Sean McAdam writes that the Red Sox are disappointed with Manny Ramirez's performance since signing an 8-year, $160 M contract with them two years ago. McAdam calls the contract untradeable, even more so with the new CBA, and quotes a baseball exec:
I can't think of a single team that would take him off their hands. It looks like their stuck.
So what exactly have the Red Sox been stuck with? Ramirez leads the AL in batting average (by 1 point over Mike Sweeney), slugging (by a fraction of a point over Jim Thome), On-base percentage, and OPS (both by 6 points over Thome). He is 7th in Home runs and 11th in RBI while having lost 100 at-bats to injury.
Well, that's pretty good, but maybe the Red Sox expected more. Maybe he is not living up to expectations. Well, his batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS are all way above his career averages. But Boston signed him on the strength of two fantastic years with Cleveland in 1999 and 2000, how is he doing as compared to those two years. Below is a chart of his stats for the last two years with Cleveland, the two years with Boston, and his career average based on a 2-year period:
Well, he has had a drop-off. When the Red Sox signed him he was arguably the best hitter in the AL. Since the signing he is just among the best hitters in the AL. His numbers in general are down but so are numbers all around the league. Note that his league- and park-adjusted OPS (*OPS+ from Baseball-Reference.com-I used last year's ballpark factors to compute his *OPS+ this year) has dropped off slightly but it is still 74% above the league average. Also, according to this stat, his numbers are his career best (186 as compared to 2000's 185). There are other issues: his speed is down, he has played fewer games, etc. But they are mostly quibbling.
The Red Sox signed a player who was one of the best in baseball. They have gotten as much as could be expected from Raimirez. Could he have produced much better numbers? Yes, but not much better. Did he miss a few games due to injury? Yes, but did the Red Sox expect him never to miss a game in 8 years? Does he sometimes not run out plays? Yeah, but who cares?
Boston's new ownership is probably not overjoyed to be saddled with a long-term contract now that the Collective Bargaining Agreement may start reigning in salaries and limits the trade markets for large contracts. The Red Sox may have made a mistake signing a 28-year-old to an 8-year contract for a lot of money, but no one could have expected more from that player than Ramirez has delivered. This may be the typical finger pointing that occurs at the end of each unsuccessful Red Sox season. It's nice to see the new management upholding tradition.