We’re almost three weeks into the Major League Baseball season, and the Boston Red Sox are one of the top teams in the AL East.
Sure, nobody is running away with the division this early on in a 162-game season, and we’re still trying to figure out exactly what this Red Sox team is all about. But one thing I no longer want to hear about is Hanley Ramirez’s defense.
For a team that entered this recent six-game road trip — which began on Tuesday night in Tampa Bay — as the first-place team in the AL East, there have been a surplus of complaints throughout New England as to how the Red Sox are winning games.
The rotation has struggled, and while it may look like the offense is putting up a ton of runs, it’s received a whole lot of help from some terrible defense on the other end.
And then you have Ramirez. Infielder turned left fielder. Signed a four-year, $88 million deal with Boston at the end of November. He turned 31 in December. He is the Red Sox' clean-up hitter, with a team-leading five home runs and 12 RBI, entering Thursday night’s showdown at The Trop, which happens to be his regularly-scheduled day-off.
But Ramirez’s defense is the thing that has many people’s attention. There’s good reason for it, of course. Because, well, it’s not great.
That said, I have a problem with the timing of these specific complaints. Did you enter the season thinking Ramirez was going to win a Gold Glove in left field? And if you thought his defense would eventually improve, are you really surprised that he’s struggled the first three weeks of season, especially when it comes to dealing with the Green Monster?
If you answered “yes” to either of those two questions, then you’re living in a dream world. The truth is, Ramirez’s defensive issues, as he moves from the infield to the outfield, are no surprise at all. Not even to the Red Sox. This isn’t an “elephant in the room” situation. The problems you’ve seen here in April were very much expected. But it’s a sacrifice you make to improve an offense that struggled to drive in runs the year before.
At the plate, Ramirez is always a threat. Like every big-league slugger, he’ll get hot, and he’ll get cold. But there won’t be a night where I won’t want him in my lineup taking hacks and losing his helmet in the process. Even if it means some shaky defense in left field.
It’s the risk that you take to improve an offense that needed a whole lot of improvement, with a pitching staff that is going to let up runs.
Complaints about Ramirez’s defense are and will be complaints about something that we’ve known since the Red Sox signed him in November. And when it’s all said and done, the good will outweigh the bad.
So if Ramirez’s defense is something you plan on complaining about all season long, to be quite honest, you’re wasting your time.
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