The Rays stirred up the AL East over the weekend by signing former Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez, and former Sox and Yankee outfielder Johnny Damon.
If this were 2006, these would be monumental acquisitions. As it is, these pickups shouldn't shake up the standings too much. But it is something noteworthy to discuss. And if Tampa Bay has a fanbase, it will be entertaining for them to have some big name talent watch.
Manny Ramirez hasn't hit more than 20 homers since 2008. He hit 9 in 90 games last year. His OBP is still as impressive as ever (.409 last year. compared to a .411 career OBP), but his slugging numbers have dropped considerably, ever since he was suspended for PEDs. Coincidence? Perhaps. He's getting up there in years too. He's 38, and it's hard to imagine a resurrection at that age.
Damon hit .271 with Detroit last year. He's 37. He's a slightly less powerful hitter than in his prime, and he was never much of a slugger to begin with. He doesn't get on base (.355 OBP last year), doesn't run (11 SBs, although he was only caught once), and he strikes out (90 last season, 98 in '08).
Manny's contract is said to be worth $2 million for one year, while Damon's will pay him $5.25 million (Source: SI.com). Manny's salary seems reasonable, and should be recouped by the added attention he'll bring to the team. Damon's seems a bit high, especially if the primary goal was to generate interest in the team. Then again, both guys are Boras clients, and this was probably a packaged signing. So Manny is the 39 cent soda that comes with the Johnny Damon value meal.
These signings will give the Rays more press than they will victories. I guess they don't have much to lose with either signing, and at least they'll have some names on the field. But in the long run, these moves are a turn in the wrong direction for that franchise. This reminds me of when they signed Wade Boggs, and when Greg Vaughn was down there. They've acquired names, not talent.
But even when they had no-name talent, and made it to the World Series, their city failed to support them.
It should make Rays/Sox games more intriguing, even if it is just for off-field storylines. The Rays come to Fenway on April 11.
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