We've talked about the possibility of Manny Ramirez joining the Rays. Unlike some more vocal members of the Tampa Bay media, we would welcome the move. Ramirez still has something left to give, and these talent evaluators seem to agree.
From Buster Olney's column this morning:
From a longtime scout: "He can still hit, but not with the same power or production. Health is becoming an issue, and he's pretty much limited to being a DH. His approach at the plate has always been one of the best and that hasn't changed."
A high-ranking NL evaluator: "I thought that he was starting to lose his lower half, and didn't have the ability to catch up to an average fastball."
From an AL talent evaluator: "He can [still] produce at an above-average level offensively ... He is strictly a DH ... He is still able to hit for average against strong fastballs but his ability to impact and pull those pitches has regressed some. He will give his club a quality at bat."
From a scout: He's a solid right-handed bat who only fits for an AL club, but that you could conceivably sign to a reasonable deal to be the regular DH this year and expect solid production.
"He still takes good care of himself, so worrying about what kind of shape he's in to DH at age 38/39 shouldn't be too much of an issue. He's such a pure, balanced, focused hitter that I'd say it's reasonable to expect at least a mid-.800's OPS level of production from him, which most clubs would be pretty happy with, particularly if he's on an incentive-laden deal. He should still hit and control the strike zone; it's the consistency of the power production that would seem to be the most likely aspect of his game that will continue to decline."
From a general manager: "I didn't really see him with my own eyes, but people who saw him with the White Sox said he looked terrible. Slow bat, etc."
From an AL executive: "Although Manny's bat speed has slowed and he is no longer the power threat he was in the past, I would expect him to still post a .380+ OBP with 30 doubles in 2011. Obviously, that has value -- just not as much as Manny provided in the recent past and perhaps not enough to justify the contract he will likely require to play next year. (Just a guess.)"
From an AL evaluator: "He looked like he could still hit when he started the year with the Dodgers, but he looked done in Chicago. It was night and day."
From an NL evaluator: "As a player, the concern with Manny is that he's a well-below average defender with on-base abilities but diminishing bat speed and power. He gets compared to Vladimir Guerrero but his 2010 season -- particularly two extra-base hits in 88 plate appearances with the White Sox -- more closely resembles a healthy Nick Johnson.
"I could see him getting $2-3 million base with incentives that could earn him between $5-10 million. The other thing is, this is a guy who is so obstinate and kooky, he may decide if he doesn't get the deal he likes he just won't play."
Those comments seem to lean toward Ramirez still having enough talent to help a team at the DH position. I hope they're right.