Hanley Ramirez is The New Darling of Los Angeles


He hits game winning bombs. Collects clutch hits, and steals bases. He makes great defensive plays, and looks great while doing it. He is a five tool star. He can hit, hit for power, run,  catch, and throw. He is an all-star. You would think I am talking about Matt Kemp, or Andre Ethier, but I am not. I am talking about the Dodger’s newest star, infielder Hanley Ramirez. The new guy the Dodgers just picked up who has energized the Dodgers, and injected power and speed into the Dodger’s lineup.

That man was once called a “clubhouse cancer” The reports were he was unhappy at his former home. He wasn’t getting along with teammates or managers. The ownership treated him differently. His performance had significantly declined, and Miami had grown tired of his poor attitude.

He frowned, he got into fights. Teammates complained about him. He seemed indifferent, and other teammates accused him of not caring if they won or lost. This man has single handedly changed the NL west race, tipping the scale in the Dodger’s favor. He is a former Batting champion, and once considered one of the most dangerous hitters in the league, and he still is. Just who is this new sparkling superstar?

Hanley, why it’s Hanley of course! The Dodgers were in desperate need of a corner infielder who could hit. The Juan Uribe experiment was a monumental disaster. Uribe who signed for a 21 million dollar contract, is hitting just .196 with two home runs. He spent a lengthy amount of time on the disabled list with an arthritic wrist. Once he came back, he became mired in a 1 for 31 slump. He has more millions than home runs hit in his entire Dodger career (6), and to make things even worse, he is out of shape. The Dodgers had had enough of their underachieving portly third sacker, and decided to finally do something to improve third base, and the lineup.

Last week the Dodgers traded their number five starter Nathan Eovaldi, and a minor leaguer to the Miami Marlins for Hanley Ramirez, and lefty reliever Randy Choate.

Hanley is only 28 years old, and under team control for the next two years. The Dodgers are responsible for paying Hanley the remaining 38 million dollars or so on his contract. The Dodgers will gladly pay that sum for one of the best hitters we have seen in some time. Hanley was a three time all-star, and 2009 NL batting champion. Hanley from the Dominican, is 6’2 and 230 pounds, and bats and throws right handed. He was signed by the Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 2000, and then traded to the Marlins. Hanley batted .342 in 2009, which was perhaps his finest season. He has slugged as many as 33 home runs in a season, and driven in as many as 106 RBI. He was also the NL rookie of the year in 2006. He has hit 148 home runs, and stolen 231 bases. Hanley stole 51 bases in each of his first two seasons. He is a career .300 hitter.

There is no doubt that Hanley Ramirez is a skilled and gifted Baseball player and athlete. He is a deadly hitter, mixing power and speed. For once third base is no longer a black hole for the Dodgers.

Hanley loves to have fun, and he brought over the same enthusiasm he had in Miami, to Los Angeles. His “I see you” gestures when he gets on base, or hits a home run are slowly becoming a trend on twitter, and across the Dodger blogosphere. Originally it was his on base rally in Miami, called “Los Vista”. He would do some kind of V-shaped signal with his hands. Now that he is with the Dodgers, he must do something a little different. After all this is a fresh start with a new team. Hanley instead puts his fingers up to his eyes like pretend glasses or binoculars. It’s just for fun, but opposing teams get very upset by it.

That’s the thing, throughout all of the turmoil he experienced when he was in Maimi, he remains just a nice good natured kid who loves to play Baseball. He makes things look effortless because he is such a naturally gifted player, things come to him with ease. Baseball players are humans too, and when they are not happy, they are not going to perform. Whatever the reason is,  Hanley was not happy playing in Miami. Perhaps it was the fact they have gone through three managerial changes in the last year, or maybe he didn’t get along with manager Ozzie Guillen. Or maybe he just didn’t get along with his teammates, or he just didn’t like the new gaudy stadium. Or maybe he throws up every time he sees that statue monstrosity go off in center field. A few weeks ago things came to a boiling point, when Hanley got frustrated after a game, and punched a cooling fan. He cut his hand and then forgot to take his prescribed antibiotics. Does this look like a guy having fun?

Since joining the Dodgers, he has been wonderful, fantastic, and he reminds us of another dynamic Ramirez who came over in a mid-season trade to ignite the Dodger offense, leading them to the playoffs. This isn’t about Manny Ramirez though, this is the story of Hanley.

He has injected the Dodger lineup with power. Hanley has sparked the entire Dodger team and he is having a lot of fun doing it. Since being traded to the Dodgers Hanley is 7 for 21 (.333), with a game-winning home run in extra innings against the Giants, a triple in his first at-bat, and seven RBI. leading the Dodgers to an amazing three game sweep of the Giants at San Francisco, to move back into first place. But this isn’t even about Hanley per say, this is about an entire organization that has made a statement to the rest of the league that we are going to fight, we will not go gently. We will fight every day, and every game, and on every pitch, and every at-bat.

As for Hanley, he will make his Dodger debut at Chavez Ravine tonight against Arizona. This may be the best trade the Dodgers have made in recent years. The funny thing is everyone else has said all he does is frown, however I have yet to see him stop smiling since he came to the Dodgers. He has said publicly that he will play anywhere, and do whatever Don Mattingly and the team needs him to do. He said he is proud to be a Dodger, and very happy to be here. I can tell because his smile lights up the Dodger dugout. Everyone deserves a second chance. He makes the Dodger lineup dynamic, and he is the missing ingredient this season. Hanley Ramirez is the new darling of Los Angeles.