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The Manny Numbers

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After much ado about Manny Ramirez the past few days, BP's John Perotto hangs digits on the speculation. He writes about two possible Giant offers: which would guarantee two years with vesting and club options that could make it a four-year, $100 million contract, and another that would guarantee him $63 million for three years with no options.
This is according to "a baseball source."  Not to be confused with a source of baseballs, like a factory in Central America. I'm not exactly pissing on Perotto's campfire, but I won't get too excited (or dismayed) by this apparent ratcheting-up of Mannymania until I get some questions answered.

For example: How the hell will the Giants rid themselves of two outfielders? If they sign Manny, they have Fred Lewis, Aaron Rowand, Randy Winn, Nate Schierholtz, and -- remember him? -- Dave Roberts. The Giants will almost certainly have to eat Roberts' $6.5 M salary to trade him. Once they acquire Manny, their leverage in trading Rowand or Winn will fall through the floor, too. Signing him not only means $60 M or $80 M or $100 M, it's millions more in sunk costs for others forced out by him.

Can we bear to watch the outfield defense? Manny would play LF, of course. Rowand would play CF, which until last year was a good thing. Now, we're not so sure. Was his below-average 2008 an anomaly or a trend? Hint: He's turning 32 in August and already has more dents than a hobo's kettle. Trading Rowand (again: how much of his remaining $48 M would the Giants have to eat?) would let them slide Winn to CF, or perhaps Lewis, but neither is the All-World CF defender the Mannyful Giants would need to keep a season's worth of catchable balls from scooting through the left-center field gap. What's more, moving Winn to CF leaves RF, perhaps the toughest field in all of baseball to cover, to Schierholtz. He might prove worthy, but he won't be as good as Winn.

Then there's the problem of what to do in 2010? Extend Winn's contract? Look for yet another free agent center fielder? Pray the A's return Ben Copeland, who then miraculously turns into a major-league center fielder? Clay Timpner?

Maybe the Giants will figure sign Manny now, worry about money and personnel later. If so -- and I offer this in the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson's lawyer, who says, well, if you really insist on eating that acid and huffing that ether and driving the Great Red Shark with the top down, you might as well keep a fifth of whiskey in the glove box as insurance -- they're best off trading Rowand, somehow, someway, praying that Lewis and Winn can patrol CF adequately, and salting Ramirez's contract with enough incentives to keep him motivated while limiting the contract to two years. My ceiling: two years, $30 M, with incentives to boost the totals significantly that also trigger a third-year option.

In other words, ain't gonna happen. Scott Boras would rather eat termites. And as others have noted, Manny on the cheap wouldn't be Manny at his friendliest. He might solve the Giants' need for a cleanup hitter in 2009, but unless -- even if -- he signs on the Giants' terms, he adds far more problems, short term and long term, than he solves.

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