Monday, August 24, 2015
What Will the Red Sox Do With Hanley Ramirez?
Despite Hanley Ramirez looking like one of the Bad News Bears in left field, the Red Sox have been particularly stubborn about keeping him there all season long.
While it's entirely evident that the Rammer-in-left experiment has failed miserably, many have hoped that the Sox would try him at first base after Mike Napoli was traded to Texas.
Yet, just last week, acting manager Torey Lovullo had this to say about Ramirez:
"No, he’s not getting any type of work at first base at this point. Hanley Ramirez is our left fielder and I think we’re going to stay with that. We’re going to try and get him the necessary work and necessary reps and necessary innings out there to get him to the point he feels comfortable and we become a championship defense in the outfield. It takes time. He’s a converted infielder and it’s a tough process. He’s further from the ball and moving and traveling at different angles and I feel comfortable saying Hanley is doing the right thing, working as hard as he can to make it happen as fast as he can.”
Get that? After nearly five months of baseball, plus six weeks of preparation in spring training, Lovullo still wants to get Ramirez the “necessary work” and the "necessary reps" and the "necessary innings" to "get him to the point he feels comfortable" in left field.
When do the Red Sox cry uncle and finally admit that it’s over? The Ramirez in left field experiment has failed.
Ben Cherington, who signed Ramirez to a four-year, $88 million this offseason, was finally honest about that failure while attending the Saberseminar at Boston University last Friday.
“Nobody knew. We didn't know what he would be defensively in left field,” Cherington said to those at the event. “He'd never done it. So it's impossible to know. We made a bet based on history of what players look like moving from a middle infield position to another position. And there's data that can help us make an educated guess. He wanted to and seemed committed to doing it … It hasn't gone well.”
Maybe it's easier for Cherington to be honest now that he’s leaving the Red Sox. Ramirez is no longer his problem, but the "player without a position" is one of the messes that Cherington has left behind.
It’s now Dave Dombrowski’s problem.
Ramirez is widely viewed by scouts as no longer adequately capable of playing shortstop. So, it’s not likely that the Sox will find a trade partner with that position in mind for Ramirez.
Ramirez has never played first base, and he has started just 97 games at third base over the course of his 10 big-league seasons.
With David Ortiz coming back as the team’s DH again next year (his contract has already vested), that is not an option for Ramirez on the Red Sox.
If scouts agree that Ramirez is a defensive liability everywhere on the diamond, and is truly a player without a position, then he is only suited to be a designated hitter.
Aside from the Red Sox, there are only 14 other teams that use a DH, and not all of them want, or need, Ramirez.
That limits the trade possibilities considerably.
When it comes to figuring out what to do with Ramirez, Dombrowski will have his hands full this offseason.
There are so many problems with the player, and so few solutions.
The Sox would surely have to pay a significant portion of the contract to any taker and, assuming that Ramirez is only suited to play DH, it also means the Red Sox would be paying him to play against them -- and potentially beat them -- for a rival AL team multiple times a year for at least the next three (and perhaps four) seasons.
There is a rotation to fill, and bullpen to build, but the Hanley Ramirez problem will be among the most challenging for the Red Sox new President of Baseball Operations.