Manny Ramirez: From Dodgers and Mannywood to going unsigned?
Manny, how I love ya, how I love ya, my dear ol’ Manny …
Oh, wait. That was then. This is now, which is another entire planet for Manny Ramirez.
On this planet, circa 2011, he is a man without a job, and few if any prospects.
It was only two years ago that Manny was the toast of the town. The man who electrified Dodger Stadium. Who helped lead them back into the playoffs, where they actually won a series. And who parlayed that almost magical two months into a two-year, $45-million contract.
Alas, the next two years seldom resembled those previous two months. A drug suspension, injuries, a decline in power, a mysterious boycott of the media, remarkable hair growth.
He was ultimately waived in August and picked up by the White Sox, where he bombed.
Now is there any club willing to take a chance on the 38-year-old?
So far, that’s a big zilch.
Spring training starts in six weeks. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (insider status required) said team executives are now questioning whether he’ll be signed by anyone.
His options look increasingly slim. After watching him struggle defensively in left field for the Dodgers last season, it’s unlikely any National League team wants to take a flier on him. Manny, infamously, announced his future was as a designated hitter the first day of the Dodgers’ camp last February. Which was a day before he stopped talking.
American League clubs in need of a DH, however, are hardly bountiful. Tim Dierkes of MLBtraderumors.com went down the list and determined that the only real logical matches were the Rays and Rangers.
Of course, Vladimir Guerrero remains available to DH again in Texas. Yahoo.sports thinks Manny could be left with the Rays and Orioles, but notes that with Jim Thome, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and Guerrero still available, there are other options out there with far less baggage.
The risk-reward factor with Manny exceeds all others. He is clearly getting up there in years, and if his power has waned, still had a highly productive bat for the Dodgers (.915 on-base, plus slugging percentage) before his leg injuries. Of course, then there is his surprising off-season groin surgery.
His agent is Scott Boras, who is on what you might call something of a good run (see: Jayson Werth, Adrian Beltre), so it is best not to figure no deal will be uncovered.
Manny, however, is a prideful man, so taking one of baseball’s greatest pay cuts might also prove an issue. It’s been projected that it will take $5 million to sign him. At best, he’s a DH; at worst a part-time player, so that’s still some serious dough for that role.
When players start reporting to camp, if Manny is still unsigned, he could be looking at even less guaranteed money and an incentive-laden contract. And for Manny, that’s another planet.
-- Steve Dilbeck