With a rehabilitation assignment approaching later this week, Manny Ramirez is nearly ready to return from a calf injury that has sidelined him for nearly a month.
While his return may be anticipated; his days in Dodger blue could be numbered, as the the likelihood of him being traded is still very high.
If a move is imminent, there are a handful of destinations that could prove to be a good fit for the veteran slugger. Many of suitors would likely be contenders that could use some extra pop in the lineup.
One team that fits that criteria and would definitely benefit from Manny's services is the Tampa Bay Rays. Currently leading the AL Wild Card race, the Rays seem to be willing to push the envelope to do whatever they can to win the AL East, and the 2010 World Series.
If they acquired Manny Ramirez, he would certainly be an intricate piece of the Rays playoff puzzle, and a very smart acquisition.
Here are the five biggest reasons that the Rays take a risk and bring Manny in for their playoff push.
A return to the AL East for Manny Ramirez would develop into one of the most compelling story lines down the stretch in Major League Baseball this year. The rivalry that the Red Sox and Yankees have built has grown into one of the most unparalleled in all of sports.
If the Rays added Manny, it gives the Red Sox and Yankees another reason to be frustrated with the increasingly pesky Rays franchise. In the eyes of the Yankees especially right now, the Rays are a solid up and coming organization.
With Manny Ramirez added to the squad, it gives the Rays a player that Yankee fans simply hate. The Red Sox would also have to see the Rays differently as well. It would add another dimension to an AL East that is built on rivalries, and it would be very good for the game.
Tensions would easily rise between the Rays and Yankees, making every game between the two that much more intriguing and meaningful. The second half of the 2010 season would become much more storied if Manny moves back to the AL East.
Tropicana Field has always worked in favor of Manny Ramirez. He's put together a solid career record at the Rays home venue. In 77 career games at The Trop, Manny has hit .299 while launching 25 homers and driving in 72. He's hit 21 doubles down in Tampa as well.
The Rays certainly can't complain about Manny's past success in their ballpark, as it will factor into their reasoning for potentially seeking out help his big bat. A hard hitting right-handed bat is what their lineup lacks, so he'll be right at home in the middle of the Rays batting order.
Any team would be attracted to Manny for this reason, but throughout his career, he's put up consistently good numbers late in the season.
During the month of August, Manny is a career .331 hitter with 97 home runs. Those 97 are the second most home runs he's hit during a given month in his career.
Then during September and October in his career, Manny has hit .313 with 93 home runs, the third most he's hit during a given month.
Remember Boston's Wild Card run back in 2008? Manny hit .415 in August, and .370 in September/October that year to help push the Red Sox into the playoffs.
If he can stay healthy and continue to be a late bloomer this year, the Rays lineup could reap the benefits and see a lot more runs driven in.
The Rays have a load of question marks in their lineup, whether they deal with the future or the present.
Carl Crawford seems to be troubled by undisclosed injuries, and adding Manny Ramirez would give the team an extra layer of outfield security. Their lineup could use that kind of depth. Also depending on how Manny would want to manage his future, the Rays would find more use for him after the 2010 season, under the assumption that Crawford will take his talents elsewhere next season.
Looking up and down the Rays lineup in 2010, there has been a great deal of underachieving going on from the power bats. Inserting Manny into that power core could help revitalize the lineup and replace some of the power and overall hitting that it has lacked.
Manny would be picking up the slack for struggling bats like Jason Barlett and B.J. Upton. Carlos Pena is on the disabled list right now, but he has had his struggles this year with a .212 average.
Manny's offense would help fill a gaping void in the Rays lineup and help push them towards a potential division title.
The biggest reason that Manny would be a perfect hit for the Rays lineup is that he is a dignified Yankee killer. The Rays and Yanks will be neck and neck down to the wire, and Manny could be a big difference maker based around his extremely positive track record against the New York Yankees.
He's been a thorn in the side of the Yankees franchise for the longest time. Nobody crushes the Bronx Bombers like he does. He's faced them more than any other opponent. In 203 games against them, Manny has hit .322 with 236 hits, the most he's posted against any opposition. On that same note, Manny has slammed 55 career homers against the Yankees, again the most he's hit against any opponent.
His track record has been extremely favorable against the Yankees, and it would have to continue in the new Yankee Stadium. He is a career .321 hitter at Yankee Stadium. The Rays would be silly to not utilize this to their advantage down the stretch against their biggest opposition and post-season roadblock.
Manny's dominant play against the New York Yankees make picking him up an absolutely must for the Tampa Bay Rays.