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Sacramento River Cats' Manny Ramirez (11) connects for a single in the first inning against the Reno Aces at Raley Field in Sacramento, Calif., on Friday, May 25, 2012. Ramirez is returning to baseball after serving a 50-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff)

Manny Ramirez was a pipe dream of a powerless team.

Yes, I guess it was worth a try -- a piddling cost to the A's, nothing but a grand lark, hardly any pressure or expectations.

They can't hit, he used to be able to hit, a match made in droll desperation.

So the A's and Ramirez gave it a try with clear minds and good intentions.

But it's about time to write this one off, isn't it?

One-third into the A's 2012 schedule, a few days after Ramirez's 40th birthday and four years removed from his last prime season ... tell me, what's the point of this again?

To provide the A's with a seasoned designated hitter they can plop into the middle of the lineup? Don't think it's working out like that.

So far in his elongated River Cats prep assignment, Ramirez, suffering from recent hamstring issues, has almost as many DNPs (three) as RBIs (four).

If he can't stay healthy and can't drive the ball in the minors, that's precisely what you would expect from him -- or worse -- if he got a promotion.

That's all these A's need -- an older, frailer version of the Pop-Up/Strikeout Crew they have now.

Is Ramirez going to provide a savvy veteran voice to the A's young clubhouse? OK, maybe that's still an operable premise.

But adding Ramirez to the A's roster probably would mean the subtracting or limiting of outfielder Colin Cowgill, one of the A's only current producers.

Which seems like a net loss.


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Could Ramirez add just enough life to the A's offense to lift them into A.L. West contention? Please.

Check the standings. Even if Ramirez miraculously regains a percentage of his prime form, it's not enough to get and keep the A's anywhere near the Texas Rangers or the Los Angeles Angels.

Plus, after this home series against the Rangers, the A's play six consecutive games in N.L. parks -- without the designated hitter in play.

The time for Ramirez to help the A's probably has come and gone, and remember, that was presuming Ramirez had anything left to provide.

Is it still possible that a Ramirez resurgence will give general manager Billy Beane a potential trade chip if a contender comes calling? No.

Again: Ramirez just turned 40. And by the way, he has hit a total of 20 home runs since his first steroid-test suspension in the middle of the 2009 season.

Just no.

Sure, the A's can continue to dream the Manny dream for as long as Ramirez is content in the minors and the A's executives want to sustain this.

But it's not happening. The A's aren't good enough to take advantage of a half-decent Ramirez, and Ramirez isn't half-decent or even a quarter-decent any more.

This is nothing against Ramirez's attitude or character, though, given his history, you could wonder about those issues, too.

Ramirez arrived at spring training with a smile, then served the 50-game drug suspension. He reported to the River Cats for the rehab assignment.

By all accounts, Ramirez has kept up good spirits, including telling the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend that "when the time is perfect, I'm going to be there, and I'll do what I do, and that's hit."

Again, all well and good. But he just isn't any good anymore. He is years removed from being any good.

In some ways, the A's situation with Ramirez is similar to what the Giants are going through with Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff.

Sanchez has had multiple setbacks as he comes back from shoulder surgery and has played in only 60 of the Giants' 217 games since the end of the 2010 World Series.

And Huff, who had a .506 slugging percentage in 2010, has slugged only .359 in the two seasons combined since then.

If the Giants haven't already realistically given up on Sanchez playing second base for them again or Huff providing consistent thump on an everyday basis, they should be close to it.

You can only wait for so long, especially for aging players.

Which brings us back to Manny, who in his own odd way is symbolic of this dwindling A's season and team.

He doesn't cost much, was worth a decent bit of conversation, and in the end will have very little relevance to the larger issues of the 2012 major league season.

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com.