Manny is expected to serve as the DH for the A's for the latter two-thirds of the season. He must first serve a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy for a second time. Keep in mind, shortly after he was found to violate the policy last season, he abruptly retired from baseball.
Some question if Ramirez will still be able to produce at the major league level. He turns 40 this year on May 30, and has not played professional baseball in over 300 days. No one knows if he has kept in shape over his time off. Also, no one knows how fast he'll be able to shake off the rust after he serves his 50-game suspension.
I believe he can still hit. Don't count on him for any help defensively (everyone remembers his amazing cutoff skills) so he will serve exclusively as the DH.
Right now, his main competition for the DH spot on the roster is Kila Ka’aihue, who used to be a top prospect in the Royals' system. Ka'aihue was designated for assignment by the Royals back in September, with the Athletics trading for him six days after the fact. At this point in his career, Ka'aihue has been a prospect who did not pan out to equal talent at the major league level. His main plus offensively is his ability to walk at a decent rate.
According to FanGraphs.com, Ka'aihue has a 12 percent walk rate for his career. He also owns a .309 career on-base percentage, and while that normally may seem low, that is only because his career batting average is just barely over the Mendoza Line, ranking in at .216.
The only thing that Ka'aihue possess over Ramirez is his ability to play in the field. For his career, he has accumulated a 2.9 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) playing first base. Having Ka'aihue on the roster would allow for manager Bob Melvin to keep first baseman Brandon Allen fresh.
As long as Ramirez can provide offense, he will be better than Ka'aihue.
In Ramirez's last full season in the MLB, he hit a line of .298/.409/.460, while hitting only nine home runs in 90 games. It appears that his over 30-home run days are behind him, but he can still hit with the best of them. According to FanGraphs.com, Ramirez has a career walk rate of 13.6 percent, with a career batting average of .312, OBP of .411 and a .585 slugging percentage.
If Ramirez can get anywhere near .275/.350/.400 next season, I'm sure General Manager Billy Beane and company will be pleased. As he is only earning half a million next season if he makes the team, this is an incredibly low-risk signing.
Ramirez can also serve as a mentor for the A's and their young outfield. Adding a veteran presence amongst the team will not be a bad thing. Sure, there are those that are concerned with "Manny being Manny," however that does not have to translate to teaching bad habits amongst the youth. Ramirez can simply teach the finer points of hitting to the younger players.
All in all, as long as Ramirez stays out of trouble and produces at a respectable .275/.350/.400 rate next season, this signing will be a success for Oakland.
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