Just a few random thoughts on the Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon signings…First and foremost, what are reasonable expectations, for each player? First of all, we need to keep in mind that it is not 2004 anymore. If it was, these two would have cost $28.5 million and the Rays would be the favorites to win the AL pennant.

But while both players are past their primes, they have proven that they can still be very productive hitters. Bill James has Damon projected at .271 with 12 home runs, 11 steals and a .352 OBP. Moving from Comerica Park and from the never-run Tigers, we’d expect Damon’s power to go up a little (16-17 HR?) and his steals to go up also (20-25?).

We already looked at how Manny’s numbers have dropped since his PED suspension. The biggest drop is in his power. But we also have to consider that Manny had a lot of those post-suspension ABs at Dodger Stadium. Bill James projects Manny at .298 with 23 home runs and a .401 OBP. If he plays a full season, we wouldn’t be surprised if he hits 25-28 home runs in The Trop. And that is a very healthy season.

Some other random thoughts on ManDam

  • The Manny contract ($2.0M) is the perfect ”can’t lose” deal. Clearly Manny is playing for a 2012 contract, so he will be motivated. And if he isn’t and is more of a distraction than a help, well, even the Rays can swallow $2.0M. They’ll just cut him and move on.
  • Manny has to be the everyday DH, right? (although who doesn’t want to occasionally see him flop around in left field like a dead fish?) That means, the Rays have signed Damon to play left field and possibly some first base. Not ideal, but ok. It also means that even if Desmond Jennings gets called up, he won’t be an everyday player in 2011.
  • Combined, Manny and Damon will make less ($7.25M) than the Rays paid Pat Burrell last year ($9.0M).
  • Damon obviously wanted $6.0M, but instead got $5.25M and the $750K “attendance bonus.”  Knowing Scott Boras, he probably was selling popularity as part of Damon’s value. So the Rays countered with an “attendance bonus.” At that point, Boras was stuck. If he was so sure about Damon’s popularity, he had to take the bonus instead of holding out for more guaranteed money.
  • If the Rays really want to reunite The Idiots, why not sign Pedro Martinez to be the closer…Why not just sign him? Do it! Run down to the Dominican – bam, bam, bam, bam. Friedman’s back before week’s end. The Rays spend the treasure. How is this a bad plan?



  1. Michael says:

    This is more like the Cork I have wanted to see….

  2. Don says:

    First of all there is no way these two replace CC for production or defense…. BUT they are a lot closer to shoring up a terrible hitting group….
    Jennings is not ready to help at the plate…and this move can buy another year to develop our prospects…into possible starters…
    Win/Win situation…plus fan interest will be up 100% for 2011 with these NAMES…

    • KillaTapes says:

      Good job Don, I’m really impressed that you used and spelled “shoring up” correctly. Keep up the good work. Yes, this signing has put me in a good mood.

  3. Joe says:

    This was a no lose deal for the Rays given their reference point…I think its Bizarro World now that Carl Crawford will be in LF for Boston and Damon and Manny will be in LF for the Rays. I wouldn’t have taken a bet on that 6 months ago, let alone 6 years ago. Just when you think you see everything, now you see this…Go figure.

    It’s a placeholder signing until Vettleson, Sale or Guyer or whoever can settle and take the corner OF spots. At least they got buzz now, although you may see a lot of Boston based buzz from New England based Tampa Bay fans!!

  4. Charles says:

    This move also seems to spell the end for Willy Aybar’s run here. If he was going to be a platoon DH/1B guy, I’m guessing that paying him $2.2 million when Manny’s here making $2 million is out of the question. So it looks like Dan Johnson/Johnny Damon/Ben Zobrist man first base, Johnson/Damon/Manny are the DHs, and Damon/Zobrist/Joyce/Ruggiano/Jennings are the corner outfielders. My guess is that Jennings will be starting at AAA barring injury to one of these other guys (or if Matt Joyce tanks).

    Pedro as closer – I know no one really thinks that would ever happen, but just for fun if we’re going by 2009′s limited sample, that would be a bit scary. First batter of a game inning hit .556 with 3 homers in 9 AB vs. Pedro in 2009. Overall, batters leading off innings vs. Pedro hit .378 with 6 HR in 45 AB. You may as well make Shields closer if that’s how it’s going to be.

    I love the Manny/Damon move. Even if Manny’s power is largely gone, he’ll probably be the best DH we’ve had in awhile. The one thing I know about Damon from his time playing up here is that he’s one of the hardest workers in the game – you won’t ever be able to fault his effort even if the results don’t pan out (even though the consistency in his doubles hitting suggests to me that he’s still got some line drives left in the tank). Defensively, he’s a liability, but it’s not inconceivable to me that Upton’s position morphs a bit into “CF and this slice of LF”. Especially if Matt Joyce, who is a plus defender in RF, comes in and wins that job.

    Manny played about half a season’s worth of PAs last year, so just for fun I doubled his stats at the same rate (bad science, I know, but again just for fun) and compared 2010 Damon + Manny to 2010 Crawford + Pena. You end up 17 runs, 39 RBI and 21 HR short with Damon & Manny. 17 runs less last year would have dropped the Rays from 3rd to 5th in MLB, not huge. The 39 RBI drop would still have had them in the top 10. This is not factoring in the difference between a full year of Dan Johnson vs. the Aybar/Burrell/Blalock DH hydra, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that DJ can equal or outproduce that combo, is it?

    So offense I think is probably OK now. The bullpen is such a wildcard that I don’t even know what to think now, but it could be the difference between 90 wins and 80 wins.

  5. Greg says:

    Higher upside with Manny than Napoli and Cork is right: can’t lose on this deal. Manny’s playing for a contract and Damon usually sports a high OBP so we have another leadoff candidate if they want to go away from Jaso up top. When Manny comes to a new town, he seems to be quite well-liked until he wears out his welcome. I bet there will be a lot of Ramirez jerseys at the Trop. It won’t be a pennant-winning year, but it should be entertaining. We’ll be competitive. Plus, there is always someone who surprises you with a much better year than expected. Who will it be this year? Cork, that would be a good post. Who do you think is going to have a surprisingly good year for the Rays?

    • MJ says:

      SRod would get my vote, although it wouldn’t really “surprise” me.

      • Greg says:

        Exactly the kind of guy I’m thinking about. I’m feeling like it could be Brignac. We had so little offense last year outside of Crawford and Longo, that there are a lot of candidates.

        • Derek says:

          Brignac is about as overhyped as they come. With two above average years in the minors, he somehow is a future stud. One of those years was 2009, when he was in AAA for a second year. Sure the defense is there, but with a full season at the plate, he will destroy Upton in the race for most strkeouts, and unlike Upton, Brignac doesnt draw walks, at all.

          Rodriguez had .292/.375/.442 line against LHPs last year. I cant wait to see him get more playing time this year.

  6. phil says:

    The signing of Manny and Damon have the payroll at $43M = $7.25 + 36M after Farnsworth was signed ….enough to get chad Durbin who is not a closer but could be a proven set-up guy…for $2M?

    feel Damon should play first base because the rays have better defensive options in the outfield plus it would leave the option of using Jennings later in the year in Left field …

    Damon would work hard in spring training to become proficient at the position.

    • Don says:

      1st base is DJ’s position to lose….barring any disappointments in spring training DJ will take over and more than replace Pena…
      He could hit 20+ hr, hit 50-70 pts. higher than Pena, and has the mind set to get hits in key situations (which Pena struck out)….
      Damon and Manny will be fine as LF/DH combos…

      • rays11 says:

        I think this team needs a better option at 1b than johnson. I can see him hitting 20+ homeruns but i have no idea why you think he would hit 50-70 pts higher than Pena? In limited duty last year (100 something ABs) he hit below .200? Doesnt give me any confidence he will be hitting .270 any time soon. Plus his defense is terrible. I think Johnson is a Pena clone without the gold glove.

        • Don says:

          Watch in 2011….and you will see…if DJ is regular 1st…Pena will be long forgotten!

          • rays11 says:

            i’m not saying pena was the beat all , end all. i’m just saying nothing in DJ’s past suggest he is going to be ANYTHING special. The last time he got significant major league playing time was in Oakland in 2006 and 2007. He batted .234 and .236 with 9 / 18 HRs. 31 year old career minor leaguer/journeyman.

        • KillaTapes says:

          Peña hit under .200. Let’s not forget that. Not too difficult to replace in my opinion. Jesus, I’m agreeing with Don twice in one post. I might be drunk.

          • rays11 says:

            Nobody’s disagreeing that Pena/Johnson are almost the same player. i said it in my first post. With the exception of the glove they are interchangeable. What i’m seeing is we need an UPGRADE at 1B over Dan Johnson.

          • KillaTapes says:

            To be fair, you said you see Johnson hitting 20+ homers, which I can totally see happening. I’ll take .250 (probably more like .260) and 20 homers from 1st base any day. If that happens, it IS an upgrade. I loved Peña but his SO rate and low BA were a travesty.

          • rays11 says:

            My question to you Killa is what makes you think that DJ is going to hit .250 or .260!?!? Nothing in his past major league experience points to him being able to hit that high? .198 last year, .234 in 2007 and .236 in 2006?

          • rays11 says:

            if DJ hits .230 or .240 with 20+ homeruns IS that an upgrade over Pena’s .200 with 30+ homeruns and gold glove? they both drew a lot of walks. Again I am just saying I would love an upgrade over both of them.

          • Derek says:

            How do we know Johnson is bad with the glove? He played what? 1 game at 1b last year? He was decent enough when he played for A’s. 1st is about as easy as they come to play. I dont see him being a problem there. With a full season his average should climb. Plus, he walks in 21% of his at bats against lefties.

  7. Gus says:

    I like Damon, but Damon keeping Des off the team seems to be counterproductive.

    I feel like Rays universe is buying the Manny signing hook, line and sinker. He’s a horrible guy in the clubhouse when he’s hitting; when he doesn’t hit, he’s the worst person in the major leagues as a teammate. Just ask the Dodgers — in a season he was “playing for a contract” he refused to play for Joe Torre in his last series, not swinging at pitches, not going in games. He’s a bad dude. Be forewarned.

    • phil says:

      this is why i am saying Damon should play first leave an opening for Desmond…and not sure DJ is going to bat .270 with 15 hrs….however i hope so!

      • Derek says:

        Jennings wont hit 15 hrs, power is still a question with him, 11 is his high, which was 2009. If your talking about the other DJ, he hit 7 in 140 plate appearances last year, so he could kill it next year.

        Jennings, like Don said. Might not be ready. Being asked to replace Crawford is a lot for a kid to handle.

        • Gus says:

          Jennings is 24 (turing 25 in October). If the “kid” can’t handle LF after all this time in the minors, then the Rays needs to look elsewhere. He’s only 2 years younger than Upton.

          • Derek says:

            Upton was rushed, well demanded, to play in the majors. I dont see how 24 is too old? Isnt Crawford thirty? And should be playing for at least seven more years. Jennings has missed time because of injury, whats the point in rushing him, if his offense might not be where you want it. He could play LF everyday, with not much problem, think .250/.330/.370, but we dont usually ask our players to learn on the job though. We want them to be studs when they arrive. I.E. Jaso, Joyce, Longo, Niemann. Just so you know, Niemann and Jaso are 27. Niemann is 28 in Feb.

  8. Greg says:

    By the way: Cork, when does the 2010 AL East banner go up on the website front page? Opening Day? Do we all get commemorative rings?

  9. Big Mo says:

    These two should help out Evan by batting behind him. Also, if the Rays are not in the hunt at the trade deadline, they have some bats to trade to a contender. Maybe get something good in return.

  10. Leighroy says:

    If anyone can figure out Manny and deal with him, its gotta be Merlot-Joe right???

    • Don says:

      Only thing Maddon has to be carefull of is being “too Nice” to these old tough veterans….I can see it now…Damon or Manny strikes out 3 times..
      Maddon says “Thats ok…I liked your EFFORT”….Manny (or Damon) will punch him!

  11. a.j. says:

    To the people who don’t like this deal…realize the Rays are only locked in for one year! They could have a problem with Manny, possibly, and just release him without having to worry too much about it!

  12. Scot says:

    We should start a pool – which DH makes a greater difference. My would put my eggs in only one basket – Manny’s. I don’t understand the Damon signing. Of course I REALLY don’t understand the Farnsworth signing. Come on baby light my fire…

  13. phil says:

    Manny should DH ….Damon at first …save wear and tear on Damon’s legs plus have better defenders than him to play left….Also leaves an opening for Jennings to play left in June….Now on to the bullpen!

  14. Sarah says:

    I hope Damon grows his hair and beard again.

    And at the very least, Manny’s behavior will ensure that the national press will have at least one Rays story line that is NOT about attendance.

    • Tone says:

      The most productive post yet. With both the hair and beard he would find that old magic, ala Samson. Beard and Ray hawk is okay too, just not as powerful.

  15. Jay says:

    I am very interested to see how Joe will manage these two. Maybe the best barometer for just how great he is or isn’t.

    I want to see what happens when Man-ram goes on a tear and comes up on his scheduled rest day.

    I want to see how Joe will react to a “Manny being Manny” situation.

    Who knows what will transpire, but I guess the good news for the Rays is I will actually be paying attention along with a ton of other people.

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