June 12, 2005

What's Wrong With Manny Ramirez?

SI's Stephen Cannella thinks it could be age. Ramirez turned 33 a few weeks ago and his average (.248), on-base (.339) and slugging (.467) percentages are easily the lowest marks of his career.

Cannella looked at the five hitters whose stats most closely match Ramirez's through age 32 -- Juan Gonzalez, Frank Thomas, Albert Belle, Duke Snider and Jim Thome -- and found that in each case, their production tailed off quickly after they turned 33. Those five hitters have no tangible effect on Ramirez's career, of course, but it's important to know that this is not simply a 2005 slump.
               AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS
2004 Pre ASG .344 .437 .682 1.119
2004 Post ASG .264 .345 .528 .873
2005 .248 .339 .467 .806
Shockingly, Ramirez is hitting .125 and slugging .214 (!!) against left-handed pitching this season.

       AB   AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS
2002 363 .331 .433 .612 1.045
2003 426 .305 .411 .573 .984
2004 408 .309 .375 .605 .980
2005 154 .292 .375 .558 .933
       AB   AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS 
2002 73 .438 .534 .822 1.356
2003 143 .385 .476 .629 1.105
2004 160 .306 .446 .631 1.077
2005 56 .125 .250 .214 .464
At SoSH, LynnRoyalRooter notes: "It seems his entire lack of production is driven from a historically lousy start against the evil southpaws. Interestingly, his BB rate the same or better than in the past 2 full years. The K rate is worse however."

From my perspective, it seems that a lot of outside corner fastballs that he's taking are being called strikes. Whether umpires are calling more of those pitches strikes this year and Manny has not yet adjusted or the ball seems too far outside because he may be standing a bit further off the plate, I have no idea. I'm tempted to think that maybe his eyesight has changed slightly (wasn't that Jim Rice's problem late in his career?), but I assume a player could get his eyes checked every single day if he wanted to.

With his two singles yesterday, Wade Miller became the first Red Sox pitcher with a multi-hit game since Sonny Siebert (September 7, 1972, Yankees). ... Red Sox fans at Wrigley followed the traditional "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch on Saturday with an impromptu singalong of "Sweet Caroline."

Curt Schilling will continue his work in Arizona for a few more days before rejoining the Red Sox. Chris Snow of the Globe: "[T]here were indications yesterday that Schilling is in line to make a rehabilitation start in two weeks." He threw 75 pitches off a mound on Friday.

In today's Herald, Tony Massarotti writes of the frustration and disappointment of this year's team: "Maybe these Red Sox simply are not that good."

In an overall sense, that is nonsense, but something needs to be done. Theo Epstein: "This is difficult to fix, to be honest with you. So many people are performing below our expectations and below our projections that this isn't easy to fix. If this is the best that this pitching staff can pitch, then I really miscalculated and it's time for changes."

Mazz says the Sox could release Matt Mantei and John Halama, move Bronson Arroyo to the bullpen, dump Alan Embree, etc. Theo seemed to address that issue: "I think we're reluctant to give up on some guys who've performed for us and who have a track record. But it reaches a point where what you have isn't working and you've got to make some changes." But as Epstein added: "It's not just 'the start' anymore. We're getting into the summer."

More bad numbers for the Boston bullpen, including a league-worst 5.34 ERA. ... In Tim Wakefield's four-start slump (8.86 ERA), he has allowed 48 of 112 batters (43%) to reach base. He opposes Glendon Rusch tonight at 8:00.

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