The Texas Rangers signing Manny Ramirez to a minor league deal last week ranks pretty high in the random moments of this baseball season.
It’s not so surprising that Manny – at 41 years old coming off of two 50-game suspensions in four years for positive steroids tests – found his way back to the league. But the conventional operating Texas Rangers are just the team you would expect to pass on this kind of partnership.
The Rangers seem above bringing in a guy who hasn’t played in the majors for the past two seasons, even if he does make a case for the greatest right-handed hitter of his generation.
Here’s a question no one is asking: Since known PED users are haphazardly banned from the conversation, Manny still has to be a Hall of Famer, right?
The steroids, at least on the surface, put him in the proverbial doghouse with the voters. Yet, having a squad like Texas pick him up shows baseball’s real attitude toward performance enhancement.
It’s a bottom-line business.
If a player can come back at his age after a pair of 50-game suspensions, it means the bottom-line clips are impossible to ignore. A non-HOF player wouldn’t even get consideration under similar conditions.
In the risk/reward analysis, neither has high potential. For just $500,000 at the most, Texas gets a career .312 hitter with a .411 on-base percentage, a .585 slugging percentage and 555 home runs.
Dudes Manny’s age don’t usually get down like they did in their younger days, and we haven’t seen the Manny Ramirez that came of age in the early 2000s since he was first traded to the Dodgers in 2008. Still, that’s not bad for half a milli and a roster spot.
Worst-case scenario has the former Red Sox slugger getting popped for female fertility drugs again; but in that situation, he’d be gone a lot quicker than last time. Best-case scenario involves Manny replacing a busted up Lance Berkman at designated hitter while the Rangers battle Oakland in the American League West pennant race.
In his first game on assignment with Triple-A Round Rock Express on Sunday, Ramirez went 1-for-3 with a single and drew a walk. He sent the first pitch he saw from top Kansas City Royals pitching prospect Yordano Ventura to the opposite side of the field.
No one knows yet how this is going to play out.
I talked to a handful of Rangers fans last week who were cautiously optimistic about the pickup. The thought on this is that Manny can’t do much to tear down the Rangers, which is about as stable a ball club as you will find over in the past five years.
Texas has a solid foundation, but they’re banged up and facing depth issues as the All-Star game approaches. It would be ironic if the Rangers end up paying Manny the league minimum to do what they are paying Berkman $11 million to do.
There is a good chance that, by September, Manny isn’t going to be Manny in Arlington. But if he is, baseball, at some point, is going to have to acknowledge the steroid guys still have value.
Hate it or love it, we need to stop this holier than thou charade. The numbers are not lost somewhere in the sewer. All of this is actually happening.