2012 Dodgers in Review #10: SS Hanley Ramirez

(w/ LA) .271/.324/.450 272pa 10hr 1.4 fWAR B+

2012 in brief: Surprising trade from Miami kicked off the midseason roster reconstruction and provided an immediate power boost, though not without a severe September slump.

2013 status: Will make $15.5m, but will he play shortstop or third base?

******

I think that for most of the trades that came down this season, we had something of an idea about them. Sure, no one predicted the exact circumstances of the Boston trade, but we’d heard rumors about Adrian Gonzalez before August. When Brandon League & Shane Victorino arrived on deadline day, well, everyone knew the Dodgers were after help in the bullpen & the outfield. It’s not even limited to trades that actually happened, because how much time did we spend talking about Ryan Dempster & Chase Headley this summer?

But when when I woke up on the morning of July 25th to see that Hanley Ramirez (and Randy Choate) were suddenly Dodgers, it was shocking. In retrospect, I suppose it shouldn’t have been, because the Dodgers had been trying to get by with Luis Cruz & Jerry Hairston on the left side of the infield, but still: we’d heard almost nothing about Ramirez to that point. At the time, I was pretty thrilled:

This is in no way a trade without a substantial amount of risk, which we’ll get to in a second, but my first impression is that I really, really like taking the chance here. We’ve been over so many times how impossible it was going to be to find a bat in this market, particularly one who can play third base and isn’t able to walk at the end of the season, and to be able to do that and get a decent lefty bullpen arm without having to give up your top prospects is just phenomenal.

(snip) I think that’s why I like this deal, really. I joked yesterday that I couldn’t wait until Juan Uribe was gone so that we could stop looking at every crappy veteran player (Ryan RobertsJosh Fields, looking at you here) and saying, “well, he’s at least better than Uribe!” as though that really meant anything. In Ramirez, you get a guy who really is better than Uribe – .246/.322/.428 with 14 homers and 14 steals isn’t outstanding, but it’s certainly an upgrade – and a guy who could potentially be something more than that, and you do it by eating money (something the new Dodger ownership does not seem troubled with) and by surrendering one good-but-not-great ready-now starter and one low level pitching prospect who I’m sure no more than five of you had heard of.

Ramirez was an immediate smash, getting on base 10 times in his first five games, including three extra-base hits. For a team which had seen so much ineptitude from Uribe & Dee Gordon all season long and hadn’t yet cashed in James Loney for Gonzalez and friends, the sudden influx of offense was more than welcome.

In his third game, he hit a go-ahead homer in the tenth against Sergio Romo & San Francisco to win a crucial matchup. Eight games later, after moving back from third base to shortstop, Ramirez walked off against the Cubs; five days after that, he had three hits and drove in two runs in his return to Miami. On August 18th, he had two dingers against the Braves, and with Cruz establishing himself, we had to take a moment to acknowledge just how much better things had gotten on the left side:

In 499 plate appearances spread over 137 games this season, the two primary Dodgers on the left side of the infield – Dee Gordon & Juan Uribe – had combined for three home runs all year long.

Tonight, Hanley Ramirez (two) & Luis Cruz combined to match that total in only five innings. In the second inning, they teamed with James Loney to go back-to-back-to-back off Atlanta starter Ben Sheets; in the sixth, after Matt Kemp & Andre Ethier walked, Ramirez sealed the game with his second blast of the night.

On September 3, Ramirez homered against San Diego’s Andrew Werner, his tenth as a Dodger and his fourth in seven days, and the era of good feelings was well underway. By that point, Ramirez had played 38 games as a Dodger, with his line sitting at .280/.343/.547 and ten homers. That’s great no matter what, but it’s absolutely phenomenal considering what we had seen come before in the infield.

Unfortunately for Ramirez, that September 3 homer would be his final one of the season, as he got stuck in the same September malaise as the rest of the team. Over the remaining 26 games of the month, he hit only .257/.292/.307 with a 28/3 K/BB. Taking just his time with the Dodgers, his BB% rate (6.3) and KK% (22.1) each represented career worsts, and then of course there’s the fact that he’s a pretty lousy defensive shortstop, by measures both old and new.

So yeah, there’s definitely concerns here going forward. Simply “being better than Uribe & Gordon” isn’t exactly the same thing as “being a productive player,” and merely looking good by comparison isn’t going to be enough for him next year. The biggest concern might be on defense, where I really don’t believe he can be an adequate shortstop. So far, the Dodgers don’t agree, but even if they don’t go out and get the shortstop I still think they need, I can’t see much of an argument for keeping Luis Cruz at third rather than swapping the two. And of course, if Ramirez doesn’t hit better than he did in September then defense may be the least of our problems.

Still, I’m optimistic, and I can’t sit here and say that I’d really rather have Nathan Eovaldi than Ramirez right now. Ramirez is only signed through his age-29 and -30 seasons, exactly where you want to have a player. His overall 2012, if not near his 2007-09 peak, was a step up from his disappointing 2011, and the fact that his power returned after offseason shoulder surgery was encouraging. If Ramirez can simply be convinced to regain his old patience and get his walk rate back up around 10%, all of a sudden you might have a fantastic complimentery piece to Matt Kemp & Adrian Gonzalez.

And if not? Well… at least he’s not Uribe.

******

Next up! Oh right, we have to spend a day talking about Justin Sellers, wonderful.

385 comments
Technogit
Technogit

It drives me mad to see Ramirez at ss when Cruz is so clearly the better player. Did you see Bill Shaikin's article on page 4 of the Times today? The Dodgers need brain power to match their financial power. Is Mattingly that brain? Honestly, I'm not so sure.

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

you're all excited to read about Justin Sellers today, right? RIGHT?!

FreeDK
FreeDK

I accidentally saw 10 minutes of the news, man how do people watch that shit? No wonder the country is going to hell

DigDug
DigDug

Late to party but I think this is what a manager is supposed to be good at. Put the players where they are the best for the team and get the most out of them. Girardi, Francona, Fredi G., Torre, La Russa did this well; Valentine, Ozzie (this year) not so much. How Hanley helps the Dodgers next year will be a good indication of how Donnie manages the club, in my opinion.

Gilbert_Vengeance
Gilbert_Vengeance

FIOS GETS LAKERS!!! unrelated i know but nevertheless im excited :D

MSTIer: Jake
MSTIer: Jake

all of u who comment on things from 8 hrs ago and make me scroll all the way back up...smh

Kewldood69
Kewldood69

@capnsparrow They spelled experience wrong.

*VND*
*VND*

i read on the cycle machine. good read. but im a Kings fan. still quality tho. Kobe yo

FreeDK
FreeDK

 @Gilbert_Vengeance I'm actually glad they won't be on Directv so now when people come over they can't say "Put it on the Laker game"

Disgruntled Goat
Disgruntled Goat moderator

 @Saber Kid #293.2 now you know how the rest of us felt during the great hip hop debate of 2012 (which happened during a dodger game, LOL). 

efb
efb

 @VietnamDodger I remember when the Kings were rivals.. what happened to that? 

*VND*
*VND*

these fuckers are worse. WORSE.

*VND*
*VND*

The Maloofs. And Sacramento is a very, very poor city.

FreeDK
FreeDK

 @VietnamDodger Ta fuck? So they like whichever team is winning at the time? Warriors-Kings

LakerDodger24 (Kirby Pls)
LakerDodger24 (Kirby Pls)

 @VietnamDodger That team was very well balanced and had the Lakers' number if not for the Zebras. I met Mike Bibby last December in L.A. and I totally wanted to ask him about 2002, but I didn't have the guts to :C

*VND*
*VND*

i used to go with all these crazy kings fans from USF. insane how much they loved Doug Christie. His wife cracked me up.

*VND*
*VND*

i went to those games. yes they were. which made it so much more sad for me. i went there as a college kid. man those fans were insane tho. The whole city was in purple.

*VND*
*VND*

IM NOT INCLINED TO TALK

MSTIer: Jake
MSTIer: Jake

 @el serracho  @EephusBlue 1 week but my mom has to make an appointment and my parents are pissed at me so they dont want to make me another one til im 100% prepared and then itl delay how long until I can get a license. so it all sucks