Let’s give credit where credit is due: Manny Ramirez still knows how to draw a headline.
Ramirez, who possesses a vastly underrated savvy, at least where contracts and money are concerned, has found his way back into the spotlight (at least in Toronto) after expressing an interest in the Blue Jays due to their hiring of John Farrell and the positive track record with Dominican players.
The reality is, Ramirez likely just sees a team with whom he hasn’t worn out his welcome that could potentially pony up the cash to bring in the aging free agent. Attach his name to the franchise, and suddenly it becomes a story with a club holding an inferiority complex for not boasting the star power of their AL East rivals.
But here’s the problem: it’s a dumb move for Toronto baseball-wise and clubhouse-wise.
Baseball-wise, even if Ramirez could put together a solid offensive season, he would not be part of the long-term plan and would likely be blocking someone who is. If he plays DH, where does Adam Lind go? If he plays left field, where does Travis Snider go? Lind could well be moved to first base, but that isn’t to say that the Jays couldn’t find a better option than the 38-year old.
Clubhouse-wise, his addition could be even more damaging. ‘Manny Being Manny’ is perfectly entertaining so long as you observe it from a distance, rather than experience it within your own locker room. Around a young ballclub, having Ramirez fail to run out plays and play hard while griping about at-bats and being among the highest paid players on the team would be a great way to undo much of the progress that the franchise has made in the past year or so.
Sure, Ramirez could help bridge the reported divide among Latin and non-Latin players in the clubhouse, but what in his past would indicate such a positive presence? He has often elected to speak Spanish during press conferences, despite having a perfectly good knowledge of the English language. That’s not to say he should always speak English, but it serves to highlight that he’s not averse to playing the culture card if necessary. There’s a reason why the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and, now, Chicago White Sox have all rid themselves of him in recent years.
So unless Farrell knows he can keep Ramirez under control (and really, who does with a player known for being predictably unpredictable?), the team would be best-suited to ignore the buzz surrounding a ‘name’ player and take a pass.
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Written by Ben Fisher