Word on the street, and by street I mean straight out of Hank's mouth, is that the Yanks may be interested in signing Manny Ramirez. The headline of this post tells you how I feel about that rumor, after the jump I'll tell you why.
Before I get into the specific reasons, I want to share a couple of theories I have about Manny. You can agree or disagree, that's up to you, but this is what I believe.
On his best day, Manny Ramirez is an imbecile. On his worst day, he's a lunatic. Most days, he's a little bit of both. Ironically, his lack of reasoning skills is what makes him probably the best pure hitter in the game today. His hand-eye-coordination is peerless, he has the strength to hit the ball out to any part of the park, the vision and plate-discipline to only go after pitches he can drive. From a purely physical perspective, he's close to the perfect hitter. From a mental perspective, he's a blank slate.
What I mean by this is that he's too dumb (or too smart, if you want to take a reverse psychology approach to this) to guess. He's rarely fooled by situation, meaning if you throw him a curve on a 3-1 count, he isn't going to be out in front of it because he was looking for a fastball. He doesn't look for anything, ever. He's relaxed at the plate, he sees the pitch and reacts. Period. It's a dream, really. Some guys have to work extra hard to clear their minds and relax at the plate, I remember Mike Piazza talking about how learning to do this turned his career around. Some guys are so smart they thrive on out-thinking the pitcher, and actually use their brains to make up for physical shortcomings (Tino Martinez is a great example of this). If Alex Rodriguez could shut off the logical part of his brain and hit purely on reactions and instincts he'd be unstoppable. Put simply, Ramirez is blessed with the tools to be a great hitter and a brain which won't allow him to screw it up by thinking too much.
Of course, being a moron doesn't translate so well into other aspects of the game, or life for that matter. In left field anything beyond "catch the ball and throw it to someone" is too much for him. In the clubhouse he's put on edge or sent right over it by questions from reporters or comments made by teammates. In his business dealings he's played like a fiddle by Scott Boras.
That last bit is the rub. If you can keep Manny happy, make everything just right for him, you've got one of the most destructive offensive forces in the league to plug into your lineup day and day out. You can live with the defensive lapses because his value at the plate far outweighs any damage he does in the field. The problem is, no one knows how to keep Manny happy. Winning doesn't do it, he won two rings in Boston and still forced his way out (if Boras was pulling the strings that only goes to further my point). Money doesn't do it. He was the highest paid outfielder in the game for three seasons while he was annually publicly asking for a trade. The adoration of fans didn't do it. A manager who never, ever had a bad word to say about him nor his behavior didn't do it either. The simple answer is, there's no way to tell what's going to keep him happy, there's no way to tell what's going to flip that switch that turns him into the most destructive force in a clubhouse. That's why signing him is a bad idea.
At the heart of things, Manny Ramirez is a petulant child. On the one hand, you know what you're going to get out of him. 30+ bombs, 100+ rbi. On the other hand, you never know what to expect. He can turn on you at the drop of the hat for any discretion, real or perceived. He can tear the heart right out of your team without a moment's notice. He's bound for the hall of fame, there's no doubt about that. He's got his two rings and no one will ever be able to take them away from him. But when you're talking about a contract that will undoubtedly run north of $100M it is wholy irresponsible to give it to a guy like Manny.
There are no sure bets in baseball. Any one of the premeire free agents out there could sign and go down with a career-ending injury in Spring Training. That's a risk you can weigh with statistical analysis. When you're talking about a guy who can just decide he doesn't feel like playing anymore I don't see how you can justify making that committment. It would be a desperate act and I don't think the Yanks are in a desperate situation. They especially aren't desperate for another corner outfielder who can't run down fly balls. Now the Mets on the other hand...
In summation: Just say no to Manny, please.