Manny Ramirez returned triumphantly to the Red Sox lineup last night, batting second for the first time since 1995. Ramirez promptly singled to right field and came around to score on a double by Mike Lowell, temporarily holding down Manny’s cleanup spot.
Ramirez, who missed 24 games due to a strained oblique, got a standing ovation as he stepped in against Chad Gaudin. He would later pop out to end the second and walk to begin the fifth. Ramirez came out for a pinch-runner after walking, with Brandon Moss (and later, Bobby Kielty) taking over in left field.
Don’t pretend that Jacoby Ellsbury is Manny. He’s not even close, despite Ellsbury’s gaudy stat line. Manny Ramirez is destined for the Hall of Fame. Is Ellsbury? Sure, if he pans out… but maybe not even then.
Having Manny in the cleanup hole for the playoffs is going to make our lineup that much deeper, and our bench that much stronger. Having Ellsbury on the bench is nothing to be ashamed of … rather we can rest easy, knowing we have a force off the bench – a game changer … a Dave Roberts.
Manny’s not having the season he’s been capable of, checking in at 292/.385/.495, good for an .880 OPS. That would be the lowest since 1994, when she registered a .878 OPS in 290 AB. He has 465 so far this year.
His season certainly hasn’t been up to par … but there’s no telling the damage that Manny would induce in the postseason. He was the MVP of the World Series in 2004, remember? (Note: this past weekend, I watched a few of the 2004 postseason games. I bought the collector’s set from A&E and I was pretty pleased with the set … not only did the games transport me back when the games were live and I was living and dying with literally every pitch, the set was chockfull of great goodies. If you haven’t gotten anything that represents the 2004 playoffs to you — or even if you have — this is what you should get.)
Don’t discount the return of Manny Ramirez as anything less than a watershed event.
For all of Ellsbury’s accomplishments so far, nothing holds a candle to the fear inspired in a pitcher when Manny steps to the plate. Ellsbury is not a 1.002 OPS hitter, which Manny has for his career and 490 homers.
The difference Manny presents in the batter’s box will give a force to the Red Sox it has not had for a month.
It puts the Red Sox closer to a World Series berth than it has been in a month.
Welcome back, Manny.