Manny Ramirez signs a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers

32 Comments

It’s on like Donkey Kong. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that The Rangers have signed Manny Ramirez to a minor league deal:

According to a major league source, the club has agreed to a deal with 41-year-old Manny Ramirez on a minor league deal. Ramirez, who recently left a Taiwanese team to give himself another shot at returning to the majors for the first time since 2011, will report to Triple-A Round Rock. Rangers club officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Ramirez raked in Taiwan, finishing his short stint there near the top of the league in batting average, homers, RBIs and walks. He was also a tremendous gate and television attraction. Ironically, interest in Manny Ramirez helped save baseball in Taiwan following a series of scandals in that country’s league.

But Taiwan is generally considered to be on-par with, maybe, single-A ball. In 2012 he struggled in Triple-A for the Athletics and then was released after 17 games. He has not played in the majors since a short, unsuccessful stint with the Rays in 2011 which ended with a drug suspension. His 2010 season was marred by another drug suspension. It’s kinda doubtful that he’s going to be a real contributor to a major league team, let alone a good one like the Rangers.

But now, the odds against him be damned, he has a chance to make it back to the bigs. And we all get to take the ride with Manny one more time.

Nationals’ starting pitching carrying them into World Series

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Leave a comment

In my postseason preview at the end of September, I listed the Nationals’ starting rotation as a strength and their bullpen as a weakness. Anyone who had followed the club this season could have told you that. Even the Nats are aware of it as manager Dave Martinez has leaned on his rotation to hide his sometimes unreliable ‘pen.

In Game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, Martinez was burned by his bullpen as Tanner Rainey, Fernando Rodney, and Hunter Strickland combined to allow six base runners and four runs. Martinez used ace Max Scherzer in relief in Game 2, sandwiched by Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson. Starter Patrick Corbin pitched in relief in Game 3 and it backfired, but the bullpen after Corbin continued to allow more runs — three officially, but Wander Suero allowed two inherited runners to score on a three-run homer by Max Muncy. Martinez only had to rely on Doolittle and Hudson in Game 4 and he again went to Corbin in relief in Game 5.

The strategy was clear: use the actual bullpen as little as possible. If Martinez absolutely has to, Doolittle and Hudson get top priory by a country mile, followed by a starter, then the rest of the bullpen.

Thankfully for Martinez and the Nationals, the starting pitching has done yeoman’s work in the NLCS, jumping out to a three games to none series lead over the Cardinals. Aníbal Sánchez famously brought a no-hit bid into the eighth inning of Game 1, finally relenting a two-out single to José Martínez before his night was over. Doolittle got the final four outs in the 2-0 win. Max Scherzer flirted with a no-hitter in his Game 2 start as well, losing it when Paul Goldschmidt led off the seventh with a single. He was erased on an inning-ending double play. Doolittle, Corbin, and Hudson got the final six outs in the 3-1 victory.

It was more of the same in Game 3. While Stephen Strasburg didn’t flirt with a no-hitter, he was dominant over seven innings, yielding one unearned run on seven hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts. The Nats’ offense woke up, amassing eight runs through seven innings which allowed Martinez to give his main relief guys a night off. Rodney and Rainey each pitched a perfect inning of relief with two strikeouts in low-leverage situations, their first appearances in the NLCS.

The Nationals starting pitching has been outstanding by itself, but it has also had the secondary effect of allowing Martinez to hide his team’s biggest weakness. Now Martinez just has to hope for more of the same for one more game, then at least four more in the World Series.