2009 Offseason: Sox inquired on Hanley Ramirez

It has been reported that after losing out on Mark Teixeira, the Red Sox brass contacted the Florida Marlins to see what they might accept for Hanley Ramirez. Yeah, that Hanley; the same one we sent to Florida from Boston as part of an exchange for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. I’m sure the Marlins asked for the moon and then some (the rumor is that they included Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz at the least), and the talks were quickly scuttled.

At the time of the trade, Ramirez was a top shortstop prospect. Everyone knew he had all the talent in the world, but his production in the minor leagues was merely good, not stellar (.297/.350/.430 over seasons). Since that time, he’s gone on to superstardom in the NL, averaging almost 30 HR and 50 SB in three seasons. Talk about seller’s remorse.

I am encouraged that the Sox are exploring ways to buff up this lineup a little bit; we could be sorely lacking in power if Mike Lowell and David Ortiz slip more than expected. Would it be great to add a bat like Ramirez to this lineup? You bet. But again, the question is, at what cost? Heyman and Verducci speculate that the Sox intended to move him to centerfield, but I really don’t think so. Ellsbury has already established himself as a pretty good defender (+17.5 UZR in 2008, +3.0 UZR in center, despite missing time with a wrist injury and splitting time with Coco Crisp), and he’s improving. While Hanley has the speed and athleticism needed for the position, he has appeared in exactly zero professional games as a centerfielder (including the minors). So you lose a good amount of the benefit provided by Ramirez’ bat because of his defense in center.

Hanley’s been one of the worst fielding shortstops over the past three years (-40 according to Dewan’s Fielding Bible), but he was actually almost average in 2008; given that improvement, he’s most valuable to the Sox at shortstop. Lowrie has played well there, but he’s a contact hitter more suited to a reserve role with Boston, and that upgrade is a lot better than supplanting Ellsbury in center. Trading for Hanley would mean trading for or signing a centerfielder.

This is all kind of moot now, but had the Marlins been willing to do the trade for, a package centered around Buchholz, Lowrie and Michael Bowden, I’d have done it.


7 Responses to 2009 Offseason: Sox inquired on Hanley Ramirez

  1. Pat says:

    I’m curious about how you’d give up Buchholz and Bowden for Han Ram, but were against getting Tex for more money, but no prospects. To me, that would put us in a deeper hole in the near future than the Teixiera signing would’ve.

    At first I thought I would trade Ellsbury and Buchholz for Hanley in a second, but you brought up a good point about Ellsbury’s defense. He’s more valuable than his slash stats would suggest.

    Should the Sox wait until the trade dead line to asses their offensive needs (bench and catcher aside)?

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    Hi Pat, a lot of good questions, as usual. Here’s a summary of why Hanley is okay with me but Tex is not.

    -plays a premium defensive position (very tough to fill)
    -just signed a 6yr, $70M extension (shorter term, less $)
    -younger than Tex, and probably a better hitter
    -improvement over Lowrie is MUCH more than Tex over Lowell

    I don’t want to deal those guys for sure, but Ramirez would actually be worth it, IMHO. Going this route would mean we’d have to extend Josh Beckett and probably sign a big free agent pitcher next year.

    As to whether the Sox should wait to address the offense, I think the market will help dictate that. Looking over the numbers, I do think we need some more power insurance. If there isn’t a bat out there who is a good fit, Theo will not pull the trigger now. However, waiting puts us in a risky position, because should we need a big bat, it will cost us dearly in July. As to whether we should move now, it comes down to specific players for me. Are we talking someone like Dunn or Burrell? Who did you have in mind?

  3. Pat says:

    Looking at the contract Burrell just got, I wonder if it would be worth picking up Dunn as a very expensive reserve. Thanks to Youkilis, we could have Dunn replace Lowell in the lineup at first, or Youk. If Bay could scoot over to RF or CF, I think this would be a great pickup (even if our pitchers didn’t like it). It doesn’t seem like Bay has ever played anything but Left, though.

    He would be like Sean Casey was last year. If we wanted another Sean Casey, we could always pick up Frank Thomas.

    I’d be pleased with Willy Aybar. Has Cora resigned?

  4. redsoxtalk says:

    The Rays got a pretty good deal with Burrell. He’s a strikeout machine, but he’s got good power and very good OBP skills. He will make the Rays much better in 2009; they struggled a lot against left-handed pitching last year, and he’s a career .276/.410/.540 hitter against LHP. Gotta hand it to Andrew Friedman for a job well done.

    The most plausible scenario for signing Dunn would be to play him at 1B and slide Youkilis over to third; Bay can not cover center, and neither can Drew, despite what some people say. If either corner OF goes down for any long period of time, Dunn could play in left. It’s tempting, because he has a high OBP and 40 HR power, and he won’t cost a draft pick this year. One minus, however, he’s a lefty bat, and we are really hoping for a right-handed masher.

    I’d be in favor of Dunn only if Lowell can’t return or the injury to Papi is worse than we thought, but I don’t relish the idea of playing him in left or even at first. My guess is if he hangs around long enough and his price drops below a certain level, Theo would be interested.

    The Red Sox are waiting to see what/if anything happens with the Lowrie/Lugo situation before talking to Alex Cora. Either player is a better backup, but one of them could still be moved for a catcher or a hitter.

    Willy Aybar is a good player, and would be a great fit, but is still under Tampa Bay’s control, isn’t he? He has very little ML service time.

  5. Pat says:

    SI has a rumor the Yankees might want to trade Swisher already.

    When’s the last time the Sox traded with the Yankees? He seems like an ideal bench player, who would get a lot of playing time thanks to his versatility.

    I don’t see it happening, but it would be amazing.

  6. redsoxtalk says:

    Yeah, there’s been talk about the Yankees sending Swish somewhere. They’d rather move Matsui or Damon, but most teams are interested in the cheaper Swisher and Nady. There’s a lot of interest in Swisher as a bounceback candidate for 2009 by small and mid-market teams, enough so that someone will pay more to make him a starter than we will to make him a reserve.

    If the Sox trade with the Yankees, I’ll seriously have a heart attack.

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