Manny Ramirez Red Sox

Manny and the Hall of Fame: Forget it, dude. But what of his legacy?

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Manny Ramirez has the statistical resume of a Hall of Famer. Now, in light of his second drug “issue” — which is being reported as a positive drug test — the viability of his candidacy is probably nil.  It may have been anyway given his 2009 PED suspension, but if there was any doubt about it, this has ended it.  Barring a sea change in the attitude of Hall of Fame voters — remember, these guys won’t vote for someone who they even suspect may have used PEDs –Ramirez will be a one-and-done candidate when his time comes up in a little over five years. Then he’ll be the Veterans’ Committee’s problem someday.

The real question about Manny Ramirez, then, is not whether he’s a Hall of Famer, but what his legacy as a player is beyond the yes/no world of Cooperstown politics.

His accomplishments are outstanding: 555 home runs. 1831 RBI. 2574 hits. A career line of .312/.411/.585. A .937 career postseason OPS and two World Series rings, one of which came with the 2004 Red Sox which, some argue, counts for more than your typical playoff jewelry given the historic nature of it all.

But he is also now and will forever be tainted by his PED suspension and this final, retirement-inducing “issue.”  He was a player of undeniable talent but one who, more than any other Hall of Fame-level performer, had his career correspond with the heightened offensive environment of what is now known as the PED era. He broke in as things went a bit nutty in 1993 and his time as an elite player ended almost exactly when he got caught by baseball’s drug testing program in 2009.

Manny Ramirez will almost certainly be characterized, at least in the short term, as a creation of PEDs.  This conclusion likely won’t explain how he was able to play at an elite level for four years after PED testing came online, and it will overlook the fact that, if his skills were purely the stuff of chemicals, few if any other players were able to do what he did.  I mean really, if one could take drugs to become a baseball player like Manny Ramirez, wouldn’t you expect to see more Manny Ramirezes around?

Time will help us sort that out, one way or the other. Time and perspective. We’ll have a better sense of what to make of Manny Ramirez some day. We have to.  Because God knows we’ve never had a good idea of what to make of him these past 18 years.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.