Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dog Gone

Nearly Free To A Better Home
Today, the Miami Marlins traded their one-time franchise player, the man who had more Hall of Fame buzz around him than anything that has ever done more than look out of place while wearing their colors... to Los Angeles for a buncha low-rate crud. And they were probably right to do it, considering how much contract relief it's going to give them.

I am speaking, of course, about Hanley Ramirez, the man who has done more to destroy the fantasy seasons of baseball honks than anyone this side of Francisco Liriano. Ramirez used to be the smart man's choice as the #1 overall pick, seeing how you were getting 25 HRs, 40 steals and oodles of counting goodness every year at shortstop. Now, he's a bad third baseman who hits in the .240s, with a suspect reputation for not always giving real effort, and someone else's problem. And, of course, opportunity.

Whether he bounces back to something approaching toleration or his true (?) talent level is, of course, the ultimate question. In Dodgerland, he can probably go back to playing shortstop if he wants, since Dee Gordon has been such a washout, or third base if he'd rather stay there, since the current player is the immortal Juan Uribe. (Seriously, the Dodgers are contenders with that as the left side of the infield? Hard to believe, Harry.) He'll have actual media attention and crowds and games that matter, and while the NL West does have some great arms and games in the Petco No Funhouse, it also has Colordao and Arizona -- i.e., two parks that can more than make up those numbers. If you own this twerp, you have to feel better about your chances of getting back value. Assuming, of course, that you are still paying any attention to baseball in the first place.

As for what a baseball reawakening might say about Ramirez's ability to thieve with a straight face... well, I'm sure that if I ever pulled the trigger on him in my own nerd league, I'd be less sanguine. But since I think of the Marlins only when scandal arises (which is to  say, often), I'm seeing a different story for HanRam.

Rebirth.

Like Manny Ramirez before him, Hanley is getting out of a mutually poisoned well and into fresh water. For at least a year or two, especially in a lineup where Matt Kemp is still going to get the lion's share of attention, he should thrive -- hitting for the same power that he hit in the muggy air of South Florida, stealing more bases if his wheels up, actually trying hard and focusing on fielding because the games will actually matter. The parts that the Fish got back for him will never pan out, and Boston Fan can go back to thinking that if they had just kept him, he'd be the best player in baseball for them.

Oh, and if you think Marlins Fan is going to get bent out of shape after this... imagine how they'll feel after they move Josh Johnson before next week's deadline, and they get to enjoy the fresh stink of a salary dump in their plush new digs.

Because that's what the Dodgers are banking on, and why they are OK with paying the freight on a guy who has been one of the most overpaid players in baseball for the past two years... because there's a very real chance that just by getting the hell away from Jeff Loria, Hanley Ramirez is going to go back to giving a damn about, and enjoying the game of, baseball.

For a little while, at least.

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