Unless the first thing you thought when the White Sox picked up Manny off of waivers is "isn't he still injured?" Something hasn't been right with Manny since came over from LA in one of those "Take him, TAKE HIM!" deals. To his credit, Ramirez hasn't raised any stink about how happy or unhappy he is to be on the South Side of Chicago, playing in half-empty stadiums, with no contract security for a team rocketing out of the playoff picture, but he also hasn't needed to. It's all so apparent when he's at the plate.
Not to argue that Manny's been dogging it, or not trying. But he's just been so profoundly uncomfortable at the plate that if something specific isn't wrong with him, then he is extremely, extremely washed-up.
Ramirez hasn't killed the White Sox since his arrival, because no one with an OBP. over .400 really can, and it would be even harder to argue that the White Sox would have better options at the DH slot than Manny's thoroughly C- .712 OPS on the roster, but this is simply not what the White Sox shelled out $4 million for a month of. Ramirez's BA has slipped all the way to .242 after a decent start, he has more strikeouts (20) than hits (15), has only two-extra base knocks for a slugging percentage that would make Juan Pierre consider PEDs (.306), and of course there was the climactic September 14th showdown versus the Twins where Manny struck out three times with runners in scoring position, and the season ended.
But that hasn't been nearly as bad as Manny has looked. He may not be the most popular analyst in the internet circles, but Joe Morgan noted on September 19th when the White Sox were on Sunday night baseball that it didn't look like Manny could catch up to the fastball...which is especially troubling when you consider that Jeremy Bonderman was the starter that night for Detroit, and he can only hit 92 on the freeway. Morgan is kind of a rambling, self-obsessed nincompoop, but I trust his ability to recognize that Ramirez can't get around on anything above 88mph. He does watch more baseball than me...especially right now.
Ramirez is surely a good enough hitter to do work on breaking pitches, but it's hard to consistently drive the ball if you can't turn around heaters. Reflecting the force of pitchers is what gives players their power. What's worse is that Manny has seemed like he knows his limitations very intimately. He's taken a preposterous number of strike 3's looking (leading to 20 K's in a month for someone who's only struck 100 times in a season once), and there hasn't been someone looking to take a walk this hard since Henry Rowengartner.
Players like to lean things toward their strengths, and Manny clearly believes that he's more potent working the count and taking close pitches for walks than trying to drive the ball. He's not taking the bat off his shoulder unless he has to, because he doesn't believe good will come of it.
It's not the most encouraging thing to see the slugger you forked over 4 mil for, sprint to 1st after a walk like he's just been released from prison, and confidence in him has noticeably dipped. He was getting lightly booed near the end of the Minnesota series in the U.S. Cellular bleachers, and not being talked about as an option for next season at all. And he shouldn't be; 38-year sluggers who can't play a position and can't hit for power should not considered building blocks...especially when we already have Mark Kotsay.
It's unlikely that Manny Ramirez suddenly lost the ability to drive fastballs. It's likely a combination of his timing being off or not being 100% health-wise still. But given his age, reputation for mischief, and likely price, he's nowhere near worth any additional investment. The season was on the ropes when Ramirez arrived, and it was a worthwhile lark (especially for no players in return) to see if the Manny Ramirez who terrorized the AL for most of the decade could return, but it's clear that that player is still MIA. From what I hear, Julio Franco is still available.