Is Manny Ramirez done? He’s going to turn 41 in May so conventional thought would think so. And on December 5th, Ramirez was hitting just .255 for the Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Winter League, so that looked like another proof that Ramirez’s career is nearing its close. Then suddenly Ramirez went on a hot streak. Maybe Ramirez has nothing left, and even if he does, which major league team would sign him? But one of the most polarizing baseball players in history is not going to do down without a fight. Even when it ends for Manny, it’s going to be interesting.
Dominican Winter League: Aguilas Cibaenas 4, Tigres del Licey 1
Manny Ramirez’s cleanup spot in the Cibaenas is more due to reputation than anything else. But lately, he’s earned it through merit as well. Ramirez had a big game on Tuesday night for the Aguilas, going 4 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored to help lead Cibaenas to their 4-1 victory. Ramirez has caught fire in his last 8 games, collecting a hit in each one and hitting .371 in the process to raise his average to .283 on the season. Don’t count Manny out, at least not yet. Hector Luna also went 2 for 5 with a run scored for the Aguilas while Juan Miranda went 0 for 4 for Licey.
Leones del Escogido 6, Toros del Este 5 (12 innings)
After his recent pinch-hitting success (3 for 3 with a walk in his last 4 PA’s), Willy Aybar finally got a start for Escogido but went just 0 for 3. Either he was just lucky to do so well as a pinch-hitter or for some bizarre reason he’s much better as a pinch-hitter than as a starting player at this point in his career (I’ll guess the former). Julio Lugo went 2 for 3 with an RBI for Escogido and is hitting a solid .286 on the DWL season.
Gigantes del Cibao 4, Estrellas de Oriente 3
Jhonny Nunez had a couple rough appearances for Cibao but got back on track on Tuesday, tossing a scoreless 9th with a strikeout as he walked around a hit and getting the win in the game when Nelson Cruz drilled a walk-off homer in the bottom of the inning. Also appearing for Cibao was Rhyne Hughes, who went 0 for 2 with a walk and a run scored, and Bobby Livingston, who had a tough outing, allowing 2 groundball singles, including an infield one, before departing without recording an out.
Mexican Pacific League: Algodoneros de Guasave 7, Naranjeros de Hermosillo 1
Considering how ridiculous Jorge Cantu of late, you would think that teams would come up with a plan to stop him. That has not yet happened. Instead, the plan is to make sure he gets nothing remotely resembling a pitch to hit. It worked in this one as Cantu went 1 for 1 with 4 walks but his teammates could not drive him in. Humberto Cota also went 1 for 3 with a walk for the Naranjeros.
Aguilas de Mexicali 12, Caneros de los Mochis 7
It seems like a ton of ex-Rays are playing out of their minds right now. The player hitting the best right now is Jon Weber. Weber had another big game in this one, going 2 for 3 with a double, 3 walks, and 2 runs scored, extending his hitting streak to 10 in the process. Over the course of that streak, Weber is hitting a ridiculous .462 with 5 doubles, 5 RBI, and 6 strikeouts against 5 walks. Weber is now hitting .321 on the MPL season. Weber has experienced terrible luck over the course of his career, especially when he had an incredible 2010 spring training for the Yankees but still didn’t make the team, but performing like this may get him one last shot with a big league organization even though he’s about to turn 35.
Venados de Mazatlan 9, Yaquis de Obregon 8 (10 innings)
Two ex-Rays and a current Ray had a big game in this one. Of course the team with 2 out of the three emerged victorious. Iker Franco slammed a 3-run homer for Obregon, but Henry Mateo went 3 for 6 with an RBI and 2 runs scored for Mazatlan, and the player the Rays care about the most because he’s still in their system, Matt Buschmann, was overpowering at the end of the game for the Venados. Buschmann entered the game in the 9th and wound up going 2 innings for the win, allowing just 1 hit while striking out 4. Buschmann has been outstanding in 10.1 innings across 7 appearances for Mazatlan, managing a 1.74 ERA with 9 strikeouts versus 2 walks. Could we see him in the Rays bullpen at some point next season?