Big League Stew - MLB

In a 2-for-1 move reportedly conceived by superagent Scott Boras, the Tampa Bay Rays plugged some holes Friday night by signing free agents Manny Ramirez(notes) and Johnny Damon(notes).

Yes, both of them. Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman broke the news.

Rays general manager Andrew Friedman apparently wants to party like it's 2004 in St. Petersburg by bringing in two key components from that season's World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox. (Or as they nicknamed themselves that year, The Idiots.)

[Related: Orlando Magic reunion isn't working out so well]

The Rays had been looking to add some bats after losing Carl Crawford(notes) and Carlos Peña in free agency. So, Boras — who represents both Damon and Ramirez — went to Friedman with a proposal, writes Newsday's Ken Davidoff.

• Damon gets $5.25 million, plus $750K in attendance bonuses. (Don't laugh. There are a lot of Red Sox fans in Florida.)

• Manny gets $2 million (plus the $8 million-point-whatever the Dodgers are still paying him). 

Caveman Damon and ManRam have great résumés, of course, but they — in baseball terminology — are kind of old. Seriously, it took Twitter about 5 seconds after Heyman tweeted the news to start piling up the jokes.

Such as ...

• "... all the Rays need now is Trot Nixon to unretire & the band is officially back together?"

•  It's an "effort to attract more old people to baseball games in Florida."

• "With the signings ... the Rays are a lock for winning the 2004 World Series."

Along with plenty of jabs about the Rays hoping nobody hits the ball to left field.

Please, make more in the comments.

Damon, 37, is a decent on-base guy (.355 OBP) but he slugged a mere .401 for the Tigers (in spacious Comerica Park) a season ago. His defense in left wasn't bad (except for his arm, of course) in 33 games. And he probably would have to play defense for the Rays, who can't possibly expect Manny to do it. 

Manny, 38, got on base for the White Sox after the Dodgers moved him in a trade this past summer, but he hit for zero power for Chicago. Ramirez had "hernia-like" surgery in the offseason, Boras said, and the injury affected his performance. Only, Manny didn't realize he was hurt.

Which makes no sense — but does, when you remember it's Manny.

Adding Damon and Manny definitely blocks rookie-in-waiting Desmond Jennings(notes) from a starting spot in the outfield, though a trade of B.J. Upton(notes) (which still could happen) could prevent another season at Class AAA Durham.

[Rewind: Damon the victim of big umpire error]

As for the Rays' chances to contend in 2011, unless Damon and Manny suddenly turn to dust, this should help. Noted Raysologist Jonah Keri recently opined that, if St. Petersburg were to sign Damon and Vladimir Guerrero(notes), it would give the Rays their best lineup ever.

This ... almost like that. If Manny rebounds from his mysterious groin injury and still has something left in the tank, maybe the AL East is still a three-horse race.

Idiot power.

Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave 

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