Ryan's Hope

The Phillies lineup has some problems that we are all aware of – and most pronounced is that its too left-handed. At present, Placido Polanco and Carloz Ruiz are the team’s best right-handed hitters and this just shouldn’t be. The lack of a good right-handed bat particularly hurts Ryan Howard, and in some very concrete ways.

I would suspect that Ryan may be a bit confused sometimes about what hitting approach to take. One would think that a part of him might like to go to the plate, when a man is on base, with the luxury of knowing that someone behind him can knock in the run if he doesn’t. He doesn’t have that and that leads to wild swinging and an unwillingness to take walks. This “I do it or it doesn’t get done” attitude, and the hitting approach that goes with it, leads to pitchers giving him slop to hit because they know he’ll swing…because he feels he has to. And he does. Taking a walk means nothing to Ryan nor should it.

Now let’s put a premiere hitter in back of him. An RBI man and a run producer. At that point, perhaps Ryan becomes a more selective hitter because he’s got the security behind him. A guy that could make a pitcher pay for walking him. Unafraid to take a walk, Ryan would see better pitches, which then makes him a better hitter. Add a little Bonds to his Fielder (Cecil), so to speak. This type of thinking is by no means novel and I think the Phils would get the hitter to fill that spot for Ryan if at any point it becomes feasible. Now it is.

The day before Thanksgiving, The White Sox declined to offer arbitration to Manny Ramirez, thus removing his Type-A free agent tag. This means any team can sign him without giving up draft picks. Now, if you don’t think Manny can hit anymore, I guess you can stop reading here. I believe that, if motivated, Ramirez can still produce a 35/120/.320 season. Yup. Notwithstanding his last two seasons comprised of suspensions, in season vacations, injuries, and attempts to grow mammary glands, I believe that if Manny wants to play, that he will hit. “Good” Manny would the best offensive option available to the Phils…by far.

He’s a head job. A drama queen. A poor fielder. He also owns two World Series rings. He is dedicated to the art of hitting and has become one of the greatest offensive players of his generation. He’s right handed. And he’s played for Charlie Manuel. If Manny wants to play, and we don’t know that he does, then Ruben oughta seriously explore what it would take to put him in red pinstripes. Financially, and I have not been consulted on this, it would no doubt have to be a heavily incentive-laden contract. If the guaranteed base salary the Phils give him is low enough, it would make his acquisition a low risk ,high reward venture. I was thinking about 3 mill.

Let’s find Manny, wherever he might be, and kick the tires a little. Find out what’s going on in that coconut of his. In the event he thinks the sun hasn’t set on his career and that he would like to play for a potential World Series winner, if he’d be willing to do what it takes to be a good teammate (or a reasonable facsimile), if he is in baseball playing shape, then put ink to paper and MapQwest him some directions to Clearwater. Make no mistake, Manny is a lunatic. But he is THAT good.

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