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.

UPDATE: Red Sox sign outfielder Chris Young to a two-year, $13 million deal

Chris Young Getty

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that Young will receive a two-year, $13 million contract from the Red Sox.

Monday, 1:47 PM: Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.

Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.

Marlins hire Juan Nieves as pitching coach

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This is not a terribly big deal compared to the rumors of who the Marlins want to hire as their hitting coach, but it’s news all the same: Miami has hired Juan Nieves as their pitching coach.

Nieves replaces Chuck Hernandez who was let go immediately after the season ended. Under Hernandez Marlins pitchers allowed 4.19 runs a game and had an ERA of 4.02, striking out 1152 batters and walking 508 in 1,427 innings. As far as runs per game go, that was around middle of the pack in the National League, just a hair better than league average. The strikeout/walk ratio, however, was third to last in the NL.

Nieves, a former Brewers hurler who once tossed a no-hitter, was most recently the Red Sox’ pitching coach, serving from the beginning of the 2013 season until his dismissal in May of this year.

In baseball, if you lose the World Series you still get a ring

ST. LOUIS - APRIL 3:  Detail view of the St. Louis Cardinals 2006 World Series Ring at Busch Stadium on April 3, 2007 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Scott Rovak/Getty Images)

“Second place is first loser” — some jerk, probably.

The funny thing about “winning is everything” culture in sports is that it’s revered, primarily, by people with the least amount of skin in the game. Self-proclaimed “Super Fans” and talk radio hosts and guys like that. People who may claim to live and breathe sports but who, for the most part, have other things in their lives. Jobs and families and hobbies and stuff. Winning is everything for them on the weekend at, like, Buffalo Wild Wings or in their man cave.

Athletes — whose actual job is to play sports — like to win too. They’re certainly more focused and committed to winning than Joe Super Fan is, what with it being their actual lives and such. But you see far less “winning is everything” sentiment from them. In interviews they talk about how they hate to lose but, with a little bit of distance, they almost always talk about appreciating efforts in a well-played loss. They rarely talk about big losses — even championship losses — as failures or choke jobs or disgraces of one stripe or another.

All of which makes this story by Tim Rohan in the New York Times fun and interesting. It’s about championship rings for the non-championship winners. The 2014 Royals — winners of the A.L. pennant but losers of the World Series — are featured, and the story of rings for World Series losers is told. Mike Stanton, who played on a ton of pennant and World Series-winning teams with the Yankees and Braves, talks about his various rings and how, even though the Braves lost in the World Series that year, 1991 is his favorite.

Also mentioned: George Steinbrenner’s thoughts about rings for World Series losers. You will likely not be surprised about his sentiments on the matter.

Wait, what is the non-tender deadline again?

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For the next day and a half you’ll hear a lot about the non-tender deadline and/or players being tendered or not tendered a contract. Here, in case you’re unaware, is what that means.

By midnight on Wednesday teams have to decide whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. If they do, the team retains control over the player. Now, to be clear, the team is not simply “tendering” the player the actual contract specifying what he’ll be paid. Think of it as more of a token gesture — a placeholder contract — at that point the team and the player can negotiate salary for 2016 and, if they can’t come to an agreement over that (i.e. an agreement avoiding arbitration) they will proceed to submit proposed salaries to one another and have a salary arbitration early in the spring.

If the team non-tenders a player, however, that player immediately becomes a free agent, eligible to sign anywhere with no strings attached.

Basically, the calculus is whether or not the team thinks the player in question is worth the low end of what he might receive in arbitration. Or, put differently, if the guy isn’t worth what he made in 2015, he’s probably going to be non-tendered.

MLB Trade Rumors has a handy “Non-Tender Tracker” which lists the status of the couple hundred arbitration eligible players and whether or not they’ve been tendered a contract. We’ll, of course, make mention of notable non-tender guys as their status for 2016 becomes known over the next day or two.