Manny Ramirez is not the first player to attempt a comeback in professional sports, nor will he be the last. It is too early to add this attempt to the list of worst comebacks in sports history, but there a number of red flags. The Texas Rangers obviously think he has something to offer because the team gave him a contract and assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock. Time will tell whether Ramirez can actually get promoted and reestablish his career.
I have my doubts.
Still, the numbers so far are adequate, and worth consideration. In his first four games, Ramirez is hitting .250 and lines look like this:
July 7: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 SO
July 8: 0-3
July 9: 2-4, HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO
July 10: 0-2, 1 BB
There are already questions surrounding the decision to bring Ramirez in at this point of his career. Specifically, what might Ramirez contribute to the Rangers? In addition, will the Rangers want to deal with a player that represents a possible distraction for the club?
When you look at the career numbers of Ramirez they are impressive, even though critics will suggest that they should include a rather pronounced asterisk. Still, any player that has 555 home runs and a .312 career batting average cannot be overlooked. There was a time when Ramirez was one of the most feared hitter in baseball.
Can Ramirez still produce at age 41? Not many players can, though Ramirez has displayed unique physical gifts throughout his career. Unfortunately, the last time Ramirez played close to a full season was in 2008. He did hit .298 in 2010, but that was in an injury-riddled year where Ramirez only played 90 games.
Do the Rangers desperately need more offense? The Rangers are not the best-hitting team in the league, but they aren’t really struggling either. The team is 7th in slugging percentage, 10th in batting average, 12th in runs and 13th in on-base percentage. Again, not elite numbers but hardly mediocre. It is hard to imagine Ramirez providing a significant boost to the lineup.
There is, of course, the circus-like atmosphere that may follow Ramirez wherever he goes. Are the Rangers in need of some publicity? Not exactly. The Rangers rank 3rd in total attendance at home and 5th in average attendance. Hardly the numbers of a team that is desperate for a gimmick to brings fans through the turnstiles.
You could argue that there is a role for Ramirez on this team, but this is not a player that you want playing a lot in the field. He could displace Robinson Chirinos at designated hitter and provide another bench option if aging Lance Berkman cannot return. Granted, Berkman is four years younger than Ramirez.
A 41-year-old replaces a 37-year-old? Interesting.
The fantasy angle is a tough call, simply because Ramirez represents such an unknown quantity. He might be worth a bench slot, but it is hard to imagine him being a productive everyday player. Even if he can still hit, his power numbers in particular may be lacking.
For now this is an intriguing story, simply because of the history, the suspension, the stories and the possibility of new adventures featuring “Manny being Manny.” Realistically, Ramirez may struggle to get back onto a big league roster. If he does, his stay may be short. The best years of Manny Ramirez may be long in the past.
More from this contributor:
Worst #1 NBA Draft Picks of All Time
The Best Baseball Catch I Ever Saw In Person
My First Trip to Yankee Stadium