Trading Hanley Ramirez

We all knew this day was coming. There was a notion that maybe this time it would be different; maybe with the new stadium in place the Marlins could afford to keep Hanley Ramirez and his rising salary. But even with that in mind his eventual trade seemed inevitable. It would be a tough sell, of course, as it is any time a team trades its franchise player. The current circumstances might make it a bit easier.

The Marlins struggles lately are well documented. After a hot start that had them 10 games over .500 in late May, they’ve dropped 22 of their last 26 and currently sit in the NL East cellar. Things can only get better, but so much has gone wrong this season that it’s unreasonable to expect a full return to their early season performance. The team’s failures, combined with Ramirez’s own struggles, could make it easier for the Marlins to part ways with him and the remainder of his contract. It might not happen at the deadline, but it certainly could happen following this season.

Buster Olney got the conversation started this morning with this tweet.

Jeffrey Loria might love Ramirez, but he also loves not paying players a lot of money. Never in his tenure as Marlins owner has he paid a player $15 million, which is what Ramirez will earn next year. (He had signed Carlos Delgado to a contract that would exceed that milestone in its final year, but then traded him after the first year.) With $45.75 million already committed to five players in 2012, and with a number of players in arbitration, the Marlins very well could trade one of their higher priced players. As the highest priced one coming off what will almost certainly end with numbers below his established norms, Ramirez stands the best chance of having a new home in April, 2012.

Let’s ignore for a second the question of whether the Marlins should trade Hanley. Given ownership’s track record, the question is largely moot. They have their own manner of operating, and unless the new stadium drastically alters it, signs point to them at least considering a Ramirez trade. If they were to put him on the market, they would certainly attract suitors. But what could they get in return?

The first issue affecting a trade is Ramirez’s position. He has a career -9.1 UZR/150 at shortstop, and other defensive metrics rate him around the same level of futility. As Olney later tweeted, other teams believe that “Hanley is too big now to be [an] effective shortstop.” Of course, they could be saying that with the intent of driving down his price, but given his poor defensive marks the sentiment does make sense.

Unless he can handle center field, that might be another reason for the Marlins to explore a trade. They have an up and comer in Matt Dominguez slated for third base, and then have young budding stars Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton in the corner outfield positions. Ramirez’s bat, at least at its peak, will play anywhere, so finding a team with a need at either third base or left field shouldn’t be much of an issue.

The second issue is his performance relative to his contract. From 2012 through 2014 the Marlins owe Ramirez $46.5 million. That wouldn’t be a problem under normal circumstances, even if he moved off shortstop. Under the current circumstances, though, he’s not quite as valuable as when the Marlins signed him to an extension. After establishing himself as a .400+ wOBA player from 2007 through 2009, he dropped to .373 last year before completely falling off the cliff this year. There is time to recover, but even if he does his overall numbers will look poor in comparison to the standard he set.

A trade, then, would amount to a bet by the acquiring team that Ramirez will return to form and provide elite numbers in the middle of the order. What would they be willing to surrender for that? Chances are it will be something less than what the Tigers trade for Miguel Cabrera, which amounted to their two top prospects. Two top-ten prospects would surely be included, and there could be a third. Even while teams are coveting their prospects more than in the past, it’s hard to see any team holding back on a trade that could net them a player such as Ramirez.

The entire idea of trading Ramirez is premised on his return to form this season. If he goes on to produce a .400 wOBA from now through September, chances are he’ll have suitors lining up. If he doesn’t, the Marlins are in a tough position. Would they accept a smaller package of players in order to dump Ramirez’s salary? That’s not an easy question to answer in any case, but the alternative is to continue paying him $15 million per season for production that might not reach that level. At this point we can still expect a return to form by Hanley. Unfortunately, those expectations are lowered if he continues producing at a level below the baseline he set.

This is a question we likely won’t have to revisit until the off-season. Given Ramirez’s performance so far this year, combined with with his relatively poor 2010, plus his positional challenges, chances are teams won’t be knocking on the Marlins door in July. After the season, though, there is a good chance that the Marlins listen to offers, even if Ramirez doesn’t return to form. Given the way the Marlins operate, and given the list of teams that would like to add Hanley, even at a left fielder, it could make for one of the better off-season story lines.




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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.


88 Responses to “Trading Hanley Ramirez”

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  1. Ted says:

    Matt Dominguez is a potential gold glove third baseman, not a first baseman.

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  2. STEALTH says:

    Brewers could use a good third baseman… but Hanley is an obvious non-fit. Unfortunately.

    What teams have been discussed? Wright and Hanley could both be available. The Mariners need a bat, especially at 3B, but would they pay up? Philly could use an upgrade at the hot corner, but they’ve already wasted so much money on Howard. Chipper is nearly finished in Atlanta, LA and LA could use upgrades, though the Dodgers have no money. Oakland?

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    • Jason B says:

      You would think they would at least give Gamel one more look. Not that it’s directly equivalent to the bigs, but he’s raking pretty well in AAA right now. Too much potential just to let him languish in AAA forever, or trade him for 30 cents on the dollar only to watch him blossom somewhere else. Granted, they’re in “win now” mode, but with the way McGehee is playing they wouldn’t lose much of anything letting him audition now…

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    • JohnnyComeLately says:

      Plus the Brewers farm system is pretty barren.

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  3. William says:

    Red Sox? They could put him at ss and trade jose iglesias and felix doubrount.

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    • Jon says:

      wow jose iglesias AND felix doubrount? i think the marlins would have to pick up ALL of hanleys salary for those two studs

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      • Telo says:

        Pretty sure Iglesias is a no-hit/slick fielder, not exactly a stud. And Doubrount is a great prospect, but by no means a guaranteed #3 starter, which is probably his ceiling. And when we are talking about the best/second best SS in the game… I think I would make that deal in a second if I was the Red Sox (assuming there was a deal in place to lock him up long term). That is, if I didn’t have Lowrie, who by no means is as good as HanRam, but with his declining defense, and no room to slide him to 3rd, HanRam doesn’t really fit the Sox’s need.

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      • Telo says:

        And the Marlins “picking up salary” is the opposite of their entire club philosophy.

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      • Scott says:

        and I’m pretty sure that was blatant sarcasm…

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      • Telo says:

        whooops

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      • Colin says:

        I don’t think the Red Sox will be trading a stud like Iglesias anytime soon. The Marlins would have to pony up Johnson to even interest the Sox.

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  4. Jon says:

    a career -9.1 UZR/150 at shortstop? sounds like the perfect replacement for jeter

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  5. Max says:

    I’d love to see the Twins make a go at him, but with that Mauer albatross and their dearth of viable prospects to trade, I don’t see it happening.

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  6. Beau says:

    Too bad Youk can’t play SS ;)

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  7. Brian says:

    If the Yankees didn’t just foolishly give Jeter 4 years, a Montero-based package would have been good for both sides, assuming the Marlins thought he could play catcher.

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  8. Spencer says:

    An Angels package including anyone not named Trout could work for both sides. Angels can afford it with money coming off the books and could use the offense, assuming this is a down year for Hankey and not the future Hanley.

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  9. Steve says:

    Does anyone have any idea why Ramirez is struggling? Is there any chance that he peaked early and is now in his decline phase? Nomar had injuries but his last big year was really at age 29.

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    • Bobby Z. says:

      I read something recently at THT that suggested that opposing pitchers may have started adjusting to him by pounding the outside corner (which seems to induces a lot of groundballs). He also plays around with his batting stance and doesn’t seem comfortable this season. He is 27 and shouldn’t be playing like a 35 year old. I guess we’ll have to see how this season plays out

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      • kick me in the GO NATS says:

        Please, I know he is Hispanic, but I I would like to thank everyone here for not suggesting that he might in reality be 35. This country has had far to many stupid birth certificate controversies this year

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    • JohnnyComeLately says:

      He’s been having back issues too I believe

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    • NEPP says:

      He’s had back and shoulder injuries this year that he’s tried to play through.

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    • BoSoxFanA says:

      He is not exactly Nomar, whose value was 100% in bat speed and once he hurt his wrist in 01 he was doomed.

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  10. hippo says:

    Cubs. Aramis is done after this year and they don’t really have another viable option for 3B. They could trade for Hanley, sign Pujols, and still be under this year’s salary. That’d be fun.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Who could the Cubs send to Florida?

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      • prospectslol says:

        I would think the Cubs would look to deal players like C-Welington Castillo, SS-Junior Lake & 3B-Josh Vitters, who are having good years, but they are (would be) blocked. They could include a solid mid-level pitching prospect like a Jay Jackson.

        I know the Marlins have Dominguez for 3B, but Vitters can move to first, if the Marlins don’t want to pay Gaby Sanchez.

        I doubt the Cubs would trade any of their best prospects Brett Jackson, McNutt, or Szczur…. and they 100% won’t give up Castro for him, so you crazy Marlins fans, all 2 of you, don’t even ask.

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    • North Sider says:

      Josh Vitters is the future at 3B for the Cubbies. Forget trading even more farm for overrated veterans.

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    • baty says:

      Although, if 8 years from now Hanley does prove to finish the second half of his career overpaid, unruly, and broken down, I would totally expect that time to be spent with Jim Hendry.

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      • North Sider says:

        Maybe so but Hendry will be ruining some other team, and that day is coming fast. Someone is going to take the fall for the current situation in Wrigleyville and it’s not going to be Tom Ricketts.

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    • jim says:

      if you mean that it would be fun to watch albert and hanley hit back-to-back after castro and byrd, play half their games in wrigley, and play for a team that would find some way to still blow, then yeah, it’d be a blast

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  11. Joel says:

    How about Cincinnati? They could use a significant upgrade at SS, and could send someone like Billy Hamilton in return.

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    • Boxkutter says:

      The Reds have an in-house option already with Cozart (who needs to just be called up already). He is raking in AAA now with a 320/362/498 line and 7 homers and 8 stolen bags. He is repeating AAA, but I don’t think it is really his fault. He was decent there last season with a 255/310/416 line (17 HR and 30 SB). All while playing average to plus defense according to scouts.

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  12. Phantom Stranger says:

    His bat will come back, but his defense is really as bad as the metrics say. He needs to be moved to 3rd immediately if a team was going to trade for him.

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  13. Grant says:

    Red Sox should trade the farm for him and go all-in for 2011. Iglesias, Kalish, Britton, Doubront, and Middlebrooks would have to get the Marlins talking.

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    • That’s just about everyone decent in the organization. You can’t make a trade like that AND take on $46 million in salary obligations. As was noted earlier the Marlins aren’t going to pick up any money on the deal. That’s not the way the do business, so the return they’d get in any Ramirez deal would be lower than the top three prospects in a team’s system, plus two others.

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    • jim says:

      right after they traded rizzo, kelly, and some sam adams for a-gone? keep dreaming….

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    • bernie says:

      Red Sox got rid of Hanley at a time when they had no short stop – there is something they don’t like (defense, attitude,…?). They will not go for him.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        Are you an idiot? They didn’t trade him to get rid of him. They traded him to acquire a young stud in Beckett. Nobody knew Hanley would turn into the beast of a hitter that he became.

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  14. gnomez says:

    How about St. Louis? A random pickup from the Frontier League would at least feel like an improvement over Theriot.

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  15. Mike M. says:

    I doubt the Red Sox are that interested in getting Hanley Ramirez to play short stop. His bat is obviously attractive, but his defense is just so bad at short. Since 2006, he’s had the second worst UZR among qualified short stops (only Betancourt is worse) and is dead last in UZR/150.

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  16. vivalajeter says:

    Why not have a three team blockbuster? Marlins send Ramirez to the Mets. Mets send Reyes to a playoff contender who needs a SS. Playoff contender sends top prospects and Mets send decent prospect to Marlins.

    Marlins get cheap labor. Mets get a replacement for Reyes without fan outrage. Playoff contender gets this year’s best SS.

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    • manuscript says:

      how does it make sense that a playoff contender send top prospects for half a season of reyes and the marlins would be expected to accept decent prospects for a few seasons or hanley (who is quite likely to exceed his salaried value)?

      just because the marlins failed with their uggla deal, doesn’t mean that they should or will be selling low on hanley. the franchise has made a career of developing young talent via the draft and trades and if they deal hanley, that will be the goal again.

      i do kind of like this idea with 3 teams and reyes involved, but i don’t see it playing out quite the way you described.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        manuscript, to clarify, the playoff contender would be sending top prospects to the marlins, not the mets.

        Mets: Give up Reyes and decent prospects, get Hanley.
        Marlins: Give up Hanley, get top prospects (from contender) and decent prospects (from Mets)
        Contender: Give up top prospects, get Reyes.

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  17. baty says:

    He doesn’t have a no trade clause, right?

    Although, Florida always seems to like prospects with MLB experience and/or guys that can slip into their lineup rather quickly…

    Braves
    Cardinals
    Blue Jays
    Reds
    Nationals
    Giants

    Indians, White Sox, Royals even?

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    • kick me in the GO NATS says:

      Nats don’t need him. Our SS has a better glove, provides positive WAR, is younger and has lots of upside still. I wouldn’t trade prospects to replace Desmond with Hanly. Desmond is having a better year in 2011 so far. Our 3B is one of the best in the game. Our 2b is an up and coming star who should be in the all star game this year as rookie. 1b looks fine right now. Harper takes over LF in 2012. Werth is in right and not going anywhere. So unless Ramirez can play CF or pitch we are set.

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      • Travis says:

        Desmond is going to struggle to get on base 30% of the time in his career. You are severely overrating him. The smart move would be to move Espinosa to SS and pick up HanRam to play him at 2B.

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      • baty says:

        I imagine Desmond could be an adequate cheap fix for Florida for a few years. I’m not saying they should trade for Hanley, but if and when he does recover, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nats got involved with discussions at some point.

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  18. John says:

    to bad the yanks didnt have the intution to think of such a scenario before signing pretty boy.. id love the red sox to trade for him just to see the media backlash

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  19. Vince says:

    I know he has the reputation for being a bad club house player (going back to his days with the Red Sox org.), I wonder if he shows any signs of bouncing back he could be seen as a viable option for other teams looking to trade for Jose Reyes?

    HanRam is a year younger and wouldn’t require the huge financial commitment to retain him past 2011. Of course, this would require some offensive bounceback for the team to not sell short. I don’t know, this could be a Miggy situation all over again… trade an exciting young star fall short of value and receive next to nothing in return.

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    • manuscript says:

      “…trade an exciting young star fall short of value and receive next to nothing in return.”

      this is erroneous. when the tigers dealt miggy they got miller and maybin who were rated as top talents at the time of the deal. they didn’t work out and the marlins subsequently made a poor decision to deal maybin and thus *today* it appears that they got nothing in return. wasn’t there a recent fangraphs post about this?

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  20. Bill says:

    “I doubt the Red Sox are that interested in getting Hanley Ramirez to play short stop. His bat is obviously attractive, but his defense is just so bad at short. Since 2006, he’s had the second worst UZR among qualified short stops (only Betancourt is worse) and is dead last in UZR/150.”

    They can live with it for two months plus the playoffs. Then next year they shift him to third and Youk becomes the DH. Sox should be all over this.

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  21. Justin says:

    This has “Alex Anthopolous Rape Fest” written all over it.

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    • J0EYWALNUTS says:

      Hanley can probably play 2nd. They’ve got Lawrie at 3rd long term and they have tons of depth in the corner OF spots (Snider, Thames, Bautista, possibly Loewen). Hill is likely on his way out.

      Something based around McGuire, Drabek, or Gose and I’m cool. Throw in Hech as a 3rd or 4th piece to sweeten the pot.

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    • everdiso says:

      I have to agree. This is like the Escobar situation times 10.

      The Jays have the prospects, they have the payroll space, they have the position open for him (2B), and they have a GM who’s shown a burning desire to add elite talent whenever possible, and the ability to do it.

      2-3 of Drabek/McGuire/Cecil/Stewart/Snider/Arencibia/D’Arnaud/Gose/Thames could get that deal done pretty quick, if AA likes Hanley.

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  22. Colin says:

    Tigers, need a 3b badly, have history trading with the Marlins, have a decent enough farm to find a workable package, it could happen.

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  23. cs3 says:

    Surprised nobody has mentioned the Giants. They are the one contending team with the biggest need for an offensive minded SS and if Reyes doesn’t fins his way over to SF, then Hanley would be a perfect fit. They desperately need a scoring boost and a legit middle of the order threat.

    He may not be as good defensively as Brandon Crawford, but his bat is infinitely better. And hes obviously a huge upgrade all around over Tejada.
    And he would only have to remain at SS through 2012 at most. After that point Huff will be off the books, Pablo can move to 1B, and Hanley can take over 3B.
    (Or even LF depending on the roster makeup at that point)
    Its possible he could even move off SS beginning next year… if Huff continues to struggle and theyre willing to pay him11 million to be a part time player at 1B/OF.

    The contract should be of no concern, as the Giants are coming off a WS championship and should make every effort to improve while they have an elite starting staff and bullpen. Also the contract was generally viewed as a pretty good bargain before this season.

    The only question is, what would the Marlins accept as a worthwile package?
    Would Crawford + Belt get it done?
    Crawford + Wheeler?
    either of the above with another lower level prospect or 2 thrown in?
    Or perhaps something like Jonathan Sanchez + Belt?

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    • SFan says:

      this has been a hot topic among Giants fans. Should we trade away top prospects (Belt, Wheeler, Surkamp, Brown, Neal, etc) for a SS or catching help to win now?

      No. We just won the World Series, and will have our pitching intact for 2012 and beyond. Our star core of Posey, Sandoval, Bumgarner and Belt (who will live up to his hype) aren’t even in arb years yet. The team is flowing in cash with a $120MM+ payroll, meaning we should see Timmeh and Cain re-up for 5 year deals… the only piece of the team I’d be trading is Jonathan Sanchez. He’s a headcase, only good for 5-6 innings. Best stuff on the team, maybe, but absolutely no control. He should go to a desperate-for-pitching contender for the best ML-ready 5 tool talent they can get.

      Long story short, the Giants just won the WS, have the best top to bottom pitching staff in baseball (with the emergence of Vogelsong pushing them over the Phillies) locked up for years to come. They have a strong young positional core with very able veterans manning the other few spots.

      It sure doesn’t look like it right now because of all the injuries, but this is a complete team when healthy, and I doubt we’ve seen the best ball this current crop of SF Giants has to offer. Don’t panic, stand pat, ride out the year (winning the NL West in a weak division is very doable in our current position) and kick some butt in 2012 with a very strong squad. Do not trade away large future pieces for half a season of Reyes. The window just opened last year, and they’ve already won their championship- and the window will remain open for another 5+ years provided Timmeh and Cain are re-upped. The pitching staff is built, while good young players continue to rise through the minors to flood the positions. Crawford may be a slick fielding .250 hitter, but the team should be able to offset that with the offense other budding stars will provide.

      Don’t panic. If they don’t win the WS last year, I’m singing a totally different tune.

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      • nuke says:

        “Long story short, the Giants just won the WS, have the best top to bottom pitching staff in baseball (with the emergence of Vogelsong pushing them over the Phillies) locked up for years to come.”

        2011 xFIP/WAR to date for starters
        Philles 2.92/12.8
        Giants 3.59/8.7

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      • vivalajeter says:

        SF, although I agree with your overall point, there are a couple of problems:

        1) Hanley is signed for the next few seasons, so trading for him wouldn’t be just a win-now move. If you don’t want Reyes, that’s fine – but Hanley’s situation is different.

        2) Only time will tell whether Belt lives up to his hype. Baseball history is littered with prospects as good as (or better than) Belt, that haven’t become stars.

        3) There are plenty of teams (and fans) that thought they had a 5 year window, but it’s no sure thing. Will Posey be unaffected by the injury when he gets back? Will Lincecum be an ace for the next 5 years? Will Sanchez turn into Oliver Perez? Will Bumgarner keep on giving up 8 runs in 1/3 of an inning :)

        Look at the Mets situation in October 2006. They were the best team in the NL with a young core of superstars. If you ranked organizations back then, they may have been the #1 organization in the NL at that time. Here we are 5 years later, and they’re a laughing stock. They haven’t made the playoffs once since then.

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      • GiantHusker says:

        I agree with much of what SFan and viva said. However, it’s simply not true that the Giants have their starting pitching locked up for many years. Look it up.
        I, too, would rather see the Giants hold on with what they’ve got until the injured players return rather than dismantle the pitching staff.
        Shortstop may be the one exception to that statement. The Giants are so incredibly weak there, not just now, but for the forseeable future. They will have to do something, and a guy who will be a great shortstop if he returns to form and is locked up long-term at reasonable rates has to be tempting.
        I don’t like gambling on injured players nor giving up great pitching or prospects, but Hanley Ramirez is worth thinking about.

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      • SFan says:

        viva, all your points are legit too, and this is why it’s such a hot topic.

        If we’re talking about 2011, if you’re going to get a SS, you gotta get a 2B too. And if you’re getting a SS and 2B, you gotta get a catcher too.

        Our needs are so dire because of injuries, that it would take most of our prospects to field a team worthy of repeating their title.

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  24. Jdubb77 says:

    Would love to see Hanley in Toronto.

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  25. james wilson says:

    It is becoming obvious that, all talent aside, Ramirez does not have the peculiar characteristics that make a player great, much less sustain it.

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    • Jason B says:

      Yeah he has a hustle rating of -8.84 per 150 games (or -9 if the extra decimal places bother folks), a grit factor of 0.27 per 9 innings, and a sticktuitiveness that ranks dead last on his team! Possible folks that could be brought in to teach him a thing or two in these areas:

      Adam Kennedy
      Ryan Theriot
      Mark Ellis
      Mike Fontenot

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  26. Antonio Bananas says:

    I thought all that bitching about needing a new stadium was so they could get more revenue to pay players like Hanley? Or is this just another scheme like what’s going on in Pittsburgh to swindle a city into paying for a stadium that ultimately doesn’t change the success (lack of) of the team and just pads the owners’ pocket and strokes their ego?

    Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised who they trade him to. I think their priorities are dump salary first, make it look like a good move second so they can still cover their very low operating cost, and get good prospects in return third.

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  27. Eric M. Van says:

    In terms of defense, in 2007 and 2008 he was regarded as a guy with, at the least, perfectly adequate tools whose bad UZR reflected inexperience. He then proceeded to put up nicely league-average numbers for two years, and talk of his needing to move off of SS all but disappeared.

    I’ve done some work with the predictive value of small UZR samples (as low as 500 innings, IIRC) and can make a pretty good case that they are more meaningful than usually thought. So I find it far more credible that the two full seasons 2008-9 represented a real improvement, exactly as perceived at the time, and that 2010-11 represents a real decline that likely shares some causes with his hitting decline. The alternative hypothesis — that all the variation is random and that it just happens that the two lucky years match his maturation years on offense — seems unlikely.

    This suggests a physical reason for the defensive decline which, if reversed, might well allow him to stay at SS. And the notion that a guy might irrevocably outgrow SS at the age of 26 makes no sense. There’s no reason why a 28 y/o athlete can’t have the same body as at 25, given the proper training regimen.

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  28. rogue_actuary says:

    It’s probably a silly idea, but the Royals could be peaking in the next few years. None of the other teams in the Central look poised to dominate the division. If Hanley’s season fizzles out, his price will probably come down to reasonable. The problem would be a potential extension. But an offense built around Hosmer, Moustakas, Butler, Gordon, Melky Cabrera, and Hanley Ramirez could do a lot of damage in the AL Central.

    Again, Ramirez is only signed through 2014. But even if he regresses from being a 7-win player to being a 4-win player, extending him for a few years at $20+ million might work out. Especially with him coming off of a bad year. And the prospect cost will probably never get lower.

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  29. J0EYWALNUTS says:

    Hanley to Toronto is basically a sure thing.

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  30. Dave S says:

    Phillies have Raul Ibanez’s 11.5 million coming off the books at the end of the year… and need a good hitting right handed corner OF.

    Might also be useful to have around in case they can’t re-sign Rollins.

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  31. Antonio Bananas says:

    Hanley to Toronto? So, where do they move Escobar? Or is Hanley moved to third?

    I know there is a lot of Toronto love around here, but their run differential is about even. Yea yea Al East, etc, but still, that’s not THAT good of a team. If their pitching prospects don’t pan out they’re like the AL version of the 2010 Brewers.

    Toronto getting Hanley won’t put them over the hump. Some pitching would, they’re 3rd worst in Runs Against. Only teams worse are Baltimore and KC.

    Maybe I’m not giving Toronto enough credit or maybe I’m not thinking long term enough. I donno.

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