By Ted Gay – @TedG63
When my phone blew up just before noon this morning, I was expecting to be alerted to another Presidential tweetstorm. Instead, I received alerts on multiple platforms that the Red Sox had DFA’d multi-million dollar slugger Hanley Ramirez.
The move, at first glance, seemed foolish. Who cuts one of their best hitters and most influential veterans when they are on the cusp of an epic pennant race with their most heated rival? Red Sox fans went through the stages of losing a key player. Shock, anger, and acceptance. I have moved to the fourth stage. Admiration.
During Ramirez’s sporadic Boston career I often recalled what Jon Lester, a gritty, hard-working pitcher said about his former minor league teammate. “I am more likely to get struck by lightning than get a pizza with Hanley Ramirez.”
Lester has always been an exemplary teammate. Ramirez has been lackadaisical, immature and petulant. The two were polar opposites. It was the lackadaisical, immature and petulant Ramirez we got in 2015. In 2016, thanks to a position shift and being under the all-seeing eye of David Ortiz Ramirez reached his ceiling. Last season we got a mixture of his first two years. Yes, he was injured, but he also said, in an August interview that he had no idea how abysmal his numbers against left-handed pitching.were. A student of the game Hanley is not.
This year we started with 2016 Hanley but by mid-May, his OPS had dropped to .708, and he was rated the 22nd best hitting first baseman in baseball. He was the Pittsburgh Pirates strutting around like the Houston Astros. I don’t have his defensive numbers, but I am willing to bet Stone Hands Ramirez is closer to being ranked 30 than 22. By any measure, for the second consecutive year and third out of four Hanley was not a productive player.
What Hanley had was the potential to send any pitch over the Green Monster and onto the parking garage. As the old slogan went “chicks dig the long ball.”. But lately waiting for a Ramirez blast has been like.paying $100.00 to go to a Dexy Midnight Runners concert and sitting on your hands for an hour just to pop when “Come on Eileen” is finally played.
Ramirez defenders will mention his clubhouse presence. Our young players seemingly admire Hanley. But, his influence on them may be a negative. If Hanley preached a “me first” attitude and undermined Alex Cora’s philosophy, he would become a cancer in the clubhouse. I have no evidence to.prove this, but I think DFA’ing Ramirez had more to do with just performance and a vesting option. As we have seen with JBJ Cora has an abundance of patience waiting for hitters to produce. There were other ways to avoid Ramirez’s option vesting due to plate appearances. If this were about the money the Red Sox would never have parted with him earlier in the season, then they dumped the Panda last year.
Credit is due to Dave Dombrowski and Alex Cora. This is one of the biggest balls to the wall gambles the Boston franchise has ever wagered. Certainly, the biggest since Nomar was dealt in 2004. While we are not getting spark plug Orlando Cabrera in return the move will give Blake Swihart a chance to prove he belongs and if not it opens the door for spring training favorite Sam Travis who, if he can match what he did in March during August, will be a bigger threat than Hanley at the plate with none of the former’s attitude.
Cutting Ramirez is a sign to the team that unless your surname is Sale, Kimbrell or Betts your position on the team is not safe. If Andrew Benintendi continues to run the bases like Alex Moffitt doing an impression of Eric Trump, if Christian Vasquez brain farts and forgets to signal a runner to slide into home, if David Price’s off-field problems overshadow his on-field production, if Rafael Devers continues to hit and field like he is playing whack a mole they could find themselves in Pawtucket or Price’s case out the door. On Thursday the clubhouse slogan was “it’s all good bro,” and today it’s “be afraid, be very afraid.”. As the great Crash Davis said, young players need to be scared.
Today is a new day in Boston. It is now Alex Cora’s team.
Goodbye Hanley, it wasn’t like we hardly knew ye, we knew ye all too well.
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