The Tampa Bay Rays, who lost more than a few key players this off-season, have reloaded their depleted line-up with a couple of familiar faces from the AL East--Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez. The former Boston Red Sox teammates and ex-Idiots will be signed to one year deals pending physicals. The Rays may want to throw in a head examination for the enigmatic Ramirez to see what's under those dreads.
Both Damon and Ramirez were being considered by the New York Yankees this winter but, with the signing of Andruw Jones the other day, their fourth outfielder position looks capably filled.
The 37 year-old Damon bent a lot of Boston fans noses by joining the hated Yankees from 2006-09 after being unceremoniously released by the Sox. He spent 2010 with the Tigers.
Ramirez spent a few contentious years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, after his lease on his Red Sox padded cell ran out, and split the 2010 season between the Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. The troubled DH has seen his numbers decline in recent years and in 2009 he failed the league's Performance Enhancing Drug policy and was suspended for 50 games. The 38 year-old Ramirez has been dogged recently by numerous injuries and may see more time on the DL than as the DH.
The 2010 AL East Champion Rays, the Yankees and the Red Sox continue to play a comical game of roster-chess by trading and picking up each other's players.
Boston added former-Ray Carl Crawford, who was desired by the Yankees, to their team and the Yankees signed the Rays relief pitcher Rafael Soriano last week. Now the Rays pick up two experienced, but aging, AL East warriors from their adversaries' glory days, hoping to keep the three-way rivalry alive.
The durable Damon signed for a salary of $5.25 million plus attendance incentives--not an easy task at fan-starved Tropicana field--that bring his total earnings to $6 mil. I wouldn't spend that extra $750,000 just yet Johnny.
Ramirez signed for a flat $2 million. A far cry from his $20 million years in Boston.
The Red Sox have dominated the free-agent market this off-season while adding power, speed and youth. The Yankees have chipped away at nagging problems but still look a lot like last years team without a strong starting rotation. Advantage to Boston.
Now the Rays are flexing whatever financial muscle they can muster to show their three-year mini-dynasty wasn't a flash-in-the-pan and they will continue to give the other teams in the division a run for their money in 2011.
Can't wait for the love-fest at Fenway Park on April 11 when the Rays visit Boston. It'll be an Idiot's delight.