Manny Ramirez was signed by the Texas Rangers on the Fourth of July and could be ready for a major league promotion at any moment. For a guy who hasn't played in the majors since 2011, it's hard to believe that the 41-year-old veteran could actually be a contributing factor to the Rangers, but he just might be.
With a division pennant well within reach, here are three reasons the Rangers should call up Manny to help their team during the second half of 2013.
Lance Berkman is Coming Up Short
During the first two months of the season, Lance Berkman looked like a great option for the Rangers at designated hitter. Through his first 48 games of the season, Berkman was hitting a respectable .288 with a .392 on-base percentage. No, he wasn't hitting many home runs, posting only four through the first two months, but his production was an incredibly valuable part to Texas' success early on.
Unfortunately for Berkman, once June came around, a stroke of bad luck and some struggles at the plate have raised questions about what he can do for the remainder of this season. Since June, Berkman has hit just .176 in 20 games, hitting only two homers while driving in six RBI. Not only has he struggled at the plate, but his health has also become a concern for Texas going into the second half of the season.
Berkman has been on the disabled list since July 7 with a hip injury, and there is even a possibility that he may not return at all. The fact that Berkman may not be returning seems to open the door for Manny to get called up.
Ramirez has been solid in Triple-A with the Round Rock Express. After getting off to a hot start, he is now hitting just .250 with a .323 on-base percentage. He does have three homers and nine RBI over his 15 games with the Express, and in 56 plate appearances he has struck out only six times.
Despite his respectable offensive numbers, the best thing for Ramirez has to be the fact that he hasn't struck out much. He's making solid contact and putting the ball in play, showing everybody that he still has the ability to be productive. With Berkman's production falling off and his return now in doubt, don't be surprised to see Manny get a call to replace Berkman, possibly for the remainder of the season.
Texas' Offense Struggling
With Texas' production at designated hitter falling off a bit, their overall offensive production seems to have taken a dive too. Through the first two months of the season, Texas scored a total of 257 runs. If you compare that number to the 171 runs they have plated since June, the decline is fairly significant.
Through 91 games this season where they have used the designated hitter, Texas is hitting just .256 out of the DH spot with 11 homers and 49 RBI. Nobody on the Rangers' team has solidified themselves as the team's everyday DH since Berkman has gone down.
Jeff Baker is the best bet to fill the designated hitter role, as he has occasionally done for Texas this season. The problem is, with left fielder David Murphy struggling this season, Baker could fill the void in left field while Ramirez becomes the team's designated hitter.
Others would argue that Jurickson Profar could DH for the team for the remainder of the season. With the youngster's average sitting at .238, and his inability to hit for power early in his career, I struggle to think that he would be better than Manny.
The Rangers need to find a way to get more runners on base, and they need somebody to drive in those runners. With Manny appearing to have the ability to still do both, he could provide a spark to Texas' offense.
Promoting Manny is Low-Risk, High-Reward
Manny Ramirez has been a high-risk kind of player for most of his career. As if his questionable glove in the field, to go along with antics during and after the game weren't enough, he has also been suspended twice now for steroids. If there are any other indications that Manny is serious about returning to the majors, it could be the fact that he complied with the Rangers' minor league policy regarding dress code.
Manny had his long dreadlocks cut off before joining the Round Rock Express, and is now sporting a new bald look, which is a bit awkward to see at first, but it's a good sign.
He has expressed desire to show that he is a changed man, and wants to go out of baseball on his own terms. If the Rangers choose to promote him, it looks like the worst thing could happen is that he can't play at the major league level. The best thing that could happen is that he produces numbers similar to what he has put out in Triple-A, and solidifies himself as a good offensive option for Texas.
For a guy who once liked to make noise in various ways, it finally appears that the only attention Manny wants to receive now is whatever attention his bat can get him.
All stats and info courtesy of MLB.com, MiLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com, ESPN.com, NBCSports.com, FoxSportsSouthwest.com, USAToday.com and DallasNews.com unless otherwise noted.
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