Manny will be Manny in LA; Griffey shipped to White Sox
Posted: Saturday, August 2, 2008 12:00 am
By: By MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Baseball Writer
Manny Ramirez and Ken Griffey Jr. are headed to new teams. Now, let’s see how much they influence the pennant races.
With more than 1,100 homers between them, two of baseball’s greatest sluggers switched leagues just before the trade deadline Thursday to play prominent roles for playoff contenders.
Unhappy in Boston, Ramirez got his wish when he was shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a blockbuster, three-team deal that sent outfielder Jason Bay from Pittsburgh to the Red Sox.
“He’s a champion, he’s a winner, and we really couldn’t be happier,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. “We’re willing to take the chance and go with this guy.”
Griffey also agreed to a trade, leaving his hometown Cincinnati Reds to play center field for the first-place Chicago White Sox.
The 38-year-old Griffey has never reached the World Series and hasn’t even been in the playoffs since 1997 with Seattle.
Now older, it’s uncertain how much he has left in his oft-injured body — it’s been a long while since he was voted to the All-Century team.
“When I talked to Junior, he was very honest,” Chicago GM Kenny Williams said. “He said, ‘Well, I’ve got to tell you, I don’t know that you’re going to see the guy from Seattle.’ I said, ‘We’re not looking for that guy from Seattle. What we’re looking for is for you to use your instincts.’”
Despite all kinds of names being thrown around, only a handful of deals were completed in the days leading up to the deadline. But the ones that did get done featured several big stars.
Mark Teixeira went from Atlanta to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday. The New York Yankees acquired Ivan Rodriguez and Xavier Nady within the past week.
And a pair of top pitchers were traded in early July, with CC Sabathia going to Milwaukee and Rich Harden to the Chicago Cubs.
The only other deals announced Thursday drew little attention. Florida acquired left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes from Seattle for Double-A pitcher Gaby Hernandez, and the Yankees sent slick-fielding shortstop Alberto Gonzalez to Washington for pitcher Jhonny Nunez in a swap of minor leaguers.
Teams can still make trades but the players involved must pass through waivers first, which limits availability.
Ramirez and Griffey could have blocked their deals, but both were happy to find new homes. It was the first time two players with at least 500 homers have been traded during the same season — let alone on the same day, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Griffey hit his 600th home run this year, and Ramirez connected for No. 500.
“When a player like Manny becomes available, I don’t think there’s a manager in baseball who wouldn’t say they’re interested,” said Dodgers skipper Joe Torre, whose Yankees teams went toe-to-toe with Ramirez for years. “It was something that happened very quickly.”
As of early Thursday, it appeared Ramirez might be on his way to the Marlins.
But when those talks fizzled, the Red Sox and Pirates found a willing third partner in the Dodgers.
After years of speculation, Boston finally parted ways with the enigmatic outfielder minutes before the 3 p.m. deadline.
“We figured we had to do it,” Colletti said. “Hopefully, it pays dividends. We’re confident we’ve got one of the best hitters in baseball coming in here — one of the best hitters of his generation from the right side.”
Boston will pay the estimated $7 million owed to the 36-year-old Ramirez through the end of the season, at which time he can become a free agent.
Ramirez was in the final guaranteed year of a $160 million, eight-year contract, and the Red Sox held $20 million options for the next two seasons.
As part of the trade, the club options were eliminated.
So now, Manny can be Manny on the West Coast. But he’ll be without his power-hitting partner with the Red Sox, David Ortiz.
“That was a 1-2 tandem that was one of the best in the game,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Colletti said Ramirez was expected to join the Dodgers in time to play Friday night against Arizona.
The last-place Pirates gave up Bay and received a promising haul of youngsters: reliever Craig Hansen and outfielder Brandon Moss from Boston and third baseman Andy LaRoche and pitcher Bryan Morris from the Dodgers.
“It’s a good deal for Pittsburgh. They got four good players,” Scioscia said.
A two-time All-Star, the 29-year-old Bay was hitting .282 with 22 home runs and 64 RBI for the Pirates. Tampa Bay pursued Bay before he wound up with the Red Sox, who trail the first-place Rays by three games in the AL East.
The Reds sent Griffey and cash to Chicago for reliever Nick Masset and Triple-A second baseman Danny Richar. The deal was announced a half-hour before Thursday’s deadline.
Griffey, who hit his 600th home run this season, agreed to the trade earlier in the day. Because of the cash transaction involved, the deal did not become official until the commissioner’s office approved it.
“One of the things that factored into this was a guy who has had a great career but has not won a championship and how motivated he’s going to be to get on that stage,” Williams said.
Griffey played right field the last two seasons, but will return to center when he joins the White Sox on Friday for the start of a series in Kansas City. They lead Minnesota by a half-game in the AL Central.
“I just think there’s a lot of added things he can bring,” Chicago’s Nick Swisher said. “I mean, I had posters of that guy on my wall growing up. So I think it’s going to be an awesome thing for all of us.”
AP Sports Writer Howie Rumberg contributed to this report.