Here's the six-year tenure of Manny Ramirez. 110 homers the first three years, 113 the last. 336 RBI the first three years, 376 RBI the last. Batting average over .300 five times, and on base percentage and slugging percentage (right of chart) always around .400 and .600.
And, oh yes, there's the matter of protecting David Ortiz and the relative lack of protection that he gets.
Yes, Manny can get 'squirrelly' at times (flaky bad players simply get released), and defensively he's not Yaz, but I'd rather have him out there than Mike Greenwell any day. Does he run out every grounder like his pants are on fire? No. He must have really set a terrible example for Hanley Ramirez, as he really underachieved for Florida. No, maybe it was Anibal Sanchez then. Yeah, Sanchez only batted .114 for the Marlins.
Does Manny set a wonderful example for all of his teammates? Maybe not. I don't really care if underachieving, overpaid guys gripe because they aren't happy with what Manny does. If you can hit like Manny, you can gripe as much as you like. Manny isn't malicious (to his teammates anyway), and for those who don't know it, Manny ISN'T Mr. Popularity with some of the writers, with some of whom he maintained a Steve Carltonesque silence.
I could really care less about what sportswriters think of Manny. As Mickey Mantle told Roger Maris, "hit 'em with your wallet.' Guys like Steve Lyons and Mike Greenwell got a pass for YEARS, because they were good interviews, but no longer good players. Sportswriters can make or break players, and don't kid yourself that some don't have agendas. Ron Borges spends much of his time trying to become the focus of stories, bashing the Patriots and Bill Belichick. Nasty? Just his shtick? No matter.
The Red Sox by the end of the season had declined into the bottom quartile of major league baseball teams. Was Manny the principal cause for that? The Sox probably overachieved for the first two-thirds of the season, winning and dominating the National League, but finished the season with fewer runs scored than runs allowed (820-825). For the Sabermetricians out there, Manny and Ortiz accounted for 260 runs created, almost a third of the team's offense. And you want to get rid of their second most productive player and protection for Ortiz?
Manny matters. The Red Sox have plenty of retooling to do in the offseason, but the most important task they have with Manny is to get him healthy and happier.