Mar. 19, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics designated hitter Manny Ramirez in the fifth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks during a spring training game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
UPDATE: Brandon McCarthy has been placed on the 15-day disabled list...
In America we are known for fighting to get what we want. Whether it was our forefathers fighting against taxation without representations or more recent generations fighting for racial equality or marriage equality. America is a land without gimmes, it is a land where you earn your way. That is why the news stories surrounding Manny Ramirez both perplex and worry me. Everyone is speaking of Ramirez making his season debut on his 40th birthday on May 30th in Minneapolis. In fact oftentimes it is written, "Ramirez is scheduled to make his debut..." as if there is a lineup in Bob Melvin's office with his name already penciled in. If this is the case Jonny Gomes or Seth Smith (or perhaps both) are poised to lose significant playing time. These two players have been among the A's best. Using wOBA, Gomes stands at .358 (second best on the club) and Smith at .330 (tied for fourth best with Yoenis Cespedes). Using wRC+ Gomes is at 129 (also second) and Smith at 110 (in fifth). These are very good numbers and for sake of comparison, though they were offensively challenged, Gomes' numbers in both these categories would have led the 2011 A's. It is difficult to say either of these guys deserves less playing time, but that is what is being told to us and for who?
Yesterday Manny Ramirez made his debut with the Sacramento River Cats as they took on the Albuquerque Isotopes in Albuquerque. In the top of the first facing Will Savage, a Triple-A filler type for the Dodgers who has earned 4.0 K/9 he struck out on five pitches the bat never leaving his shoulder as he took a called strike, ball, called strike, ball and called strike. He was more eager against Savage in the third when first pitch swinging he lined out to second base. In the fifth against the 4.0 K/9 Savage, Ramirez swung and missed, fouled off a pitch, fought it back to 3-2 and then struck out swinging. In the seventh inning facing Scott Rice, a 30-year-old yet to make his MLB debut, Ramirez struck out swinging on three pitches.
Ramirez didn't face the much ballyhooed prospect. He didn't face the guy who is on the cusp of entering the Majors, he didn't even face a guy who has pitched in the Majors and his line was 0-for-4 with 3Ks. Vladimir Guerrero was signed by the Blue Jays on an MiLB deal and Hideki Matsui was signed by the Rays on a MiLB deal and neither of those clubs has a date for them to be in Toronto or St. Petersburg. This is what Oakland should do. Treat the MiLB deal as an MiLB deal. For now Ramirez is Triple-A filler just as Jeff Fiorentino is or just as Brandon Moss is. Because Manny is Manny is no reason for him to not have to earn his way to Oakland.