When news came down Wednesday afternoon that the Texas Rangers had signed aging slugger/human circus Manny Ramirez to a minor-league contract, terms like "gamble" and "risk" were thrown around freely.
There's just one problem, though, because the signing was nothing but a positive for the Rangers and for their wise, maneuvering general manager Jon Daniels, who rarely does anything flippantly without putting a ton of thought into it.
Ramirez, 41, has been out of MLB baseball since playing just a week's worth of games with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 before retiring, as many speculated it was out of fear of being suspended a second time for alleged PED use. He, in fact, was suspended and served that suspension in 2012 while playing in the Oakland A's system, though he never played a game for the A's and spent some time in the minor leagues.
This season, Ramirez has been setting the world on fire in the Taiwan league, compiling a pretty sweet list of highlights which include a homer after which he moonwalked out of the batter's box on his way to first base. The Taiwanese sure seem to love the guy, but he opted out of his deal three months into a three-year deal. Now, it seems, we know why as he's now signed with the Rangers after also drawing interest from other teams, including the Washington Nationals.
Ramirez is a 12-time all-star and is known widely as one of the greatest right-handed hitters in the game's history, but his career has been tarnished by his two PED suspensions and his tendency to just do stupid things, coining the phrase "Manny being Manny."
The Rangers are doing a good thing here though. If Ramirez indeed has something left in his tank and can still hit major-league pitching, there's no doubt he will help a power-starved Rangers lineup. If he can't, then there's no harm done as the Rangers will owe him a very minimal amount of money. If he makes it to Arlington, they'll pay him the veteran minimum of $500,000.
There's some speculation that this move was made to make a pre-emptive strike against a possible pending suspension for Nelson Cruz, which is ironic since they'd be replacing him with a guy who's one bust away from a lifetime ban.
It's hard to believe the Rangers think Manny can replace Cruz, if indeed Cruz gets suspended. Something that's more likely, however, is that Manny was brought in with the thought that if he does do well at Triple-A Round Rock and shows he can hit Triple-A pitching, he could be a replacement for his fellow geriatric Lance Berkman, who was brought in to be the Rangers' DH this season but hasn't yielded much in the way of results since a hot April. The Rangers' patience with Berkman, who's struggling to stay healthy right now, could be waning. In an ideal world, Manny could provide a middle-of-the-lineup bat for the stretch run.
Again, chances are Ramirez never sniffs Arlington, and if he doesn't, there's no harm done. If he does, it's probably a sign he's hitting the ball well, and that won't be anything but good for the Rangers.