One of the reasons I’m hesitant to pick the Dodgers in the NL West despite all that talent is that almost all of that talent has question marks. Some guys have health questions. Some guys have to show that their best years aren’t behind them. Some guys — well, Hanley Ramirez — has to show that he can go back to his old, tougher defensive position and not be a liability.
As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times notes, that last one is becoming a bigger and bigger question:
Ramirez is the designated hitter for the Dominican Republic in Monday’s World Baseball Classicsemifinal against the Netherlands. He has alternated between third base and DH in the tournament, batting .176 with two home runs in the previous six games.
His fielding last season so concerned the Dodgers that they wanted him to play shortstop in winter ball, but a shoulder injury limited him to DH. He played 25 innings of shortstop over six games at the start of spring training, then left to join the Dominican team.
I don’t know how someone who was already a defensive liability at short can be ready to play a full season at short with minimal preparation there. But I guess we’ll see it play out in real time with Hanley Ramirez.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.