CBS 5 Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell hosts “Gameday” every Sunday night at 11:30pm on CBS 5 and offers his unique sports analysis here.

PHOENIX (CBS 5) – One of my favorite movies scenes from Titanic is Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) playing poker against a Swede who runs out of cash, so he uses his Titanic ticket as collateral.  Jack Dawson lies about his collateral and tells his playing partner, “When you got nothing, you got nothin’ to lose.”  

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That’s exactly the case with Billy Beane’s strategy of signing Manny Ramirez.   We’ve seen this script before.  Beane signs a power-hitting veteran whose best years are clearly in the rear-view mirror.  As Beane told David Justice in Moneyball, he’s not paying Manny for what he did five years ago. He’s paying Manny for what he can do now, and provide some leadership along the way. 

Frank Thomas was the best example of how this low-risk gamble paid off.  He signed a one-year deal with Oakland for $500-thousand with incentives worth $2.6 million. Thomas was 37 years old coming off a season full of leg injuries, a .219 average, 12 home runs and 26 RBI in only 34 games.  He exploded with the A’s, hitting 39 home runs, driving in 114 runs, and leading the A’s to the playoffs.  Yea, I’d say he got those incentives.

Subsequent signings haven’t lived up to the Thomas deal. Piazza, Nomar, Matsui, Giambi redux have all come and gone. But Beane’s strategy is sound.  “When you got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose.”  

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Perhaps the pertinent question for Billy is why he signed a player who isn’t eligible to play until May 30.  Will the A’s be within shouting distance of the Rangers and Angels?  But again, I don’t see a risk.  If Manny produces and the A’s are long gone in the playoff race he becomes trade bait, hence, another prospect when your San Jose A’s take the field in 2016.

Yoenis Cespedes?  At four years and $36 million, that’s a risk.

By the way.  Dawson won the poker hand and the ticket on Titanic.  We all know how that ended.

See you on TV from Spring Training this weekend.

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Dennis O'Donnell