I’ll admit it. I was wrong about Hanley Ramirez.
Back in April, I told you not to panic. I told you that his play in left field would improve. I told you that everything would be alright. But not because I thought Ramirez was going to turn into a Gold Glove outfielder.
My intentions were to provide you with some confidence in Ramirez’ offense. Never to the point where I thought you’d be able to compare him to former Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez. But nonetheless, I tried to get you to stop complaining about Hanley's defense, because I thought his production at the plate would make you forget all about his struggles in left field.
Not so much.
His defense never improved as the season went on, to the point where the Red Sox are finally (imagine the word “finally” coming out of The Rock’s mouth) giving Ramirez some work at first base before games. This is something that’s well overdue, and when it first happened before Tuesday night’s game in Chicago, it became a much more important story than the result of the ensuing ballgame.
And rightfully so. After all, the rest of this Red Sox season is all about evaluation for 2016. Nothing more, nothing less. Who should stay, who should go, and in Ramirez’ case, who should be moved back to the infield.
Of course, this wouldn’t even be an issue had Ramirez hit the way I told you he was capable of hitting. Instead, he entered his 105th game of the season with a .251 batting average, a .293 on-base percentage, and a .431 slugging percentage. He also has 19 home runs and 53 RBI (entering Wednesday night’s game). All in all, that’s just not good enough for a guy who is a liability in left field.
So what do you do with Ramirez now? Do you commit to him at first base? Do you try to trade him this winter? Are there any other options.
Well, there’s the option of moving Ramirez to third base, a position he’s played before. That would mean you’d either be moving Pablo Sandoval to first base, or you’d be trading Sandoval.
To be clear, all options should be on the table, as long as it means getting Ramirez out of the outfield.
That’s not something I was saying back in April. But again, not because I thought Ramirez would become a great fielder at a position he never played before. I just thought he would hit, to the point where it would ease the pain of a misplayed ball.
And the more I watch him struggle at the plate — trying to do nothing but crush every pitch into the seats — the more I wonder if this is it, if this is the real Ramirez. The 32-year-old probably-should-be designated hitter who can’t even hit.
So perhaps a trade is the best option. But as long as he’s in Boston, he can no longer be in the outfield.
I’ll admit it. I was wrong about that.
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