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Trying to make sense of this Hanley Ramirez situation

Rob Bradford
May 25, 2018 - 8:59 pm

Hanley Ramirez is no longer a Red Sox.

Those are words few must have thought would be surfacing come Friday afternoon. But there they are. The slugger has been designated for assignment after hitting either second or third in the first-place team's lineup in all but six of their games. Shocker, right? Certainly, it was in the team's clubhouse (whether the players were publicly going to admit it or not).

Prior to Friday night's game against the Braves, both Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and manager Alex Cora attempted to clarify where they were coming from in making the move. Here is some of what they had to say:

HOW THE MOVE WENT DOWN

Dombrowski

"Well, it was a baseball-related move for us. We’ve been looking at making a move because we knew that this day with Dustin would come where he’d be coming back probably since February, since spring training. We talked about different possibilities, when somebody will be ready, when somebody won’t be ready. We talked about all different type of possibilities. For us, it really is a baseball move, one that I talked to Alex about yesterday, Alex Cora. We were prepared to maybe go in a different direction with our move. He called me, I remember it was about 11:30 in the morning. I was getting ready to go for a run. Alex says, ‘I’ve got a thought for you about what we’re doing.’ He said, ‘This is a move that I would like to make, that I recommend making.’ Ultimately, it comes into my final decision, but he said, ‘I really want to play Mitch Moreland more. he’s a good player. He’s played very well for us. I don’t think Hanley is a person that handles sitting on the bench well. It gives us an opportunity to keep Blake Swihart and also be in a position where Blake can get some more playing time.’ So, he said, ‘This is something I recommend us doing.’

"I said, ‘You’re sure?’ 

"He said, ‘Yeah,’ and he went into some different reasons behind it, his thought process. What I asked him to do at that point was to make sure that he went to the ballpark, because he gets there earlier than me, to meet with his coaching staff and be in a position where if that was what he really wanted to do. When I got to the ballpark yesterday, Frank Wren and I drove ever, and he said, ‘This is what we would like to do.’ So we proceeded in that direction."

Takeaway: They were clearly ready to roll with moving on from Swihart until Cora made his proposal.

WHY WAS CORA ABLE TO CHANGE DOMBROWSKI'S MIND?

Cora

"I think a lot of things after games. There are some things I think for a while and don’t communicate it at the time because you have to really dig in and look for information and make sure that it’s the right reason to bring it up. You have to be responsible, and we’ve been talking about that. I’m not going to go today and just say, ‘how about this move?’ just because somebody mentioned it to me or I read it somewhere. ‘What about this one?’ ‘They’re talking about this one.’ No. It’s something that, on a daily basis and where we’re going, you take a look at where we’re at roster-wise and versatility is very important to me. I do think, and I keep saying it, this roster that we have today is going to help us in the long run. I do feel that it’s going to help other players to get rest, to move around, to move in the lineup. And I’m excited about it. Like I say, it’s nothing that Hanley didn’t do. It’s just a matter that, versatility-wise, we feel very comfortable with where we’re at right now.

"I think I’m being honest about it. We talk about a lot of situations. For him to give me the freedom to talk about situations and let me voice my opinion about baseball and how I feel, I think that’s the reason he hired me, because he feels like I have a good feeling about what is going on, not only with us but around the league and how the game is going. I thank him for trusting me and that’s the reason I’m here."

Takeaway: For Dombrowski to defer to his manager is a good thing, especially after all the rumblings of disagreements emanating from John Farrell's office when he was in there behind closed doors with the president of baseball operations.

HOW MUCH DID RAMIREZ'S $22 MILLION VESTING OPTION PLAY INTO THIS?

Dombrowski

"The vesting option had nothing to do with it because we're in a situation as you can see, basically we're trying to do everything we can to possibly win. So that would not be an obstacle in that regard."

Takeaway: Technically, there is some truth to this. This was largely about needing to play Moreland more. But the reality is that they understood how dicey things were going to get if Ramirez sensed his march to 497 plate appearances was going to slow down. That was absolutely factored in. How do I know? Well ...

WHY WOULDN'T THEY JUST RIDE OUT WHATEVER THEY HAD IN RAMIREZ

Cora

"I don't think he didn't fit in but I think his role was going to diminish and for how good of a player he is, it was going to be difficult. It was probably platoon, maybe come in and pinch hit late in games, and that's not the perfect role for Hanley Ramirez. He's a guy that, he needs his at-bats. Obviously, with the versatility, we have with the other players, with Brock [Holt], with [Eduardo] Nunez, and with Blake [Swihart], as far as managing the game, it's a lot easier that way with those guys."

Dombrowski

"I just think our feelings were that we've had Hanley, even the time in the past, he's a guy that wants to play on a regular basis. Some guys reach that stature in their career and you see what ends up happening. We just didn't think it was a good role for him."

Takeaway: This was a hugely important part of the equation. There are way too many examples of players cruising along, having the time of their lives, only to start obsessing over their option in the following season. Pedro Martinez (2003). Manny Ramirez (2008). Two examples that should hit home for Red Sox fans. Cora witnessed it first-hand in '08 with Manny and, assuming Hanley wasn't due for an enormous turnaround, wanted to get out ahead of the curve.

 

Dale & Keefe -  Dave Dombrowski claims it was Alex Cora’s choice to designate Hanley Ramirez;  Cora defends his decision

Hour 2: Dave Dombrowski breaks news that Hanley DFA was Cora’s decision. The guys question whether Cora is now the GM after Dombrowski gives him the reigns for Hanley move. Callers question how this will impact the roster and clubhouse. Cora gives some clarity on his choice to DFA Ramirez

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