Ferguson: The emergence of Dodgers star Hanley Ramirez

Scott Ferguson
10/7/2013 12:22:44 PM
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To think, a year ago, the Miami Marlins had their own version of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez at shortstop. Then, within a space of about four months, they traded them both.

Hanley Ramirez was the incumbent star shortstop with the Marlins, who was forced to move to third base when the Marlins, in an all-out bid to win a third World Series and justify public spending on their new stadium, signed New York Mets free agent shortstop Jose Reyes to a handsome, long-term deal.

The dream team never jelled. Manager Ozzie Guillen was fired and the team was effectively blown up from July until November with a pair of huge trades.
On July 25th, the Marlins shipped Ramirez and lefty reliever Randy Choate to the Los Angeles Dodgers for prospect Scott McGough and starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi. Any way you slice it, this trade was a steal for the Dodgers and little more than a salary dump for the Marlins.

Then nearly four months later, came the colossal 12-player swap between the Toronto Blue Jays and Marlins. Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos acquired Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck for seven players. Including Henderson Alvarez (he of the no-hitter on the final day of the season against the Detroit Tigers,) Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, Jeff Mathis, Yunel Escobar and a couple of pitching prospects.

It's still early, but the Dodgers clearly feel they made a better deal than the Jays. Ramirez is 28 years old and playing like a superstar. In his first postseason, he is hitting .538 against the Atlanta Braves with six RBI and is both leading and carrying this Dodgers team, which is leading the Braves 2-1 in the NLDS.

Ramirez is heading into the final year of his contract before heading into potential free agency. He will be making $16 million next season. The Dodgers are clearly intent on re-signing him.

Part-owner Magic Johnson saying last week that the club has no interest in New York Yankees soon-to-be free agent second baseman Robinson Cano was because they are more intent on spending their money on Ramirez and ace lefty Clayton Kershaw.

Make no mistake, the Blue Jays got a quality talent in Jose Reyes, but he's only played over 135 games once in the last five seasons due to a variety of injuries.

Considering those injuries, the Jays are dealing with a very significant and potentially hand-tying contract. Reyes is owed a guaranteed $86 million over the next five years and up to $102 million if the club picks up the option on a sixth year.

Reyes is also nearly two years older than Ramirez at 30.

Having natural grass at Rogers Centre would certain help Reyes and lessen the strain on his legs, but it would appear that the Jays aren't going to get rid of the artificial surface until 2018 at the earliest.

Notes from Japan:

November 1 is the date Japanese clubs can begin posting players who want to play in the MLB next season. The man at the head of that list is 24-year-old pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who went 23-0 over 27 appearances with the Pacific League-leading Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. While opinions vary as to whether he will be as good as Yu Darvish, Tanaka does have an upper-90s fastball, an effective splitter and a curve in his repertoire. The Blue Jays have reportedly scouted him, but the Chicago Cubs, heading into their 100th anniversary season of Wrigley Field, are apparently going to go all out to land Tanaka.

Former MLB prospect Wladimir Balentien shattered the Japanese league's home run record this year with 59, but he failed in his bid for the Triple Crown and his team, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, finished in last place in the six-team Central League. No word yet on whether Balentien is going to try to play again Stateside.

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