There is no doubt that Hanley Ramirez is one of the premier shortstops in Major League Baseball. His combination of power, speed and hitting for average is one of the reasons the Marlins did not trade Josh Beckett to the Red Sox unless Ramirez was included in the deal.
The problem with Ramirez has always been the fact that he has never been particularly liked by anybody in the Marlins organization and the people whose job it is to cover the team. He demanded a trade when the Marlins instituted new rules regarding personal appearance and he lashed out at Manager Fredi Gonzalez for benching him when he failed to hustle after a ball he booted last season. Now I am not a huge believer that guys have to like each other in order to be successful. People talk of chemistry, but when Hanley was hitting .342 with 24 home runs and 106 RBI with 27 steals in 2009, the talk of his presence in the clubhouse was not as loud.
So now that Manager Edwin Rodriguez stepped down and has been replaced by old new old manager “Trader” Jack McKeon, what is the first thing Ramirez does? He arrives late to a team meeting and gets benched. When your behavior leads to not playing, that is when you are really affecting your ballclub.
Of course you can say that benching him doesn’t really make a difference at this point, considering Ramirez’ average is hovering around the Mendoza Line, nearly 100 points below his career average, and he has only hit 4 home runs. Amazing how your batting average dictates how divisive you are in a clubhouse, when by all accounts Hanley Ramirez has been a jerk since his days in the minor leagues with the Red Sox.
So do you trade him? His value should still be pretty high despite his putrid season. But do the Marlins give up on him? Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Tony Perez, who consult for the Marlins, have tried to talk some sense into him. He has been through 3 managers and veteran leaders on the team have tried to mentor him, but it doesn’t seem to register.
If I were the Marlins, I would keep him as you go into the new ballpark next season. When you are a team run like a flea market, you don’t give up bargains and right now Hanley is playing for relatively cheap. Plus, all these concerns will disappear when he goes on a tear and raises his average 80 points by August 1st. At that point, he will go back to being a productive jerk, somebody much easier to deal with.
On a final note, if you go by the rumors that the next manager of this team is going to be Ozzie Guillen, you have to assume that a slightly off kilter former shortstop is the perfect guy to get through to a slightly off kilter current shortstop.