Tampa Bay is 0-4, Manny Ramirez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts yesterday to make him 1-for-16 on the season, and Rays fans are already booing the 39-year-old designated hitter.
Manager Joe Maddon described the situation as “very unfair” while adding that the fans should know “this man really cares” and “the last thing I want him to do is feel like he has to carry us.”
B.J. Upton called the booing “unbelievable” and went on to say:
Here’s a man who has had an unbelievable career. This game is not easy. His start obviously hasn’t been what people wanted it to be. But if everybody could do it, everybody in America would be playing right now. They’re not and he’s done it for 16 years. So that bothered me a little bit. Because I think if you’re a true baseball fan, you know what type of player he is and the type of damage he can do. It’s way too long of a season to be booing somebody right now. That I do not understand, not one bit.
I tend to agree. Ramirez is certainly a flawed person, but for a new fan base to boo him four games into his time with the team seems absurd, particularly since he was a shrewd free agent signing for just $2 million in guaranteed money and is crucial to the Rays’ success this season.
Boo him if he fails to hustle or disrespects Maddon or shows up late for a game, but for a bad first week at a new job? What purpose does that serve, exactly?
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Indians and Padres are still discussing a potential trade for a starting pitcher, namely Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Rosenthal adds that a deal isn’t close and is unlikely to occur before Opening Day. The Padres are balking at the Indians’ asking prices for the two starters.
The Padres could certainly use an ace at the top of the rotation. With the addition of Manny Machado, the lineup is looking decent, but beyond Joey Lucchesi, the starting pitching doesn’t inspire confidence.
Kluber, who turns 33 years old next month, has club options for the next two seasons at $13.5 million and $14 million with $1 million buyouts each. Last year, the right-hander finished third in AL Cy Young balloting, finishing 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA and a 222/34 K/BB ratio in 215 innings.
Bauer, 28, is earning $13 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration heading into 2020. Last year, Bauer went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA and a 221/57 K/BB ratio across 175 1/3 innings.
The Indians are the prohibitive favorites in the AL Central once again, but that has as much to do with the mediocrity of the rest of the division as the Indians’ commitment to competing. If the Indians were to trade either or both starters, that would be good news for the Twins, who are projected to be 15 games worse than the Indians but still finish in second place, according to PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus.