Written by: Andrew Hendriks (@77hendriks)
This off season has had no shortage of rumors floating around about the Blue Jays and their potential roster for 2012. Known for his due diligence approach to nearly every free agent or off shore prospect, Anthopoulos has created a culture for Toronto’s media and fans alike in which anything is possible regarding moves and acquisitions.
The newest rumor circling the internet regards Manny Ramirez and his impending comeback in the MLB. @MLBTradeRumors reports that the 39 year old Ramirez is contemplating joining one of three clubs for the 2012 season. Those three teams are Oakland, Baltimore and Toronto.
It was reported at the beginning of January that Ramirez had worked out for both Baltimore and Toronto however it was Oakland that expressed the most interest in the aging slugger. Ramirez, a lifetime .312 hitter with 555 HR’s in his 19 years of service in the MLB is likely to return as a DH due to the fact that he proved to be more of a defensive liability in his last few seasons in the Show.
If Anthopoulos is in the mix for Ramirez, here are a few points of interest us fans can consider if he signs with Toronto.
There is no denying the fact that during his 19 years in the Bigs, Manny Ramirez has been a dominant offensive player. In 2302 games in the MLB, Ramirez has compiled a .312/.411/.585 slash line while driving in 1831 runs in the process.
At Skydome, Ramirez has hit 27 HR’s in 96 games played north of the border. During that span the right hander power hitter drove in 83 and compiled a .379 OBP.
On top of the power numbers, Ramirez has been a fan favorite in every city he has played in. Cleveland fans enjoyed watching him turn in to a MLB superstar; Boston fans loved him despite his antics (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5nuY1X8GBY) and LA even had “Mannywood” set up in LF. Regardless of what he does, Manny being Manny puts fans in the stands.
Having missed out on Beltran, Darvish and Fielder, Anthopoulos could pull the trigger on a deal with Ramirez simply to draw interest. This would provide the Blue Jays with a big name signing while not having to fork over a lot of cash (reports say 1 million).
It’s interesting to think that if Encarnacion falters as the DH in 2012, Ramirez could conceivably step in and provide the team with a steady source of production should he return to form as an offensive threat. Encarnacion would have 50 games to prove his worth as fulltime DH before AA and Farrell would be forced to make a decision.
Ramirez has been known to be a cancer in the clubhouse. In the past Manny has been regarded as arrogant and somewhat difficult on his managers and coaches. The fact that the Jays roster is chock full of young, impressionable talent could only serve as a hindrance to Ramirez given his reputation. That being said, a year removed from the MLB could have humbled the Dominican export.
Personally I see more potential in Encarnacion and would hate to see Ramirez come in and take AB’s from him. Despite the highs and lows EE still ended the 2011 season with a respectable .272 average while smacking 17 HR’s and a team leading 36 Doubles. It should be interesting to see what Encarnacion can do as the DH, not having to worry about playing the field in 2012.
Ramirez tested positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) and was handed a 100 game suspension last April while with the Tampa Bay Rays. This was the second time Ramirez was caught using banned substances having served a 50 game suspension in 2009 while with the Dodgers. The test was given in spring training however the sentence wasn’t issued until 5 games in to the 2011 season. During those 5 games, Ramirez went 1 for 17 with a single RBI. Naturally, Ramirez chose to appeal the charges but a 2nd sample was tested and it too showed traces of PED’s. Forced with a decision to either serve the sentence and rejoin the Rays down the stretch or walk away, he chose the latter and officially retired from the MLB leaving the Rays out of their 2 million dollar DH.
Any club that brings in Ramirez runs the risk of a PR nightmare should Ramirez get caught using again however one would think that after being forced to retire, he would wise up and take the precautions necessary to avoid such issues.
Regardless if Ramirez signs with Toronto or elsewhere, it should be interesting if not equally entertaining to see what he can do in 2012.