THE GHOST OF RAMIREZ PAST
As we approach the Christmas Season, or whatever it is politically correct to call it this year, the Red Sox have been hard at work building their team with visions of another great turnaround, not Sugar Plums, dancing in their heads.
The first gift they gave their fans was Pablo Sandoval, almost a clone of David Ortiz. A smiling, gregarious, very popular infielder, with a big bat, who is expected to do great things both at the plate and in the field in the small confines of Fenway Park.
Then, just 13 years, 11 months and 6 days after signing Manny Ramirez as a Free Agent, they signed Hanley Ramirez as a Free Agent. Can Hanley Ramirez replicate the career that Manny Ramirez had in Boston after he came there from Cleveland in 2001?
Manny spent eight years with the Cleveland Indians after being drafted by them in the first round of the 1991 Draft, and hit .313 with 236 homers, 29 per year and 804 RBI’s, 100 per year, while there.
Hanley who, by the way, was originally signed by the Red Sox, made his debut with them but only batted twice before being traded to the Florida Marlins for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota on November 24, 2005.
Hanley was with the Marlins for his first full seven years, batting .300 with 148 homers, 21 per year, and 482 RBI’s, 69 per year. He was traded from the Marlins to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 25, 2012, and in the next two and a half seasons hit .299 with 43 homers and 172 RBI’s. Not exactly the type of numbers Manny put up in Cleveland.
The year before he came to Boston, Manny hit .351 with 38 homers and 112 RBI’s, playing in only 118 games. Last year, before coming to Boston, Hanley played in just 128 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers and batted .283 with 13 homers and 71 RBI’s.
Manny spent eight years in Boston, from 2001–2007. During that time, he played on the first World Championship team the Red Sox had had in 86 years and then on another in 2007. He not only played on those two Championship teams, but, in 2004, when the Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals, he hit .412 and was named the Series MVP.
In his eight years in Beantown, he averaged .312, hit 274 home runs, 34 per year, and drove in 868 runs, 108 per year. He made the All Star Team four times with Cleveland and every year he played in Boston. He won the batting title in 2002 and the home run title with 43 in 2004. Hanley has made the All Star team three times, was Rookie of the Year in 2006 and won the batting title in 2009.
Manny Ramirez and Hanley Ramirez were both born in the Dominican Republic, Manny in 1972 and Hanley in 1983. Manny made his Major League debut on September 2, 1993, at the age of 21.1 years. At the age of 21.3 years, Hanley made his debut on September 20, 2005, with the Florida Marlins.
Manny came to the Red Sox as an outfielder and played the outfield his entire career at Boston. Hanley came to Boston as a shortstop, never having played the outfield but has already been designated the Red Sox left fielder. Does anyone recall what happened to Carl Crawford’s hitting when he was asked to play left field in Fenway where the left fielder plays almost right behind the shortstop and has the Green Monster right behind him?
Manny was an exceptionally talented hitter as is Hanley but Hanley has not put up the numbers that Manny put up and probably never will. Paying him a lot of money will not necessarily make him a better hitter. That’s the mistake the Sox made with Adrian Gonzalez they expected better performance for more money. ‘You get what you pay for’ does not always apply in baseball.
The year before the Sox gave Gonzalez a huge, long term contract, he had hit .298 with 31 homers and 101 RBI’s in San Diego. His first year in Boston, he hit .338 with 27 homers and 117 RBI’s. In his second year, before he was traded to Los Angeles, he was hitting .300 with 15 homers and 86 RBI’s. He actually hit .321 overall while with the Red Sox, but how many so called experts have you heard say that he did not live up to his expectations?
More money does not necessarily translate to better performance. Hanley Ramirez is not Manny Ramirez and may not even be as proficient a hitter as Adrian Gonzalez. When he comes to Boston, he will presumably be learning a new defensive position which may have a negative effect upon his hitting.
Never the less, Hanley Ramirez is an exceptional talent who will have a positive effect upon the Red Sox ability to score runs as Manny Ramirez did and as Pablo Sandoval will. If he stays healthy, Hanley, with David Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval, the Three Amigos, as they have been dubbed, could lead the Red Sox into contention this coming year.
Now all the Red Sox have to do is find the pitching to allow their more potent offense to win them a lot of games. They certainly have enough extra hitting talent to be able to trade for pitchers and have indicated that they are willing to spend beyond the luxury tax to get pitching.