I opened yesterday’s “Mid-Atlantic Sports Report” with a mini-rant against the Orioles signing Manny Ramirez. I may as well expand on it here.
I’m just searching for the logic behind their interest, beyond a few obvious points.
First of all, executive vice president Dan Duquette is looking for another bat, and it would fit nicely in the designated hitter and cleanup spots. As it currently stands, Wilson Betemit could be the primary DH, and that’s not an ideal scenario.
The market is drying up, teams ask for too much or the Orioles won’t spend big. There’s a lot working against them here, but Ramirez isn’t a real hard sell. He wants back in the game. He can’t be too choosy. Executives aren’t stampeding to his front door.
Also, Duquette has a past with Ramirez, having signed him to a $160 million deal with the Red Sox before the 2001 season. And he genuinely likes Ramirez, referring to the slugger as “interesting” and “entertaining.” He’s intrigued by Ramirez’s comeback attempt.
Plenty of teams won’t touch Ramirez with a 10-foot pole. Duquette seems willing to do it with a one-year deal.
However, not everyone in the organization shares that enthusiasm, and the apprehension isn’t hard to understand.
Ramirez must serve a 50-game suspension after failing another test for performance-enhancing drugs. He brings a lot of baggage. He’s likely to lose interest if his team is losing, and the Orioles have mostly been doing that for 14 consecutive seasons.
Ramirez’s reputation keeps taking hits, like the time in 2008 when he shoved the Red Sox’s 64-year-old traveling secretary to the ground over a dispute involving game tickets. Or when he was arrested last September on charges of domestic violence.
Does Ramirez seem like manager Buck Showalter’s kind of guy?
And who knows how much is left in the tank at age 39 and after such a long layoff? I’d be more encouraged if he arrived at Camden Yards in a time machine.
The national media already is firing away at the Orioles for even considering Ramirez. ESPN The Magazine’s Jorge Arangure tweeted that Baltimore is becoming a Dominican graveyard. First Sammy Sosa, then Vladimir Guerrero and now Ramirez.
The Orioles, Athletics and Blue Jays reportedly are the three teams expressing the most interest in Ramirez. Duquette has been given numerous opportunities to shoot down the rumors, to dismiss any possibility of signing him, but he always leaves the door open to a reunion.
Maybe the Orioles are one quirky and controversial 39-year-old designated hitter away from contending, and I’m just not seeing it.