COMMENTARY | The Rangers have been saying since the season started that they needed a right-handed bat.
They finally found it, albeit in a very unlikely source.
The Rangers signed outfielder Manny Ramirez to a minor league contract to possibly add some right-handed pop to the lineup. Ramirez was last seen playing in Taiwan earlier this season but walked away from that a couple of weeks ago.
Now he will get the chance to prove himself at the Rangers' Triple-A team in Round Rock.
On the surface, this looks like a bad move. Ramirez is notoriously temperamental and has 2 PED-related suspensions on his ledger. He is an easy guy to dislike if you're a baseball fan.
Examine a little deeper and it looks like a coup for Rangers GM Jon Daniels. For the major league minimum, JD acquired arguably the greatest right-handed hitter of the last 20 years. With all the accolades he's received in his long career, Ramirez has nothing left to accomplish on the field. And he certainly does not need the money. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he took a job for the minimum salary and agreed to go to the minor leagues and prove himself all over again because he wants to play the game and he wants to help the Rangers win a pennant.
Ramirez is 41 years old and not the player he once was, but even if he's 50 percent of what he was in his prime, he's better than what the Rangers are throwing out there now in the outfield (by that, I mean David Murphy). And at DH, for that matter, where Lance Berkman has been a bit of a disappointment as far as power numbers.
He appears to have calmed down quite a bit from the bad boy image he projected in Boston and Los Angeles. Rangers manager Ron Washington is not exactly a strict disciplinarian out there, so Ramirez would probably for the most part police himself. Coming to the Rangers would mean a reunion with his former hitting coach with the Red Sox, Dave Magadan.
At first I decried the Rangers' signing of Ramirez, but after a closer look, I decided it was exactly what Daniels said it was--a low-risk move that could pay off huge dividends. Chances are, unless he just totally whiffs at Round Rock, he's going to be in the major leagues with the Rangers before too long. And it will put more people in the seats, so it's a complete win-win for Daniels.
With Oakland breathing down the Rangers' necks and outfielders either slumping badly (David Murphy) or on the disabled list (Craig Gentry), Ramirez's arrival cannot come a moment too soon.
Brian Honea is a Dallas, Texas-based freelance writer who is a lifelong Texas Rangers follower.
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