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Wanted: Manny Ramirez

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Wanted: Gifted Dominican slugger, fan favorite.
Last known home-run: June 10th, 2008.
Aliases: Manny, Manuel, Man-Ram, Manny Being Manny

Over the past several weeks, the Sox have had to weather the absence of their two premier sluggers. David Ortiz is on the disabled list (but he could be back in 2-3 weeks). Manny Ramirez is present physically, but, watching him at the plate, you might be fooled.

After starting the season hot, Manny is on a nasty cold streak. Over the last fourteen games (June 8th to June 25th), he has batted .234 / .333 / .319, with two extra base hits (a homer and a double). In that span, he has a grand total of 2 runs batted in and 4 runs scored.

Granted, this is a very small sample size (54 plate appearances). But it comes at a terrible time, with Ortiz out of the line-up. If not for J D Drew's miraculous June, this recent stretch may have been disastrous for the Sox offense.

Looking closer at his season, we can see a series of hot and cold streaks.

March 25 - April 19: 19 Games, 82 plate appearances, .342 / .415 / .712, 6 home runs.
April 20 - May 30th: 34 G, 146 PA,
.258 / .349 / .375, 3 HR.
May 31 - June 7th: 7 G, 32 PA,
.407 / .500 / 1.000, 5 HR.
June 8th - June 25th: 14 G, 54 PA,
.234 / .333 / .319, 1 HR.

Total: 74 G, 314 PA, .291 / .379 / .516, 15 HR.

For 26 games, Manny was superhuman, slugging above .700 and getting on base at a clip above .400. He clubbed 11 of his 15 homers during this span. The other 48 games, he was mediocre, with a sub-.350 OBP and very low slugging percentage.

Hot and cold streaks are typical in baseball, particularly for Manny. Last season, he began the year by hitting .202 / .314 / .315 in April, before heating up in May. By this point last season, his numbers were close to his present total, with a better OBP and less power: .296 / .394 / .487, and 11 homers. In the second half, Manny bombed in August (.749 OPS) and missed all but 6 games in September, resulting in a disappointing season. Then he started raking in the playoffs.

With all of this in mind, the $20 million question is: how Manny will perform going forward? Will the current cold streak continue, or is he about to break out? Is Manny heading for another 2007 (126 OPS+) or another 2006 (165 OPS+)? And should his 2009 option be picked up, or should the Sox look elsewhere for power (Teixeira? Dunn?) for the future?

(Original image sources: www.rauckmanutility.com and http://keithsouza.com )