Remember the first time Manny Ramirez got a drug suspension and then got all kinds of crap because he was allowed to go on a triple-A rehab assignment before the 50 games was up? Yeah, it seems like a long time ago that people cared that much about what Manny did.
He’s doing it again. Starting Sunday, when he’ll report to Sacramento to serve out the last few days of his latest suspension and then join the Oakland A’s. And, as he told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, he’s excited about it:
“I will be ready. I’m going to go crazy to please the fans.”
“I will do anything — absolutely anything I need to do — in order to hit home runs and make the fans happy,” he did not add, because presumably he has at least a modicum of self-awareness.
Seriously, this is an interesting time for Manny and the A’s. At 19-17, Oakland is exceeding expectations and is actually to stir a little something in a fan base thought dead. If Manny comes back and keeps the A’s humming at a respectable level — or even spurs them into sustained contention — the Manny narrative becomes something totally different than it has been for him for the past couple of years.
If, however, his return coincides with Oakland going on a skid — whether he produces or not — will he get the blame for it? Will he be characterized as poison?
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.