It’s easy to point to the Bernard Madoff scandal for the reason why the Mets do not want Manny Ramirez. After all, why wouldn’t they go after the future Hall of Fame outfielder? He’s from New York, his options are limited, and the Mets need a left field upgrade.
But frankly, the Wilpon and Met losses to the Wall Street swindler have nothing to do with the no thanks to Manny. This has more to do with avoiding a potential problem they would have to pay a king’s ransom.
Remember back in the 1980s and even the early 1990s, it was Fred Wilpon who forced the purge of less desirable players from the club. After the 1986 World Series win, potential trouble maker Kevin Mitchell was shipped to San Diego for the pure vanilla Kevin McReynolds. A few years later the known partiers like Lenny Dykstra, Wally Backman, and even Darryl Strawberry were shown the door.
It didn’t end there. After embarrassing the organization in the firecracker incident in 1993, Vince Coleman was released. Bret Saberhagen, who sprayed reporters with bleach left in 1994, and Bobby Bonilla never did show anyone the Bronx when he was traded in 1995.
This is the Wilpon way. Unlike the Yankees, who value winning above anything, the Mets would rather have a good team with no problems. Of course they still come up, but who can blame the owners for wanting to avoid Ramirez and all his red flags.
Frankly, if the Mets wanted Manny, he would already be on the club. The Red Sox put him on waivers after the 2003 season could have been acquired for a claim. The Mets passed. They looked to acquire Ramirez in 2006, but didn’t pull the trigger, and even last summer passed when the future Hall of Famer went to the Dodgers for a song.
To get Manny means you get all the baggage that comes with him. The laundry list is long, but includes having altercations with teammates, sitting out games claiming to be sick, but was seen out in a bar afterwards, and physically assaulting the Sox travelling secretary. He is known to be moody, mails in parts of the season, and can’t be controlled.
Complicating matters is his performance for the Dodgers. When playing for a contract, Ramirez was the best player in baseball. His play over the last two months of the season proved loafed his way out of Boston. The Mets already have Carlos Delgado, who conveniently got his swing back after Willie Randolph was fired. Sure he’s back, but remember, the Mets are paying him a net of $8 million this season.
So the Mets already have one star like Ramirez already, but now fans want the outfielder in his hometown, where all the distractions of being home will be around him all season. Darryl Strawberry said his biggest mistake was going home to Los Angeles, because his so-called friends came out of the woodwork. Manny will face the same problem.
Then there’s the money problem. Even with Spring Training coming up next week, the Mets won’t be able to sign the outfielder on the cheap. He just turned down the Dodgers offer of one-year for $25 million, so to get this done would mean at least guaranteeing $50 million, plus an option. Think three-years and about $70 million and you would probably be in the ballpark. Even without Madoff, the Wilpons wanted to keep the team salary to around the $143 million of last season. Ramirez will blow it out of the water.
Of course the Madoff situation hurts. No one wants to lose money like that, but the Wilpons are good business men. They didn’t go into sell mode after this happened, so you would have to believe the team is stable. The worst case scenario would be that the Wilpons would have to bring in a minority owner or two, but that shouldn’t affect the day to day operations.
The Wilpons aren’t villains here. Every other team in baseball passed on Manny so far, as well. There’s a reason for that and it won’t be the end of the world if Ramirez ends up on another team. The real criminal is Madoff. You have to wonder why this man isn’t in jail. He has ruined lives, and ones far worse off than the Wilpons. For him to be allowed to be holed up in his Manhattan penthouse, rather than a Rikers Island jail cell is the hard question that really needs to be answered. The Mets turning down Manny was an easy decision.