As expected, most of the reactions to the signings of Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez have been positive. That's the way it should be, considering the low risk/high reward possibilities that those deals present. Detractors always loom, however. When looked for reactions about the Damon and Manny signings, I've heard and read far too many people reference the ugliest three word combination in Rays history: The Hit Show.
If you're a reader of this site you should be well versed in The Hit Show. But, if you've forgotten I'll give a brief run down of the details. With Fred McGriff and Jose Canseco already on the roster, the Devil Rays acquired aging sluggers Vinny Castilla and Greg Vaughn in an attempt to boost attendance and, apparently, create a laser show inside the Trop that would make Pink Floyd jealous. Unfortunately, both of those things failed to happen. The acquisitions of of Castilla and Vaughn would be the antithesis of the low risk/high reward mentality the Rays employed with Damon and Ramirez.
While Damon and Ramirez are old by baseball standards, not all old players are created equal. Especially not ones signed to team friendly contracts. Let's look at the production and salary of Vaughn and Castilla.
That...that isn't good. I had to use baseball-reference.com's WAR figures for Castilla since he spent only 97ABs with the Devil Rays in 2001. (Fangraphs adds his entire 2001 season together for its WAR.) Vaughn's 2000 season actually wasn't bad, he had 2.3 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and a .375 wOBA. Castilla wasn't so fortunate. His triple slash line of .221/.254/.308 would make Yuniesky Betancourt chuckle. If Damon and Ramirez stay healthy they should easily produce more WAR this season than Vaughn and Castilla did in their entire tenures here. Hell, one good season by either one of them could produce that much WAR alone.
If something happens and Damon and Ramirez somehow don't out produce Vaughn and Castilla it will have only cost the Rays $7.25 million, as opposed to $37 million.