December 17, 2003


Yesterday in this space I talked about hearing Kevin Millar interviewed on SportsCenter and how what he said led me to believe the Alex Rodriguez/Manny Ramirez deal was all but official.

Well, yesterday there was some doubt thrown into the equation, with the players' union having a problem with the proposed changes to Alex Rodriguez's contract that the Red Sox and ARod were interested in making.

I still think this deal is going to happen, although I'm not nearly as sure as I was yesterday morning. The latest is that, assuming the ARod/Manny swap happens, the Red Sox would then ship Nomar Garciaparra to Chicago for Magglio Ordonez.

There are probably a couple other players or some money involved in both trades, but that would essentially mean Boston was replacing Garciaparra and Ramirez at shortstop and left field with Rodriguez and Ordonez.

Let's see how that swap looks, using last year's numbers...


Manny Ramirez 130.9 Magglio Ordonez 112.2
Nomar Garciaparra 110.5 Alex Rodriguez 130.5
------------------------- -------------------------
TOTAL 241.4 TOTAL 242.7

Ordonez and Rodriguez were a total of 1.3 Equivalent Runs better than Ramirez and Garciaparra last year, which is basically nothing. All four players were among the top dozen AL hitters in EqR, with Manny and ARod ranking 2nd and 3rd, while Ordonez and Nomar ranked 10th and 11th.

Beyond just EqR, the combined offensive totals of the twosomes were amazingly close last season...

               Manny/Nomar        Maggs/ARod

EqR 241.4 242.7
PA 1398 1389
OUTS 898 894
RBI 209 217
RUN 237 219

That's probably about as close as you can get when you're swapping this level of talent. The twosomes essentially had the same amount of plate appearances and created the same amount of runs, while using up the same amount of outs.

It is amazing to me that a team would be able to trade away two Hall of Fame players in the middle of their prime years, like Nomar and Manny, and actually be able to replace them with two players who were just as good last season. But that is the beauty of ARod. He hits like Manny Ramirez and he does so while playing a great shortstop. That allows you to find a left fielder who hits like Nomar, which is hard, but not impossible.

Here is what they did in 2002...

               Manny/Nomar        Maggs/ARod

EqR 230.1 263.1
PA 1211 1378
OUTS 766 889
RBI 227 277
RUN 185 241

ARod and Ordonez were significantly more productive offensively than Nomar and Manny in 2002, but much of that is due to Ramirez missing 42 games. If you pro-rate Nomar and Manny's combined production to the same amount of plate appearances (1378) as Ordonez and Rodriguez, they total 261.8 Equivalent Runs. Amazingly, that is 1.3 EqR fewer than Magglio and ARod, which is the exact same number they were behind them in 2003.

Of course, all of this has just been looking at things on offense. Defensively is a big issue here too.

In my opinion, Rodriguez is an upgrade over Garciaparra at shortstop and Ordonez is an upgrade over Ramirez in left field. Not huge upgrades, but definitely upgrades.

Diamond-Mind assigns defense ratings to every player in baseball, every year. Their rating system is on the following five-point scale:


Very Good




Interestingly, Rodriguez and Garciaparra got the same ratings in each of the last two years. They each received a "Very Good" in 2002 and an "Average" in 2003.

Magglio Ordonez has been given "Average" ratings in right field in each of the last two years, while Manny Ramirez has been given "Poor" ratings in left field both years. It's not a given that Ordonez would be an "Average" left fielder, since it's not a position he has played over the last two years and Fenway is a unique left field to cover, but I'd say there's little doubt he'd be a sizable upgrade over Ramirez in left.

As long as we're talking about offense and defense, let's take a look at Bill James' Win Shares, which takes offense and defense into account. Here's what the twosomes did last season:

                       WS                                 WS

Manny Ramirez 27.59 Magglio Ordonez 22.80
Nomar Garciaparra 25.19 Alex Rodriguez 32.51
------------------------- -------------------------
TOTAL 52.78 TOTAL 55.31

I think it's pretty clear that Ordonez and Rodriguez have been a more valuable twosome over the last two seasons. They have been more durable and slightly better offensively, and they provide better defense.

Another issue here, besides the on-field stuff, is the contractual and monetary differences. I'm not going to get into the money, because a) I'm not sure yet if Boston would have to pay a portion of Ramirez's contract or not and b) the Red Sox have plenty of money, so it probably doesn't matter much anyway.

Unless he is able to make significant changes to his contract, ARod is signed through 2010, although he has the ability to "opt out" of his contract after 2007, 2008 or 2009. Manny Ramirez is under contract until 2008, with $20 million team options for 2009 and 2010.

Meanwhile, both Nomar and Ordonez are free agents after this season.

If Boston can make this switch, replacing Ramirez and Garciaparra with Alex Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez, they should do it. They would be getting the best all-around player in baseball right in the middle of his peak and they would be improving their defense while not sacrificing any offense. They're probably going to have to add in some money and some players to make this happen, but it's worth it. Now, all we have to do is wait.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As some of you may have noticed, this website just surpassed 300,000 total visitors. I first started this blog in August of 2002 and I have to admit I am surprised that it's still around 17 months later. The fact that it has been read 300,000 times since then is beyond shocking to me.

I used to post monthly visitor-counts, but I figured there wasn't much interest in that sort of thing. Recently though, as the site has come closer to 300,000, I have gotten quite a few emails from people wanting to see another update. So, for those of you interested, here it is...

Month               Visitors     Per Day

August 2002 2,800 90
September 2002 3,200 107
October 2002 4,200 135
November 2002 4,400 147
December 2002 6,600 213
January 2003 7,800 252
February 2003 10,100 361
March 2003 11,500 371
April 2003 14,900 497
May 2003 20,550 663
June 2003 25,950 865
July 2003 30,200 974
August 2003 30,800 994
September 2003 31,400 1,046
October 2003 34,100 1,100
November 2003 36,800 1,226
December 2003 26,600 1,565
TOTAL 301,900

December obviously isn't over yet, but it definitely looks like traffic will increase here for the 16th straight month.

Aaron's Baseball Blog. It's spreading like a virus. Thanks to everyone for all their support and here's hoping for another 300,000!

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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