Hanley Ramirez

Dodgers swing for fences, land Hanley Ramirez from Marlins


The Dodgers are flush with cash and aren’t afraid to use it. As first reported by Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, they acquired third baseman Hanley Ramirez and left-hander Randy Choate from the Marlins late Tuesday night in return for right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough.

It’s a modest price to play for a guy who ranked as one of the game’s top three properties a couple of years back. Ramirez was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2006, and he received MVP votes each of the following three years, finishing in second place in 2009 at the still tender age of 25.

Ramirez has gone downhill since. After a modestly disappointing 2010 in which he hit .300/.378/.475, he fell off to .243/.333/.379 in 92 games in 2011. This year, he’s hit .246/.322/.428 with 14 homers and 48 RBI through 93 games.

The Dodgers will hope the trade is just the kick in the pants that Ramirez needs. His attitude deteriorated with his performance in Miami, and his occasional lack of hustle was frustrating. A new start might do wonders for him. At 28, it’s hardly too late for him to return to playing like a superstar.

And Ramirez is getting paid like a star, which is why the Dodgers didn’t have to part with all that much talent to get him. He’ll make $15.5 million next year and $16 million in 2014 before becoming a free agent. With that kind of salary, he’ll be counted on to produce a bunch of runs while likely batting fifth behind Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the order.

The Dodgers will have the option of playing Ramirez either third base or shortstop. Third base makes sense as his long-term position in Los Angeles, but since Dee Gordon has been a big disappointment at shortstop this year and is injured besides, it would make sense to return Hanley to his old position for the short term.

Along with Ramirez, the Dodgers are getting a useful specialist in Choate. Usually asked to face just one or two lefties at a time, the 36-year-old southpaw had a 2.49 ERA in 25 1/3 innings for the Marlins this year. Left-handers were hitting .150 in 60 at-bats against him. Last year, they hit .145 in 69 at-bats.

While it wasn’t the huge return their fans would have preferred, the Marlins got a solid starter in here in Eovaldi. The polished 22-year-old was 1-6 for the Dodgers this season, but that was mostly due to poor run support. He had a 4.15 ERA, and he allowed three runs or fewer in eight of his 10 starts. He could slide right into Miami’s rotation, and his presence may make it easier for the team to part with Josh Johnson next.

McGough, 22, had a 3.99 ERA and a 48/26 K/BB ratio in 47 1/3 innings out of the pen for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga this season. He was the Dodgers’ fifth-round pick last year.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi
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You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.