What Oakland Athletics fans can expect from Manny Ramirez

Major Leaguer Manny Ramirez is suspected to join the Oakland Athletics some time next week. Photo by: Ethan Bagley / Flickr

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

After two long suspensions for failing two separate drug tests, it looks as if Major Leaguer Manny Ramirez will once again return to the diamond for yet another short stint in baseball.

Except this time, the 40-year-old won’t be coming back to a marquee team. Instead he’ll lace up his cleats fore the underachieving Oakland Athletics, who rank dead last in overall offensive production, sometime next week. Will Ramirez be able to provide a spark to this dismal offense or stay clean for an entire season? It’s possible, but as my British friends say, ‘it’s not bloody likely.’

I have to believe that Ramirez can last the rest of this season without failing yet another drug test. However, it’s a stretch to think he can add much to Oakland’s pathetic offense, which is batting a majors-low .211 as a team with just 42 home runs, 162 runs and an embarrassing 384 strikeouts to 159 walks.

But I guess if the A’s offense stinks that bad, general manager Billy Beane is willing to try anything. After all, his only offensive star seems to be Josh Reddick, who came out of nowhere and actually ranks in the top 10 for most home runs this season. So why not attempt to add another power bat? If Ramirez can provide a little bit of offense for the A’s, it’s worth a shot, especially since his name alone will at least draw some fans to O.co Coliseum.

But how much will Ramirez’s presence actually help this club? My guess is not very much, considering he has batted just .250 (8 for 32) with no home runs or extra base hits and four RBIs while striking out seven time in nine games with the Sacramento River Cats. That’s what the 12-time All-Star has done against AAA pitching. So what makes Oakland think he can turn it around against Major League arms?

Sure, with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, Ramirez was a stud. He could consistently hit at least 30 home runs and was a lock for 100 RBIs. However, one has to suspect that steroids played into that equation.

It’s evident Ramirez cheated in baseball. His two failed drug tests led him to retire last season after signing a similar contract with the Tampa Bay Rays as the $500,000, one-year deal he landed with the A’s during this off season. At least the guy is making money while he still can. But this publicity move won’t help Oakland. Just take a look at the end of Ramirez’s career when many fans thought he was still a force. Given, he did rake in 2008 with the Red Sox and L.A. Dodgers, hitting a remarkable .332 with 37 home runs and 121 RBIs. But after that resurgence, he only got worse, as many older baseball players do.

In 2009, his numbers dropped significantly to a .290 batting average with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs. A change of teams didn’t help, either in 2010 when Ramirez was claimed off of waivers by the Chicago White Sox after playing 104 games with the Dodgers. He saw plenty of plate appearances (265) that year, but still only mustered nine home runs, 42 RBIs and a .298 average. While those number are still respectable, they weren’t even close to what the slugger did just one short year earlier in Dodger blue.

After spending his last year in L.A., Ramirez gave it one more shot and lasted just five games before failing his second drug test. Major League Baseball threw a 100-game suspension at Ramirez and it looked like we could all forget about Manny. But then to much of our surprise, the A’s threw Ramirez a bone this offseason, hoping he might be able to find his former talent.

But I believe his Minor League statistics tell us that it’s time for Ramirez to just call it quits. He’s obviously hanging on to a career that has been tarnished by not being able to pee clean and one where he flat out can’t hit. So Athletics fans, I wouldn’t get my hopes up that Manny can become the Manny of old. But at least you can now purchase dread lock wigs while rooting for yet another player who has drug the great game of baseball through the dirt.

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