Ramon Ramirez is reportedly coming back to the Giants.
Ramirez was a key contributor on the 2010 Giants team that brought the organization its first championship since moving west to San Francisco in 1958. General manager Brian Sabean swung a deal for Ramirez at the deadline that year, and he delivered with a 0.67 ERA over the final two months of the season.
In 2011, he remained an outstanding contributor as part of manager Bruce Bochy's setup corpse. He put a 2.62 ERA with 66 strikeouts over 68.2 innings that year. Sabean then dealt Ramirez and Andres Torres to the Mets for Angel Pagan last winter in a deal that helped propel the Giants to a second World Series title in three years.
This offseason Sabean has brought back all three of the pieces in that trade by re-signing Pagan, Torres and now Ramirez. Given Pagan's success last season and the struggles of Ramirez and Torres with the Mets, it's safe to declare that trade a total victory for Sabean—especially now that he has all three components of the deal back under his employ.
Ramirez had a tough go of it in his lone season with the Mets last year—putting up a 4.24 ERA while also going on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury suffered during the celebration of Johan Santana's no-hitter.
Sabean has spent the offseason bringing back free agents who contributed to past championship teams. In addition to bringing back Pagan, Torres and Ramirez, he re-signed Marco Scutaro and Jeremy Affeldt—who was with the Giants for both title runs.
Unlike Pagan, Torres, Scutaro and Affeldt—who all have guaranteed big league deals—Ramirez is going to have to battle to make the team out of spring training. He'll likely compete with waiver claim Sandy Rosario and minor league free agents Chad Gaudin and Scott Proctor for the final spot in the bullpen.
The Giants could conceivably decide to re-sign another blast from the past in free agent reliever Brian Wilson. However, he likely won't be ready for opening day given that he's recovering from a second Tommy John surgery. Thus, even if Wilson does come back, Ramirez will have a solid chance to reclaim his former spot with the Giants. Also, the latest reports on Wilson indicated that he likely wouldn't be returning to San Francisco.
Ramirez has a solid 3.32 career ERA and a 3.67 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). He throws a fastball in the low 90s, a sharp slider and a change-up.
The biggest difference between his success with the Giants in 2010-2011 and his struggles with the Mets last year was his results against left-handed hitters. He held lefties to a .161/.231/.250 batting line with the Giants in 2010 and they hit just .250/.346/.265 off of him in 2011. Last year lefties blasted him, slashing .273/.380/.409 over 111 at-bats.
The Giants' nostalgic offseason of re-signing players who contributed to past glories continued with the signing of Ramirez, who should have an excellent chance of making the team this spring if he can get back to his old ways against lefties.
Time will tell if the Giants cap off the winter by bringing back their former bearded closer.