What a sad day for baseball. Here's a list of the ten players who have reached 500 home runs in the last few years:
Ken Griffey Jr.
After today's news about Manny Ramirez, seven of the ten have now been linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
Maybe I'm naive, but I still want to believe that, just because a player is performing at a historically high level, that does not mean that he is juicing. I was shocked to hear about A-Rod and I'm shocked to hear about Manny.
But why should anybody be shocked these days when a player, especially an older player, suddenly starts putting up crazy stats?
In an odd way, the stories about Manny tanking in Boston probably helped deflect any suspicion about steroids. Once Manny went to Los Angeles, his dramatic boost in productivity could be explained by him simply making an effort again and playing for a new contract. Never mind that, even at his peak, Manny was not batting .396 as he did in his two months in L.A. last year.
At least Manny is not the Mets' problem right now. Being on the hook for that $45M contract (minus about $8M since Manny won't get paid during his suspension) would be bad enough. But imagine if Manny had come to the Mets and hit as well in the first month of the season as he did for the Dodgers. Manny led the Dodgers to the best record in baseball, and he might well have galvanized the Mets to the same perch. And then he is suddenly off the team in disgrace.
Even with the suspension and disgrace, the Mets might well have been better off owing $37M to Manny over the next two years than $36M to Oliver Perez over the next three years. But the Mets are already starting to adjust to life with Ollie as an unreliable starter. (Of course, they've had some experience in this situation.)
Once Manny was the centerpiece of the Mets' lineup, he would be irreplaceable, just as he is with the Dodgers. Losing him would have been a disaster for the lineup and for team chemistry. For 50 games, we'd be reading about how desperately the Mets need Manny back, but also how unpredictable his results will be once his suspension ends.
The Manny situation both takes away the spotlight from Alex Rodriguez and adds to it, since A-Rod is about to become the first superstar still in his prime to take the field after being tainted.
While I'm glad that Manny is not a Met, most people seem to be eagerly awaiting A-Rod's return, which figures to help the Yankees a great deal.
Who knows - maybe the Dodgers will decide to cut bait with Manny and take a big financial hit. It's really unlikely, but the Dodgers did part ways this year with Andruw Jones halfway through a two-year, $36M deal. The Tigers ate $14M of Gary Sheffield's salary. And it was only last year that the Red Sox were so eager to get Manny off the team that they ate $7M.
My nightmare Met scenario is that the Manny is no longer productive when he returns from his suspension, is disruptive to the team, and gets released after the season. And once Manny is in the bargain bin, Omar Minaya comes calling.
Tell us what you think about Manny Ramirez being suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs.