What does Manny’s retirement mean for the Rays?

4 Comments

Manny Ramirez’s retirement has sent shockwaves through the baseball world, but it’s also left a pretty big hole in the middle of the Rays’ projected lineup.

The Rays took a calculated risk by signing Ramirez this winter, but despite his lack of production with the White Sox down the stretch last season, he still batted .298/.409/.460 with an .870 OPS over 320 plate appearances for the entire year. It was a worthwhile risk to take, especially at the bargain basement price of $2 million. Of course, the Rays are no longer responsible for his salary now that he has chosen to retire, but that doesn’t make his abrupt exit any easier to swallow.

Entering play Friday, the Rays have scored just eight runs over their first six games. They haven’t had a lead once. And they are expected to be without their best hitter Evan Longoria for at least the next two weeks with an oblique injury. They’re in deep trouble offensively, at least in the short-term.

The easy and most exciting impluse would be to call up top prospect Desmond Jennings from Triple-A Durham and stick him in left field, moving Johnny Damon to designated hitter. Then again, it’s in the best interests of the franchise for the long-term to delay his service time for a little while longer, so we probably won’t see him until some time after Memorial Day.

Following the announcement of Ramirez’s retirement, the Rays called up Casey Kotchman from Triple-A Durham, who will be the regular first baseman moving forward. Dan Johnson will become the primary designated hitter while Johnny Damon will remain in left field.

Swapping Kotchman for Ramirez is hardly exciting, but more than anything, it’s an indication that the Rays now know they don’t have the best chance to contend this season.

Steven Souza Jr. injured his left knee

Getty Images
1 Comment

Almost exactly a year ago, Diamondbacks outfielder Steven Souza Jr. tore a bicep while diving for a ball in a spring training game. He’d play in only 72 games last year but he really wasn’t healthy for any of them, with the injury and aggravations to it costing him production and causing him pain.

When he started spring training this year he said he’d take it easier in games that didn’t count so he could be ready for the regular season. Sadly, he was once again injured on the eve of Opening Day, crumbling to the ground after injuring his knee while scoring on a double in an exhibition game against the White Sox (video here if you want to see it).

The injury looked bad — he was in obvious pain and could not put any weight on the leg while being helped off the field. He’s undergoing an MRI today and we’ll hear more soon, but it does not look good.

Assuming Souza is out for an extended period, Adam Jones will likely be the Dbacks’ everyday right fielder.