Hanley Ramirez likes Jose Reyes just fine, but he’s made it clear that he sees himself as a shortstop. With the Marlins now reportedly having landed Reyes, Ramirez is going to be asked to change positions, probably to third base. How that plays with Hanley could well determine the course of the Marlins franchise for these next few years.
Make no mistake: Ramirez is an even more dynamic player than Reyes. He finished sixth in the NL in OPS in both 2008 and 2009. Reyes has never finished in the top 10. Adjusting for position, he placed second in the NL in offensive WAR in 2008 and ’09 and third in 2007. Reyes came in third last season, but his next highest finish with ninth in 2006. Overall, Ramirez is a career .306/.380/.506 hitter. Reyes, the older of the two players by a few months, comes in at .292/.341/.441.
Ramirez, though, has fallen far these last two years, and while Reyes has long battled leg injuries, Ramirez has struggled to overcome shoulder problems. After playing in at least 150 games each of his first four seasons, Ramirez dropped to 142 games in 2010 and 92 games during his extremely disappointing 2011 season.
If Ramirez goes to third base quietly and resumes playing more like he did three years ago, the Marlins will suddenly have one of the league’s most potent lineups:
CF Emilio Bonifacio
RF Mike Stanton
1B Gaby Sanchez
LF Logan Morrison
C John Buck
2B Omar Infante
If Ramirez instead sulks and forces his way out, the Marlins aren’t likely to get nearly the return he would have brought as one of the game’s three most valuable properties in 2009. Oh, there will be offers: the Red Sox and Tigers would be crazy not to bid and the Brewers could try to cobble together an offer from what’s left of their minor league system. But the Marlins have a much better chance of finding their way back to the postseason with Ramirez and Reyes together than with Reyes and whatever Ramirez brings in return. Hopefully for them, Ramirez grows up a little, embraces the Marlins’ new commitment to winning and tries to become the best third baseman he can be. If it goes the other way, then the team isn’t likely to contend just yet.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.