Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Manny's impact on the White Sox

Yesterday, Manny Ramirez finally made his way to the Chicago White Sox, several days after he'd been claimed. He wasn't ready to be pencilled in the lineup, but his intimidating presence as a potential pinch-hitter helped A.J. Pierzynski hit a home run!!!!!! Ok, that might be a stretch, though, his presence in the on deck circle could have resulted in better pitches for A.J. Other than intimidating pitchers from the on-deck circle, what does the Manny trade mean to the White Sox?

The White Sox are 4 games back of the Twins with 30 to go. As I documented at the trade deadline, their starters are very good, their relievers had been having a good year as well, but have struggled lately. While the pitching has been mostly solid, the Sox have a had a hole in the DH spot. They have been running Mark Kotsay and his .237/.311/.385 in the DH spot most of the season. While Manny, at 38, hasn't been the same old Manny, he still has managed a .311/.405/.510 line in 232 plate appearances. Playing the DH position should help keep Manny in the lineup. He has had injury problems this season and not having to play the field should save his body.

So, how much of an impact will Manny have? Zips predicts a line of .303/.405/.545 in 78 plate appearances. His performance in LA in 2008, suggests he could be capable of more. His .396/.489/.743 line in 229 plate appearance was awesome. One of the great trade deadline impact performances of all time. It was worth 3.1 wins in just 2 months, even factoring in his bad defense.

I imagine Manny will be motivated, much as he was in 2008, but he is two years older this time and he has had a hard time staying in the lineup this season. He may have a hard time adjusting to a full-time DH role. He may also be missing a certain special something this time around. While there is no proof Manny was getting help from, um, fertility drugs in 2008, he certainly was by the beginning of 2009. Given his contract year status, some new motivation, and the fact that the White Sox play their home games in U.S. Cellular, I'll predict a .320/.450/.575 line for Manny down the stretch. Zips predicts 78 plate appearances, which amounts to about 20 full games out of 30. Given the fact that Manny has been fighting injuries and often sits a day after a night (As an owner of his in fantasy baseball, he has been almost unstartable), I'd say this is about right. He'd probably be available to pinch hit in the other 10, still having some impact.

So, is 80 plate appearances of .320/.450/.575 enough of a difference over .237/.311/.385? The Sox have 16 games at home, while the Twins have 18. The Sox still have 7 games with the Red Sox, 3 on the road and 4 at home. The Red Sox are probably not playoff bound but are as good or better team than the White Sox. Will Manny even play much in Boston this weekend? Given his history there and his mercurial personality, the White Sox may keep him on the bench for the bulk of this series. The Twins have 3 games this weekend at home vs Texas, but thats about it for tough opponents. The key to the season is the 3 game series the Twins have in Chicago from September 14-16.

Manny is still a great hitter. His bat should be worth a win to the White Sox. The problem for the Sox is, the Twins are 4 ahead, not 1, have more home games and a similar schedule. Unless Manny helps the White Sox sweep the Twins in September, his bat won't be enough to close the 4 game gap between the teams.

Manny is till a great hitter. Manny will make the pennant race more fun! Welcome Manny, while I fear you, I don't believe your impact will be enough!

As I write this, the Sox are down 4-2 with 1 on and 1 out in the top of the 8th inning. Manny is due another plate appearance. Will it matter? Stay tuned!

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