A lot of player movement is sure to take place between now and July 31, but it’s hard to imagine a bigger offensive name being moved than Hanley Ramirez. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled the trigger on a trade for Ramirez early Wednesday morning.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 25, 2012
Where Hanley will bat is unknown. It’s also unknown whether Ramirez will play third or short, but this has potential to be an incredible move for Hanley and his fantasy owners. At the very least, there is no reason to believe it will be a bad move. But let’s take a look at the comparisons.
National League East vs. National League West
These are two of the better pitching divisions in baseball. Both do feature hitter friendly parks, but the majority of them are at least neutral, if not flat out pitcher’s parks. The east has pitchers like R.A. Dickey, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels (for now), and Gio Gonzalez, while the west features Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner, and pitcher’s parks such as Petco Park, AT&T Park, and Dodger Stadium. For now, the East is probably the better pitching division, but if Tim Lincecum continues his upward swing of the second half and the Diamondbacks pitchers show their 2011 form, this is a wash.
As it is, it’s not a bad trade for Hanley’s stats. The NL East is one of the only divisions in baseball with pitching comparable to the NL West.
Marlins Park vs. Dodger Stadium
Neither are extremely hitter friendly. Miami has been a pitcher’s park for its first year, while Dodger Stadium has been pitcher friendly for the last 50. Still, it’s always been a lot more fair to right handed hitters.
The loss for Hanley is that the gaps in Los Angeles aren’t quite as big (though they’re not small). So, he may lose some extra base hits, but he’ll pick up a few extra homers.
We don’t exactly know where Hanley will bat in the lineup, but the second spot makes a lot of sense. Splitting up the righties and lefties, a lineup of Ramirez in the two hole, followed by Andre Ethier, and then Matt Kemp makes a lot of sense. All three have historically dealt with injury issues but when they’re in the lineup together, that’s a magic trio.
Change of Scenery
Hanley has floundered in Miami for a good amount of his career. He’s been very good, but never quite reached that full potential. Now, for the first time in his career, Hanley’s team will be involved in a real playoff race. The Dodgers currently trail the Giants by a very manageable 2.5 games in the NL West race, while they are only a half game out of the National League’s second Wild Card spot.
When an immensely talented player has been a little disappointing in one place or worn out his welcome, a change of scenery often makes all the difference, at least in the short term. If you’re looking for a relatively recent example, look at Manny Ramirez in 2008. His brilliant Red Sox career ended ugly, he got traded to Los Angeles, and took off. Eventually, he wore out his welcome in Los Angeles too, but he was fantastic in 2008. If he can stay healthy, look for similar success from Hanley for at least the rest of 2012.