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Hanley Ramirez

Trade Analysis: The Dodgers’ big week

Dodgers get: SS Jimmy Rollins, 2B Howie Kendrick, SP Brandon McCarthy, C Yasmani Grandal, RP Chris Hatcher and minor leaguers C Austin Barnes, 2B Enrique Hernandez, SP Joe Weiland
Dodgers trade: 2B Sweet Dee Gordon, SP Dan Haren, SS Miguel Rojas (to the Marlins), CF Matt Kemp, C Tim Federowicz (to the Padres), SP Andrew Heaney (to the Angels)
The Dodgers–and their new executive team–began a complete makeover this week…and they’re probably not done yet.
Even in the midst an incomplete offseason, it’s clear that new President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and his GM Farhan Zaidi are prioritizing defense over everything else.… Read more...

The Dodgers are in the playoffs! Time to freak out!

The Dodgers are in the playoffs! I feel nauseous!
For any True Blue fan out there, they each know that October merely brings heartache and anxiety. Nothing more, nothing less. I kind of have to hurl right now!
As always, my man Que-Ese and I were commiserating about the causes for the potential ulcers likely to befall us in the coming days and (hopefully) weeks. But, like a true friends (who will never ever ever leave each other), we’ve tried to serve as the salve to one another’s Dodger blues. Below is an e-mail exchange in which we’ve both finely laid out our biggest reservations, then a rebuttal why it might not be a big deal and finally, our predictions for the series.
KOBEsh: The bullpen. Duh.
Some writers have suggested that the Dodgers only have two reliable pitchers in their bullpen, which is a disconcerting thought all on its own. However, I think that may be outshooting the truth altogether.
Kenley Jansen has been pretty great this season, though I wouldn’t say absolutely dominant. Sure, he’s got 101 strikeouts and allowed just 55 hits in 65 innings pitched, but he also got himself into trouble unnecessarily. With no outs, Jansen allowed a .779 OPS, as opposed to .567 and .466 on the second and third outs. In other words, he’s letting a leadoff man on at an alarming rate and then relying on his dominant stuff to make up for it. Not the type of breathing room you want to give up to a fellow division-winning team.
The only other “reliable” bullpen pitcher has this stat line for September: 7 games, 5.1 innings pitched, 9 hits and 2 homers allowed and a 11.81 ERA. That’s J.P. Howell, who had emerged into the team’s best 8th inning reliever.
Other than that, we’re looking at Brandon League (a nice 2.57 ERA, but an ugly 1.46 WHIP) Brian Wilson (a nice K%, but giving up hits and walks by the boatload), 39 year-old Jamey Wright (72 hits in 70 IP), Chris Perez (who had a nice September, but still walked 4 batters in 7 innings) and rookie Pedro Baez.
Yes, I’m really worried.
Que-Ese: Here’s why you shouldn’t fret about the bullpen:
Jansen is a stud. His premium pitch is a cut fastball. The thing about those, is that sometimes they get put into play. If they hit their spots, he’ll be fine.… Read more...

20 Days of Thinking Blue: What makes this team different than last year’s National League runner-up?

The countdown has begun, kids. Actually, it’s a little bit past. The opening series (well, the American version) is here, as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego. To prepare you for the regular season, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a year of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
What’s different about this year’s Dodgers and last year’s Dodgers? In other words, what’s changed to win them six more games in the postseason?
As I wrote yesterday, I’m not sure the Dodgers could have done much more towards the end of last season other than “be more healthy”. But that’s not necessarily something you say to a guy with a sprained ankle and another with cracked ribs from a stray fastball, is it?
The Dodgers were two victories away from a World Series and six from a championship. As the old adage goes, as long as a team makes the postseason, they have as good a shot as anyone to win the World Series. The journey to the chip is a combination of luck and momentum, with an emphasis on the latter. The Dodgers had the momentum last season, but couldn’t overcome a few unlucky injuries to key players and of course, one flukishly bad performance from ace Clayton Kershaw.
But the point is to remove as many variables as possible and leave as little room for luck to derail your team. Did the Dodgers do enough of that to make them a true World Series contender this offseason? Theoretically, yes.… Read more...

20 Days of Thinking Blue: What could stop the Dodgers from winning the World Series?

The countdown has begun, kids. Actually, it’s a little bit past. The opening series (well, the American version) is here, as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego. To prepare you for the regular season, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a year of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
What is the leading reason why this team may not win the World Series?
Last season, the difference between the first Dodgers pennant in 25 years might have been an errant fastball to the ribs and, well, Michael Wacha. Some would say that with a healthy Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers wouldn’t have had the same flaccid offense that kept them four wins away from winning the World Series. Was LA the better team? I’m not sure. But as I wrote last October, it felt as if the difference between a Dodgers win and a Cardinals win was just a little bit of luck.
So here we are six months later, with the Dodgers healed up and hoping for better breaks. With dominating starting pitching, a powerful bullpen and a star-studded offense, LA is the odds on favorite to win the West and has to be one of the favorites to win the National League pennant. So what could stop them from what’s considered a very, very possible destiny?… Read more...

20 Days of Thinking Blue: Extending Hanley

The countdown has begun, kids. Opening Night (well, American Opening Night) is fast approaching as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego on March 30th. Leading up until then, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a season of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
If you could sign Hanley Ramirez to what would be an open mark contract right now (say, 5 years, $90 million), would you do it?
Money-wise, there weren’t very many prevailing questions of the offseason that the Dodgers didn’t answer. They signed Clayton Kershaw to a 7-year, $215 million dollar extension. They paid up to keep their bullpen intact, to the tune of nearly $20 million guaranteed to both Brian Wilson and J.P. Howell. They took a look at free agency and the trade market and decided that 2 years and $14 million was a fine price for a just fine Juan Uribe at the hot corner. But oddly enough, one of their most important financial question marks wasn’t answered anytime from November to March: whether or not the Dodgers would sign their most valuable offensive player in Hanley Ramirez to a contract extension.… Read more...

NLCS Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers at St Louis Cardinals

National League Championship Series: Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals
Objectively, what a fantastic matchup in the NLCS. The Dodgers and the Cardinals are very clearly the two best teams in the National League, going damn near toe to toe in every single aspect of the game. No two pitchers in the playoffs have been as good as Adam Wainwright and Clayton Kershaw…except for maybe rookie Michael Wacha, who could be countered pitch for pitch with Zack Greinke. This is the battle of the heavyweights in every sense, as the two most important franchises in the National League slug it out in what should be (spoiler alert!) a seven game classic.
Subjectively, this is the most harrowing situation any Dodgers fan could hope for.
But before we deep dive into a fan’s tangled bramble of accursed sports insecurity, we can’t understand where we’re going until we understand where we’ve been. … Read more...

Alternate worlds: The ’13 Dodgers as a distortion of the ’12-’13 Lakers

On May 7th, the Los Angeles Dodgers were 13-19, in last place in the NL West and on a 6-game losing streak. Any time you’re talking about early May baseball, league trends are hooked up with more caveats than A-Rod has sinewy blonde women. To draw any conclusions based on games played before the summer solstice is usually a fool’s errand, and shouldn’t be taken seriously, no matter how objective the fan.
Even with all that in mind, there was still cause for alarm. It wasn’t that the Dodgers were losing–it’s how they were losing. It was dispiriting at times, and downright shameful during others. Here’s a snapshot of how this Disciple of Scully was feeling at the time:… Read more...

Lima Lumps: Is for Dodger fans to PANIC?

Lima Lumps this week is all about one question: is it time to panic!?!?
The Dodgers went into their weekend in San Francisco hoping to find some sort of momentum. They left without their starting shortstop, without any real confidence in their bullpen, and without a victory.
Is this grand experiment of shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars for marquee names worthwhile? So is it time to panic in LA?
The simple answer is no. It is too early to freak out. We are not even a quarter into a season with 162 games and the marginally talented NL West to compete with. The Dodgers will hopefully recover from injury, find their stride in the bullpen, and figure out how to score a runner in scoring position (.216–fact).
However, this is Lima Lumps. This space is meant to emphasize what shitty things the Dodgers have done this week. So without further delay, here are the reasons why we all should START PANICKING AAAAHHHH!!!!!!:… Read more...

Criticizing the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers is Easy…But Maybe Not Right

“Pitching and defense. Defense and pitching. Either way, with both going this well simultaneously, 3-0 is exactly where the Giants are supposed to be.”–Mike Bauman,

“And, especially, one win from popularizing a way to win baseball games that most people thought had gone out of style in, like, 1992: Throw the ball. … Catch the ball. Pitching. … And defense.”–Jayson Stark,

“The best defense in all of baseball made all of these very good, very young pitchers look even better…Given everything they just accomplished, and the path they took to get there, we should rank the 2012 Giants right there among the four greatest playoff stories of the past 40 years.”–Jonah Keri,

The pundits couldn’t be any more correct. This past October, the San Francisco Giants won their second title in three years with the best pitching staff top to bottom in the Majors and a spectacular fielding defense. In a time when the Dodgers, Yankees, Angels and Red Sox spend $100 million on a hitting lineup alone, the Gigantes surrounded their all-world hitter and 2012 NL MVP in Buster Posey with understated trade bait and shrewd scrap-heap pick-ups. GM Brian Sabean built a team similar to the Dodgers squads dominated the 70s and 80s, with each of their athletic solar systems built around the gravitational pull of a titanic pitching staff and defense.

In October, the Dodgers watched helplessly as the Giants won their fourth pennant and second title in a span of time where neither of those accolades were accomplished in Chavez Ravine. To add insult to injury, San Francisco did all of this by playing Dodgers baseball
Is the Giants’ 2012 run the new paradigm of the greatest game? Build an unbelievable, indomitable staff and bullpen with an air-tight defense behind it? Then employ just one elite hitter and let the rest of the offense sort itself out down the line? The Tampa Bay Rays, Evan Longoria and the best defense in baseball certainly would support that notion. So would the World Champion 2011 St. Louis Cardinals, who had a near-retirement Lance Berkman as a cheap, understated signing, 28 year-old would-be star in David Freese turned NLCS and WS MVP and youngsters Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso playing over 300 games combined.

This new era of team-building is in many ways a throwback to the “purity of baseball”: a more placid offense with an enhanced focus on throwing and catching. There’s perhaps the perception that because the Giants focus so much on pitching and defense rather than the flash of a crushing offense, that their payroll reflects such a modest set of demands. It’s as if the focus on such basic, spartan tenants of the game absolves San Francisco of spending exorbitant amounts of money like any other major market team. 

Quite the opposite: the Giants were seventh in payroll last year, with three players making over $16 million dollars. However, they all were pitchers (Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Matt Cain) and eight of their ten highest-compensated players were hurlers. The Giants payroll weight shifted towards the very manner in which they won two titles, but it certainly wasn’t cheap. The core of these two teams were built around homegrown prospects, including Posey, Lincecum, Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Pablo Sandoval and Sergio Romo, further romanticizing a team without extravagantly expensive hitters. How is it that San Francisco didn’t have a chorus of skeptics denouncing their high-spenRead more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Hanley Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers get: SS/3B Hanley Ramirez, RP Randy Choate

Miami Marlins get: SP Nathan Eovaldi, SP Steve McGough

When the worst news of a trade is that there will be less at-bats available for Adam Kennedy and Juan Uribe, any deal can be considered a win.

In a remarkable, Mitch Kupchak-esque pact, both in scope and in secrecy, the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Miami Marlins’ franchise player Hanley Ramirez, along with left-handed reliever Randy Choate, for two young pitchers. Ramirez had been rumored on the trading block for weeks, though few thought that the Miami front office would actually ship out the former shortstop whose prolific power bat and speed made him one of the finest players in baseball. However, if indeed the Marlins decided that Hanley, who had made the switch to third base this year because of Jose Reyes’ signing, were to be traded, only a bounty of potential major league prospects would be enough to consummate the deal.

So then, how did the Dodgers acquire Ramirez for a ceiling number 3 starter and a minor league pitcher that isn’t even in LA’s top 20 prospects?
The story is still being developed, but early thoughts have to do with money and performance. Hanley is in the middle of a 6-year, $70 million dollar deal. He’ll be paid $14 million this season, along with a combined $31 million for the next two years. The reports are that the Dodgers will be paying this in full, which leads me to think that perhaps other teams weren’t willing to take on around $37 million dollars of salary.

Of course, that type of money wouldn’t be so much of an issue if Hanley were performing at the peak of his powers. Ramirez has continued a slump that’s lasted a little over two years. After cratering during an injury-ridden 2011 season in which he batted a mere .243 in 92 games with a .712 OPS, the Dominican infielder is hitting at a similar clip this year, stroking a .246 bat to a .750 OPS. His statistics over the last three years now have fallen from a crest of a .953 OPS, 24 homers, 106 RBI and 27 stolen bases in 2009 during his age 26 season. In many ways, this type of dip in performance is particularly worrisome when a player of his talents should be hitting his prime, rather than a mid-career lull.

Even with those glaring numbers, a couple statistically inferior seasons from a potential MVP that’s been injured and asked to move to third shouldn’t be enough to move him for anything less than a king’s ransom. The last factor in this trade trade thus has to be attitude. The Marlins were losing this year despite a high payroll, the adrenaline and energy of a new stadium, a great, but demanding manager and a bunch of vaunted free agent acquisitions. Instead, the team sputtered in the very competitive NL East, falling to last place in a division they were expected to at least fight for ownership of. The locker room chemistry had to be shaken up, and so within a week, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Randy Choate and Hanley Ramirez were all traded for pitching prospects.

In return for Ramirez, the Marlins obtained two young pitchers…who most people haven’t heard of. Let’s get this out of the way: I don’t know who Scott McGough is. He’s not in the Dodgers top 20 prospects, nor have his minor league numbers been particularly inspiring. I’m not entirely sure how or why he was picked by the Marlins, but he certainly isn’t anyone of consequence in a trade.

As I mentioned, Nathan Eovaldi is a 22-year old right hander who most scouts project as a middle to back r… Read more...