It’s probably not worth taking a flier on Manny Ramirez

16 Comments

MLB did the fair thing Sunday, disclosing that Manny Ramirez would only have to serve half of the 100-game suspension he was set to receive before he announced his retirement last year. Still, how much of a favor that does the 12-time All-Star remains to be seen.

The best Ramirez could do last winter when he came with considerably less baggage was $2 million from the Rays. Now he’s a year older, coming off practically a full year off and he’s going to miss one-third of the season. It’s anyone’s guess how much he has left in his bat.

Ramirez figures to be looked at primarily as a DH, and the DH market is already crowded, what with David Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Magglio Ordonez available. Josh Willingham, Jason Kubel and Raul Ibanez could fit into that mix, too.

Teams likely to sign full-time designated hitters include the Red Sox, Rays, Orioles and Mariners. The Blue Jays, A’s and Twins could as well.

But no team in search of a DH is going to want to commit to Ramirez and then wait two months for him. For that reason, Ramirez’s best bet might be the National League. A team like the Reds or Marlins could give him a minor league contract and then bring him up to serve as a pinch-hitter on June 1. It might well be the best Manny can do.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
4 Comments

The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.