By Steve Perrault –
Say what you want about Dave Dombrowski’s top chores for this upcoming offseason, but at the very top of the list needs to be the departure of Hanley Ramirez.
Ramirez was sent to his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Monday to begin his “offseason rehab program” with his personal trainer – a questionable move to say the least considering the season was going to be over in less than a week at the time – and if all goes well this offseason, that will be the last time we call Hanley a member of the Red Sox.
Rewind to April, and Ramirez was cranking balls out of the park left and right on his way to finishing the month with 10 home runs, adding 22 RBI and making everyone put his abysmal performance in left field aside. When things are going good, everything is good in the world of Hanley Ramirez..
By the All-Star break, Ramirez was breaking down.
It became a common occurrence to see Hanley leaving games early and wincing in pain every time he had to run the bases. On multiple occasions this season, he seemed to be near passing out after trying to score from first base on a teammate’s double. This showed us that when things are going bad, everything is bad in the world of Hanley Ramirez..
In the 28 games following the Midsummer Classic, Ramirez had a .183 batting average with 0 home runs (Yes, zero) and a measly 7 RBI. The team could no longer turn a blind eye to his lackadaisical performance in left field.
Then (the apparent savior) Dave Dombrowski joined the Red Sox as the new President of Baseball Operations. Before you know it, Ben Cherington – the man responsible for the foolish idea of thinking Ramirez was ever going to work as a left fielder – is out as general manager of the team. It’s no coincidence that Dombrowki’s first noticeable move in Boston was pulling Ramirez out of left field; as if to say “In what world was that guy ever going to work as an outfielder?”
In Dombrowski’s eyes, you were going to have to pay Hanley either way. So why not give the highly touted youth of the team a chance to showcase their skills, instead of leaving Ramirez in the outfield to try and justify the signing.
We can all agree the Ramirez-playing-first-base experiment was never going to work, right? Just think about that. Like, right now, think about Hanley Ramirez trying to stretch for a wide throw at first base. Did you picture that scene going terribly wrong? Well, good, because that’s EXACTLY how Hanley would look trying to make any kind of an effort playing first. We already got to see what kind of “effort” he put into his minimal time in the outfield..
Now comes the hard part.
It’s easier said than done to try and ship a player out of town that has never had less value in his career and is currently under contract for another $66 million over the next three years, but it must be done. The Red Sox have found ways to dispose of players while eating a good chunk of their contracts in the past, so this situation shouldn’t be any different.
While we can talk all we want about how abysmal Ramirez was in left field, there’s reason to believe a MLB team would be willing to throw the Sox an offer if they think Hanley would be in a better place if all he had to worry about was hitting. The criticism of Ramirez by fans and media members all around New England HAD to have an impact on him personally – even though he remains emotionless the majority of the time – so if Hanley could just worry about being a DH, there very well may be a team out there that would take a flyer on him.
Dombrowski has already gotten to see the benefit of taking Ramirez out of left field, as the young trio of Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo have meshed into one of the best up-and-coming outfield cores in baseball. There’s still work to be done amongst the three, but, for Red Sox fans, it’s at least refreshing to know you don’t have to cringe every time a pop-up goes to left field now.
While the beginning of the Red Sox “Offseason Goals Manual” may include grabbing an ace for the rotation, or a couple arms for the bullpen, Ramirez’s departure needs to be right up there at the top.
Maybe shipping Ramirez off to Fort Lauderdale was a sign of things to come, as that could be the very last time you see Hanley as a member of the Boston Red Sox.