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Manny Ramirez should thrive in Chicago

8/30/2010

Manny Ramirez fantasy owners can't be real pleased at what they've received statistically over the past few months, but I'm telling you, there is a light at the end of the Manny tunnel. It's one that provides strong fantasy numbers. Ramirez's pending move from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Chicago White Sox on Monday after being claimed from waivers is very relevant, and while the compensation remains in question, Ramirez's ability does not. This guy can still rake.

Let me amend that last statement: What we've seen from Ramirez in the past is he can rake when he wants to, and one would think a move to the south side of Chicago and a pennant race would do the trick. Ramirez can't play the outfield effectively anymore, and he won't have to in the final month. I don't think his hitting prowess is a problem, though. We've seen Ramirez turn on the hitting light before with a new team late in a season.

The year was 2008 and Ramirez famously masterminded a way out of Fenway Park to become a Dodger. With the Boston Red Sox that season, Ramirez displayed differing levels of production. In 53 games with the Dodgers, he was downright awesome, hitting .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs. He slugged .743. He sensed a playoff run and, maybe just as importantly, a new offseason contract. And that was a mere two years ago!

With the White Sox, Ramirez can have the same motivation. He's 38 now, but hardly an unproductive hitter. Ramirez is hitting .311 with a .405 on-base percentage and .510 slugging percentage, and all those numbers should rise back in the American League. Hitting at U.S. Cellular Field is generally a treat, much more so than at Dodger Stadium. While it's merely one gauge, Chicago's ballpark ranks fourth in runs in our Park Factors page, and it's been very favorable for home run hitting the past few seasons. I'm not really questioning whether Ramirez can hit anymore, and the league and ballpark change will help.

Ramirez is owned in 85.4 percent of ESPN standard (10-team) mixed leagues, and I'm guessing the only reason that number isn't a perfect 100 is because some owners tired of waiting for Ramirez the past two months. It's true, Ramirez hasn't helped anyone, including the Dodgers, lately. He went on the disabled list the first week of July with a hamstring problem, returned for two games, and then missed another few weeks with a calf problem. Durability isn't his strong point, but as the everyday designated hitter for the White Sox likely batting cleanup, watch him stay remarkably healthy.

The White Sox have needed Ramirez as their DH all season. In fact, the team's options at DH have hit .241 with a .715 OPS and 16 home runs, numbers Ramirez would have dwarfed. The Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals have more production from their designated hitters. Ramirez at DH means the other options should lose at-bats. Look for manager Ozzie Guillen to use an outfield of Carlos Quentin, Juan Pierre and Alex Rios. Singles hitter Mark Kotsay was barely playing, but Andruw Jones was hitting .400 over the past week and does have 18 home runs this season. He could see at-bats against lefties at the expense of Pierre. If you own Jones in a deep league, keep doing so.

As for the Dodgers, they might consider this waiver claim addition as subtraction in the clubhouse. Ramirez hadn't been doing much anyway, so if you own left fielder Scott Podsednik, continue to enjoy his batting average and stolen bases.