It was a little over a year ago that the Tampa Bay Rays announced that they had signed Manny Ramirez to a one year contract worth $2 million. We probably remember how that ended up working out for the team: Ramirez tested positive for a banned substance (for the second time) and retired rather than face a 100 game suspension.

It seemed unfortunate at the time that such a talented and beloved player had to end his career in the fashion that he did. But perhaps it might be better than what we’ll more than likely see this year. With a reduced suspension, Ramirez is coming out of retirement, most likely to play for the Oakland Athletics. What we’ll see from a 39 year old former great who missed an entire year of the game is anyone’s guess, but my guesses tend to be of the underwhelming variety.

Diminishing the mystique of Manny even further is the recent revelation that Ramirez had a history of cheating that went beyond his two positive tests for banned substances. Cork Gaines of Business Insider reported yesterday on multiple pieces of evidence suggesting that Ramirez used a corked bat as far back as his time in Cleveland, while he was playing for the Indians from 1993 to 2000.

Including the name of the author, there’s a lot of cork going on in the story. In addition to a New York memorabilia company putting up a corked bat that was allegedly used by Ramirez for auction, Gaines also alerts us to a recent radio interview in which Jeff Morris, a former executive with Pacific Trading Cards, explains how his company obtained two corked bats that were used by Ramirez.

In 2000, Pacific Trading Cards cut up one of the two bats and inserted the pieces into a series of baseball cards. During the production of the cards, it became apparent that the bat included some cork. And despite efforts by the company to remove the cards with cork from production, a few still found their way into circulation. One of the cards is now up for bid on eBay, for a whopping $5,000.

Perhaps the worst part of Ramirez’s alleged cheating is that it was likely unnecessary. Corking a bat has never been proven to be of significant benefit to a hitter. According to Scientific American:

The ideal bat weight should be somewhat greater than the weight of the ball. Some models predict that an ideal bat should weigh about five times as much as the ball, or about 25 ounces but this weight is significantly less than the weights of bats traditionally used in professional baseball. In any event, a few ounces more or less may not make a significant difference in bat dynamics.

Popular Mechanics tells us of two researchers, Physicist Alan Nathan of the University of Illinois and mechanical engineer Lloyd Smith of Washington State University, who found that a corked bat might actually be a detriment to the hitter.

When testing corked bats, Nathan and his team found that instead of adding more trampoline effect, corking a wooden bat actually decreased it. “What you gain in higher bat speed, you lose in a less effective collision,” Nathan says. “It does not lead to a higher batted ball speed.” And because the bat is lighter, balls hit with a corked bat don’t travel as far, he says.

For more on this type of research, check out this video from the Sports Science Laboratory:

Comments (35)

  1. Here is a good article on cheaters, including others that used corked bats:

    http://espn.go.com/page2/s/list/cheaters/ballplayers.html

  2. “I’m sure it’s all a big misunderstanding. It was probably just his BP bat…right??”

    Sammy Sosa

  3. Also, MythBusters (as empirical as their science is) also proved that corking is to the detriment of the hitter. The ball just doesn’t go as far, even if you can swing a bit faster.

    • The only advantage I can think of is that you might be able to get to pitches you otherwise couldn’t with a lighter bat. However, if it limits your results in other areas, that’s probably not worth it.

      • I can see it being advantageous to a slap hitter like a Juan Pierre. Gives them more time to sit on pitches and slap them the other way with the improved bat speed.

  4. Does this really come as a surprise to anyone?

  5. With Lind and EE looking to be the full-time 1B and DH on this roster, Manny would be a perfect fit in Toronto, not to mention possibly a tremendous bargain if he can hit like he did in 2010. No reason for AA to not consider it.

    • I admire your singular focus.

      • Can’t say I care much about whether Manny may or may not have corked his bat a decade ago or whether he’s taking PEDs right now.

        What matters is whether he still has any value left to be had because the Jays could seriously use it.

        • I have to disagree on this point. I do not want Manny Ramirez in a Jays uniform, even if he was in his prime. He’s a douchey scumbag.

    • Tiresome.

      Enormous if. Right up there with if every player on this team plays to their potential . . .

      • I really don’t think Manny is a “perfect fit” anywhere…

      • Except the difference here is you wouldn’t be paying Manny a damn thing, anyway. There is no risk involved and only the potential for a huge bargain. A team that currently employs Adam Lind as a full-time 1B needs all the offensive help it can get.

        The thing that’s most tiresome to me about all of this is when people cite Manny’s past cheating as a reason not to sign him. It might be different if you were committed to giving him a huge role on the team once you signed him, but, of course, you wouldn’t be.

        • You’re first of all assuming that he takes a Minor League deal, and secondly, imagining that the Minor League deal would be like any other. Manny continues to catch interest of media and would be a headache to front office and potential distraction to a team. Hardly without risk, considering that a potential reward is very unlikely.

          • No, I’m just assuming he’ll cost less than the $2M contract he signed last season with the Rays. A pretty safe assumption to make considering he was suspended for PED use and is another year removed from his last good year (2010). Manny will sign on with whatever team offers him a contract at all at this point. He is the definition of a low risk/high reward player…that’s exactly the reason why your beloved Rays decided to make the move they did last season. For that same reason, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were again interested in him this season, being the value hounds they are.

            This “headache to a front office and potential distraction to a team” argument is completely beneath you. Not only is there no evidence that Manny is anything but a positive presence in the clubhouse, I’d love to know what he’s going to distract from. Another mediocre 80+ win season? Adam Lind’s 3rd consecutive horrible year in a row? The fact that you’re resorting to that kind of argument at this point says it all.

          • Imagine if AA didn’t make the trades he did for Yunel Escobar and Colby Rasmus on the basis of rumours that they were “distractions to the team.” I wonder how you would have reacted.

        • Yeah, He’ll for sure return to his 2010 form since he’s now 39 and will have sat out for over 200 games by the time he gets back.

          • If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that nobody is saying Manny will “for sure” be doing anything.

            Fact is, though, he doesn’t have to return to his 2010 form to eventually be valuable to the Jays.

          • I thought we weren’t allowed to use “distraction” to the team or “great chemistry” in our arguments.

          • Only when they fit our flimsy arguments, Darnell. Beyond that, we can ridicule them all we want.

          • There’s a difference between reports of players like Escobar or Rasmus causing clubhouse turmoil, and someone who has twice been suspended for cheating. AA talked about Cordero & Vizquel being quality human beings that were brought in as free agents, it seems to be important to the team.

            The Rays can have him. Maybe the extra 2% will come from convicted cheaters this year. If so, good for them.

        • What’s the best case scenario, we sign him, he hits like crazy, we still don’t make the playoffs, we trade him away for like a draft pick or something awesome. Cost 2MM. Hooray, ponies and rainbows. Chances of that occurring are what though?

          Now I have 2 mil, I spend it on a lawrie extension or over-slot fines for the draft. Which is the better investment?

          • I would say the best case scenario is that the Jays have a 2008 Rays-like surge into the playoffs with some support from a Manny signed for the major-league minimum. The next best scenario would be something like you described.

            Either way, considering the extremely low cost it would take to acquire him, it would still be a worthwhile investment.

  6. The fact that the journalist that reports the corked bat story is named Cork Gaines seems pretty ironic to me.

  7. Hey remeber when Albert Belle was discovered having a corked bat and the Indians sent Jason Grimsley to steal the bat from the umpires’ room Mission Impossible style… only to switch the corked bat with one from… Paul Sorrento’s?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_Cleveland_Indians_corked_bat_incident

  8. “There’s no risk in keeping an eye on Manny this winter and spring. If everything breaks right, he could be a high-OBP, moderate slugging batter who gives your team a cheap boost come June. Maybe he even has a Winfield or Baines-esque season in him. But that’s if he’s healthy and if he can convince one of a small number of suitors that he’s still got something left to offer. As always, we’re left wondering what Manny will do next.”

    http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/index.php/a-manny-comeback/

    • It pains me to say this, but for once I agree with you Fullmer_Fan. I don’t see the problem with throwing Manny a bone in the form of a league minimum contract offer.
      Best case, he’s a high obp dh against lefties and Encarnacion plays first with lind on the bench.
      Worst case, he comes back after 50 games off and blows, so we dfa him and lose $300k.
      Likely case(pulling this out of my ass) he’s decent to below average against lefties but still better than lind and therefore worth the $300k.

      BTW, I always love when Dustin uses intangibles to make his case.

  9. You know what… the only way I could handle the Jays signing Manny is if the contract stipulated that he had to shave and cut his hair. Like Damon when we went to the Yankees. Not a big fan of the bouncin’ dreads.

    Other than that if AA thought it was worth the effort then that would be fine with me.

    • Lol who cares what kind of hair he’s got on his head? I for one would hope the blue jays never stoop to such archaeic and racist policies that the yankees employ.

      • I’m at a loss as to how that’s racist.
        Oh, I get it. Only non-whites have beards and long hair, and by making them shave you’re forcing them to conform to white standards.

        Seriously though, I think that’s a bit of a stretch.

    • Do you hate Bautista’s beard too?

  10. I think the Jays should sign Manny as a “just relaxin’” coach.

  11. Why sign someone so controversal? Publicity?

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