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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why The Red Sox Should Take a Flyer on Manny Ramierz

A career .312 batting average, 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs. An impressive resume for any player, and for most Hall of Fame worthy.

A player with those credentials should expect to have his pick of a team in free agency, but then there's the other numbers.

Two violation of baseball's performance-enhancing drug rules and two 50-game suspensions. One arrest and one superficial retirement.

These are the numbers of one Manny Ramirez. For years fans and the front office officials alike turned a blind eye to his antics as long as he continued to produce those numbers that earned him an eight-year, $160 million deal with the Red Sox in 2000.

Manny was a handful during his Boston tenure, like it and he didn't hustle all the time.

In most cases the good outweighed the bad and the Red Sox put up with it. Why wouldn't they? They only stood to benefit. It was Manny being Manny

After World Series victories in 2004 and 2007, the Red Sox finally decided enough was enough with Manny. In late June of 2008 Manny and Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick got into an argument which ended when Manny pushed McCormick to the ground.

Frustrated with him the Red Sox finally completed the long talked about trade that rid them of his antics. It was time for Manny to be Manny somewhere else.

Since then, there were stops in L.A. with the Dodgers, Chicago, and Tampa. Two suspensions for testing performance for performance enhancing drugs, his abrupt retirement and an arrest for assault on his wife.

His once prolific career seemed to be over. Baseball fans wanted to forget about Manny Ramirez.

After a season away he realized he wasn't ready to stop playing, and like many others before him he has jumped on the comeback trail for a chance to make things right.

Very few teams seem to be interested in him, perhaps it is the luggage that he carries, or the fact they just don't think he can play anymore. He only hit 9 home runs in all of 2010.

Know this, Manny Ramirez was known for being one of the hardest workers in baseball during his playing career. His swing was widely considered as one of the greatest in history of the game.

Those things just don't go away, and with a little work, Ramirez could refine those skills. He's been working out and hitting in Florida, now he's just asking, begging for one more chance.

His goal is to land a tryout with a major league team for spring training. A tall order given the lack of interest from teams.

In an interview with ESPN's Pedro Gomez though, he want's to show the world he's changed. "I want to show people that Manny can change, that he can do the right thing," said Ramirez.

"To show people that I still can play. I don't want to leave the game like I did. I also want to show my kids that if you make a mistake, don't quit. Just go back and fix it. And if you're going to leave, leave the right way."

He likely will have to wait a while for that opportunity, but it undoubtedly will come. Ramirez represents the low-risk, high-reward type players many GM's across the game are looking for, but one in particular could make the bold move to sign Manny and bring him to camp.

He has a long history the Red Sox, and with their new GM Ben Cherringtion and the addition of new manager Bobby Valentine, Manny has the opportunity for clean slate with the organization and in the clubhouse.

The Red Sox have openly discussed moving Carl Crawford to right-field to better use his athleticism and cover more ground. If that move was to be made, adding a left fielder to platoon with whomever the Red Sox decide on could be the right move.

With friends like David Ortiz on the team and past teammates who know him well, it could provide a level of comfortability that could bring flashes of the old Manny back to Fenway.

He believes he can still hit and quite frankly I believe him. "Hitting is about repetition...that's why I picked up swinging. It's not only your body, it's your mind. When you're doing everything right, and you're firm in life, everything comes easy."

Sure I know it's crazy and not likely whatsoever to happen, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't.

I believe there's no question that this guy can hit, and if he can't? Release him during the spring. The Red Sox would have nothing to loose by taking a chance on him. The potential upside outweighs any of the negative, and he could fill a void for the team of which he was once the face of the franchise.

Who knows, he could be worth it.

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