Oakland A's: 5 People Who Will Benefit from Manny Ramirez
Manny Ramirez has been a member of the Oakland Athletics for just over a month now, and all seems to be going well. There have been no dubious reports surrounding Ramirez, he's taken on a mentor role with some of the younger players and his bat is finally starting to come around.
Assuming things continue the way they are, Ramirez may actually end up being a force for good, which would be a first for him. If he stays true to his word, then there's no reason why Ramirez can't be a great addition to the A's organization.
His impact can be felt not only on the field, but off it as well. Ramirez is much more than just a 12-time All-Star. He brings a presence that will transcend the diamond, reaching the clubhouse and fan-base. If nothing else, Ramirez has people talking about A's baseball again, and that in itself is an accomplishment for a team in midst of another rebuilding period.
Here are five people whom Ramirez will help in the 2012 season.
So far this spring, Ramirez and Yoenis Cespedes have reportedly been inseparable. Some might worry that Ramirez, with his questionable reputation, would be a poor mentor for Cespedes, who like Ramirez has been known to be a bit flashy.
Regardless of character though, Ramirez is just as good as anyone at understanding hitting. His experience and knowledge will make for an excellent example, allowing Cespedes to see first hand what is required to succeed in MLB.
Cespedes will have a difficult time as it is adjusting to American culture, so having a teacher who's been there and seen it all will help immensely when it comes to adjusting to MLB pitchers. Being from Latin America, Ramirez will know exactly what Cespedes is experiencing, and will be able to help him on and off the field.
The No. 3 and 5 Hitters
One major flaw that has plagued the A's in recent years is the absence of a steady power bat in the middle of the lineup. Josh Willingham put up numbers last year that I'm sure shocked even Billy Beane, but that aspect of the A's lineup has been a constant carousel. Willingham left after one season with the club, proving to be just a stopgap like Matt Holliday.
To replace Willingham, the A's first acquired Seth Smith from Colorado, then Cespedes and then finally Ramirez. What Ramirez will be able to do between those two, or whoever's in the five hole, is provide leverage.
Last year, no one in the A's lineup scared an opposing pitcher. Even when Holliday was with the club, his numbers greatly diminished due to a lack of protection in the lineup.
While in Oakland he hit .286 with 11 home runs in 346 at-bats. When he was with St. Louis, he hit .353, with 13 HRs in only 235 ABs while hitting behind Albert Pujols.
Cespedes will benefit from having a proven hitter like Ramirez behind him and will be able to see better pitches. Then in the five hole, Smith or whoever it is will be in a position to drive those guys in once the pitcher has no opportunity to try and pitch around them.
Ramirez also adds a level of depth to the A's lineup that has been nonexistent in recent years. This new-found flexibility to mix and match between the left-handed Smith and the right-handed Ramirez in the DH role will better help Melvin match up against that game's opposing pitcher.
It also gives Melvin the luxury of being able to rotate players in the outfield, like the injury-prone Coco Crisp. Ramirez isn't expected to play much outfield this season, but if someone does go down then the A's aren't left with a gaping hole in the middle of their lineup.
The Young Pitching Staff
One of Billy Beane's biggest initiatives when Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez arrived in Oakland was to provide enough offensive support to help take pressure off of his young staff. It's safe to assume Beane feels the same way now as he did in 2009.
After Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon, the rest of the rotation will be full of young, unproven prospects. Dealing with major league hitters for the first time, it would certainly relieve any extra unneeded pressure if they weren't constantly pitching from behind. If Ramirez is the Ramirez of old, then combined with Cespedes, look for them to put up a lot more runs then they have in recent years.
Billy Beane and Lew Wolff
Ramirez was a low-risk player for Beane to take a chance on. Signing him to only a minor league contract, the A's don't lose much if he doesn't perform come May 30.
If Ramirez does perform well, however, Beane has just another trade chip at his disposal if he decides to go in that direction. Ramirez probably wouldn't bring back much, but it essentially would be like getting back a prospect for nothing.
From Lew Wolff's standpoint, Ramirez will fill a few more seats in the empty Coliseum and sell a few more jerseys on the team's website. His name alone will attract fans, and bring attention to a club that would otherwise be written off as irrelevant.