Weekly Wroundtable: Should Indians Sign Manny Ramirez?

We haven’t heard any rumors suggesting it’s a possibility. There haven’t been any whisperings about it happening or reputable sources making the connection. Cleveland Indians GM Chris Antonetti himself shot it down. But the idea has persisted that the Indians, in their search for a cheap right-handed bat, might turn to Manny Ramirez.

The thought of “Manny being Manny” in Cleveland again has elicited a wide variety of reactions, from the extremely supportive to the over-the-top negative. In the interest of keeping the debate going, in this edition of the Wahoo’s on First Weekly Wroundtable, we asked: Should the Indians sign Manny Ramirez?

In addition to the usual suspects from Wahoo’s on First, we had the honor of being joined by former Tribe blogger Andrew Cooper. Turns out we didn’t all agree.

Andrew Cooper: Of course, the obvious answer is no. After all, there’s nothing more divisive to a young locker room than an old, jaded, egomaniacal veteran (who is also carrying a 50-game suspension). The Indians have enough to worry about without having to wonder how and why ManRam will end up as the lead story on the 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter.

But let’s look beyond that. If there’s one thing Manny Ramirez can do, it’s smack the crap out of a baseball. And if there’s one thing the Indians need, it’s someone who can smack the crap out of a baseball.

As teams with a solid nucleus of power hitters go, the Indians have been mediocre at best over the last several years. Ok, so Carlos Santana gives the Indians a big stick in the middle of the lineup. But who is preventing teams from pitching around him? Where else are the Indians going to get their power supply? Matt LaPorta has not yet proven that he can be relied upon, and I don’t think we can count on Asdrubal Cabrera hitting 25 out again in 2012 either. And Travis Hafner? Personally, I think he’s finished, but even if not, Ramirez is still an upgrade.

There’s something to be said for Ramirez’ history with Cleveland. Maybe this is his career coming full-circle. Manny is a whack-job to be sure, and no one has ever questioned that—just like no one has ever questioned his ability to rake.

Lewie Pollis: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Manny Ramirez would be a fantastic fit for the Indians, and I can’t understand why the team isn’t at least giving the idea serious consideration.

Ramirez is one of the best hitters of his generation, and even when he was supposedly washed up in 2010 he still was far better than most of Cleveland’s lineup. I have him projected as a 2.7-WAR player for 2012 over a full season at DH—i.e., an above-average player and a very, very good hitter. He’d be incredibly cheap (with so little demand for his services, Manny will probably have to sign for around the league minimum or on a minor-league deal) and he’d be perfect for the 60 or so games Travis Hafner will inevitably miss.

Yes, he’ll miss the first 50 games for his suspension, but he’d still be available for the other 112. He’s a clubhouse distraction, but it’s hard to say that a guy with two World Series rings prevents teams from winning. And Chris Antonetti’s sound bite that Ramirez isn’t a good “positional fit” with Hafner already in the fold doesn’t make sense given Pronk’s inability to stay on the field. Plus, it’s a double standard—how many fourth outfielders have the Indians signed this winter?

I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but it seems to me that the risks far outweigh the rewards here. There’s nothing to lose and something to gain, and that’s reason enough to pull the trigger.

Geordy Boveroux: I don’t get why this issue continues to come up. It shouldn’t even be considered a issue, it should just be answered with a simple “no.”

In theory, I can see the appeal of Manny Ramirez. A former star player for the Tribe back in the glory days who could provide power from the right side of the plate, easily Cleveland’s biggest need.

But is that need so large that Chris Antonetti would need to sign a second DH to the team and keep him on the roster while he serves a 50 game suspension? Even after the suspension is over, Ramirez would be well over a year removed from playing in a Major League game and would play only about half the time. That would also mean the Tribe would be paying Travis Hafner $13 million to ride the bench half the year.

That’s not something I plan on seeing happen.

Brian Heise: I’m going to keep this simple and to the point: The Indians shouldn’t sign Manny Ramirez. While I understand Man-Ram could have an impact on the Indians’ lineup, I also find it to be highly unlikely. His numbers have been on a steady decline for some time now, he’s repeatedly tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, and missed an entire season. On top of that, he would still miss the first 50 or so games of the upcoming season. Do you still think he can be a difference maker given all of that?

Probably the only difference Ramirez would make for the Indians in 2012 would be as the clubhouse prima donna aka “Manny being Manny.” The accompanying media circus that would follow him on a daily basis can’t be viewed as a positive and is something I would want to keep as far away from a young team as possible. So while the potential upside can’t be ignored, the amount of risk involved and the potential for an epically monumental disaster says stay away at all costs. I say no, 100 times over.

Should the Indians sign Manny Ramirez?

  • Yes (76%, 148 Votes)
  • No (24%, 46 Votes)

Total Voters: 194

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