So, what’s all the hubbub in South Florida over the Hanley Ramirez trade? Fire sale, disappointed fans, turmoil, chaos, cats chasing dogs. It’s a mess, right?
Or is it?
Trading Hanley was never a matter of if, but when. And if the Marlins brass should be chided for anything, it’s that they waited a year and a half too long.
While not many fans, talking heads, baseball experts or talent evaluators could have predicted H2R’s sudden drop off in 2011, it was obvious his attitude started shifting significantly in 2010 when he was being paid a lot of money to be “the man” – a role he never was suited for, nor one he is comfortable in.
The 2010 “Lollygate” fiasco and subsequent insubordination with Marlins then-manager Fredi Gonzalez was a sure-fire indicator something was fishy with the Fish and Ramirez. As a fan, I went from loving an aggressive and hungry Hanley in 2006-2008 to hoping the lazy and whining Hanley would get traded during the offseason in 2010 because he wasn’t a leader to build around.
After last season’s statistical drop off, the Marlins had the perfect opportunity to deal Hanley while there was still significant interest. Front offices around the league probably assumed the stats would come back after the shoulder surgery, something that could easily be pointed to as the problem.
But that was never it.
The challenge has always been Hanley’s personality both on and off the field. He’s not a clubhouse leader. Dan Uggla was, which is why he confronted Ramirez and caused a clubhouse scuffle in 2010. With Uggla gone after that season, the team was all Hanley’s, and he delivered an egg after proclaiming he was the team leader during 2011 spring training.
One problem: Leader is a title you earn through actions not words. And not in the statistical sense, but as the de facto leader in and out of the clubhouse. That’s not Hanley, and the problem with Marlins brass was they expected him to be something he isn’t cut out to be.
This is not a fire sale. This is a necessary correction to a team that hoped far too long for a player to transform into something he never was capable of. Sure, Hanley wanted to be the man in South Florida, but it’s just not in him to do what it takes to be the man.
Deep down inside, after the initial shock wore off, I’m sure Ramirez realized a move to L.A. means he’s no longer the lightning rod. All he has to do is complement the pieces already in place. And, as much as Fish fans might not want to hear this, I think Hanley will thrive with the Dodgers. Not all-world numbers, but winning numbers – something he couldn’t do as “the man” in South Florida. Given that he was flashing the “L.A.” sign to cameras while still in the Marlins clubhouse is all you need to know about Hanley as the man.
Let’s turn the page and focus on the future, Marlins fans.
Jacob Turner and Nathan Eovaldi have the potential to anchor the rotation for years. Sure, there is always risk when taking on prospects, but that is what the Marlins have done well in the past – develop players. This is still a young team – and one that just got younger – with upside over the next several years.
I may be in the minority, but I feel a heckuva lot better today about the future of the Marlins than I did a week ago. The offseason binge was focused on the wrong players, and it was a price management had to pay to learn that chemistry is often more important than big salaries.
And if the Marlins trade Josh Johnson in the coming days for a Mike Olt-type player, I’ll get even more excited. By replenishing the system with upside players and freeing up cash to pay the right free agents this time around, I think the Marlins could be in a much better place for the long term.