Chicago White Sox designated hitter Manny Ramirez walks to the dugout after being lifted for a pinch runner in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field in Cleveland on Wednesday, September 1, 2010. UPI/David Richard Photo via Newscom

The buzz in Chicago is all about a dread-locked slugger who wears the number 99. No, Ricky Vaughn didn’t grow his hair out and learn to hit the long ball. 

You know him, you love him/hate him. Manny Ramirez is back in the headlines. 

This got me thinking. What has happened in left field since the Sox traded Manny away at the end of July 2008? 

The majority of at-bats had gone to Jason Bay, who had a great season for the Sox in 2009. Bay put up an .897 OPS from the time he joined the Sox in 2008 until the end of that season. Then, in 2009, Bay slugged and walked his way to a .921 OPS with 36 home runs and 119 RBI. Bay walked away from the Sox this past offseason, choosing to take a bigger contract offer from the Mets. 

With Bay gone, the Sox decided to add a defensive upgrade in Mike Cameron, which moved Jacoby Ellsbury to left. Ellsbury went down early with a rib injury, came back, then went down after the re-aggravating the same injury.  This season Ellsbury only had 26 at-bats as as a left fielder and hit .308/.308/.423 with two stolen bases. 

Since Ellsbury has been out most of the year, the Sox have had to mix and match their starting left fielder all season long. 2010 left fielders by number of games played… 

Jeremy Hermida (46), Bill Hall (41), Daniel Nava (37), Darnell McDonald (26), Ryan Kalish (12), Eric Patterson (11), Jacoby Ellsbury (6), Jonathan Van Every (3), Josh Reddick (1). 

Here is how the numbers stack up against Manny from the 2008 trade through 9/1/2010…



Since Manny Trade AB AVG     OBP      SLG      OPS      HR R RBI SB AB/HR HR/550
Red Sox LF 1261 0.255 0.341 0.481 0.822 63 216 208 24 20.02 27.48
Manny 695 0.325 0.438 0.584 1.022 41 124 147 2 16.95 32.45
Difference 566 -0.070 -0.097 -0.103 -0.200 22 92 61 22 3.06 -4.97

Two things are very clear. One, Manny has out produced Red Sox left fielders in AVG/OBP/SLG. However, The Sox would have still needed 556 at-bats worth of replacement production in this comparison. Given what we knew about Manny’s willingness to play for the Sox at the time, that number would have likely been even higher. The power production hasn’t been off by much and the Sox have stolen 22 more bases than Manny (naturally) over this span. 

In reality, we can’t compare what Manny has done to what the Sox have done in left field since mid-2008. There are many factors that have come into play and altered the ultimate results. 

If Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron could have stayed healthy, these results would have been much different. 

Take this for what it is; a simple comparison based on what HAS happened. Has there been a clear winner here?  The Dodgers and Red Sox both made the playoffs in 2008 and 2009 with their new left fielders. Also, both teams have had to use a ton of replacement level players in left this season. 

When Jason Bay left town, the Sox were compensated with the Mets second round pick. The Sox used that pick on Brandon Workman, who many see as a late inning reliever. Was one and one third years of Jason Bay and a possible late inning reliever worth it?

Yes. Undoubtebly, yes. 

The Sox did what they needed to do at the time and all-in-all they didn’t lose much as far as results. If anything, the Sox were victims of bad luck with regard to injuries — specifically Ellsbury. 

I think most knowledgeable Sox fans are glad that Manny was cut lose when he was. Whether the White Sox benefit from his ever slowing bat speed or not is yet to be seen, but, given the circumstances, I’d rather see Ryan Kalish work through his major league learning curve than watch Manny give a half-ass effort for the Pale Hose on the south side of Chicago.