Manny being Manny.
It's a phrase that has been repeated countless times over the years about controversial slugger Manny Ramirez.
Whether he's faking an injury, complaining about money, cutting off relay throws from center field, letting the baseball bounce off his head or taking a nap inside the Green Monster at Fenway Park, Ramirez always seems to find away to get himself publicity.
You can still get your usual Manny fix from the various sports media outlets, but only this time, it's not his face on the front page because Manny isn't the one doing the talking.
Manny is off.. doing whatever it is that he does (feeding pidgeons? playing X-Box? writing poetry?) while "evil" super agent Scott Boras does his bidding.
Boras is, without question, the most controversial agent in pro sports. He is also the most successful. But while he has gotten teams to sign many of his clients to contracts well over what they deserved, he has also managed to turn many of those same clients into Public Enemy No. 1 in their respective cities.
In Ramirez's case, it was no different. Once adored by all in Boston, Manny became quite possibly the most despised man in the city last year when he hooked up with Boras, who helped Manny orchestrate his way out of Boston after the team wouldn't budge on giving him a contract extension when he still had two years left on his current deal.
Manny landed in Los Angeles, where he tore up National League pitching and put a team and an entire city on his back in the process of leading the Dodgers to a National League West crown and an appearence in the NLCS.
Everything was coming up roses until the day the Dodgers season ended, when after being eliminated by the Philadelphia Phillies, Manny was asked about his future and said simply, "Gas is up and so am I".
Ironically, gas prices across the country were going down at the time of the statement, but while they're going back up now, Manny's value doesn't seem to be. Which makes it all the more mind numbing that he can't come to a contract agreement with the Dodgers.
Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti's tenure in Los Angeles has been nothing short of atrocious with signings like Jason Schmidt, Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones coming under his watch, but the fact is that he has handled the Manny Ramirez situation as well as he possibly could.
Boras and Ramirez have two offers on the table. One is a one-year, $25 million deal and the other is a two-year, $45 million deal.
Both would make him the second highest paid player in baseball over the next two seasons behind Alex Rodriguez.
Both are from the Dodgers.
The sticking point is the number of years. Ramirez, who will be 37-years-old when the 2009 season starts wants some long-term security, at least three years, preferably four or five.
It makes sense, but it also makes sense that instead of bidding against themselves, the Dodgers would offer him as much money in as short a time as possible so he can hit the free agent market again next year when maybe the economy is doing a little better and the team can avoid being tied into a long-term deal when they're already paying Andruw Jones $16 million over the next five years to do absolutely nothing.
Despite what Boras would like us all to believe, the market for Manny Ramirez as of today seems to start and end with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Boras claims there is strong interest from other teams, but aside from whipsers that the San Francisco Giants MIGHT be interested, not one team has stepped up to the plate to make a legitimate offer.
If no deal is made, the Dodgers will move on to another, albiet less attractive, option in someone like Adam Dunn, but what of Manny? Will he sit at home until someone offers him the contract he wants? If that happens, he might never suit up again. He has allowed Boras to bid him out of the price range of just about every team in baseball.
Unless a surprise team steps up in the next coming week and gives him what he wants, there's really only three options: A.) Retire. B.) Settle for less money after the Dodgers pull their offers off the table. C.) Sign with the Dodgers and become the second highest-paid player in baseball over the next two seasons (aww, what a shame. I really feel for you, Manny).
With Spring Training a little more than a week away, someone is bound to blink soon.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Sheets
Manny Ramirez is one of the last big name free agents left on the market, but he isn't the only one. Ben Sheets is another, although this one is not quite as puzzling.
Just a couple of years ago, Sheets was considered one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball. A definite future ace. Maybe he will be, but unless someone decides to bite the bullet and sign him, that can't happen. Of course, for any team to sign him, Sheets would have to convince them that his arm isn't about ready to detatch from his body and fly into the stands the next time he attempts to pitch, and today's news certainly didn't help ease those fears:
Ben Sheets, the injury-plagued, free-agent starting pitcher, is expected to undergo elbow surgery and be sidelined for four to six months, according to CBSSports.com sources.
The surgery, to repair Sheets' partially torn flexor tendon, is expected to be performed by noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. A source with knowledge of the situation said that Sheets is not expected to undergo Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.
Still, the elbow surgery likely will keep Sheets on the sidelines until August, or later. The right-hander was prepared to undergo surgery this week, according to sources, but those plans hit a snag over insurance issues and who would pay for it.
If Sheets will settle for a cheap one-year deal, he could provide a great boost come playoff time for a contender, but the biggest problem he faces that he is a 'Type A Free Agent', meaning whichever team signs him has to give up their first round pick to the Brewers. Good luck with that, Ben.