The origins of this curse can be traced back to 2008, when the Red Sox jettisoned superstar Manny Ramirez in a blockbuster three-team deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates.
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Boston finally had enough of “Manny being Manny,” with the last straw coming when he began squabbling with teammates and shoved a team employee. Ramirez was sent packing to Los Angeles, where he took the National League by storm with a superb .396 average, 1.232 OPS and 17 home runs over the final 53 games of the season. His time with the Dodgers wasn’t a large sample following the trade, but it was enough to warrant MVP consideration and launch the Dodgers into the postseason.
The Red Sox received star outfielder Jason Bay from the Pirates as part of the deal. Bay took over in left field and put up some impressive numbers in Boston. Not quite what Manny was producing out west, but Bay’s only full season with the Red Sox in 2009 was still All-Star worthy. He smashed a career-high 36 home runs and drove in 119 RBI on his way to finishing 7th in MVP voting. Seems like the Red Sox did pretty well in replacing a disgruntled star, right?
The problem is that Bay didn’t last long in Boston, so he wasn’t a long-term solution to the left field problem created by the departure of Ramirez. Bay bolted after the 2009 season to sign a lucrative deal with the New York Mets, where his career quickly unraveled. His OPS plummeted from .921 in his final season in Boston to .749 with the Mets, sinking all the way to a putrid .536 in his third and final season in New York. Injuries played a part in his demise, but there’s no doubting that Bay was a bust in the Big Apple, making him the first victim of the curse.
While Red Sox fans can in retrospect be grateful that the team didn’t match the offer to retain Bay, Boston struggled to fill the left field position in 2010. The role was split sporadically between forgettable options like Daniel Nava, Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida and Darnell McDonald. Red Sox left fielders hit .230 with a .698 OPS that season, leaving fans to wonder if retaining the rapidly declining Bay would have been a better alternative.
Next: The Crawford Debacle