Will The Miami Marlins Trade For Manny Ramirez This Time?

The Trade That Wasn't. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Trade That Wasn't. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Trade That Wasn't. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Trade That Wasn’t. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

We haven’t seen this in a while folks.

With a resounding 7-3 victory Sunday afternoon at Marlins Park, the Miami Marlins put an exclamation point on the first half with a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds.  And what a first half it was. Quietly, lost in the noise of the Florida Panthers resurgence, the Miami Heat’s clattering fall from grace, and the rapt anticipation of another Miami Dolphins season, the Miami Marlins have put together the second best first half in franchise history.

Only the 1997 championship squad entered the break with a more commanding position in the standings.

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Distant 2008 was the last time anything close to this much feel-good followed the Marlins into the All-Star break. A young superstar named Hanley Ramirez was starting at shortstop for the NL, with fan favorite Dan Uggla joining him.  They were five games over .500, and had spent over forty games in first place in the NL East. “I Kissed A Girl” and “Low” were on the radio, and Heath Ledger was about to deliver a terrifying turn as the Joker…..

Okay, maybe taking that summer a little too seriously.

But there was real buzz about the team. Hanley Ramirez had just inked a six-year, $70 million extension. And there was a stunning, stirring, stretch heading up to the Trade Deadline where it appeared that the Marlins were on the verge of trading for suddenly unwanted superstar Manny Ramirez. An All-Star that season, and the ten previous seasons before it, it would be a massive upgrade to a lineup that was seven games over as the Deadline neared; hitting just shy of .300, he’d be replacing Jeremy Hermida, who had finished the first half at .255 before fading from that not exactly lofty perch. The Red Sox had had enough of their former franchise player, who had become such a distraction that they were willing to move him despite being in the thick of the playoff race.

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However, there was a hitch. To get the deal done, it needed to be a three team deal, and the Pittsburgh Pirates were being especially picky in terms of what prospects they received in return for sending their own star outfielder, Jason Bay, to Boston to replace Ramirez. Particularly, they were insisting that the Marlins throw in a Single A outfielder along with Jeremy Hermida and heralded pitching prospect Ryan Tucker.

The outfielder’s name was Mike Stanton.

In the years since 2008, this is a deal I’ve gone back to many times. Should the Marlins have pulled the trigger?

Miami has had exactly one winning season in the years since, and it was in 2009, meaning Stanton played no part in it. Hermida hit .237 with 7 HR and 19 RBI in the second half of 2008; Manny Ramirez hit .388 with 19 HR and 61 RBI in the same stretch. He went on to finish 4th in the MVP voting. Even accounting for the fact “The Stadium Formerly Known As Joe Robbie” was very much a pitcher’s park, that level of production would more than likely have put the Marlins in the playoffs.

The Dodgers team that acquired him went on to lose to the eventual champion Phillies in five games in the NLCS, a Phillies team Miami went 10-8 against during the season without Manny.

I love Stanton. He’s special. A generational player that fans will talk about for generations to come. Watching him play is must watch excitement, and seeing him connect an unforgettable experience.

But I’d of flipped him to Pittsburgh faster than a bird gets flipped in rush hour if it meant a third championship. And really even an NL pennant.

That very well could have been the result of pulling the trigger back then. The Marlins never would have resigned him, so arguing that not making the deal was vindicated by his multiple PED suspensions is silly, unless you’re doing so on general principle. It wouldn’t have been our problem. Plus, the Sunshine State was denied a Citrus Series Fall Classic; the Rays were the AL Champion that season, edging out the Manny-less Red Sox.

Next: Which Lesson Will The 2016 Marlins Take?