Bye Bye, Hanley Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
So it’s done, Hanley Ramirez has moved on from the Dodgers and signed a 5 year 90 million dollar deal with the Red Sox to become their starting 3B/LF/DH combination. Seeing him hit lasers off of the Green Monster will be a sight to behold, and a brutal reminder that the richest team in baseball opted against giving their star SS 18 million dollars a year for reasons unknown.
That last bit is not necessarily true.We absolutely know why the Dodgers opted to now sign Hanley Ramirez. The Giants and Royals met in the World Series, and boasted some very very incredible defense. Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Gregor Blanco, Hunter Pence, Brandon Crawford, Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar, the defense was sensational in the world series. Mix this in with the new Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman always striving to have solid defensive minded teams, and you see the writing on the wall for Hanley Ramirez.
And honestly? I’m bummed out, I normally dismiss how much a player “loves a city” but good lord that 2013 NLCS was gutsy and the quotes he delivered were classic. I thought he was going to be a Dodger forever because that’s what he wanted. But alas Ramirez played in the wrong era, if Hanley’s career happened 15 years earlier, he’s a likely hall of famer being compared to Derek Jeter, and the like.
I mean just look at this Hanley is the 2nd best hitting shortstop of the last 65 years, only behind a noted steroid user. If Hanley actually transformed into a large, immobile glove on defense every time he went out to play shortstop, he’d still be an above average player. And if you believe that Hanley would have replaced Uribe at 3b, look at this, sandwiched right between David Wright (134 wRC+) and George Brett (132 wRC+) as the 12th best hitting third baseman of the last 65 years.
I’m aware. I’m aware of all of the kicked balls. All of the balls that sailed into the first base stands because of an errant throw. That one fateful ball that ruined Clayton Kershaw‘s perfect game. I’m aware of all the injuries. There’s a strong argument to not be upset with the decision and move on because of all of these factors. That argument was strong enough that the Dodgers never really made a push to resign him.
And despite all of that, Ramirez was worth 3.4 fWAR last season and entering his age 31 season (spoiler alert: that’s means he’s still in his prime). Wanna know how many shortstops were worth more than 3.4 fWAR last season? 4, and Hanley caught them with 150 less PA’s.
Offensively, Hanley did not have a down year, wRC+ of 135 rated him a 2% above his career average (133) despite the grand disappointment that was the follow up to the godly 2013 he had. He was never going to be close to his 2013 form, but if 2014 was his down year, then man that player can flat out rake.
Defensively? Well people have argued for YEARS that value is value no matter how you get it. And listen, if you get top 5 production out of your SS position, you really should try your best to retain your top 5 SS regardless of what the *iffy defensive metrics* say.
So now Andrew Friedman is looking at a roster without a starting caliber SS, an aging 34 year old catcher who hit below the mendoza line and a slugging percentage that wasn’t too far behind, a left fielder who was erratic at best for every single month outside of September, a second baseman who looked really awful down the stretch, and a third baseman who really cannot be counted on to provide you 500 plate appearances.
What can be done?
Well they can try to get a good but not great SS in Alexei Ramirez, they can upgrade the C position by grabbing Yasmani Grandal, they can continue to upgrade the bullpen, and if all of these things happen, i’ll be optimistic but none of those upgrades really offset the loss of a 133 wRC+ bat. If you thought the offense struggled at times last season, then boy next season will be brutal. I don’t know what this does about the trade Kemp rumors but they really ought to settle down after this because I may not be emotionally ready to handle a Puig-Agon-… Crawford (?????) 3-4-5 next season.
The point is that, the Dodgers suffered a loss to their 2015 title hopes today. The roster right now is obviously worse than it was at the end of October, and that is a sad thing in and of itself. But the real unfortunate situation, is that the richest team in baseball decided to let one of its most talented player walk because some combination of defensive concerns and overall reluctancy to commit a lot of money to an productive player who is entering his 30’s.
The Dodgers must upgrade from outside the organization. Andrew Friedman said something about upgrading at the margins in his introductory press conference, well at this point the Dodgers need an upgrade at the core because A.J. Ellis and Erisbel Arruebarrena as an infield up the middle combination just is not going to cut it.
It was fun while it lasted, i’m sad it’s over, hopefully there’s an upgrade to be had, but it’s a tough day to be a Dodger fan. The Red Sox got a truly GREAT hitter, one of the best of our generation, and at only 18 million dollars per year. 5 years is a bit long for Hanley, but hey in an age that overvalues offense, players like Hanley (all bat little glove guys) are coming cheaper and cheaper. I’m bummed that the Dodgers didn’t value him at the level the Red Sox did, because the Sox really didn’t value him all that high. Lets hope it works out, but i’m pessimistic.