The Rangers signed Manny Ramirez to a minor league contract in early July just to see if the former slugger had anything left in the tank. It was a no risk move and he put up good numbers (.352/.422/.555 with eight homers in 49 games) over in Taiwan, so why not?
Now, one month later, it appears Ramirez's comeback attempt is on borrowed time. A few days ago Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported the Rangers are not planning to call Manny up and are considering releasing him and giving the roster spot to someone else.
“The quality of at-bats has been okay,” said GM Jon Daniels during a recent interview with a Dallas radio station. “Is he going to be able to handle Triple-A pitching? That's still up for debate."
Ramirez, 41, is hitting .266/.333/.405 with three homers in 21 games for Triple-A Round Rock since signing with Texas, all as the DH. Scott Coolbaugh, the team's batting coach, recently acknowledged Manny's bat speed is diminished and his usefulness to an MLB team is limited.
“Manny's diligently put in the work,” said Coolbaugh to Kevin Lyttle of the Austin American-Statesman. “When you're 41, though, the bat speed isn't the same as when you're in your 20s. You can be a smarter hitter, but you still have trouble catching up with the 92-94 mph fastball. I think he still can do it in the big leagues if you use him against most left-handers.”
Ramirez has hit .300/.344/.600 with all three of his homers against southpaws while with the Express, but it's only 32 plate appearances. A sample that small tells us nothing. The scouting report is more important than the numbers at this point, and the scouting report isn't very good.
If this is indeed the end of the line for Ramirez, he will walk away from baseball with 555 career home runs and a .312/.411/.585 (154 OPS+) career batting line. He was also suspended twice for using a banned substance, once in 2009 and again in 2011. Getting an opportunity, even a minor league opportunity, in 2013 is pretty amazing.
Ramirez has first ballot Hall of Famer credentials, but he'll never sniff Cooperstown because of the PED transgressions. If nothing else, Manny was definitely a character and entertaining, that's for sure.
(h/t Minor League Ball)