Up until today, I was a big fan of a trade centered around Joel Hanrahan and Jed Lowrie.  Given the stupid closer market this off-season I figured the Sox would have to through in a few more players to make a deal, giving the Pirates more pieces- specifically in the outfield and on the mound.  And up until today, I thought Ben Cherrington might be a smart guy.   Trading for a mediocre closer (and likely a set-up man according to several baseball media types on Twitter) with one of the only right-handed bats on the 25-man roster is just dumb.  Ben’s embarassing himself.  So Lowrie’s off the table for Pittsburgh.  But the Sox still need a closer, and still have some attractive pieces the Pirates could use. 

The Red Sox aren’t the only possible trade partners, though.  With the price for closers maintaining this off-season, a guy like Hanrahan could bring back some legitimate major league talent in return.  Unbelievable.   In that conversation I had with Neal Huntington last month, he alluded to the fact that baseball people are picking up on the fact that closers are vastly over-valued.  Apparently not so much.  Let’s hope Toronto is still drinking the closer kool-aid.

OK, now for the crazy stuff…  I really (really!) want the Pirates to sign Manny Ramirez.  It’d be completely out of character, but I think it’s worth considering.  Let me make the case…

  • No NL team in their right mind will sign Manny.  There’s no way you could let him play the field on a regular basis.   That cuts out 16 possible teams.
  • What AL team would take a 112 game risk on a guy with a reputation for being a flighty, self-centered, unreliable, injury-faking, Travel Secretary-shoving, PED using, alleged wife-beating DH?  Exactly.  No one.
  • Add point #1 and point #2 and you get a very manageable contract for a legitimate power threat.
  • How many power threats are in the current Pirates line-up?
  • Could Manny be any worse than Jason Giambi (c. 2008) at first base? 
  • Manny will be as motivated as he’s ever been to earn a big contract for next year.  Remember when he was motivated to earn a contract at the end of the 2008 season?  .396/.489/.743 with the Dodgers over 53 games.

Clearly, all the pieces are there.  All the rational information available points to signing Manny up to play for the Pirates.  You may think that Manny would never sign in Pittsburgh, but Manny just wants to work.  He was recently quoted: “We are the working class and wherever there is work, you must go work.”  Manny is quickly becoming the spokesman for the common man, the everyday Joe, the small-market fan, the Pittsburgh Pirates fan… Yes, Manny speaks for you and me.

Manny has always been misunderstood.  He never wanted fame.  He never wanted glory.  But his skills and his baseball work ethic drew the spotlight he never got from his own father.  So he was drawn to the game with an unconscience need to fill the emotional void left by indifferent parenting.  And when he thought he found a substitute for his relational needs in a baseball coach/mentor, he found instead an unreliable alcoholic – possibly looking to profit off of Manny’s prodigious home runs.  These relationships have never been reconciled.  He’s a broken man with a fast bat; and empty soul just looking for acceptance – looking for a team… 

Can we really blame Manny for his erratic behavior and  public transgressions?  Well, yes.  But there’s a story behind those headlines.  And when there’s a story, there’s always a chance for an unexpected plot twist- and the possibility of a happy ending. 

So let’s welcome Manny in.  Let’s bring him to Pittsburgh!  Let’s match 50-game suspensions with that cheater in Milwaukee.  Let’s tell Manny it’s OK to be imperfect; it’s OK to be yourself.!

Now hit the ball, Manny.  Hit the ball really hard.  It’ll feel good…

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