Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hanley bolts for Beantown

The Hanley Ramirez era in Los Angeles is officially over.

Wanting a big money contract that the Dodgers were not willing to offer, Hanley has signed a four-year, $88 million deal with the Red Sox, going back to the original team he made his professional debut with in 2005.

For the Dodgers, it's an obvious blow to the offense, as it will be hard to replace the damage he can cause at the plate.

As for his defense and health?  Well, his departure equals an immediate upgrade, quite frankly.

This is no knock on Hanley, who came over to the Dodgers in 2012, then put together a fantastic 2013 campaign by hitting .345 with 20 homers and 57 RBIs.  Had he not been beaned in the ribs by the Cardinals' Joe Kelly in Game 1 of that season's NLCS, then it may have been the Dodgers who advanced to play the Red Sox in the World Series.

The problem?  He got those numbers in only 86 games, as the injury bug just never seemed to leave him.  This past season he played in 128 games, but his numbers dipped to .287/13/71.  His Defensive Wins Above Replacement (DWAR) also went down from 0.7 to -0.6.

Simply put, he's a much better fit for the American League at this point.  The Red Sox can keep his bat in the lineup at DH when he's banged up.  Well, that may be tough with David Ortiz there, but perhaps they would be more comfortable giving Big Papi more rest with a lefty on the mound.  Already, Hanley has been introduced as the team's new left fielder, which makes sense.

Ken Gurnick over at Dodgers.com takes a look at potential replacements for Hanley, albeit short-term ones.  Right now on the roster there's Justin Turner, Miguel Rojas, and Erisbel Arruebarrena, who are hardly considered the future.  The guy who gets that distinction is Corey Seager, who might not be quite ready for the everyday role yet.

There's also free agents such as Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew, and trade possibilities like Jimmy Rollins and Alexei Ramierz.  We shall see.

In the meantime, I truly believe Dodger fans should be grateful towards Hanley and all he brought to the table for a little over two seasons.  Yes, I know it was frustrating watching him miss so much time to injuries, and his defense left something to be desired of late.  But, when everything was clicking and he felt right, he was a lot of fun to watch.  The ball would jump off of his bat, which was a beautiful sight.

And THAT'S what I'll remember most about him.

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