PHOENIX – Both sides give the impression of transparency while actually revealing only what fits their agenda. Both sides are sucking every last dollar from a deal that involves outrageous sums of money. Both sides are indignant at the other's chicanery, rivaled only by their own.
The four months of negotiations between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Manny Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, likely will result in a resolution soon because, hyperbole aside, the two sides have agreed to the length of the deal (two years) and overall value ($45 million). Deferred payment is the only unresolved issue, and Boras took another step toward an agreement Sunday with his third counteroffer in two days.
It's possible the deal could blow up. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has publicly mocked Boras, stopping just short of yelling, "Liar, liar, pants on fire." Boras has his pride, and McCourt's flammable rhetoric is testing his patience. McCourt is betting no other team would pay anything close to what the Dodgers have offered. Yet if Boras scares up another suitor, he could push Ramirez away from the Dodgers, even at this late juncture.
The San Francisco Giants don't seem serious about Ramirez, but don't count out the New York Yankees, who swooped in and snagged another Boras client, Mark Teixeira, when the Boston Red Sox got snippy with Boras. Ramirez wouldn't fit neatly into the Yankees' lineup, not with Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui able to play only left field and designated hitter.
But there is a school of thought that the Yankees might sign Ramirez to deflect media attention from Alex Rodriguez and his steroid issues. Ramirez is a better hitter than Damon or Matsui, and the cash-rich Yankees could swallow one or both of them coming off the bench despite their high salaries. A hurdle could be convincing Ramirez that New York would not be a hospitable home. He would have to visit Fenway Park for nine games a year, not a pleasant prospect.
McCourt had better hope Ramirez isn't interested in the Yankees and that the Giants continue to balk at the price tag. Otherwise the Dodgers owner might regret antagonizing Boras.
For the most part, emails to Yahoo! Sports responding to my recent column on the situation express weariness of the protracted negotiations and wariness of Ramirez. Here's a sampling:
Isn't it pretty obvious? Manny will take that contract currently on the table from the Dodgers, but because he is a lazy, pathetic excuse for a professional, he is rejecting it for one reason. He doesn't want to have to go to spring training like everyone else. He thinks he is better than that, and for image's sake would rather make this contract dispute one over money than over his commitment to helping the Dodgers.
Did the Dodgers not get the memo? They are bidding against themselves for the overpriced, one-dimensional prima donna Ramirez. If there is a league that will let Manny swing the bat and let someone else run for him once it's hit, he should sign with that league. The Dodgers may be paying him $500,000 for each home run he might hit. Things go downhill from there.
St. Peters, Mo.
Steve, I think the negotiations ought to go like this: Give Manny $50 million for two years, and have Boras refund the Dodgers the $36 million for the slug Andruw Jones. That way, Manny will get what he wants, the Dodgers will get what they want, and Boras will pay the price for a real loser in Jones.
Larry and I have been die-hard fans of the Dodgers for many years. Up until the mid-'80s, we went to 12 or more games a season. Negotiations and strikes between players and owners really got out of hand. We cannot support such greediness. Manny deserves nothing other than the boot for his obvious greed and inconsideration for his fans and ball team. We would like to know when this will end and when do we get back to the love of the game … if ever? Larry and Diane T.
The economic downturn is killing every major sport. Manny has very bad timing. If I was McCourt, I wouldn't budge. No one is going to step forward with more dollars than what has been offered, and there is no way Manny will take a lesser offer from someone like the Giants out of spite. He (and Boras) would lose way too much face. The only sweetener I would offer is playoff incentives. That way, if he earns them you know that you at least have the additional playoff revenue coming in to offset it.
New York City
The Dodgers really have no need to give Ramirez that kind of money. He isn't worth it in today's economy and the Dodgers know it. There's not one other team that is interested in giving Manny that kind of money. Why should the Dodgers bid against themselves? It's insanity. And my guess is if they do sign him, they will see a different Manny. Now he won't be playing for a contract and he will be upset about not getting his big payday. My impression of most Boras negotiations is that he is the driving force. I don't get that sense in this one because even Boras is smart enough to read the market. Manny is holding L.A. hostage as he pursues his own financial dreams and it will be a nightmare for L.A. in the end.