If you have read Jonah Keri’s new book on the Rays, The Extra 2%, you know the Rays business model is centered around exploiting “market inefficiencies.” That is, finding value where other teams don’t. And if Manny Ramirez thrives with the Rays, “clubhouse cancers” may be the Rays’ next “2%.”

Ultimately, it starts with Joe Maddon. If you want one article to sum up Maddon the manager, read this one by Jayson Stark.

“I used to have a T-shirt,” Maddon says. “And it said, ‘Tell me what you think, not what you’ve heard.’ So I’m not going to rely on what I’ve heard [about Manny]. Ever. Ever. … I’ve got to make up my own opinion. I’ve got to make up my own mind at the end of the day.”

When it comes to Manny, Maddon is the consummate player’s coach. He is Rex Ryan without the stupid comments. And this will allow the Rays to exploit another market inefficiency in baseball: The cantankerous player.

Players that are deemed “clubhouse cancers” can be had below market value. And those players may see how Manny is thriving under with Maddon and think Tampa Bay might be a nice place to revive their career.

And this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is the same as taking a chance on a relief pitcher coming off an injury. Only this time, the injury is to the player’s reputation. And most of the time, a player’s reputation is built only on what we hear.

And Maddon doesn’t have any time for that.

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28 Comments

  1. Cork Gaines says:

    As a quick postscript: i should add that there are still limits here. Joe Maddon met with Gary Sheffield this winter and the Rays passed. Maybe they didn't think his bat was good enough. Or maybe Maddon didn't think he would be able to connect with Sheff the way he is connecting with Manny.

    Also, the Rays will never won't a lot of these guys around. They are still very protective of their image and of the brand. And too many of these guys and the Rays could end up looking like the Cincinnati Bengals.

    Again, to compare to pitchers coming off injuries, it is about weeding through the pile and finding one or two that show a lot of promise. Whether that is a pitcher whose arm issues may not be as bad as perceived or Manny, whose reputation may be far worse than reality.

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    • Sarah says:

      There were also rumors at some point (remember?) that the Rays were considering Milton Bradley with just this kind of reasoning.

      I suppose the Rays office needs to be able to identify those "cancers" who can at least hold it together for 3/4 of a season, and whose craziness doesn't take everyone down with them.

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      • Cork Gaines says:

        That's a good point. And I think that shows that the Rays will kick the tires on these guys knowing they can get a certain level of talent for below market value. But like anything, the match needs to just right.

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  2. Gus says:

    I guess Upton has been the in-house case study on attitude problems?

    Do the Rays have to pay Manny if he gets the 2nd offender/100-game PED suspension? Does anybody on this blog think that he didn't spend the winter in the DR (where almost all PEDs are legal and readily available) and getting himself in shape and he didn't resort to some PED regime? I mean, you are 38, you've used them before (most likely for many years) and you are on a make it or break it year. It would take a ton of willpower NOT to resort to them. I don't see Manny as a willpower kind of guy.

    Now you come into spring training and all the stories are about him working out like crazy, in fantastic shape, hitting balls off of guys heads. I've read those kinds of spring training stories before with guys in their late 30s. Many of those turned out to be PED users.

    So I think Manny's season is going to start off great, and then as the PED cycle from the winter is further in the rear view mirror, he'll enter into a decline on the field (which will lead to decline off the field). And this move won't look so much like genius in August (unless he visits the JC Romero's "GNC" in the dog days). It will look like a move by management desperate to change the spring training conversation from how much payroll was slashed to Manny being Manny.

    I hope I'm wrong and that Manny's steroid conviction was the result of a one-time flirtation with PEDs. But being a baseball fan, I know that it is more likely that I'm right.

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    • Derek says:

      Upton hasn't really been an ongoing attitude problem. Some mental lapses here and there don't make someone a "clubhouse cancer". I don't recall hearing the story about Upton starting shit with Longoria in the dugout.

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    • Rob says:

      2 or 3 months of Manny producing is a bad thing? Your scenario isn't all that bad for $2M.

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  3. Derek says:

    I wouldn't call Manny a cancer, per say. Most of his antics have no effect on the on-the-field play. We can all speculate on whether he quit or not, but I have a hard time believing that he is in the position to quit this year. Manny has always been praised for his hard work, this isn't some new leaf Manny has turned over. Unless Manny can somehow make Brignac even more worthless against lefties, I don't see why we give him the "clubhouse cancer" tag.

    Unless you're saying that his drug suspension is the only reason. I'd agree with that, because it actually effected the play on the field. (The team is better with him, than without him.) It could also serve as a teaching method for the young guys, don't do drugs or you'll end up like Matt Bush, or like Manny, who had no real offers and had to settle for $2 mill.

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    • Gus says:

      Known examples of Manny not being a good teammate:

      Summer of 2008 -- forcing Boston to trade him, not running out grounders, begging out of the line up with "knee" injuries that his teammtes disputed

      Spring of 2009 -- 50 game suspension for PEDs

      Summer of 2010 -- forcing LA to trade him; forcing Torre to scratch him put of the line up on several occasions; batting and not swinging and getting ejected in what was his last game for LA.

      3 years, 3 examples of him not being a guy you want in your clubhouse for 2011. This is why he came so cheap. And Cork's point (I think) is that maybe this is a new development for the 2% guys. I hope not, as I think we've seen in recent years that teams that specialize in guys with "bad" reputations (Oakland and Cincy and maybe Dallas in the NFL, the Knicks and Blazers in the NBA) don't fare very well.

      For me personally, give me Des Jennings in the line up over Manny's tired act (and DH Damon and his rag arm). I'm guessing by August, that is what we'll be seeing anyway. I'd rather start Des out right away.

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      • Derek says:

        Meh. There's more to it than "Manny forced his way out." Neither story ended on a good note, and Manny was accused of "dogging it" on plays towards the end, but Manny isn't the only player in these deals. He just didn't handle his problems in a professional way.

        In reference to his last at-bat as a Dodger. First off, he shouldn't have been placed in the game. He was dealt at that point, and teams never, ever place a guy in when he is in the process of being dealt. Secondly, he was ejected because the ump made a bad call on an outside pitch, and he argued it. The bases were loaded, and this was a key moment in the game. It had nothing to do with him not swinging. (Crawford did this same thing last year. Both should have just shut their mouths)

        What teammates? Schilling?

        The pushing of the travel director and the suspension are the two real issues here. I've made this point before though, if our players let Manny's bad habits rub off on them, then I blame them, and not Manny. These guys are adults, and they should know right from wrong at this stage of their lives.

        I want Manny on our team, because he can hit. This is all I care about, with any player.

        Jennings is not ready. Damon and Manny give us our best shot at competing this year.

        I don't see them going after every guy with a bad rap sheet. These guys take calculated risks, and when the potential for good outweighs the potential for bad, then they will jump in.

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        • Gus says:

          Manny was not "dealt" when he pulled his stunt in Colorado. He was pinch hitting on a Sunday when the league offices are closed with the freaking bases loaded. So he went up there and quit by arguing a 1st strike call and got himself ejected.

          Next day (Monday) White Sox claimed him off waivers.

          He quit on his teammates before; he'll likely quit on them again. Other than messing with your teammates wife, there is nothing worse you can do in an MLB Clubhouse. Maybe the 2% have found the cure for clubhouse cancer. But I believe the Percival saga was the one thing that most-torpedoed the 2009 season. And Manny feels like the offensive version of Percival to me, but just with sightly more game.

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          • Derek says:

            I love how you refer to it as quiting. The call was wrong, just watch the video.

            Like I said, Crawford did this exact same thing. He argued a first pitch strike and got himself ejected, oh, but he did it to motivate his team, right?

            Manny had already been claimed at that point, but even if you refuse to believe that, the Dodgers had been trying to trade him for awhile. Teams almost never play guys when they are getting rid of them, this doubles when the player being dealt is an injury risk.

            Here's a nice article dated Aug 29, 2010. AKA: Sunday., the day the offices were closed.

            http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/38909904/sports/player_news

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          • BullDog says:

            Other than messing with your teammates wife, there is nothing worse you can do in an MLB Clubhouse...

            There was a lot of speculation here in Boston at the time that stories of Manny requesting a trade and the subsequent trading of Renteria may have had a lot more to do with your above comment than either of them scuffling at the plate.

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      • Professor Twain says:

        The other example that people often give of Manny being a bad teammate was when he got in a fight with Kevin Youkilis in the Red Sox dugout. Apparently he bit** slapped Youk after Youk was throwing or kicking bats after striking out. I think Manny deserves credit for standing up to whiny Youkilis. Pushing the Red Sox staffer to the ground is the only thing he has done that is a bad mark on him as far as I am concerned. Manny is probably one of hundreds of MLB players who used PEDs.

        I'm glad to have Manny on the Rays and eager to see him show everyone what he still has left in the tank.

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        • Sarah says:

          And I'm also just a bit disconcerted about reports that he used to pee in some little alcove behind the green monster. If he promised to use the toilets at the Trop I'll be happy.

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        • Derek says:

          This.

          Maddon is a true players manager. He has done a wonderful job at keeping these guys ego's in check. As crazy as skinny jean road trips are, he has kept a very low-key, quite clubhouse. You won't here McGee talking about raging when he records his first save, and all you'll get from Price is talk about being the best. These guys understand the image of the Rays, and they do a very good job at maintaining it.

          The team isn't trying to hold Manny down, but more importantly, they are not exploiting his money making potential. They understand that Manny isn't the face of the franchise, and as long as they don't turn the trop into the big top, Manny should remain nothing more than a triple slash line.

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  4. Don says:

    Manny is a prince till this point in time with the Rays....until he goes off or IF he goes off...whats the point in continual rehash of shit he used to do...Friday april 1 2011 is the beginning of a new career For manny...
    Until it ends...enjoy the ride..we got the best $2mil hitter in baseball!

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  5. Tom says:

    I agree if he starts to act like an a$$ then dump Manny, move Junnings to left and Damon to DH but so far there have not been any problems.

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  6. Jay says:

    There is no doubt we are in the 'honeymoon' period of this relationship. It will be interesting to see how long it will last.

    The most interesting thing to me is how Manny is communicating with Joe asking for more playing time, more reps and Joe obliging him. I hope it bodes well for a LONG season in the AL East where it won't take much for frustration to take over.

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  7. dustin says:

    "They might get some good out of it, but it will never end good."

    Maybe that's right, but so what? If Manny helps the Rays for a month, if he helps the team get out of the gate strong, the Rays will have got their money's worth. If he goes to pieces in June, or July, or atx any point later than mid-May, he's earned his bills. It's not like I'd complain about Manny raking all year, but the Rays won't live or die on the strength of his bat. Maybe we'll get lucky. Maybe Manny will carry the offense for a little while, giving Longo some protection in the lineup and giving the myriad kiddos in the lineup a chance to adjust. That would certainly qualify as "some good," right?

    Really, if Manny's strong spring carries over for a month or two, anything else we get from him is gravy. Who cares if it doesn't end well?

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  8. Cork Gaines says:

    But I wonder if we even need to worry that it might end well. I mean, of course that is possible, but has Manny ever been a distraction in his first season? Somebody else might remember an incident, but I dont recall one.Anyway, it just seems that Manny does eventually wear out his welcome, but it does seem to take a couple of years before it happens.

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  9. Jim says:

    We all like happy endings, but with baseball contracts we know that is probably not a possibility when you shop at the bargain bin.

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  10. David says:

    There is no question that Manny flat out quit on the Red Sox and the Dodgers. IMO, it doesn't matter who the manager is, Manny is a self contained time bomb. He'll go off when his timer is up and there's nothing a manager can do to stop that clock.

    I think the Rays were smart, however, in signing Manny because his clock usually takes at least a full year or more before it counts down and he explodes.

    We get (hopefully) Good Manny and his awesome bat for one year then he goes to greener pastures next year.

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  11. robert says:

    Funny to see this being debated still. Manny has a skunk trail a mile long. And how many of these spring time dingers have been hit against a pitcher who will make a roster in the bigs? Also-- I keep hearing terms like "Manny's awesome bat". Which bat is that? The 2003 version? The 2005 version? Maybe, the 2007 version? This guy is a dirty bomb, period, end of story...

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  12. Lots of Manny hate here... wow... I can't believe you guys actually bought that crap the Red Sox front office was throwing out there about Manny in 2008. There was a concerted effort to turn the Fenway Faithful against Manny before parting ways.

    I'll argue until I'm blue in the face that the only reason the Rays won the division in 2008 and got to the World Series was because the Red Sox traded Manny. That team wasn't nearly as formidable without his bat in the lineup. It gave the Rays just enough of an opening to squeak by them and get to the World Series. And spare many any crap about Jason Bay filling in for Manny.

    Now, with that being said, if you say something like that to Red Sox fan.. they'll go crazy with tales of Manny being a cancer, etc (much like Gus)... but all of that was set up by the Red Sox so it didn't look like they were getting ready to part ways with the best right handed bat in baseball.

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  13. robert says:

    Uh-- he beat up a sixty-something year old man in the clubhouse (over tickets)... And yeah, throwing a man that age to the ground is the same as beating him up.

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  14. Jeff says:

    Robert, u must be a retard...he has one of the best slugging percentages of all time. If you have a reason why u think he will or wont be a "clubhouse cancer" then please contribute to the conversation. As for the crap u did spew, how about the 2004 bat that carried the Sox to a WS? Or maybe the '08 bat that carried LA?

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  15. Dallas says:

    I will admit I was not happy when I found out that we signed Manny, but I agree that for the price we signed him for if he makes it to July we will be playing with house money. I am hoping for the best while expecting the worst. It's opening day and I want nothing more than to defend our AL East title! Go Rays!

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