Before you start launching into a verbal assault in this direction for a completely moronic suggestion, let me make something clear: I am NOT recommending the Braves sign Manny Ramirez. (I write that still knowing that the first “You’re an idiot” comment will be posted in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .)
Again: Not recommending Manny World here. He comes with a ton of baggage. Clubhouse chemistry has been central to the Braves’ success this season. Ramirez is not about chemistry, unless you count performance-enhancing drugs (thank you, try the veal).
But ESPN’s Buster Olney, the best national baseball writer in the business, has a really interesting blog posted on the expectation that Ramirez will be put on waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers soon. The Dodgers close out a four-game series against the Braves tonight. Ramirez is on the disabled list with a calf injury but he appears close to returning.
Olney’s blog requires “ESPN Insider” access, but here’s the meat of it:
If [Ramirez] hits the waiver wire sometime in the next two weeks, as expected, he will be the source of a whole lot of head-scratching among baseball executives, because despite all those things that Ramirez isn’t — emotionally invested or an ideal teammate, for example — he continues to be a really good hitter.
Ramirez has played in 61 games this season, and in his 186 at-bats, he’s hitting .317, with a .409 on-base percentage and a .516 slugging percentage. He’s got a .457 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position this year and a .976 OPS. Manny could sleep in the dugout for the next 30 days, wipe the sleepies out of his eyes and walk up to home plate — and opposing pitchers and managers would be scared of what he could do in the clutch.
So as a Braves’ fan, are you at least intrigued?
From an offensive standpoint, there’s no question Ramirez more than makes up for the loss of Chipper Jones and any other deficiencies this lineup may have (notwithstanding this comes a day after the Braves pounded the Dodgers for 13 runs and 16 hits). Since Ramirez would have to play left field in Atlanta, that would create a logjam of outfielders (although Eric Hinkse also is in the first base rotation).
But even with all of the problems associated with Ramirez, I thought it was worth throwing it out there for debate. Seldom does a .317 hitter with a .516 slugging percentage, 554 career home runs and two World Series rings hit the waiver wire.
Final note: Ramirez makes a ton: $18.695 million. But any team claiming him is responsible for only the remainder of this year’s salary (about $5 million). He’s a free agent after the season.
OK, the gates are open . . .