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What are the Rays getting in Manny Ramirez?

Jan 22, 2011, 6:17 PM EDT

Manny Ramirez

The Rays’ $2 million investment in Manny Ramirez certainly seems like a worthwhile gamble, but there’s no denying that the 38-year-old slugger seemed washed up during his stint with the White Sox last season. He hit just .261/.420/.319 with one homer and two RBI in 69 at-bats following the August deal. On the other hand, he came in at .311/.405/.510 in 232 at-bats prior to the trade, making him one of the NL’s 10-best hitters.

In all, Ramirez hit .298/.409/.460 with nine homers in 265 at-bats last season. Since returning from his 50-game PED suspension in July 2009, he’s had 525 at-bats and hit .284/.399/.476 with 22 homers.

So, let’s look at how some similar players hit in their age-39 years. Here’s a list of all of the players since 1961 to amass a .375 OBP and a .450 slugging percentage in at least 300 at-bats at age 38 and how they followed up in their age-39 seasons.

Gene Woodling – .313/.403/.471 (1961) – .276/.379/.424 (1962) – OPS+ 138 to 116
Hank Aaron – .265/.390/.515 (1972) – .301/.402/.643 (1973) – OPS+ 147 to 177
Willie Stargell – .295/.382/.567 (1978) – .281/.352/.552 (1979) – OPS+ 158 to 139
Ron Cey – .273/.384/.508 (1986) – .221/.359/.394 (1987) – OPS+ 138 to 107
Harold Baines – .301/.375/.458 (1997) – .300/.369/.451 (1998) – OPS+ 120 to 114
Edgar Martinez – .306/.423/.543 (2001) – .277/.403/.485 (2002) – OPS+ 160 to 139
Barry Bonds – .341/.529/.749 (2003) – .362/.609/.812 (2004) – OPS+ 231 to 263
Larry Walker – .289/.384/.502 (2005) – Retired
Moises Alou – .321/.400/.518 (2005) – .301/.352/.571 (2006) – OPS+ 138 to 132
Jeff Kent – .292/.385/.477 (2006) – .302/.375/.500 (2007) – OPS+ 133 to 119
Frank Thomas – .270/.381/.545 (2006) – .277/.377/.480 (2007) – OPS+ 140 to 125
Gary Sheffield – .298/.409/.460 (2007) – .225/.326/.400 (2008) – OPS+ 119 to 89

I have to say, the list fares a whole lot better than I expected. Cey, who simply had a last hurrah at age 38, doesn’t really belong in this group. Sheffield was the only player to fall apart, but he was playing with a shoulder that required surgery and he did rebound to a 119 OPS+ at age 40.

For the record, Ramirez’s OPS+ last year was 138. I don’t think he’ll bounce back with 30 or maybe not even 25 homers this season, particularly with how Tropicana Field has played as a pitcher’s park these last few years. Still, the OBP will be there and he should slug .450 anyway. He’ll be better than at least half of the league’s DH and a big improvement over the .238/.322/.391 line the Rays received from the spot last season.

  1. pisano - Jan 22, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    A scumbag that’s going to create alot of problems.If he makes the entire season it will be amazing. Good luck Joe Maddon and the Ray’s.

  2. jfk69 - Jan 22, 2011 at 8:52 PM

    For 2 million and the fact Manny has something to prove makes this a worthwhile investment. He knows he only be the DH and i have no doubt he can still hit. At the least he will put fannys in the seats in Tampa. If they don’t come out to watch his show…move the team. They certainly don’t come out to watch a wnning team down there,unless they are giving the seats away.

    • florida76 - Jan 22, 2011 at 9:23 PM

      The Manny and Damon signing sure look like a desperate move by the Rays, even if it wasn’t expensive. It’s reminds me of the Jose Canseco signing years ago, neither player can possibly hope to fill Crawford’s shoes. What happened to this deep Tampa farm system?

      Since the club as constituted will be mediocre, much like the 2009 team, the attendance will be even worse than last year. And Manny will be a cancer in the clubhouse when he’s struggling. So the Rays will have decreased offensive production to go with a weak bullpen. That’s not a prescription for success in the tough AL East.

      • skibble - Jan 22, 2011 at 10:27 PM

        No offense, pal, but this was a horrible comment. The entire purpose of this post was that Manny will still be very effective for a cheap price. Damon may or may not help but both will offer some valuable veteran experience to a very young Rays team. Love Manny or hate him he is one of the best players of the last few decades.

        The Rays are magicians at generating runs and this move gives the Rays no financial commitments beyond 2011. Additionally, it lets the Rays save future money on Jennings and let him recover from the power-sapping wrist injury. It is a cheap move that allows the Rays to compete while nurturing the young talent.

        Your suggestion of adding to the bullpen is original too. And a great idea considering the market this year! The Rays were able to cheaply acquire Benoit and Soriano last year but this is a year when teams like the As, Sox and even the Yanks have tossed mad dough to sign MR. This doesn’t fit the economic game plan of the Rays.

        You don’t replace a player like Carl Crawford. You can’t. But you can replace Pena’s OPS and power production. And you can generate runs.

        Consider this: essentially the Rays gave Garza and about 1 million dollars for Archer, Lee, 2 other decent role players, Manny and Damon. Genius (albeit frugal) move. And if Shields performs to his improved peripherals and Hellickson stays healthy, the Rays have a legitimate shot at a wild card spot with an absurdly low pay roll.

        Sorry, you’re wrong.

      • kenbercheval - Jan 23, 2011 at 10:06 AM

        You sound like a jealous Miami Blowfish fan florida76.

        Rays ownership keeps the fans away the way they run the team. Boasting the cheapest ticket in baseball ($5), it still costs $20 to park and another $13 for a beer and hot dog – thats $38 before you even take your seat for the first pitch – more if the YankMees or Dead Sox are in town.

        Under the new owners, the franchise is starting to regain some of the stench of Vince Namoli (I swear he still runs concessions at the Trop where 1 beer is the price of a 12 pack) because they want a new stadium at tax payer expense and that isn’t going to happen. The fans in St Pete will not buy that same bag of garbage Selig and the Blowfish owner sold to the Miami fans.

      • uzi978 - Jan 23, 2011 at 11:59 AM

        @kenbercheval: YankMees and Dead Sox. Damn are you clever!

      • Old Gator - Jan 23, 2011 at 12:02 PM

        Florida76: you look like you could use some help here. Just let me duck into this phone booth (or maybe it’s a terrarium full of the next wave of invasive species – whatever), and try to support your initial insights (a term with which I would not dignify the comments you engendered) with some hard stats:

        “The Manny and Damon signing sure look like a desperate move by the Rays, even if it wasn’t expensive.” Yes it does. Manny came cheap, Damon overpriced by any measure; if the Razed got them as a twofer from Boras mills, fine, but they’re not nearly an answer to anything except maybe filling a couple of empty lineup spaces. They’re the Tropicana Dump’s gerontological answers to that mammoth the Japanese want to clone.This is going to be a barely competitive team this year in this particular division regardless. Looking for and evaluating younger players was the way to go.

        “…neither player can possibly hope to fill Crawford’s shoes.” Damned if I can see why or how anyone could take issue with that.

        “Since the club as constituted will be mediocre, much like the 2009 team, the attendance will be even worse than last year.” Anyone who disagrees with that isn’t paying attention, or else they’ve forgotten how to distinguish between their fantasy team of this offseason and reality – even reality Florida style.

        “And Manny will be a cancer in the clubhouse when he’s struggling.” And if you drop an object off the roof of an adjacent condo building, it will fall at a rate of g = 9.8 m/s². Anyone else want to offer another apodictic statement here, or will the preceding two be sufficient for purposes of our discussion?

        “So the Rays will have decreased offensive production to go with a weak bullpen. That’s not a prescription for success in the tough AL East.” Now, who wants to step up and aver in any but the most vaguely self-indulgent terms (like your interlocutor skibble) that this is a prescription for success in the AL East?

        Coda: Manny may indeed be “one of the best players of the past few decades,” but not one single solitary nanosecond of those decades are going to step to the plate with him in April. As long as spacetime keeps expanding – and every indication says it will – Manny’s glory days are going to keep getting further and further behind him at 299792.458 km/s. And as long as gravity remains more or less constant in and around the Tropicana Tumulus, Johnny Damon’s pegs (good idiom, that) will still be falling into the turf between him and shortstop at the aforementioned rate of g = 9.8 m/s² – maybe a bit more slowly given the feeble force applied to their trajectories (where s² also stands for the ratio of overpayment for any given moment the Razed waste stationing him in the outfield).

        As far as being “jealous” of the Feesh, that’s about as dumb a rejoinder as I’ve ever seen on this blog. Why the fan of one attendance-challenged, impecuniously budgeted franchise should be jealous of another one is kinda beyond rational justification. It is true that the Feesh await the opening of Macondo Banana Massacre Field in 2012, but it is irremediably untrue that Selig and Scrooge McLoria “sold it” to the fans (and one can only assume that a correspondent who hasn’t bothered to learn the owner’s name hasn’t bothered to look very deeply into the circumstances surrounding the existence of this facility either). They “sold it” as a backdoor raid on hotel bed tax tourist development funds to the august, perennially incorruptible city and county councils and mayors of Macondo when polls indicated that the population itself (which we’ll call “the fans” for purposes of this discussion) was overwhelmingly opposed to spending a single cent of public tax money on it.

        “Blowfish”? It’s Feesh. Learn the local dialect or go back to the USA, Yanqui imperialista recto.

  3. ajbarrell - Jan 22, 2011 at 9:52 PM

    Well they prolly wont match crawford but between the two of them they will out do Craw+ last years Dh. 50/50 chance manny goes off and out produces his bat alone tho anyways.

    TB farm system is loadeded with arms ala the garza trade. They dont have hitters rdy to step in.

  4. preseasonchamps08 - Jan 23, 2011 at 12:16 AM

    Good luck Rays w/ a post-steroids Manny (who still gets away w/ “manny being manny”). He will get you a decent batting average, but very little power, especially for a designated hitter. He doesnt deserve $100, let alone millions. And when he poisons your team? Yikes…

  5. Jack Marshall - Jan 23, 2011 at 12:20 AM

    Nah, skibble, YOU’RE wrong. If Manny’s production was the only issue, sure, he’d be worth a 2 mil. gamble. But when he isn’t playing full-time, his a-hole component takes over and he phones it in. Look at his pinch-hitting BA. Maddon won’t tolerate Manny’s selfishness–remember all the rah-rah team stuff in 2008?—and the odds on him malinguering or embarrassing the team are strong. Manny always loafs after balls—how will Upton react to that? Ramirez has been so great a hitter that teams have tolerated behavior that no player should get away with—if he’s just OK, there’s no reason to let it slide. If the Rays fall out of the race, Manny will mope, loaf, or start trying to make the Rays dump him. I’d bet he doesn’t finish the season in Tampa Bay.

    Florida76 is right—it’s a desperation move, and a lousy gamble.

    • preseasonchamps08 - Jan 23, 2011 at 12:26 AM

      So true. And not only is he old as dirt, but now can’t bank on steroids saving him…Gaurantee an AWFUL year for him

  6. skibble - Jan 23, 2011 at 1:48 AM

    Manny is being paid the market equivalent of roughly half a win and his line from last year would provide about a win and a half. Unless you want to tell me that past numbers, OPS, OBP and WAR are all useless. Go ahead. Pretty good return IMO. Sounds like we have some rival AL fanboys in here though

    • JBerardi - Jan 23, 2011 at 1:28 PM

      The level of contempt that people have for Manny is astounding. Even if Manny was half the problem that people make him out to be, they’ve committed all of two million dollars to him. Even the Rays can eat that contract on a whim. So what’s the downside here?

      • Jack Marshall - Jan 23, 2011 at 2:33 PM

        If someone can name another player who 1) struck out intentionally in a pennant-relevant game and 2) intentionally got himself thrown out of another game, for another team, to avoid finishing an at-bat, both to force the teams to trade him, then I’ll understand your amazement. He deserves all the contempt, and more. Name your villain—Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Clemens—at least they always played to win. Not Manny.

      • Old Gator - Jan 23, 2011 at 5:03 PM

        JB: Aside from his erratic personality, tendency to quit on himself and his team, whining, moaning, posturing and increasing injury proneness to areas of his person other than his brain, it’s not so much the downside as the comparative lack of upside. Florida76’s argument wasn’t that they were bad signings per se, but that they weren’t adequate to restore the Razed to meaningful competitiveness in the division. Yes, Manny used to be a marquee player but last year’s Manny wasn’t like Babe Ruth’s 1925, and this year sure isn’t going to be like Babe Ruth’s 1927. Free agency did to the Razed this offseason what that big dog food chopper did to that giant hog in Razorback, and signing Manny and Johnny ain’t a-gunna put Humpty together again.

  7. uyf1950 - Jan 23, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    I’ve seen Manny play over the past few years. Not many people will probably agree with me but as far as I’m concerned you can throw most if not all of the supposed predictors out the window. Pretty much the following says it all about Manny. His nickname “Manny being Manny, the fact that he will be 39 shortly after the season begins, his mysterious illnesses over the past couple of years, his lack of motivation and last but not least Tampa Bay is venturing unto uncharted territory with Manny. Never has he been asked to DH most if not all of the time, and never has he been asked to play for what I’m sure he considers the paltry sum of $2M. With all the baggage Manny carries with him, this is not a good deal for the Rays. Vlad would have been a much better option. This reeks of Boras forcing the Rays to take Manny if they wanted Damon.

    • florida76 - Jan 23, 2011 at 3:52 PM

      True, and I stand by my original comments. Some Rays fans have a tough time dealing with reality of competing in a division with Boston and NY. Throwing together a bullpen just before spring training isn’t the smartest idea in the world.

      Prediction, Rays go 82-80 in the AL East. Attendance will fall even more, requiring a further reduction of payroll in the future. By the end of this decade, the Marlins may be the lone mlb team in Florida. The Rays don’t have to stay until 2027, that info is wrong as it relates to the agreement.

  8. uzi978 - Jan 23, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    The Rays are just hoping to get more Red Sox and Yankees fans in the seats,

  9. skibble - Jan 23, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    Of course Vlad was a better option– of course the bullpen needs help…none of these things have anything to do with getting Manny for a paltry 2 million dollars. Wow.

    • uyf1950 - Jan 23, 2011 at 2:50 PM

      Both those things have everything to do with the Rays signing Manny to a contract. Vlad, was available (and still is) and could have been gotten for about the same dollars as Manny. The Rays had the option of Manny at $2M or Vlad at $2M as you yourself admit he was the better option. Vlad should have been the one signed by the Rays. Vlad is and would have been a much more valuable DH and far more of a team player then Manny will ever be.

  10. steve7921 - Jan 23, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    How is this a bad signing? If Manny is not producing and shows his a-hole side, they cut him and loose nothing…heck, they cut Pat the Bat last year and owed him 4 times as much!

    • uyf1950 - Jan 23, 2011 at 4:09 PM

      It’s a bad signing because as my previous comments said. Vlad was a better option to start with for roughly the same price with absolutely non of the baggage.

  11. BC - Jan 24, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    For $2mil? Great signing. Stick him at DH for the year, and throw him in LF on an emergency basis only. Heck, if he goes .280/27/90 that’s worth the price.
    And I think Damon has a little left in the tank.
    PS. Love me some Harold Baines.

  12. supadupa1 - Jan 24, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    I can see Manny being Manny and takin a whiz during a pitching change in the Ray pond in center field. That would bring more fans to the cement factory. Sad for the Rays, great for the Yankees and Sox!

  13. deathtoallpoets - Jan 25, 2011 at 12:14 AM

    i don’t really see this one working out for the rays. he did nothing for the white sox, i don’t see why it would be different with the rays.

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