With six days left before the MLB trading deadline there has been a flurry of activity.
Let's begin with the Miami Marlins trading Hanley Ramirez along with lefty reliever Randy Choate to the Los Angeles Dodgers for starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and minor league pitcher Scott McGough.
Ramirez, of course, began his career in the Boston Red Sox organization. I remember seeing him play with the Double A Portland Sea Dogs. He was originally touted to be the Red Sox shortstop of the future. Instead, prior to the 2006 season, the Sox dealt him and pitcher Anibal Sanchez to the then Florida Marlins for pitcher Josh Beckett and threw in a supposedly washed up third baseman named Mike Lowell. The trade worked well for both teams - for a time. The Red Sox won a World Series in 2007 while Ramirez became one of the NL's best pure hitters. In 2009, Ramirez won the NL batting title with a .342 average.
While Ramirez hit an even .300 in 2010, the past year and a half has been disappointing. In 2011, injuries limited him to a career low .243 batting average. The arrival of Jose Reyes forced Ramirez to third base and although his power numbers are better (his slugging percentage is more than 50 points this year than it was in 2011) he hit .246 with the Marlins this season.
I think this is one of those deals where the player just needs a change of scenery. Ramirez should fit in nicely with the likes of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. It also doesn't hurt that Don Mattingly is the Dodgers' manager. Mattingly, of course, was a batting champion in his own right during his glory days with the New York Yankees in the mid to late 1980s. If anybody could get Ramirez back to his ,300 form it would be Mattingly. The 28-year old Ramirez has two years left on his contract.
After going 32-19 in April and May, the Dodgers have gone 21-25 although they have won five in a row. Presently, they are 1½ games back of the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. Ramirez may be the spark they need to get back on the top of the division.
Meanwhile, the Marlins are sellers. This after signing high profile free agents like Reyes, starting pitcher Mark Buehrle and closer Heath Bell not to mention opened a ridiculous looking, taxpayer funded stadium. I picked them to win the World Series this year. Well, there is no joy in South Beach. After struggling in April, the Marlins went 21-8 in May but have gone 16-29 since. The Marlins are presently 11½ games back of the Washington Nationals in the NL East and prior to trading Ramirez had dealt the aforementioned Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the surging Detroit Tigers.
Another team that is selling off its parts is the Houston Astros. On July 4th, the Astros dealt slugger Carlos Lee to the Marlins. Honestly, I'm not sure if it's worse being an Astro or being a Marlin right now. Four days ago, the Astros traded closer Brett Myers to the Chicago White Sox. Now the Astros have dealt their ace Wandy Rodriguez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for three minor league prospects.
The Pirates have two very strong starting pitchers in A.J. Burnett and James McDonald. Jeff Karstens looks like he's good number five starter but Kevin Correia and Erik Bedard have been shaky. The addition of Rodriguez bolsters their rotation. If Rodriguez had been pitching for the Bucs this season there's no way he'd be 7-9. Rodriguez has pitched his entire big league career in Houston and has 80 big league wins under his belt. I suspect the Pirates are not done dealing. Expect them to add a bat or two. The Pirates are presently 1½ games back of the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central.
One pitcher who isn't going anywhere is Cole Hamels. The 28-year old lefty signed a six-year contract extension worth $144 million. With the Phillies in last place in the NL East and Hamels facing free agency at the end of the season, it was thought that Hamels was on the trading block. With a season ending injury to Colby Lewis and ongoing back troubles for Roy Oswalt, the Texas Rangers were interested in obtaining the services of Hamels but to no avail. It looks like the Rangers will have to set their sights on Zack Greinke or maybe join the Ryan Dempster sweepstakes.
Well, since Hamels is staying in the NL East this means he will be facing Bryce Harper for many years to come. He just won't be plunking him in the back.
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