Cespedes Has One Month

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As talented as Yoenis Cespedes clearly is, that talent is raw. He’s increasingly become a feast or famine hitter with trouble hitting breaking balls. His defensive liabilities in centerfield only exacerbate the limited level of his current game.

That’s not to say that the 26(?)-year-old doesn’t have his attributes. He’s shown a propensity to hit in the clutch and has displayed unbelievable shows of power. The Mariners’ Jason Vargas threw a mediocre fastball right down the chute and Cespedes—in his most impressive show of strength—hit a towering homer that he stood and admired for a length of time that drew the ire of Vargas and the Mariners.

If pitchers make the mistake of firing a fastball in a location where the free-swinging Cespedes can reach it, he does damage; but without noticeable plate discipline, teams are learning that Cespedes is the equivalent of Major League’s Pedro Cerrano: don’t throw him a fastball in a hittable location if you can help it.

His slash line is down to .238/.316/.436. After hitting 3 homers in his first 4 games of the season, he’s hit 2 in the 23 games since.

He’s not completely ready for the big leagues.

The laudatory comments for Billy Beane’s decision to sign him (“smarter than the average bear”, etc) have died down in correlation with Cespedes’s dwindling production. The signing was always a strange one for the rebuilding A’s. Following the winter decisions to clean house of Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey, Beane was setting the foundation for a future that was contingent on the A’s’ proposed new ballpark in San Jose. With the project still in limbo, Beane followed the trades of the above-mentioned pitchers by signing Cespedes and Manny Ramirez; he re-signed Coco Crisp to play centerfield; and traded for Seth Smith.

To his displeasure, Crisp’s position was usurped by Cespedes and he’s now on the disabled list with an inner ear infection.

Ramirez’s suspension for failing a PED test is up on May 30th; the A’s have said that the plan is for him to go on a 10 game conditioning assignment before then and be recalled. They’re going to need a spot in the lineup for him and the obvious baseball move is to send Cespedes down, move Crisp back to centerfield, play Smith in leftfield and DH Ramirez.

Crisp’s bat has been non-existent, but he might regain his comfort zone if he’s playing his preferred position. They signed Ramirez and it would be silly for him not to play. Cespedes needs more seasoning.

It’s an obvious move…unless the A’s and Beane continue to be more concerned with perception and the desperate attempts to maintain the veneer of genius for Beane than with doing what’s right for the player and the team. Beane’s portrayal has become increasingly ridiculous with each subsequent maneuver he makes not to improve his team, but as a means to an end for peripheral benefits that can’t be gained by looking at facts. They’re clinging to a “future” that may never come and the absurd narrative of Moneyball.

Unless he starts hitting, Cespedes needs to go down the minors. Whether or not that actually happens is another matter entirely.

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Signing Manny Involves Zero Risk, No Money and Minimal Potential Headaches

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We’ll soon get a gauge on Manny Ramirez’s desperation to get back into baseball if he signs with the “very interested” Oakland Athletics.

Given their current circumstances as something resembling an expansion team in an impossible division, the A’s-Manny marriage would be one of mutual risk/mutual advantage.

He would be joining Jonny Gomes and Bartolo Colon in what is really the prototypical “island of misfit toys” that was supposed to be the basis of Moneyball (even though it wasn’t).

You have to figure that Manny will sell a few tickets for a team that didn’t draw well when they were good and certainly won’t draw well now that they’ve started another rebuilding project. Oakland fans would be better off going to see Moneyball and reminiscing about an interpretation (as twisted as it is) of the Billy Beane glory days. If Manny behaves and hits, the A’s will be able to trade him to a contender at mid-season and get a prospect or two for him.

Everyone wins.

Well, except the A’s on the field.

But that’s another matter.

There’s no reason not to sign Manny. He’s not demanding a lot of money and just wants a chance; he’s always been able to walk and once he gets his swing down, he’ll hit a few homers; if he does act up, the team that signs him can simply release him.

So why not?

The issues with Manny are non-existent because of these factors.

Of course any team that signs him will have to deal with the suspension for PED use that he, technically, still hasn’t served.

To get a window into how short-sighted Manny can be, if he even harbored the thought of continuing to play, why did he immediately retire when he was informed of the failed test and imminent suspension? He should’ve served the suspension even if he had no intention of playing ever again just in case he did want to play at some point.

Now he’s still under the jurisdiction of MLB’s punitive rules once he tries to get back into the game.

One would assume that since he didn’t play after the suspension, something can be worked out. It would be pretty silly to be so adherent to the rule that MLB says he can’t play until sitting out another 50 games—he sat out almost all of 2011; what’s the difference?

Manny doesn’t need the money and he doesn’t need the aggravation of being the butt of jokes for the once charming assignation of Manny Being Manny. Once it was seen as a term of endearment for everyone who didn’t have to deal with him on a day-to-day basis and now it’s a punchline.

Any team that signs him will have a player who, even if he doesn’t have much left, probably has more in the tank than most players ever had to begin. The opposing pitchers will, at the very least, have to be cautious with him until his remaining skills are evident.

Contending teams should look seriously into signing Manny Ramirez. There’s nothing to lose.

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