The Texas Rangers recently signed 41 year old outfielder Manny Ramirez. Last seen playing in Taiwan, Manny Ramirez is now just one step away from returning to the big leagues after agreeing to a minor league contract with Texas. The Rangers’ decision to bring in aging slugger Manny Ramirez is a head-scratcher to say the least. How much gas could he possibly have left in his tank to be worth the headache that inevitably follows him wherever he goes.
What does Texas have to gain by bringing in Manny Ramirez? The Rangers are currently sitting at 48-36 and have a 2.5 game lead in the American League Wild Card race. Winning their division is still very possible, as they only trail the Oakland Athletics by a half game.
A star because of his slugging ability during his Major League heyday, Manny Ramirez doesn’t have much to offer the a Rangers team that already is slugging just fine without him. The Rangers are fourth in the American League in home runs with 97 home runs. That total makes them sixth in all of the major leagues. Hardly seems like a time to bring in an over the hill slugger guaranteed to cause a headache.
What makes the decision even stranger is the fact that the management of the Texas Rangers seemingly made the decision to bring in Manny Ramirez on a whim. Without so much as sending a scout to watch if he could still play while he was still in Japan, and ignoring their chance to watch him perform at an open workout in Florida, the Rangers gave him a contract. All management had seen of Ramirez since he left for Japan was a handful of YouTube clips.
How could a professional sports franchise sign a player without even scouting him?
Apparently viewing the addition of Manny Ramirez as a low risk decision, Texas Rangers General Manager explained the team’s intentions with the aging slugger. “We’ll evaluate him as we go. No deadlines, no end dates. If he’s productive and we feel he fits our culture in the clubhouse, then we’ll give him an opportunity. If either of those ends don’t pan out, then no harm, no foul.”
The harm could be there however, along with the foul. Ramirez last played for a Major League club in 2011, when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. Ramirez retired just five games into that season after receiving a 100 game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy. The suspension is being considered as served by the league, allowing for Ramirez to play this year.
Hardly his first time in trouble while in the Majors, Ramirez also served a 50 game suspension in 2009 with the Dodgers for testing positive for human chorionic gonadotropin. The female fertility drug is banned by the league do to its prevalence among steroid users who believe it mitigates the negative effects of coming off of a steroid cycle.
The Rangers believe that Manny was worth the risk, although it hardly seems like there is enough potential benefit to sign Ramirez. I must admit that Manager Ron Washington is great with troubled players, as he has proven with Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley, so Manny would have a chance to maximize whatever he has left in his tank should he get the call up.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express