What to Do With Hanley Ramirez?

 

The Florida Marlins have had an interesting season to say the least.

They started off on fire, their coach Edwin Rodriguez receiving early season support as a Manager of the Year candidate.  The club was leading or in competition for the top spot in the NL East.  The young players were clicking and it seemed like 2011 would be a bright one for the Fish.

Fast forward to June, and this team looks like a totally different bunch.  After losing 18 of 19 games and 10 in a row, the Marlins accepted the resignation of the previously praised Rodriguez.  Florida now resides in the basement of the NL East, currently sporting a record of 33-42.

The amazing octogenarian Jack McKeon is back in action with the Marlins as the team’s interim manager.  His first move of note with the club was to bench franchise player Hanley Ramirez.

However, the ripping did not stop with the manager, as teammate Logan Morrison told Han Ram how he really felt before Monday’s contest against the Angels.

Ramirez strolled into the clubhouse about a half hour before the team was set to begin stretching.  This apparently was not early enough for Morrison, who got at Hanley and explained to him that perhaps the shortstop’s constant tardiness has affected his play this season.

All of this as well as Hanley’s well known lackadaisical attitude has many around the league wondering if the Marlins wouldn’t be better served trading their superstar.

Buster Olney reported that these thoughts are apparently creeping into the minds of members of the Marlins organization.

“There is sentiment within FLA organization that Marlins would be better off trading Hanley Ramirez—but also perception that Loria loves him,” Olney tweeted Wednesday.

Olney has gone on to say that those around the league are not nearly as high on the slugger as they were in the past.  There are still the questions surrounding his attitude, but now his size is also becoming an issue.  Some don’t believe he will be able to remain a shortstop as he continues to fill out his frame.

So the question that is left to be asked is what should the Marlins do with Ramirez?

Before we go any farther, I’ll point out that they’re not going to be doing anything other than trotting him out as their everyday shortstop anytime soon.

The 27 year old has had a very un-Ramirez-like season so far.  In 2011 he’s only been able to put together a line of .211/.304/.301 to go along with his 4 measly long balls and 19 RBIs.

There’s no way the club will look to move Ramirez until he returns to the player everyone knows and expects him to be.

But what if he starts taking off under McKeon and finishes the year on fire?  Well then the Marlins may have a decision to make.

As we all know Florida has a reputation of trading stars before it has to pay the money required to retain them.

Just this past offseason the club sent second baseman Dan Uggla to the Braves.  Uggla averaged just over 30 home runs and 90 RBIs per year over his five seasons with the Marlins.

Then there was 2007 when the team decided to ship two youngsters over to the Detroit Tigers for a boatload of prospects.  Dontrelle Willis was a previous 22 game winner for Florida and Miguel Cabrera was and continues to be one of the best hitters in the league, but there was no room on the Marlins’ payroll for either.

Finally we’ll go back to the offseason of 2005.  The Marlins sent blossoming ace Josh Beckett to the Red Sox along with Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota.

Up to that point, Beckett had maintained an ERA south of 4 as a member of the Marlins starting rotation.  In 2005 the 25 year old won 15 games for the club, holding an impressive WHIP of 1.181 to go with his 3.38 ERA.

Once again the club foresaw a player’s price tag growing beyond their financial range, and decided to trade him for prospects.  It turns out the Marlins did pretty alright in the exchange, as they were able to pick up current starter Anibal Sanchez as well as, you guessed it, Hanley Ramirez.

So the club has certainly set a precedence in this area.  As maddening as it must be to fans, they haven’t done an awful job.  In waiting until the offseason to make the moves, the Marlins have gotten solid return for their pieces.  I know Maybin and Miller didn’t exactly pan out, but at the time that was considered a solid haul for Willis and Cabrera.  They obviously scored on the Beckett trade.

My only question becomes, when does this cycle stop?  Are Ramirez and Josh Johnson just the next Cabrera and Beckett?  When do the Marlins begin locking players up and keeping them through their prime years? 

The team at least started the process with Ramirez, singing him to a 6 year $70 million deal back in 2009.  All that is left to be seen is if he will actually spend the life of that contract in a Marlins’ uniform.

As far as trading or keeping Ramirez goes, I can understand both sides of the debate.

Hanley has held a career line of .306/.380/.506.  He’s a 27 year old who is approaching 1000 career hits.  He’s shown the ability to put up 30 homers and steal 50 bases in a season.  He plays a position that is pivotal and where his usual offensive production is second to none.

Ok, but what if you think he’s getting a little too large for that pivotal position?  People’s concerns about what Ramirez is working with above the shoulders is well documented, and he’s had his issues with teammates.  He hasn’t been able to hit more than 24 home runs since 2008, and you could argue that his speedster days are well behind him.  And then of course there is his sad showing so far in 2011.

It is yet to be seen what the club does with the prized commodities they have in Ramirez and Josh Johnson.

No one argues that the Marlins have an ability to produce talent at the major league level, and it’s hard to argue with two World Series Championships in 15 seasons.

But, the club hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2003 and people just wonder when they are going to open up their wallets a little bit and become more than simply a feeder team for contenders.

Topics: Andrew Miller, Anibal Sanchez, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Cameron Maybin, Dan Uggla, Detroit Tigers, Dontrelle Willis, Florida Marlins, Guilermo Mota, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Beckett, Josh Johnson, Logan Morrison, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Lowell

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