Thursday, February 16, 2012

Can Manny Still Be Manny?

"Chief Wahoo isn't a real person?"
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
It's hard to figure out Oakland's interest in Manny Ramirez, other than it must be that Billy Beane thinks he has more left in his swing than faded memories of former teammate Chief Wahoo.

The 39-year old DH hasn't had a productive full season since 2008 (pre-drug suspension '09 notwithstanding,) and his character issues and mashups with teammates, clubhouse attendants, family members, and retirement are well documented. The man to your left is clearly Dr.-Steve Brule-crazy, just one glance at his eyes will tell you that.

Yet we still have this out of Oakland:

"All signals point toward the A's signing free agent designated hitter Manny Ramirez sometime soon." writes Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group.

"Ramirez, who must serve a 50-game suspension before he can play for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy, has attracted interest not only from Oakland but also the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays. However, Orioles general manager Dan Duquette said recently he doesn't see Ramirez, 39, as a fit for his team. Discussions between the Blue Jays and Ramirez reportedly did not get far."

The A's, already faced with a glut of mediocre/potential-filled outfielders, feel like they need a hitter they can trust. Ironcially, they seem to have settled on Manny. With the excitement surrounding the acquisition of Yoenis Cesepedes, the marketing department certainly got a boost this week, so ticket sales can't be a concern.

Beane just feels like he needs a veteran hitter--and at this stage in the offseason, along with a miniscule remaining budget, Oakland is definitely limited in its options. Fine. I can't fault Beane for taking a flyer on a guy with 500-plus career homeruns, especially since he'll likely play for free tickets and someone to lead him by the bat to the on-deck circle.

But can he still hit? Almost certainly not. I won't hit you with the numbers, because the sample size is too small (5 games with the Rays last season,) but again, even Hall-of-Famers have trouble picking up the ball after the age of 37 without some sort of enhancer pumping through their veins.

Is it possible Manny will have success with the A's this year? Yes. But not likely. A smarter option would be Johnny Damon, another aging vet, but one without that pesky "bat-shit insane" label. 

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