Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Rays held a press conference to introduce new members Manny Ramirez, and Johnny Damon. Manny will become the teams designated hitter, and add a power bat to protect star Evan Longoria, while Damon is taking over left field from Carl Crawford. The “idiots” signed for $2 million (Man-Ram) and $5.25 million (Damon). Damon could earn $725K more, depending on attendance. His signing could have taken place because top prospect Desmond Jennings is not ready to take over the reigns just yet. But will these signings actually help the Rays?
Manny Ramirez will give the Rays huge protection for Longoria. He will hit in the clean up spot, and the Rays are hoping that his second half with the White Sox was a fluke. Manny can still hit, even though he has lost some power. However, he can do what he did in his beginning years with the Cleveland Indians, which was hit the gaps, and use the entire field. He will drive in 100 runs, if he stays healthy all season. Johnny Damon’s signing is most important for the Rays, because they get an experienced leadoff hitter. Last year, catcher Jon Jaso was hitting in that spot, and although he wasn’t terrible, he is not a leadoff hitter. Damon will get 200 hits and steal 20+ bases, allowing the power hitters (Longoria, Ramirez, Upton, etc…) to drive him in. These signings are a definite improvement for the Rays, as Manny is a significant upgrade over Pat Burrell.
Tampa Bay will win 90 games this year. Unfortunately that will not be enough to make the playoffs, especially with the Red Sox and the Yankees in the same division. They do have a lot of picks in this year’s draft however, as they lost many top players. They receive the Yankees pick (Soriano), the Red Sox pick (Crawford), among other picks for losing Pena, Balfour, etc… Their attendance will also increase because Damon has a lot of family and friends who live in Florida and Manny will attract plenty of the Latino community in Florida.
Source: Tampa Bay Online