The Dodgers have a lot of decisions to make this winter. There are some holes to address. The club has just three of the five spots in their starting rotation under contract, and they don’t have a third baseman at the moment. They also need to retain some of their relievers. While the Dodgers have some tough decisions to make, one decision should be fairly easy, and I don’t mean of the Ron variety. (Yes I know he’s before my time, but I don’t care, I can still reference to him).
The decision I am talking about is the decision to keep Hanley Ramirez at shortstop. This should really be a no-brainer to me. There has been talk from some people that the Dodgers should move Hanley to third, and possibly put newly signed Cuban star Alexander Guerrero at shortstop. Mostly talk, with some clamoring. The Dodgers haven’t discussed this recently as far as I know, but I hear a lot of people talking about this.
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This would be a huge mistake. First of all, I’ve never seen Guerrero play, so I have no idea what he’s capable of defensively. Can he play shortstop? Is that his more natural position? I don’t know. But I do know that Hanley can be the best shortstop in baseball offensively when he is healthy. Hanley played in just 86 games this year for the Dodgers. Despite being often injured, Hanley was one of the best hitters in Baseball when healthy. Hanley slugged a 1.040 OPS, with 20 home runs, 57 runs driven in, and a .345 batting average during the 2013 season. So yeah you could say Hanley is pretty good.
The Dodgers are without a third baseman for the moment. Juan Uribe’s contract expired at season’s end, and the options on the free agent market are less than ideal. So people have been questioning whether the Dodgers should move Guerrero to shortstop, and Hanley to third. Even though it’s still possible they could bring back Mark Ellis. Otherwise, that wouldn’t solve anything and open up another hole at second base.
Hanley really isn’t that bad defensively. As a matter of fact he was pretty decent this year at short. In the 76 games Hanley played at shortstop in 2013, the defensive metrics rated him just above average with a +1 rating, and a .960 fielding percentage. Hanley made 13 errors, and saved one run above average. His range was pretty good too, with a range factor of a little over 4. Do those numbers accurately reflect his true defensive value? I’m not sure, but from watching him play, I thought he did an adequate job. Hanley still has some issues with his defense. For example he has a bad habit of double-clutching his throws. Sometimes his footwork leaves something to be desired, and he’ll still make the occasional bumbles. But It’s not like he’s Dee Gordon or anything. And not many shortstops can hit like Hanley.
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Another reason why I think this would be a bad idea is because Hanley just isn’t comfortable playing at third base. He’s most comfortable playing at his natural shortstop position. That’s what’s most important here, keeping Hanley happy and comfortable. A comfortable player is a more productive player. Especially with a more fragile, injury prone player like Hanley. Let’s keep Hanley happy, there is no reason to piss him off by asking him to move back to third. I’m not saying he wouldn’t do it if he was asked to, but I don’t think he would like it.
I’m hoping the Dodgers resign Uribe, but they might not. Regardless, I think the best thing to do is to keep Hanley at his natural shortstop position and not rock the boat when they’re playing in calm waters. There is no real reason to move Hanley Ramirez to third. Sign Uribe, or don’t, but leave Hanley be.