Recalling the 2002 furor in Cleveland when Bartolo Colon was traded, the Boston Globe’s Gordon Edes examines what’s to be gained and lost in the Red Sox trading Manny Ramirez.
Can the Red Sox transition and contend simultaneously? Their fans will expect nothing less, especially when they’ll be shelling out $95 for a field box seat in 2006 and $275 a pop to sit in the new suites replacing the .406 club. John W. Henry, Larry Lucchino, and Tom Werner, with considerably greater revenue streams available to them than Dolan had, understand that if fans perceive a RamÃrez trade as merely a way to slash payroll, the backlash will be considerable. Theo Epstein often expressed an awareness that in Boston, you’re not allowed to step back for a year or two to reload.
Any deal for RamÃrez must bring significant returns for the future. Before he traded Colon, Shapiro made an unsuccessful trade of Alomar to the Mets; outfielder Matt Lawton was a disappointment and top prospect Alex Escobar suffered a serious knee injury from which he never fully recovered. The goals of that trade were a little different, made when the Indians thought they could contend and rebuild at the same time. The Colon trade was a full concession to the future. One of the Indians scouts who hand-picked the prospects they got in that deal was Tony LaCava, who is now with the Blue Jays and turned down an invitation to interview for the Sox GM job.
The Sox don’t have the luxury to fall back into full rebuilding mode. They need a RamÃrez trade, and the money they save by losing RamÃrez’s salary, to fill some of their immediate holes: first base, second base, outfield, bullpen. But the true value of trading RamÃrez is making sure they identify, and acquire, the kind of premium talent that will help them the rest of the decade. A Lastings Milledge (Mets), perhaps, or a Brandon Wood (Angels). If not, keep him.