Manny Be Manny

The annual ritual of Manny Ramirez being on the trading block has surfaced and again the Cubs have been mentioned as a possible destination for the incredibly talented left fielder of the Red Sox. According to a report on Saturday by Ken Rosenthal the Cubs are one of eight teams that may be interested in trading for Ramirez who has 2 years left on his current contract. Rosenthal thinks Ramirez would waive his no trade clause if his new team were to give him a contract extension….a la Gary Sheffield. But would Ramirez be a good fit with the Cubs? Rosenthal thinks the Cubs could land him with a package that includes Cesar Izturis and a few relief pitchers and he mentioned a lineup that featured Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Manny Ramirez and either Julio Lugo at short or Gary Matthews, Jr. in center hitting in the lead off spot would “be obscene” and he mentioned the Cubs would still need starting pitching.

Several reports this past week mentioned the Cubs might consider increasing their payroll for 2007 past the rumored $120 million and if the Cubs are interested in trading for Ramirez, they would have to. The luxury tax kicks in at $148 million so the Cubs could add a contract like Ramirez (he is owed $17 million over the next two seasons and has an option for 2009) and still add a few quality arms and a Julio Lugo type for around $8 to $10 million a year. Ramirez is 34 years old and has the reputation, and rightfully so, of not hustling and playing to his ability….but could a manager like Lou Piniella change him? The answer….probably not, but it would be interesting to watch.

The Red Sox have backed themselves into a corner with the Daisuke Matsuzaka deal. They have to pay the Seibu Lions the $51.1 million in one lump sum if they reach an agreement on a contract with the very talented but unproven right-hander. Some are speculating Scott Boras is looking for a 5-year, $70 million dollar deal so the Red Sox could be looking at a $121.1 million dollar pitcher that will likely be 4th in their rotation. Alex Gonzalez just signed a 3-year, $14 million dollar deal and the Red Sox appear to be looking to dump payroll and Ramirez as well.

So could Jim Spendry, as Rosenthal nicknamed him, swoop in and trade for Ramirez and put together, on paper, one of the, if not the best, lineup in Cubs’ history?

Only time and money will tell.