forget that the Sox depleted bullpen could use some help of its own. Yesterday afternoon the Twins made a deal with the Angels for reliever Brian Fuentes, a guy who could have helped the Sox in the 'pen.
With Fuentes and Hoffman off the board, and Erik Threets now back on the DL, might the Sox look to the Blue Jays for a waiver deal? It was reported that four Jays relievers - Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg and Shawn Camp- were all claimed on waivers by unknown teams. Could Williams have his eye on one of them?
It's unknown whether the Blue Jays would actually move any of those arms, or if they would be reasonable in their demands (the price for relievers has been pretty steep this season- look at what the Twins and Dodgers gave up for Capps and Dotel). But Williams has to be looking.
Lastly, a big thank you to Comcast SportsNet for airing the July 2, 2003 Sox vs. Twins game this afternoon to honor the Big Hurt. What a blast of nostalgia that game brought back:
- Hawk using "He's gone" instead of "He gone" and not using "stretch" on flyballs.
- Brian Daubach in for the massively struggling Paul Konerko at 1B.
- The "O-E-O Magglio" and "Jose Jose Jose Jose" chants.
- Fat Rick White and despicable Billy Koch in the bullpen.
- AJ Pierzynski catching for the Twins.
- Johan Santana warming up in the bullpen for the Twins.
- Cowboy Joe West ejecting Jerry Manuel.
I walked up to so many games that season and sat in the bleachers. Trader Kenny was just starting to develop his reputation, with deals for Carl Everett and Roberto Alomar. If it wasn't for Koch's abject failure, the 5th starter black hole and Jose Paniagua....