Manny Ramirez was paid $18 million-plus in 2010 (stipulated that he earned perhaps half of it. Or less). But Manny will be half of Manny financially in 2011 — he’ll get substantially less than the $19 million or so he’s averaged per season the last eight years.
Ramirez is available, still unsigned, ready to join his fourth team in four seasons. Manny is 38, and high maintenance, but still capable of high production — and now at not so high a salary.
Here’s five players still without teams, who might produce more than they’re paid in 2011:
Manny Ramirez: Manny’s time in Los Angeles was typically Hollywood: all the rage in 2008, too much age by 2010. His last two seasons of .949 and .869 OPSes brought his career OPS, at age 38, finally under 1.000 to .997. But compare that to his primary competition at DH for hire, Valdimir Guerrero, whose .946 career OPS has been depreciating faster (.794 and .841). Ramirez still controls the strike zone (117 walks, 142 strikeouts) at his career pace and is reportedly willing to take a one-year contract. Where do we sign up?
Russell Branyan: Why is that the Nationals rushed to sign Adam LaRoche for $16 million for two years when Branyan might have been better and cheaper? More money doesn’t always equal better, as the Nats are about to find out. Branyan does a whole lot of three things — strike out, walk or homer — and two out of three are good. He won’t hit for a high average, and he won’t play for a full season. But give him 300 at-bats vs. righties and you’re farther along to productivity at first base than $8 million and 600 at-bats of Adam LaRoche.
Chad Durbin: Having pitched in the Phillies bullpen in 2010 is not the best job reference you can have, but Durbin at least has a note from his trainer. Even with a stint on the disabled list last year, Durbin pitched 68.2 innings. He’s thrown 226 — more than 75 a season — over the last three. He’s allowed less than a hit an inning and a home run — in Philadelphia’s slugger-friendly home park — less than once every 11 innings. Last year — a .740 OPS — wasn’t his best, but he’s been durable and tough on right-handed batters. If Jon Rauch went to the Jays for $3.5 million, Durbin will go for less and may do more.
Justin Duchscherer: Do you feel lucky? Then here’s the potential biggest reward left. Also the highest risk. Duchscherer can start or relieve and get batters out (career .647 OPS against), but he can’t stay healthy — yet. So far in his career, he’s made Rich Harden look like a workhorse. But some year he might defy his charts, and this is as good a time as any, since there’s been so little wear on his arm the last two years — he’s pitched only 28 innings since 2008. The Yankees, who stashed Carl Pavano on their disabled list for several years, are reportedly interested. Sounds like a perfect fit.
Joe Inglett: Yes, I’m reaching, but someone has to be the 25th man on a 25-man roster, and it might as well be Joe Inglett. He can multi-task — he can play second base and all three outfield positions — and he can hit (career .307 in the minors) and get on base (career .383 in the minors). The Mets signed Willie Harris Monday to fill the last-guy-on-the-bench role, and Harris can do everything better than Inglett than one thing: hit. Witness Harris’ .183 in 2010. Managers like bench players who can steal bases and play multiple positions, but forget they have to bat 250 times a season.
Quote of the Day
- “Reports out of the Dominican Republic say five teams have interest in Manny Ramirez. If that’s true, then only 25 teams were scouting the White Sox last September when Ramirez stole $4 million.” — Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune
Stat of the Day
- There are nine players (if we include Carlos Delgado) who will start 2011 with more than 400 home runs. If the Yankees, as is rumored, sign Andruw Jones, they’ll have two: Alex Rodriguez (613) and Jones (407). In addition to Delgado, two more are unsigned — Manny Ramirez (555) and Vladimir Guerrero (436).