When a team spends big money for a free agent, expectations for production usually border on the unrealistic.
50 home runs and 150 RBI for a $20-million per year slugger? Sure, no problem.
A sub-2.00 ERA, 20 wins, and an easy Cy Young Award victory for a pitcher making $20-million per year? Piece of cake.
Often times, the production of the player does not correlate with the expectations. Sure, there are successful examples of free agency - Manny Ramirez' time in Boston is a prime example of that - but there are many horror stories when teams lavish mega-contracts on free agents, such as Carl Pavano with the Yankees, Mike Hampton with the Rockies, Albert Belle with the Orioles, Chan Ho Park with the Rangers, and Josh Hamilton with the Angels.
While a month is not a big enough sample size to judge a player who signed a 4-year contract worth $88-million that includes a vesting option for a fifth-year for an additional $22-million, it certainly seems that based on his initial month with the Red Sox that Hanley Ramirez will live up to expectations.
Ramirez capped a monster month of April with a two-run home run in the team's victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday night. The win finished off a 12-10 month for the Red Sox, who are currently a game behind the A.L. East leading Yankees heading into their weekend series at Fenway Park that will open the month of May.
In 21 games during April, Ramirez led all of baseball with 10 home runs and 22 RBI while posting a slash line of .293/.341/.659. The offense that was supposed to carry this team has struggled to start the season so Ramirez' big month is a major part of the reason why they had a winning month.
April's success will only increase expectations for Ramirez and the Red Sox offense. With perennial All-Star candidates like Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, and Pablo Sandoval sandwiching Ramirez in the lineup, the Red Sox will be expected to be an offensive juggernaut that will only need to improve its pitching to get back into the A.L. playoffs and compete for the franchise's fourth World Series title since 2004.
Can he do it?
Time will tell but the impressive start to the season offers much optimism for a successful 2015 and tenure in Boston.