Photo From: ABC 7 Chicago
In July of 2000, The Red Sox signed amateur free agent shortstop Hanley Ramirez, at the tender age of 16. One calendar year later, Manny Ramirez was inked to a mammoth agreement. Along with superstar homegrown product Nomar Garciaparra, a tantalizing perception flooded diehards minds, imagining Boston may one day feature a law firm-esque trio of Nomar, Ramirez & Ramirez as their 2-3-4. This became nothing more than wishful thinking, however, as the immensely talented, yet bereft shortstop, went from a Sox clubhouse sourpuss to a Chicago Cub in 2004, then a year and a half later Hanley celebrated his 21st birthday in Florida, as he was a centerpiece in the seven player exchange for Ace Josh Beckett, et al.
Things worked out for most parties; Manny and Beckett earned themselves some bling before becoming nuisances, and Nomar… well, he will always be a great Red Sox, at least. Regarding Hanley, holy moly did that youngster produce in the Senior Circuit. He wrapped up his National League dominance in 2014 with the LA Dodgers, finishing his ten year stint in the NL with a .300 average, slugged .500, and had over 500 XBH to go along with 260+ steals. He was a pain in the ass, all reports indicate, but a force nonetheless.
He was so impactful, Ben Cherington, frothing at the mouth, inked him to an agreement that far and away outbid any potential employer, as Ramirez was coming off a down year hitting just .283 with a mere 13 homers.
Now, three “full” seasons into a four year pact, with a vesting option for a fifth that Ramirez will surely earn – needing just 480 AB’s to cash in on – in 2018, the Red Sox brass are left standing with their hands on their hips, eyebrows furrowed, asking the same question their beloved fan base is: what do we do with this guy?
Well, the first step would be to get him healthy. And recently, Ramirez underwent shoulder surgery to repair the damage that was largely the fault of who else, but ownership.
— Hanley Ramirez ⚾️ (@HanleyRamirez) October 17, 2017
Their god awful, irreprehensible, down right stupid maneuvering followed a thought process along the lines of:
“Hey,” said Ben, “Pablo Sandoval is a fat infielder… maybe if we acquire him, and then sign another third baseman that we can just just drop in left field, we’ll put a winning product on the field!”
Retorted John Henry, “You’re absolutely right. Just make sure the contracts exceed $180M combined; I want to handcuff the franchise for the years to come.”
And after decimating American League pitching in April of ’15 to the tune of 10 ding dongs in a mere 82 AB’s, Ramirez crashed into a wall, hardly produced for the next four months, before luckily being shut down by the new head of baseball ops, Dave Dombrowski. Hanley returned in 2016 with a vengeance, putting together his most productive season, since he was a wee Marlin that stole 100+ bags over the course of two seasons.
Yet, here we are, after another disappointing finish to the postseason, completely impartial to the return, release, or trade of the foolishly entertaining SS/3B/1B/DH.
After teasing the fans and team alike with a powerhouse performance vs the Astros a week ago, despite a shoulder so beaten that surgery was required seven days into the offseason, Hanley Ramirez will have another shot at redemption, as he did followed his 2015 injury shortened season. A strong return from the 235 pound wishful linebacker could carry the Sox a long way; his production along with a full season of Rafael Devers, and whomever the Red Sox acquire to fill the number four hitter vacancy, could mean the return of the Sox clubs that we’ve been accustomed to see: the ones that can score 900 plus runs as they’ve done seven times in 79 years.
With a healthy Ramirez, suddenly the lineup doesn’t look so bad, leaving just the pitching to be the focal point of the offseason. The production in his age 34 season is integral to the Sox 2018 success.