Manny-Being-Manny Signs in Oakland
By Quinn Smith
Billy Beane certainly loves to sign older guys with proven track records. With Beane's latest signing, Manny will join a list of aging stars who were looking to prolong their career with the A's in recent years. Guys like David Justice and Hideki Matsui were sought after by Beane to be leaders in the clubhouse. These vets weren't sought after for their clubhouse leadership, but more so for their hitting pedigree, as the A's have generally had a very young core of hitters. After signing a minor league contract to the tune of $500,000, Manny has the opportunity to really help out a young, rebuilding, A's lineup.
So what does the oft-injected Manny bring to the A's other than a couple World Series rings, 555 homers and 12 All-Star apperances? Assuming he can regain the form he had with the Dodgers just a few years ago, he should provide the A's with a nice 40 year old DH option come June when his drug related suspension is lifted. Young hitters like Jemille Weeks (the younger brother of Brewers Rickie Weeks), Yoenis Cespedes (the recently signed Cuban national) and 22 year old prospect Michael Choice could benefit from Manny's influence during spring training and the rest of the season.
Jemille Weeks is the projected second baseman and he had a solid debut for the A's last season, hitting a respectable .303 average with 22 steals. However, his on-base percentage was only .340 so the speedster could still learn a bit of patience from Manny who has a career .411 OBP - almost .100 points better than his average.
Yoenis Cespedes, 26, recently signed a 4-year 36 million dollar contract with Oakland but has never seen major league pitching. In Cuba, he hit 22 home runs in 87 games back in 2009-10, so he clearly has a powerful bat. Manny should be able to help him adjust to major league pitchers.
Michael Choice, 22, is widely considered by many to be the A's top hitting prospect. As a center fielder, he's not learning a thing about defense from Manny, who infamously patrolled below the Green Monster in Fenway Park. However, Choice's minor league batting average is ok at .285, while the biggest alarm for him is the 134 strikeouts in only 118 games. Manny has always been a very patient hitter and never struck out more times than games he played in (except his first season in Boston 147 K in 142 games.)
We will see whether or not he can shed his former brash persona that he had with the Red Sox. He was criticized for not running through first base on fly outs, confronting Kevin Youkilis in the dugout and was chased out of Beantown and shipped to the Dodgers in 2008. With a season removed from the game, and a new found passion to return to baseball, hopefully Manny can stay off the PED's and bring some excitement to Oakland this season.