Can Manny Ramirez Be a Surprise X-Factor in the AL Playoff Race?

Josh Schoch@JoshSchochAnalyst IIIJuly 3, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 10:  Manny Ramirez #1 of the Oakland Athletics before the start of a spring training baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds at the Phoenix Municipal Stadium on March 10, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Texas Rangers took a calculated risk by signing Manny Ramirez to a minor-league contract on Wednesday afternoon.

The 12-time All-Star is 41 years old and hasn't played in an MLB game since 2011, but the Rangers are hoping that he can make an impact in a tight American League playoff race.

Danny Knobler of CBS Sports broke the news via Twitter:

Yes, it's true. Manny Ramirez has signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers.

— Danny Knobler (@DannyKnoblerCBS) July 3, 2013

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports found out the details of the contract:

if he makes team, manny gets 500 grand pro-rated. he has agreed to cut his hair, too. #rangers

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 3, 2013

manny also has agreed to wear his uniform in a conventional manner. #bigchanges

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 3, 2013


Man-Ram once struck fear into the hearts of pitchers. The Rangers are hoping that he can show signs of playing the way he did in 2008 when he hit .396 in 53 games to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to the NL West title after being acquired at the deadline. Ramirez stumbled badly in the last stretch of his career, culminating with a .059 average and just one hit in five games with the Tampa Bay Rays before being suspended for PEDs in 2011.

He hasn't played an MLB game since.

Ramirez has kept busy in recent years, however, batting .302 with the Oakland Athletics' Triple-A affiliate in 2012 before being released and signing with Taiwan league team EDA Rhinos in March of this year.

Manny was dominant in 49 games in Taiwan, batting .352 and slugging .555 with eight home runs and 23 walks compared to just 21 strikeouts.

As Mike Axisa of CBS Sports reports, this is the second time the Rangers have signed an aging star this season, and both could see the field if Ramirez does well in Triple-A.

The Rangers signed Lance Berkman to be their primary DH this year, but the 37-year-old has battled nagging knee problems after missing most of the last year due to knee surgery. He is hitting .263/.362/.392 (102 OPS+) with six home runs in 64 games this year. Texas could slide Berkman to first base and put Manny at DH, however. It's very unlikely either would be asked to play the outfield at this point in their careers.

The Rangers are hoping that this signing could somehow impact the team's hunt for October, as it sits one-half game back of the Athletics in the AL West and in the thick of the wild-card race.

Ramirez is a low-cost move for the Rangers to try to take the AL West crown, but can he actually make an impact?

Fans and analysts alike appear to have varying opinions  on this signing.

Imagine a Lance Berkman-Manny Ramirez designated hitter platoon.

— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) July 3, 2013

If he behaves, no doubt Manny Ramirez will help the Rangers at some point this season. Scout: "Bat speed still there.".

— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) July 3, 2013


Others think signing Ramirez is a waste of time for the Rangers.

Why would the Rangers sign Manny Ramirez? He's useless at this point of his career. Well actually he's been useless for like 5 years

— Raul Ibarra (@rall_94) July 3, 2013
— Austin Cooper ⚾ (@CountryBoy_Coop) July 3, 2013


Ramirez showed that he can still be a capable hitter with his stint with the Rhinos earlier this year, which is why the Rangers signed him.

Texas has been looking to improve its offense in 2013 following Josh Hamilton's departure via free agency in the offseason. Losing a guy who hit .285 with 43 home runs and knocked in 128 RBI in 2012 has been tough to overcome this season for the Rangers.

The team ranks just 12th in runs scored so far this season. Last year, they led the majors in runs scored with 808.

The Rangers are in desperate need of a boost on offense, and they are hoping that Ramirez will be just that.

According to ESPN's Home Run Tracker, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is clearly a hitter's park, ranking seventh in home runs per game in 2012 with 2.49.

Ramirez has found quite a bit of success at Rangers Ballpark in his career as well, batting .315 with seven home runs and 41 RBI in 62 games. If he can put up similar numbers in 2013 the Rangers will be ecstatic.

The Rangers appear to be a good fit for Man-Ram, as he would obviously be the team's DH and he's in a good park to hit in.

While he won't be putting up All-Star numbers, Ramirez could be a solid hitter and help the Rangers secure the AL West crown, if all goes according to plan.


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