Friday, May 8, 2009

The Manny Ramírez Fallout

Yesterday it was announced that Manny Ramírez failed a drug test and was suspended 50 games by MLB. How this information trickled out was truly amazing.

It was first reported that he was suspended for violating the drug policy, but it wasn't a steroid. Ramírez issued a statement where he placed the blame on his doctor where he prescribed a medication that was banned per the drug policy. Several hours later, it was revealed to be a sexual enhancement medication. Only later, the drug was revealed to be a woman's fertility medication, human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG. The details of the drug were provided anonymously to The Boston Globe, yet there seems to be no controversy regarding the Globe's use of anonymous sources in this case opposite the backlash Selena Roberts received in her latest book.

HCG is a drug that roid heads sometimes ingest to regulate their natural testosterone levels after coming off a roid cycle. This was not a positive development for Manny Ramírez. Making matters worse, Ramírez rather than owning the transgression and explaining himself went into hiding leaving manager Joe Torre to address the media. Torre is familiar with this type of press conference since he had a similar one in New York with Jason Giambi.

Per The Boston Globe, Ramírez failed a drug test twice before MLB took action. One would think that any failed test would result in an immediate 50 game suspension. Since he failed two tests, shouldn't that count as two failed tests and be suspended for 100 games? Was he contacted after the first failed test? There are many questions after reading this article.

The fallout isn't confined the West Coast. Boston, Ramírez's former team, has remained quiet on the latest developments. It's interesting to look at some statistics of Ramírez and Boston teammate David Ortiz to see how their performance has progressed over the years.

Below are Manny Ramírez's career statistics through last year. Interesting to note is the number of AB's per HR. Once he was traded to the Dodgers last year and playing for a contract, he averaged a HR every 11.0 AB's, his best pace ever, at the age of 36. The only other time he averaged a HR less than every 12 AB's was in 1999 and 2000 when he was 27 - 28 with the Clevland Indians. His power numbers surged in 1998; the same year that McGwire and Sosa were chasing the home run record. Could doping suspicions be one reason why not many teams were seriously considering offering Ramirez a contract?

Here are David Ortiz's career statistics. Looking at the same metric, number of AB's per HR, it is evident that his power only really emerged once he joined forces with Manny Ramirez in Boston in 2003. Prior to joining the Red Sox, he never hit more than 20 HR's and his best average number of AB's per HR was 16.8. After joining Manny and the Red Sox, Big Pappi became Big Pappi in 2006 when he hit 54 HR's and averaged a HR every 10.3 AB's that season. After the 2005 season, he signed an extension with the team. His production has started to diminish from that 2006 season.
Manny being Manny has left bodies in his wake as others are left to answer questions for how we find ourselves in this position. The vague answers will not satisfy anybody.

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