Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dodgers get the better end of the Hanley Ramirez deal

The Dodgers did something they haven't done in awhile -- acquire an impact bat. But the fact it was a young impact bat was quite surprising and pleasing.

Hanley Ramirez is the Dodgers' newest addition and should be around for quite some time.

Look, I know he's not the Ramirez of 2006-09 who hit .316/.387/.531, but he has the potential and ability to be that player.

This is a classic change-of-scenery situation and I have no reason to believe Ramirez won't recapture some of his former glory.

There's no reason not to like this deal if you're a Dodger fan. Sure, they gave up Nathan Eovaldi, but it's a small price to pay for a former superstar who isn't washed up.

Ramirez is just 28 years old and is signed through the 2014 season. Here's a breakdown of his contract from Cot's:
  • 2012: $15 million (less than $6 million remaining)
  • 2013: $15.5 million
  • 2014: $16 million
He also gets a $50,000 bonus for making the All-Star team.

It may seem like a lot for a guy batting less than .250, but this gamble is one the Dodgers needed to take. And no matter what happens, even if Ramirez hits at the level he's hitting right now, it will still have been a successful trade.

The only way this doesn't work out in the Dodgers' favor is if Eovaldi turns into a legitimate No. 2 starter and Ramirez doesn't excel.

When talented players become available, acquiring them is usually a good idea. Ramirez is a supremely talented player and the Dodgers got him.

Until Dee Gordon returns, I'd play him at shortstop. He started his first game at third base, so it's nice to see he's willing to play there long-term. The truth is, Ramirez has never been even an adequate defender at shortstop, but he's hit well while playing shortstop.

It's all about keeping him comfortable in my eyes. He's on a team in which he doesn't have to be "the man." That's Matt Kemp's job. He can thrive as a key component to a playoff-contending team -- hopefully a championship contender.

Ramirez also hit in the No. 5 spot in his Dodger debut. If I'm Don Mattingly, I bat Ramirez leadoff. While his speed isn't completely wasted in the 5-hole, it could be better utilized in the leadoff spot. Plus, Gordon wasn't exactly lighting up the world hitting first. This would make acquiring another middle-of-the-order bat a must, which is on the Dodgers' shopping list.

The Dodgers also acquired Randy Choate, who will be the primary left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen. The 36-year-old holds left-handed hitters to a measly .150 batting average and just two extra base hits (both doubles). He's exactly what the Dodgers needed in the bullpen. This will allow Scott Elbert to pitch more meaningful innings instead of being the only lefty out of the 'pen.

The Marlins' return, while not a lot in terms quantity, is not too bad in quality considering the Dodgers picked up all the money in this deal.

Eovaldi, at worst, will be a late-inning reliever. His makeup is such that he could handle and eighth- or ninth-inning role without much concern. However, his value right now remains in the rotation. He has the ability to be a No. 2 starter. However, a No. 3 or No. 4 guy is more likely -- and there's nothing wrong with that.

Eovaldi's fastball is his best pitch. It sits in the low-to-mid-90s with wicked movement. His breaking pitches are where he needs improvement. His slider is probably his second-best pitch, but it's an average offering at best. His curveball, while good at times, can get a bit loopy and sloppy. His changeup is a work in progress and his cut fastball is a new addition.

The repertoire is there, but he needs to nail down a couple of those secondary pitches to remain in the rotation. That, and he needs to start missing more bats. With that kind of fastball, he should be able to post a better K/9 than 5.6 in the majors. That's something the Marlin coaching staff must work on.

The final piece of the deal was Scott McGough. McGough, a 2011 5th-round pick, pitched well in his debut season. He's pitched the entire season in the California League and started off well. However, his ERA and WHIP have ballooned a little, but his K/9 is still impressive for a guy in his first full professional season (9.1). He has a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a slurvey breaking ball. He needs to improve that breaking pitch to be more than a middle reliever. If he can do it, the Marlins might have a future closer on their hands.

So, the Dodgers gave up a couple talented arms for a former and potential superstar (seems weird to write that). The Dodgers were able to use their best asset -- deep pockets -- to make this deal happen. It seemed the Dodgers weren't going to be able to swing a deal or acquire a decent player without giving up Zach Lee. However, they found middle ground with the Marlins and were able to absorb all the money, allowing them to acquire Ramirez.

And by moving Eovaldi, the Dodgers are almost a lock to trade for a starting pitcher (*cough* Ryan Dempster *cough*) before Tuesday's trade deadline.

I absolutely love this deal and I still can't believe it happened. I wish Eovaldi and McGough all the luck in the world, but the Dodgers got the better end of this deal.

Photo credits
Ramirez: SD Dirk, Flickr
Eovaldi: Eephus Blue, Paint the Corners
McGough: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

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