Marlins should keep Hanley, fire Fredi

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Well, not today. Hanley Ramirez’s lack of hustle and subsequent rant about his manager’s qualifications shouldn’t be rewarded. Manager Fredi Gonzalez undoubtedly made the right call in benching Ramirez after Monday’s incident, and further punishing the shortstop by sitting him down for a game or two seems like the right call.
Let’s face it, though: Ramirez is the best thing the Marlins have going for them. As a 26-year-old shortstop with a career .315/.386/.528 line, 110 homers and 167 steals already to his credit, he’s on a Hall of Fame path. And while some have questioned his work ethic, he’s made obvious gains in his play at shortstop over the last couple of years. After 2007, I would have advocated moving him to center field. Now it looks like he’s going to last at shortstop for several more years before probably moving to third sometime in his thirties.
Gonzalez just isn’t an important piece. I wrote last October that replacing him with Bobby Valentine was a good idea. He’s a generic manager with no creativity. He knows what he wants when it comes to every role on the club, so it doesn’t matter whether he has the right personnel or not. As long as a player looks like he should be a No. 2 hitter or a shutdown closer, it’s unimportant if he can actually do the job or not. It’s more about looking the part.
That’s not to say he’s all bad. But he’s is replaceable, and now that he’s lost the respect of the main man in the clubhouse, it’s only a matter of time before he is, in fact, replaced. It can’t be this week and probably not this month. But if the Marlins are still hanging around the .500 mark by mid-June, odds are that he’ll go.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.