Issue: Manny’s potential impact
Analysis: Eligible to return to the big leagues with the A’s on Wednesday, though the team has hinted that could be pushed back, Manny Ramirez could make his Oakland debut on his 40th birthday and give Oakland a present in the form of a formidable bat, a positive presence in the clubhouse, and national attention the likes of which the team hasn’t gotten in years.
Two out of three ain’t bad.
Will Manny be good in the clubhouse? Of that there’s little doubt. Granted, more than a few people out there mock the notion of Manny as mentor. If you speak with guys who have played with Ramirez, though, the majority of them will tell you he’s an exceptional teammate who sets a hard-working example for youngsters in particular — when his head’s right.
And why on Earth would anyone think his head won’t be right with the A’s? He says he’s here because God sent him here, and he was a model citizen at spring training. So let’s assume his head will be right, and he’ll be that positive presence.
He’ll bring national attention, too. That’s a given. He’s Manny Ramirez. Duh. Good, bad or indifferent, he’ll bring eyeballs from around the country.
The formidable bat thing? Don’t bet on it.
You’ve seen the grainy Zapruder footage from his swings down at Triple-A Sacramento. Not much better than the hi-def video you might have seen out of the Cactus League.
He’s 40. He’s clean (we assume). He hasn’t played on a regular basis in more than a year, and he hasn’t played at a high level in three.
So expect Manny to have an impact, and a largely positive one at that. But don’t expect him to have much of an impact on the offense.