The San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Athletics have made some surprising moves this offseason, signing WR Randy Moss and DH Manny Ramirez, respectively. Both were among the best ever in their primes, but now find themselves looking for a bit of late career redemption in the Bay Area. Will either work out?
While the Bay Area sports teams have had mixed success in recent years, the regions sports fans often have to deal with often dry sports personalities. Although the Giants have some personality in the likes of Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson, the region is not exactly a maelstrom of huge personalities. Well, as WWE announcer Jim Ross likes to proclaim, "business is about to pick up."
Last month the Oakland Athletics made waves when they agreed to terms on a minor league contract with outfielder/designated hitter Manny Ramirez. Ramirez signed a deal that provides virtually zero risk to the A's. A month later, across the Bay, the San Francisco 49ers recently announced they agreed to terms on a one year contract with wide receiver Randy Moss. Terms have not been released, but the contract is expected to be mostly an incentive-laden deal. Again, little risk for the 49ers.
Both contracts provide very little risk for teams that are looking for a significant boost on offense. The A's have struggled to find a consistent big bat for the middle of their lineup, while the 49ers passing game has struggled to find any consistency. These signings bring in guys that are getting a bit long in the tooth, but offer considerable potential if they can step into the fountain of youth for one season. If they hit, both teams would benefit greatly. If they end up not working out, neither team is likely out much.
These two players in particularly raise an interesting angle. I was chatting with Athletics Nation and SB Nation blogfather Tyler Bleszinski about the Moss signing and he brought up the interesting issue of two guys looking for redemption. You have two guys who have had a tough time with the media throughout their career and could very well be looking to clean up their reputation as they prepare to head into the sunset.
Ramirez has always been an odd duck who marches to the beat of his own drum. He is coming off two failed drug tests that have left his reputation in tatters. Although he might be trying to earn one last big pay-day off a big season, all indications are that money is not a significant issue for him. While he will never really be able to fully clear his name in the eyes of much of the public, Ramirez has a chance to at least shine it up a little bit.
Moss has had a cantankerous relationship at best with the media. He has been accused of quitting on plays and being a front-runner who is not the kind of guy you want on a struggling team. Moss retired prior to the 2011 season, in part because he apparently had to deal with some personal off the field issues. Whatever they were, they have been cleared up and he is back for more.
Prior to his retirement, Moss did not exactly have a quality finish. After a full season with the New England Patriots in 2009, Moss spent time with three different teams in 2010. He started with the Patriots before being dealt to the Minnesota Vikings. He was then released by the Vikings and claimed off waivers by the Tennessee Titans, where he struggled down the stretch.
While we hear plenty about athletes having financial problems late in their careers or after retirement, there is nothing to indicate these are money grabs by Ramirez and Moss. In fact, all signs would seem to point to the contrary. When someone says it is not about the money, that often means it is in fact precisely about the money. However, in these two cases, we could very well be seeing two players looking for one last bit of redemption.
Ramirez and Moss have both said all the right things thus far. However, it is a long stretch from providing the kind of production their teams need. It is great if they are trying to improve their reputations, but that does not necessarily mean Father Time will take a step back. It will be interesting to see if one or both of these veterans is able to take a step in the way-back machine in 2012.