Dodgers liking Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, Luis Cruz at third

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When the Dodgers decided to put Hanley Ramirez back at shortstop upon acquiring from the Marlins, it had the looks of a temporary move, what with Dee Gordon set up as a long-term option at the position. However, as things stand now, the Dodgers are leaning towards leaving Ramirez at shortstop in 2013 and going with Luis Cruz at third base.

“Did you watch Cruz play,” GM Ned Colletti said.

It’s true that Cruz was a revelation after moving into the starting lineup. The 28-year-old hit .297/.322/.431 with six homers and 40 RBI in 283 at-bats. Prior to 2012, he had a .221/.275/.260 line and no homers in 154 major league at-bats.

The Dodgers will have a crowd of infielders under contract. Besides the likely starters in Ramirez, Cruz and second baseman Mark Ellis, the team also has Jerry Hairston Jr., Nick Punto and Juan Uribe all entering the final year of multiyear deals. Odds are that someone from that group — most likely Uribe — won’t fit on the Opening Day roster.

And it surely means that Gordon, who was handed a starting job and the leadoff spot this spring, will open next year in Triple-A.

Still, there’s one very interesting aspect to all of this, that being that Cruz is almost surely a better defensive shortstop than Ramirez. It was his primary position throughout his minor league career, and he had a reputation as a good-glove, no-hit guy in his younger days.

Given that Gordon still projects as the Dodgers’ long-term shortstop, it’d make a lot of sense to put Cruz back at shortstop to begin next year and let Hanley settle back in at third base. The Dodgers, though, seem content to wait and cross that bridge later.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.