A few thoughts on whether the New York Yankees should sign Manny Ramirez.
First, the bad news… and we know it by heart. Manny being Manny. Petulant, moody, a proverbial thorn in the side of teammates, owners, and general managers. Pick your favorite verb or phrase and apply it. No question - he brings a lot of baggage with him. What to do? Grin and bear it.
Stats tell the whole story and Manny has a truckload of ‘em. A lifetime batting average of .314, 527 homers, 1212 career walks and a career slugging percentage of .593. Ten out of 15 seasons hitting .300+. Hits in the clutch, hits for average, hits for power. He is the best hitter since Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs, the scourge of pitchers in both leagues, and a first ballot Hall of Famer. He made the Cleveland Indians a contender, helped the Boston Red Sox win two World Series and led the Los Angeles Dodgers to the playoffs on the strength of .399 hitting.
Forget all the hoopla and remarks about Manny being Manny. It has nothing to do with his talent. He won’t win any popularity contests, but Manny does his real talking where it counts - at the plate. Everything else is more grist for the mill. At age 37, Manny is now approaching the end of his career, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing him down. Just look at the numbers he posted for the Dodgers. A .399 average, 17 homers, 53 runs batted in, a .489 on base percentage. This writer’s stance on what the Yankees should do is a mere bag of shells. Do what it takes to sign him. If Manny wants two years, give it to him. If he wants an exorbitant amount of money, give it to him. Manny is no cakewalk in the clubhouse and he’ll require a ton of patience, but he is a proven winner.
C.C. Sabathia’s name came up last night at Joe Torre’s Safe At Home fund raising gala. New York Yankees captain and Torre protégé, Derek Jeter, said that he has spoken to the lights out lefty about wearing the pinstripes next season, but no news yet if C.C. will be moving to the Bronx for 2009. Sabathia could well be the Yanks’ answer to Johan Santana and would anchor the Yanks’ pitching impoverished rotation. The real question is can Sabathia win the big games? While hurling for the Cleveland Indians, Sabathia was nearly unhittable against the Bombers in the divisional round of the 2007 playoffs, but looked awfully pedestrian this year, ceding five runs in two innings against the world champion Philadelphia Phillies.
Hard fought series? Check. Scratching out runs? You bet. Clutch hitting and smart pitching? No question. The Philadelphia Phillies’ Cole Hamels goes tonight against Los Angeles Dodgers veteran pitcher Derek Lowe. Both posted 14 wins. Lowe chalked up 11 losses while Hamels had 10. Both hurlers were pretty even in ERA, WHIP, and strikeout-to-walk ratio. Look for a real pitchers duel. Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will probably break out of their NLDS slumps with timely hits while the Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez will be swinging a mighty bat throughout the series.
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