PHOENIX -- Manny Ramirez is the perfectly As solution we have seen before -- the ultraveteran with some dents in the frame and some recurring carburetion issues who might have one more year before the lemon squeezes out.You know, like Frank Thomas on the high side, and Ben Sheets on the low.He is indeed high reward-no risk for Wm. Lamar Beane, in that if he shows his best Manny, Beane gets some badly needed wizard points, and conversely if he has nothing left, well, he had nothing left.
Thats the blunt truth of the signing -- one year, minus 30.8 percent for his 50-game suspension, and 500,000 -- as close to the minimum as someone with Ramirezs resume will ever accept. It isnt a long-term solution to anything, nor is it the jump the As need to get from the also-est of rans to division contender.But it also isnt the quick-fix crowdpleaser that will turn those 25,000 empty chairs every night to concessions-sponge humans, either. It really is a deal that seems bigger than it actually is.And no, were not diving into the Manny-Being-Manny stuff here. One thing about showmen you can always count on is that they are less likely to put on a show when there arent enough people willing to pay to view it. Ramirez also isnt playing for 500K because he needs the money; by the accounts of those who know him, he is very careful with his cash -- no Allen Iverson he.So the seems bigger than it is thing actually works both ways. This signing may get Ramirez seen by another team with pennant concerns come the trade-for-prospects deadline, but isnt in and of itself anything other than Ramirez going out with less of the shame of his last suspension. You know, the one where he went down last May while foundering in Tampa and was believed to be utterly and completely finished as a player.Well, that didnt turn out -- one more lesson for those among us who like to declare someones career over before it is. Ramirez can report to As camp, work out in spring training and extended spring training, as well as begin a minor league rehab 10 games before being called up to the big team.And so he shall, once the As get around to announcing his signing, getting him to Papago Park and fitting him for his trademark oversized uniform. He will be available to provide designated hitting starting May 30 if there are no rainouts, and after that, he and his career will be day-to-day.But thats the frustrating part for As fans who want to see the master plan actually implemented and unfurled. Ramirez isnt part of that, and everyone understands that. He is one more part-timer who once was a big-timer, going back to Jason Kendall in 2005, Thomas in 06 and 08, Mike Piazza in 07, Mike Sweeney in 08, Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Giambi in 09, Sheets in 10 and Hideki Matsui last year.Of those, only Thomas in 06 turned out to be worthy of the hype and the cash, leading the As to their only ALCS since 1992. The others were as done as expected, and there is no particular reason to believe Ramirez will cheat the reaper either.Except that he might, and if he does . . . well, there we go, getting drawn in again. High reward, low risk.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.