BOSTON, MA - Vladimir Guerrero #27 of the Baltimore Orioles strikes out in the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Manny Ramirez and Vlad Guerrero were two of the greatest right-handed hitters of their generation. Now they're applying for the same jobs.
Not sure what you do for a living, but the chances are decent that you've had to look at a few résumés. And you can probably spot the red flags in less than ten seconds. It might be an apostrophe missing in "Carl's", or it might be great moments in passive-aggressive bullet points. But you can see the red flags right away. The things that make you think "Noooope" before you even talk to the person on the phone.
Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero don't have actual typed-out résumés, but they have résumés. And they're public, free for anyone to scrutinize. They also have the same red flags, which stand out like differently sized text:
*Premier right-handed hitter of generation
* 40 years old
*Demolishes left-handed pitching, hitting .335 against them for career
* Hasn't played in a year
*Popular with fans; sells a lot of wigs
* Retired because of second suspension for performance-enhancing drugs
* Is currently caught in a taffy puller and waiting for help, but should be fine
*Outstanding, Hall-of-Fame caliber right-handed slugger
* 37 years old
*Great ability to make contact
* Not very good last year
*Solid against lefties
* Hack-first approach doesn't work well with aging reflexes
*Still hits for average
* Just swung at that last bullet point
*Just 51 home runs away from 500
* /bullet point chopped to third base
You have interest in them because your brain immediately associates them with clobbering the crap out of baseballs. Then you look at their résumés on Baseball Reference. The important parts: their age and distance from their last successful seasons. Then you shake off the interest. Then you see the names again. You stop for a second. You have interest in them because your brain immediately associates them with clobbering the crap out of baseballs. This cycle loops and loops and loops.
The odds are they can't help an American League team more than an internal option. They're certainly not going to start and get 400 at-bats from anyone by now. It's a little easier to stash one them on the bench in the American League and use him strictly as a lefty-mashing, pinch-hitter type who gets the occasional start against a left-handed starter, but is anyone going to risk filling that spot with a (should-be) Hall-of-Famer sitting on the bench for the first time in his career?
The worst part: Both of these guys are looking for the same job opening. They're going to the same interviews. They're responding to the same Craigslist ads. They're eyeing each other suspiciously as they pass each other in the lobby. There's a decent chance that neither of them gets picked up -- there's almost no chance that both of them will.
If you're a sporting type, you'd be better served putting your money down on Vlad. He's younger, and he did hit .290 last year, albeit an emptier .290 than he'd ever hit. Plus he doesn't have the fertility-drug baggage that Manny has. It's also easier for me to picture Vlad adjusting to the bench. No evidence to support that, but the see-ball/swing approach seems natural enough to survive the role change.
This is probably not going to end well. But I'm getting desperate here. Look at this:
That's Guerrero's swing chart last year, from the catcher's perspective. It's art. There are nine swings that couldn't even fit on the chart. There are two swings to the inside part of the plate that had to have gone a foot behind him. I want to keep watching that. And Manny Ramirez's genius transcends language. I want to keep watching that, too.
I'm not ready to let them go just yet. I'm not saying there should be a reality show about Vladimir Guerrero and Manny Ramirez looking for new teams, but ... wait, I would absolutely watch that. But there has to be some way to keep watching them. They were two of the greatest right-handed hitters of all-time. They entertained us in ways that no one else and baseball can replicate, for better and for worse.
Except those hitters are gone. The ones in their place probably aren't going to be worth a lot to a contending team. And they're competing against each other on the same job market. Vlad has a decent shot of sticking with someone. Manny doesn't. Both of them? Not much of a chance. Someone's going to be disappointed.
And that's kind of a shame. Understandable. But kind of a shame. I only wish there were a modern-day Bill Veeck around to sign them both and put them in the same outfield.