Okay. I’ll bite.
No, they didn’t.
The Giants already had an offensively gifted, defensively challenged left fielder with baggage. They had the option to retain this mystery slugger (I’ll reveal his identity at the end of this post!), but chose not to. The production, they figured, was counterproductive to their new direction. The new direction had something to do with youth and building from within. We can argue about the merits of the choice and whether or not Mystery Slugger would have helped the 2008 Giants, but there was no ambiguity in the decision. The Giants chose to start Fred Lewis, even though Lewis was likely to be less productive with the bat. Age, baggage, and defense were all factors in the decision.
Now the Giants are supposedly chasing a defensive abomination with a Neptune-orbiting brain, and the proposed commitment would keep him on the Giants until he’s 40.
No, they aren’t.
Sure, this could be the front-page post that’s up when Manny Ramirez signs with the Giants for a 4-year, $80M deal, and it will make me look like a total jackass. More so than usual, even. But I’ll take that chance. The parallels between Ramirez and Bonds are just too great, and that’s the best frame of reference we have. And the constant, emphatic denials from the Giants front office, including a team spokesperson quoted in the rumor-laden article linked to above, have been constant and emphatic since the offseason began.
The appearance of the Giants’ involvement would benefit the Giants, Manny Ramirez, and Scott Boras. I’m not saying Brian Sabean and Boras are smoking a cigar somewhere, cackling about their devious plan. But Boras might know that a rumor like this would make it seem like the Giants aren’t being cheap, and it might tie up the Dodgers’ payroll for an extra year, which would also benefit the Giants. As such, Boras might guess that there would be advantages for the Giants if they were to not dismiss the rumor outright. Maybe he guessed right.
Or maybe the Giants plan on signing Manny, and then trading Fred Lewis, Nick Noonan, and Jonathan Sanchez to the Marlins for Dan Uggla! And then the Giants would trade Henry Sosa and Travis Ishikawa to the Pirates for Adam LaRoche! Then the lineup would be all:
OMG 900 RUNS LOL.
Or maybe the Giants will steer clear of Manny Ramirez. Just a guess. And if it takes more than a two-year deal, they should. I don't want that guy clomping around the outfield and making $20M when he's 40. Dude can hit, but players in their late-30s don't need excuses to stop hitting. Just to be safe, Ramirez has several excuses lined up.
If I were convined that the .396/.489/.743 Manny were a good bet going forward, I'd be all for the signing. It's more likely that the .296/.388/.493 Manny from 2007 would be the player that shows up for the duration of the contract. Combine that with his defense, and you have an overpaid and immovable player who plays one of the only positions of depth on the team (corner outfield), and who doesn't fix a broken offense by himself.
Though that mockery mock lineup kind of appeals to me. It tantalizes me, as if it were a cool pitcher of offensive lemonade in a desert of sub-.400 slugging percentages. Cool, refreshing, offensive lemonade. Who needs the future, right? We have other outfielders and pitchers coming through the minors…
Spring training needs to start, dang it. We’re not hitchhiking anymore; we’re riding.