Sky is not falling for Dodgers after Hanley Ramirez injury


Hanley Ramirez crosses home plate during the WBC.
Los Angeles Dodgers fans hope Hanley Ramirez will have both thumbs raised ASAP.

I know it wrapped up days ago, but I’m still flying high from watching the American Baseball Classic championship game … I mean the World Baseball Classic! You know the one where the Semi-Dominican Republic team beat the Semi-Puerto Rico team 3-0.

And that was the same “world” tournament where the Semi-Mexico team competed against the Not-the-Best American team. What an instant classic!

In the WBC championship game, 16 of the 18 players on the Dominican and Puerto Rican teams had players who are important parts of current Major League Baseball teams that play … in America!

These players may have been born in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, but they grew up in America, went to college in America and earn their millions in America. I was watching one of the games, in which Mexico was playing, with my 14-year-old son.

Adrian Gonzalez was at the plate, and I cheered him on. My son said, “Hey, doesn’t he play for the Dodgers?” When I told my son that Gonzo does indeed play for our beloved Dodgers, he said, “Wait, he plays for the Dodgers and gets his paychecks from the Dodgers but now he’s playing for Mexico? That makes a lot of sense!”
 … out of the mouths of babes!

As if I didn’t have enough consternation from the WBC before, now I get to digest the fact that one of the keys for the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers was injured in the championship game. Hanley Ramirez, starting shortstop for the Dodgers is out until June because of a torn thumb ligament.

Thanks a lot, WBC! Why in the name of Biff Pocaroba did they hold the WBC tournament weeks prior to the start of the 2013 MLB season? Couldn’t this have been done in November? I’m sure there are some places in South America where it’s still baseball weather in November.

We now know that the Dodgers are going to have to plug the shortstop hole for two months. What does that mean for the team? Is it time to run around like Chicken Little and scream that the National League West is falling?

Just how will the shortstop puzzle be solved for the Dodgers? Here are some possible solutions for manager Don Mattingly in trying to replace Hanley Ramirez at short:

• Keep Luis Cruz at third and put Dee Gordon at short – Mattingly named Cruz the starting third baseman this spring. Gordon was destined for triple-A, especially after his disappointing rookie season in 2012. Gordon is fast, but he lacks the kind of plate discipline needed for a championship-caliber team. So far this spring, Gordon is batting .241, although he does lead the team with seven stolen bases. The question is whether Mattingly wants to throw Gordon back into the major-league fire for two months to see if he can learn not to swing at everything, or whether he would rather see Gordon play every day all season at triple-A.

• Keep Cruz at third and platoon at short – Mattingly can leave Cruz at third to see if it is his position of the future. Then the Dodgers skipper can plug-and-play some capable reserves at short to see who blossoms. Likely shortstop candidates are Justin Sellers and Skip Schumaker. One small problem with this scenario: Schumaker is hitting a paltry .234 in 17 spring games. Sellers isn’t exactly making a name for himself at the plate this spring with his .150 average in 13 games. Schumaker is a wily veteran who could probably handle athe starting role more capably than Sellers, but Sellers has more potential upside.

• Move Cruz to short and platoon at third – This move makes the most sense for the Dodgers. Of the 123 MLB games Cruz has played over his four-year career, 63 have come at shortstop. Cruz began his MLB career in 2008 with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a shortstop. If the Dodgers make this move, they still have some capable players who can slide in at third base for two months until Hanley Ramirez is ready. Two veterans are at the front of the third base line – Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Juan Uribe (did I just use Uribe’s name in a positive light?) The 36-year-old Hairston is a 15-year veteran who is solid in the field. He may not be ready to play every day over an entire season, but Hairston has enough gas in the tank to start for two months. Uribe has looked good for the Dodgers this spring, hitting .350 in 16 games. More importantly for Uribe, he has only struck out seven times in 40 spring plate appearances.

Whatever happens in Los Angeles, all hope is not lost because of the Hanley Ramirez injury. Sure, it is definitely disappointing news for a team that is poised to make some real news this season. However, unlike past years, the Dodgers have the kind of necessary depth to withstand the Hanley Ramirez injury.

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  1. Thanks, Rollie…btw, that is one of the best screen names I’ve ever seen! Mr. Fingers definitely had one of the best moo-staches in the history of MLB. I was definitely having some fun at the WBC’s expense. My whole point was that the Dodgers aren’t sunk because of Hanley’s injury. They have more depth this year than they have in a LONG time.

  2. Can’t help but laugh at these comments! You guys obviously are new to this site. Jeff’s been writing for this site for quite a while, and he’s posts are written with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. Read some of his other articles. Heck, reread this one and tell me that it isn’t obvious that he’s mocking the WBC. As usual, Jeff, you had me smiling throughout!

  3. So tony Parker and pau gasol shouldn’t be allowed to play for their respective countries in basketball because they play in the NBA?

    Chase Headley got hurt during spring training, should we push spring training back to the winter? Or just get rid of spring training all together?

  4. It sucks that Hanley was injured, but come on. It could have just as easily happened in any Spring Training game.

  5. Your statistics are pretty badly flawed. 16 of the 18 players are important part of major league baseball? Of the starting lineups Dominican had 7 MLB players and PR had 4. Second, I don’t think a single one of those guys played at college….something called the international draft which means players go straight to the minor leagues. They come over to the U.S. in their mid-teens because thats the age when they can actually be accurately scouted. Finally, in every other sport except football there is an international tournament.

    I know you’re pissed you lost Hanley, but just because America has the best league doesn’t mean we own the players. And who organized this tournament….Major League Baseball. The whole article has a pretty xenophobic tilt to me.

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