I was just over at MVN, where they note that Manny has been working hard this offseason to avoid a repeat of 2007, where he started slow and wound up hurt (it’s well worth reading for their take on his numbers). They quote Peter Gammons, who says Ramirez has become “a maniacal workout warrior in Tempe Arizona” at the Athletes’ Performance Institute.
Yet oddly enough, last year Manny supposedly showed up to Spring Training “in the best shape of his career” as well. Don’t be fooled—under that baggy, pajama-like uni, the man is rock-hard. So either he overtrained and ended up hurting himself (not likely) or he did his best and ended up hurt anyway (likelier, and more frightening). After all, the man is 35—remember when all sluggers used to start declining at 35, instead of growing second jawbones?—and the team needs to stop thinking of him as the 150-game guy he used to be and start thinking of him as the 130-game guy he’s been for the past two seasons. Why not rest him against the Rays and the Royals throughout the season? Then maybe he won’t need a month off near the end. Or let him DH every now and then and give Ortiz the night off (for the ol’ knee). With a little more caretaking from the Sox, Manny should be able to produce at a useful level for another 3-4 years, surely. And when you consider that he’s only going to make $2 million more than Andruw Jones next year, he starts to sound almost like a bargain.
I don’t think you’ll see Manny having a 2007-like year again this year. After all, it was only in 2006 that he hit 35 dingers (in 130 games) and compiled a .439 OBP. And the man positively caught fire during the 2007 postseason, coming back after month-long break and showing absolutely no signs of rust. His work ethic is famous and his eye is unerring. (If you ever see him take a called strike three, I guarantee you the ump botched the call. Guarantee it.) So I see no reason why, with a little care and feeding, he can’t continue to protect David Ortiz in the lineup for years to come.
I think Manny Ramirez wants to retire with the Red Sox. I know, it’s been a tumultuous, on-again-off-again love affair between Boston and Manny—the trade demands, the Manny Moments, that incident with the waivers—but Manuel has two World Series rings with this team now. He and Boston have finally made peace with one another. Plus, he’s just 10 homers shy of his 500th round-tripper. He’s got a lifetime average of .313, a lifetime OBP of .409, and a lifetime OPS of 1.002. To me, he’s an easy first-ballot Hall of Famer. If he retires with Boston, they’re sure to retire his number. Is he really going to walk away from that? And is Theo really going to let him? I don’t think so.