My ideal is carlos Lee, but if the Phils get no big bat in free agency to protect Ryan Howard(not looking likely at this point) they should go for Manny Ramirez. Manny’s contract all of a sudden doesnt look so intimidating with the Soriano deal setting the stage this year. Here is why the Phillies could afford him. 1) Pat Gillick has already said it wasnt the money that kept them from getting Soriano, it was the years. Soriano is getting 17 mill per year, Manny is going to get around 19-20 mill. Not a huge difference. In fact Gillick said the money Soriano got was no problem, so that tells me they could then afford Manny. 2) Two years. That is how much time Manny has left on his current deal. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley wont be eligible for huge raises within two years, thus making Manny and his contract affordable. At the end of manny’s two years you can let him walk and then pay Utley and Howard their due. This gives Howard awesome protection in the lineup, and allows the Phillies to go right–left–right in the middle of the lineup if they want to break it up so in the late innings an opposing manager cant leave in a reliever(specialist) to get the key outs for consecutive batters like they do now. (say Howard third-manny 4th-Utley fifth) Then Manny has protection too in Utley. 3) Marketing—The Phillies would make a ton more in ticket sales, merchandise, etc. if they got Manny that the money they pay would be made up pretty much in the sales of tickets, shirts, jerseys, etc.(Moises Alou would have been nice at 8.5 for one year(as the Mets got him for that) but he is hurt a lot more now that he is 40) Anyway, bottom line is you get protection for Howard, high octane potency in the middle of your lineup, and not have to invest long term and go through what you just did from the Ed Wade era. He tied up guys like Burrell, Leiberthal, Abreu, for too long at too much, overvaluing them and making it hard to get rid of them. The hangup to getting Manny, can they find a match for a trade. Burrell has to be included, and what do the Red Sox want in return? Yeah, Manny is a head case, but so is Soriano. He is a tempermental guy too. For two years I’ll take a chance on Manny and his defensive shortcomings and weirdness as opposed to Soriano’s temperment for eight years. Manny in Phillie pinstripes?? Just a thought.