Manny Ramirez was asked if his early season struggles were the result of him pressing in an effort to make a good impression. Manny hasn’t hit much these days, but he smacked that one out of the park:
“I don’t need to impress nobody. I’ve got almost 600 home runs.”
Truth. Maybe not as to how Rays fans actually feel — they’d probably like to be a bit more impressed right now — but on the notion that Manny is not, by damn sight, the kind of guy who feels he needs to prove anything to anyone. I mean, no one has yet found the Rosetta Stone for Manny Ramirez-motivation, but we can be pretty sure that it’s not about what other people think.
For what it’s worth, I’m one of those people who thinks/thought that Manny will/would have a big year in Tampa. Because, rather than the wacky lazy caricature he is considered by many, I think he has a twisted sort of inner motivation. How could he not given what he’s accomplished? Lots of guys with his raw talent have done way, way less.
One day, after he’s dead, someone is going to cut him open and find some alien/super hero DNA and realize that he was motivated by something akin to saving the Bottled City of Kandor or something. Until then: mystery.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.