Last night, the NESN poll question went something like “Other than David Ortiz, which player has been the best free agent signing for the Sox in the last 20 years?” The choices were Keith Foulke, Tim Wakefield, Johnny Damon, or Manny Ramirez.
Obviously, the easy answer was many Ramirez. I’m just wondering why they needed to qualify it. Even if David Ortiz were included, wouldn’t the answer still be Manny?
I will agree to one aspect. That as a current fan favorite, including Ortiz might have skewed the results to him. After all, he hit two home runs last night, and Manny didn’t. I also agree that Ortiz was a “better” signing in that he was certainly cheaper. So, the Red Sox got more bang for their buck with Ortiz than they did with Manny. But, if that were the criteria, Wakefield would have been an easy choice after Ortiz. From a minor league contract, to team leader in wins? Sounds like a good signing to me.
So, it must actually be about the quality of the player. Which would you have rather had, Ortiz or Manny?
Well, let’s see. Ortiz is playing in his 12th season with the Sox. Manny played 8. So, you could say that you got Ortiz longer, so he was a better signing. But, what about production while they were here?
Ortiz is creeping up the team leaders in any number of categories, while Manny didn’t quite get so far. Ortiz’s 382 HR, for instance, place him third all-time on the Sox. Ramirez is sixth, with 274…in 500 fewer games. Manny had a better career batting average. Had about 500 fewer hits, and a couple hundred fewer runs scored. Overall, I’d say that Manny put up better numbers if you’re looking at an average season.
What about the postseason? How does Manny compare to the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history? Pretty well, actually. Both have a World Series MVP to show off. Both have dramatic home runs to win games. Granted, Ortiz has more of those. Manny won two rings with the Sox, Ortiz three.
The most important part of the argument for me is that during Ortiz’s best years, he batted third, with Manny batting fourth. You could argue that Ortiz wouldn’t have been the same without Manny lurking in the on-deck circle. When Ortiz batted fourth behind Manny, I don’t think you could say the same thing. I think Manny was certainly the more important of the combo.
Does that make him the best signing? To me it does. I can’t argue with the raw production that came out of Manny when he was here.
What do you think?