Just about an hour or so ago, we found out that Hanley Ramirez had been designated for assignment to make room for Dustin Pedroia. In the linked post I mentioned that was totally caught off guard by this turn of events and didn’t really know what to say. I’ve had a little time to digest this and.....well, I’m still pretty shook. If you are ever on the website Twitter Dot Com, you have heard people talking about tweeting through it. Essentially, when things go bad you just keep tweeting until they turn around. Well, I’m going to try and post through this one. My thoughts are still totally scattered so I’m just going to go through some bullet points on everything I can think of. I’ll not that there will be a post later today about the ripple effects around the roster from this move, so this post is just going to be all Hanley.
- I guess I’ll start by saying that I’m bummed out here. Putting aside the baseball reasoning here — and obviously I’ll get to that — Ramirez had pretty quickly become the most fun personality on this team. The Red Sox were pushing that personality like crazy all year, and encouraging him to show it off whenever possible. It was pretty hard not to like Hanley: The Dude, no matter how you felt about his on-field performance. Again, I’m not sure how much that should factor into the team’s decision, but it sucks to lose him. It’s going to be different following the Red Sox for the rest of the year, and in a lot of ways it’s going to be less fun. I’m seriously going to miss being able to watch Hanley be Hanley.
- Something that I think does matter, but I’m not positive how much, was his role in the clubhouse. Ramirez was pretty clearly, at least to me, the heart and soul of this clubhouse and the veteran everyone looked to at all times. Players clearly loved being his teammate, and he really seemed to enjoy being in that kind of leadership role. Ripping him out of that clubhouse is probably going to have many on the roster feeling somewhat betrayed. They should be able to play through that and new leaders will emerge — perhaps this is Mookie Betts’ chance to step into a long-term leadership role? — but there are very real effects coming from this move. It’s going to be a big test for Alex Cora to see how he handles the fallout.
- Strictly from an on-the-field perspective, this move sadly makes sense. As much as I love Ramirez and want him to still be on the roster, he hadn’t really been pulling his weight. The hot stretch to start the season was great, but he’d cooled off considerably over the last month or so. Combine that with some bad defense and you have a maybe-replacement-level player. I still think there’s a better bat in there than he’s shown of late, but it’s understandable for someone to think otherwise. When you also factor in that he was easily on pace to trigger his $22 million vesting option, it’s not too hard to see the rationale behind this decision.
- Speaking of the vesting option, that certainly played a big role in all of this. With the way Ramirez had been playing it’s obvious that Boston was going to do everything in its power to prevent that from vesting. If he was still on the roster, that would have meant sitting him a lot more than playing him. The Red Sox very well could have anticipated that being a problem — either via a grievance from the union or just an angry Hanley in the clubhouse — and could have decided that just ripping off the bandaid now would be the right decision in the long run.
- I think perhaps the most interesting part of this is the dynamic between Cora and Dave Dombrowski. There’s been a lot of speculation that this was Dombrowski not trusting Cora to sit Ramirez enough in order to prevent the option from vesting and taking the decision out of his manager’s hands. It’s a theory that makes sense, but it’s important to note that we don’t have any indication this is the case. As some commenters have pointed out, it’s just as possible that both the coaching staff and the front office decided to give Ramirez a week or two or however long to get back onto a hot streak in anticipation for this kind of move. That could be why Ramirez was still hitting in the middle of the lineup every day despite his clearly lackluster performance at the plate. I have no idea which of these theories is correct, or if it’s something else entirely, but this is a part of the story we should be keeping an eye on.
- As for what happens to Ramirez from here, I’m not sure this ends with anything other than a release. The team is off the hook for the vesting option no matter what, but if anyone trades for him or simply claims him off waivers, they’ll be on the hook for that option. I can’t imagine any team wants that. Even if Boston eats a good portion (or all) of this year’s money, next year is still a major concern for anyone acquiring him. It’s not impossible for something to be worked out, of course, but I’d imagine something else of value will have to be attached to Ramirez, and I’m not sure that kind of move makes sense for the Red Sox. My official prediction is that he’ll be released and then signed by the Rockies.
I may update this if something else comes to mind, but for now this is all I’ve got. I’m still in shock.