An enigmatic personality, we all know Manny Ramirez is good at one thing: getting himself run out of town. After faking injuries and quitting on teammates, Ramirez, once a fan favorite, was traded out of Boston at the 2008 trade deadline with the full faith and blessing of the Fenway Faithful. It was no problem for ManRam, who was an instant hit with the locals out in "Mannywood," that is, until he tested positive for taking female hormones that have been linked to cycling off of performance enhancing drugs. That was when his run of success and popularity in LA began to dwindle, and after coming back in 2010 playing his usual lackadaisical defense and hitting just 8 home runs, Ramirez punched his ticket out of "Mannywood" and into the South side of Chicago. He only saw 68 at-bats there so his production obviously wasn't very impressive, but this year he looks to start fresh in Tampa Bay as the full-time DH.
At age 38, it is a given that the days of ManRam posting gargantuan .300 batting average, 40
home run seasons are a thing of the past, but that doesn't mean Ramirez can't be a productive player. Like his teammates Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez, Ramirez is looking to move on from a disappointing 2010 and have a big year in the upcoming 2011. Without Carl Crawford, the longtime face of the Rays organization, the Rays will need someone to give energy to the fans, and Manny Ramirez just might be that guy. After all, he always leaves town on a bad note, but that's after making a great first impression and instantly becoming a darling for local fans and media. However, if and when things start to sour at the Trop, he is a definite risk to quit on the team or suffer ambiguous "injuries," so don't invest too heavily just in case his situation takes a turn for the worse. Every time he starts over with a new team, you're willing to give him a chance and think this will finally be the place where he grows up...well, if you haven't figured out yet, I'm sorry to burst your bubble but no such place exists. He couldn't have had a better situation than the one he had in Boston and he happily, ignorantly threw it all away. After awhile, he just simply doesn't care, and when he stops caring, he's a lost cause.
Back to the positives though, even at age 38 all signs point to Ramirez still having plenty left in his bat. No longer having to roam (because "play" is much too generous a word here) the outfield, ManRam will put a lot less pressure on his aging legs, which will go a long way in helping him rebound in the power department in 2011. Oh yeah, backing up fantasy stud Evan Longoria won't hurt either. His .298 average and .409 OBP from a year ago show that he still has a good eye for the plate, and for only having collected 265 at-bats last year, a total of 9 home runs really isn't that bad.
As one of the greatest right handed hitters of our generation with an ADP of 179, Ramirez is essentially the epitome of the high risk/high reward draft pick, but like I said, the only other guy who even has an argument in the "best right handed hitter of the past 20 years" conversation is Albert Pujols. Until his peripherals indicate that his tank is truly running on empty, I'll take the risk on him every time.
Projected 2011 stats: .295 AVG, 18 HR, 64 RBI, 59 runs