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.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.