As the arbitration deadline creeps closer, the Jays not only have decisions to make on their own free agents, but also with any Type A free agents who could potentially not be offered arbitration by their respective clubs. Doing so would allow the Jays to sign them without forfeiting a draft pick, and the player on Jays fans’ minds the most that fits that criteria is none other than Manny Ramirez.
The Manny Ramirez rumors started swirling once the Jays named John Farrell their new manager back in October. Manny added his two cents on Farrell and his future in baseball to ESPN Deportes in an interview the same day, saying:
"“Toronto has made a tremendous acquisition. Farrell is a manager I would like to play for. Toronto is a team I’ve liked since they had all those great Dominican (players) in the ‘80s. John is a tremendous (student) of the game, an affable man and a players’ coach. I think I can hit if I stay healthy, and it’s less likely I’ll injure myself if I’m playing as a designated hitter.”"
Mat Germain posted a great article here on Jays Journal at the time regarding a Manny acquisition, and there were a great deal of comments, both positive and negative, on the internet surrounding Manny Ramirez right after his ESPN Deportes phone interview.
We also had a poll that closed on November 13th about whether Jays fans would want Ramirez on the 2011 Blue Jays. The results came in closer than expected, and 57% voted against Manny coming to the Jays, with good reason.
There was speculation that Ramirez was just in town to take in some of the Buffalo Bills/Chicago Bears action at Rogers Centre the week before, or that he was having a face to face interview/screening with Anthopoulos so the Jays could decide whether or not to start contract talks. This was all added to an interview with Manny’s agent Scott Boras, where he hinted that Ramirez could be interested in an incentive-laden contract with a low base salary.
Furthermore, Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos was on the phone with the Fan 590 in Toronto last week saying that he was finalizing a signing but wasn’t done, and many speculated right away it was Manny Ramirez. Even if it was, the signing would be postponed until after the arbitration deadline to sign him, because it’s unlikely that Manny will be offered it from the White Sox.
Regardless of a positive or negative stance on Manny Ramirez, here are some interesting tidbits regarding his career as a hitter:
– He has a career .335/.444/.618 line against left-handed pitching, with a .430 OBP vs. LHP in 2010
– Excluding Comerica Park in Detroit, Manny has posted at least a career .291 average, .376 OBP and .486 SLG in every single American League ballpark
– Versus American League teams, Ramirez has posted a minimum career .279/.376/.457 line against each one
– He has a career .311/.413/.555 line as a designated hitter
– He has a career .291/.379/.561 line at Rogers Centre, which, outside of Jose Bautista‘s career year would rank highest on the entire 2010 Blue Jays
– His career home and away stats are virtually identical, as are his stats before and after the All-Star break (minimum .312 average and .989 OPS in each of those categories)
– He has posted a minimum OPS of 1.001 in each of the last three seasons
Obviously this is all food for thought, as signing Manny comes with potential drawbacks. As difficult as it is to ignore his impressive numbers, he’s not exactly the type of player to add to a young, passionate team whose 2010 slogan was “Hustle & Heart”.
His reputation of selfishness, quitting, and lack of effort could possibly have devastating effects on a Jays clubhouse on the rise.
Manny will always continue being Manny, but it will be interesting to see in the coming days if Manny will be Manny in a 2011 Toronto Blue Jays uniform.