Monday, November 03, 2008

Crasnick's Poll Votes Manny Over Sabathia

Take that, Buster. Jerry Crasnick of thinks that the Dodgers are a longshot destination for CC, but the lead dogs in the Manny mania (survey includes GMs, assistant GMs, baseball operations people, and scouts):

1. Which team will sign left-hander CC Sabathia?

Responses: New York Yankees 12, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 1, Los Angeles Dodgers 1, "no idea" 1.

The Brewers are making a sincere effort to bring back Sabathia, and the pitcher's heart is pointing him toward his native California. But the overwhelming sentiment is that the Yankees will open the vault, lure Sabathia to the Bronx and christen him their staff ace and Opening Day starter in 2009.

The Yankees exercised restraint and long-term thinking last winter, lost out to the Mets in the Johan Santana sweepstakes and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1993. With Hank Steinbrenner getting antsy and the coffers flush with new stadium revenue, the consensus is that the Yankees will do whatever it takes to land Sabathia.

Indeed, we heard the phrase "whatever it takes" a half dozen times.

"I don't see how the Yankees don't blow every other team out of the water, financially," said a National League front-office man.

The estimates of Sabathia's deal range from a low of five years and $125 million to a high of six years and $180 million. One executive predicted New York could go as high as eight years.

While Yankee love reigned supreme, one AL official makes a compelling case for the Dodgers.

"They have lots of money coming off the books, with a lot of cheap young players filling critical spots," the official said. "Throw in the fact that they're an NL club in his home [state] with [potentially] two rotation spots to fill, and I think it makes the most sense."

2. Which team will sign Manny Ramirez?

Responses: Los Angeles Dodgers 10, New York Mets 4, New York Yankees 1.

Manny Ramirez made his priorities clear at the end of the National League Championship Series when he told reporters that he plans to go to the highest bidder. "The [price of] gasoline is up, so I'm up," said Ramirez -- jokingly, according to reporters who were present.

Actually, the price of gasoline has declined in recent weeks, but Ramirez seems like a good bet to surpass the $20 million annually that he received in his last free-agent deal with Boston eight years ago.

Stock in Manny was down in late July, when Ramirez was vilified for dogging it in Boston. His profile went up when he hit .396 in August and September in leading the Dodgers to the playoffs and past the Cubs in the Division Series. Now Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and GM Ned Colletti are going to have a tough time saying no.

"Manny is still an offensive force, big-time," said an AL assistant GM. "At times he's not in the best condition, and he can shut it down, so there's a risk to him. But after what he did for that team -- turning their season around -- the Dodgers are going to have a hard time explaining to their fans that they didn't get it done."

The Mets need to find a closer to replace Billy Wagner and some help for the rotation, so they might not have the cash to bid on Ramirez. Surprisingly, none of our survey respondents mentioned the Phillies, who are considered a potential Ramirez suitor because of manager Charlie Manuel's relationship with Ramirez and the team's need for a left fielder if Pat Burrell leaves town.

The estimates for Ramirez's contract range from a low of three years and $55 million to a high of five years and $105 million. Several respondents predicted three years and $80 million.

Three years at $80M? At $27M a year, that's a 50% increase over the already insane money thrown into Andruw Jones' pot belly. Wow.