Me, Hanley Ramirez Trade Rumors, and Ken Rosenthal

This has been a slow Miami Marlins week for the most part, aside from the ever-present rumors that Hanley Ramirez is (or is not) on the trade block. Manager Ozzie Guillen said in a recent interview (Spanish link forthcoming) Ramirez knew and did not express unhappiness with the idea after shortly discussing this with the front office. Of course, Guillen's job is to put a positive spin on the situation, so it would not surprise me to hear that Ramirez really is upset about a move to third base after all the rumbling we have heard in the rumor mills.

Rumors and speculation are one thing, and analysis is another thing. Ken Rosenthal threw his hat in the very opinionated ring and said that the Marlins should trade Ramirez.

No, this is a player who occasionally flashes a selfish, petulant side — and frankly cannot be trusted to graciously make way for Reyes, his fellow Dominican.

Ramirez’s trade value is lower than it once was because of his shoulder, his sub-par performance last season and the $46.5 million remaining on the final three years of his contract. Some teams also believe that he is not a winning player.

But c’mon, he’s Hanley Ramirez.

Now, you heard my take on this matter earlier this week, and I have a strong feeling like the average Fish Stripes reader knows that the Marlins are better with Ramirez than with a trade package coming back. Ken Rosenthal thinks otherwise, and that is fine. He has every right to have that opinion, just like I have the right to have mine. But then Rosenthal stepped into the analysis booth by offering six trade possibilities that were poor at best and laughable at worst.

We'll get to the actual trades offered in just a little bit, but here was my response to Rosenthal via Twitter, in admittedly full-on snarky blogger mode.

Love @Ken_Rosenthal's rumor work, but this article on Hanley Ramirez trade possibilities shows why he isn't an analyst http://t.co/eOzBfPWm
Dec 13 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

I went to lunch shortly thereafter, and when I returned, it seemed Mr. Rosenthal was not very happy with my comment.

MRJManiacMichael Jong
in reply to @MRJManiac

@MRJManiac Oh stop. Ideas aren't set in stone. Point is they should trade him.
Dec 13 via Twitter for MacFavoriteRetweetReply

I was more starstruck than insulted, and I made this sarcastic comment.

I go to lunch and all of a sudden @Ken_Rosenthal responds to my bashing his trade ideas. BIG TIME
Dec 13 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

He did not seem to get my sarcasm either.

MRJManiacMichael Jong
in reply to @MRJManiac

@MRJManiac You are BIG TIME. And I am idiot! Have a good lunch, brother.
Dec 13 via Twitter for MacFavoriteRetweetReply

Now, no fists were thrown, but I asked Rosenthal legitimate questions afterwards regarding why the Marlins should trade Ramirez when there has not been indication from him or the team that they could not handle the situation internally, nor does the team lack the leverage to entice Ramirez to fall in line. He did not respond to that query, and I do not blame him, since I'm just a lowly blogger and he's Ken Rosenthal and has some more rumors to dig up.

I, however, would like to get into the trade ideas he did propose and see if any of them are indeed up to snuff.

Boston Red Sox

The Sox need two starting pitchers and a closer far more than a shortstop, but surely they would be tempted to reacquire Ramirez. Shortstop Marco Scutaro is eminently available, but the Marlins’ goal in any Ramirez trade would be to acquire a big bat and a starting pitcher.

Third baseman Kevin Youkilis could be the bat. The pitcher? Not so clear.

This one may have been the most logical one. Youkilis would be a decent starting point, but he has only two seasons left of a team-friendly deal that goes through 2013. And the cupboard of the Sox in terms of prospects is running dry after they traded two of their best in Casey Kelley and Anthony Rizzo last season to acquire Adrian Gonzalez. Youkilis is also 32 years old and known only for his capability to play third base, but not exactly his skill. In other words, the starting point to this deal is a player who is four years older than Ramirez, has been an admittedly better hitter for the last three years, but is likely just as bad at third base and is controlled for less time. If the Marlins do not get a decent load of prospects in return as well, it is unlikely this deal could happen.

Detroit Tigers

[Victor Martinez] and manager Jim Leyland would be good for Ramirez (just as David Ortiz would be in Boston). The two teams might find it difficult to match up, but the Tigers have expressed a willingness to move prized right-hander Jacob Turner in the right deal, sources say.

This one is great because only one player name is provided, and while that player is a legitimate pitching prospect (Turner ranked 11th in Baseball America's midseason Top 100 rankings), the Tigers have few other options available and the Marlins would want major league talent in return as well. Consider that the Fish got two Top 10 prospects in Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller in return for Miguel Cabrera and the scraps of Dontrelle Willis; one would have to figure that one top prospect in a package would not be enough to get three affordable years of Ramirez when it could not get two affordable seasons of Miguel Cabrera.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels probably don’t want to trade right-hander Ervin Santana; the addition of free-agent left-hander C.J. Wilson gives them a powerhouse front four. But a combination of Santana and one of the Angels’ starting infielders surely would entice the Marlins. Second baseman Howie Kendrick would be ideal from the Marlins’ perspective, but probably not the Angels’.

This is Ervin Santana since 2009.

Santana, Year IP K% BB% ERA FIP Avg WAR
2011 228 1/3 18.8 7.6 3.38 4.00 2.3
2010 222 2/3 17.7 7.7 3.92 4.28 2.5
2009 139 2/3 17.4 7.7 5.03 5.02 0.8
2009-2011 591 1.80 7.6 3.97 4.35 1.9

You know who Ervin Santana looks a lot like? Edwin Jackson. There's nothing wrong with Edwin Jackson at all, but he is not the starting point for a trade package for Hanley Ramirez. And the idea that the Marlins would take a deal with Santana with two years remaining on a deal that pays him almost his free agent value right now and Howie Kendrick, who has one season remaining in arbitration eligibility, would be once again selling Ramirez short. Neither player is team-controlled for long enough to provide the surplus value Ramirez would yield in his current three-year deal.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals are deep in young pitching, and they surely would include shortstop Ian Desmond or maybe even second baseman Danny Espinosa in a deal for Ramirez.

In short, no. Ian Desmond is an awful shortstop, and while Espinosa is at least interesting for the future, the Marlins would never admit to Ramirez's value being so low as to accept a package highlighted by a young, but league-average second baseman with important question marks.

San Francisco Giants

Brandon Crawford, a .204 hitter after 196 major-league at-bats, is projected to be the Giants’ shortstop. Start a package with right-hander Ryan Vogelsong and include one of the young first basemen, Brandon Belt or Brett Pill. The Marlins could trade Gaby Sanchez or play him at third.

Brandon Belt may be a good start. Ryan Vogelsong, a 34-year-old who had 178 solid innings in 2011 backed by years of mediocre, replacement-level pitching before that, is not. Belt would be a deal starter for the Giants, but once again they do not have enough pieces to pull the Marlins' attention, especially since the Fish are looking for a bounce back from Ramirez offensively. Admittedly, it is not enough to dismiss a deal entirely, but the Marlins would have to see more than just Belt.

Seattle Mariners

Ramirez and [Prince Fielder] would form a young, potent middle of the order. To get Ramirez, the Mariners would need to break up their impressive stable of young arms, maybe even include righty Michael Pineda.

Same boat as the Giants on this one. Pineda is an excellent starting point, much like Belt or Jacob Turner. Unfortunately, the Mariners likely do not have enough other pieces to make a deal for a premium player like Ramirez.

Again, the problem is not that there is not a deal available that would be acceptable to the Marlins. The problem is that there likely is a deficiency in how Ramirez is perceived versus his actual value and potential future value. At this stage, why risk getting less than full value coming off an injury-marred season when the team can do both themselves and Ramirez a favor and allow him to build value through 2012? Half of a season at third base will not change a team's perception of Ramirez's ability at shortstop; teams already suspect he is not good enough to play shortstop in the long term. The rest will depend on his offense, and right now the Marlins would be dealing him at his lowest offensive point. With their leverage over him and their ability to "force" Ramirez to play third base, there is no reason the club should not at least try until Ramirez completely rejects the idea.

In short, the Marlins have no reason not to wait and try to convince Ramirez to play along. Trading him now versus later in 2012 will make little difference unless he completely bombs, and the likelihood of such an event happening is very small. I retain my stance that it is in the interest of all parties involved to let Ramirez play at third base unless he is staunchly adamant and unwilling to play. At that point, the Marlins will have a decision to make about the franchise's future. Until then, the trade ideas are just unnecessary, whether they are good ones or not.

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