- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 12, 2008

POINT-COUNTERPOINT

Each week, Nationals beat writers Mark Zuckerman and Ben Goessling debate a baseball issue. This week: Would you sign Manny Ramirez as a free agent this winter?

BEN GOESSLING: I would but with some qualifications. I probably would have to be the general manager of an American League team, be confident in my clubhouse’s ability to absorb someone like Ramirez and feel like he could put my team over the top. If a GM can get past all the other stuff — and I know that’s hard sometimes — Ramirez can help the team. He’s still one of the best hitters of his generation and a great playoff performer.

MARK ZUCKERMAN: See, that’s exactly why it’s not worth it to sign Ramirez. Look at all those qualifications you had to rattle off before you would be willing to put Manny on your team. I know he’s a fearsome hitter, but to me, the rest of the package just doesn’t make it worth it. You’re talking about a guy who has been known to tank on his teammates, disobey management and cause various levels of disorder in the clubhouse. Sorry, but I’ll spend my $20 million elsewhere.

BG: There are guys doing a lot worse with half the production Ramirez has. Look, he’s not Tony Gwynn or Cal Ripken. He has some obvious flaws. But if a team is in the market for a hitter and it has $20 million to spend, there aren’t many places where it is going to get a more seasoned hitter than that. And I find it a little hard to believe the Red Sox all of a sudden decided these issues were nonstarters for them. They didn’t seem to mind when it was “Manny being Manny,” and he helped them win two titles. Maybe the relationship just went sour.

MZ: But that’s the whole point. Here was a two-time World Series champion with a great shot at winning a third title deciding to trade away one of the most productive hitters in the game. Not because he’s no longer productive but because his antics are just too much to deal with. If not even the Red Sox felt it was worth hanging on to Manny, why would another team feel like he’s worth the gamble?

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