Sigh of Relief for Mets Fans – Hanley Ramirez Off the Table

The Boston Red Sox have reunited with Hanley Ramirez, signing the free agent to a 4-year, $88M contract.

No word on what the Mets offered Han-Ram prior to his decision to sign with the Bosox.

What do you mean, the Mets didn’t make any offer? Aren’t they all gung-ho for a playoff push in 2015? Don’t they have a big hole at shortstop? Isn’t their most glaring need offense? And wouldn’t Hanley Ramirez be a great fit based on all those factors?

Ah, but if we read the propaganda put forth in the Mets fan blogosphere, we’d believe that Hanley Ramirez would have been a TERRIBLE signing. He’s lazy, for one. And injury-prone, for another. And too old. And not a really good shortstop any more — a bad one, in fact. And he’s too expensive (remind me why a fan cares about a what a team spends on a player?). And besides all that, the Mets have Wilmer Flores, who, if you listen to one (or several) of those fan blogs, projects to be better than Hanley Ramirez (and every other shortstop on the market) next year.

So, Mets fans should be thrilled that Hanley Ramirez signed with the Red Sox, because now they don’t have to stress about the possibility of a former All-Star, former Rookie of the Year, former batting champion, annual .800+ OPS slugger causing havoc in the Flushing clubhouse and preventing Wilmer Flores from batting .260 in 2015. Instead, Han-Ram will take his iron glove to Boston, where he’s likely to be moved to third base or left field, and prevent the Red Sox from winning. If by chance the Red Sox are crazy enough to leave Ramirez at the shortstop position, there might be a chance that slick-fielding Xander Bogaerts could be made available on the trade market. But that’s of no consequence to Mets fans, because, again, if you’re keeping up in the blogosphere, Wilmer Flores projects to be just as good, if not better, than Bogaerts in 2015. Of course he will be — among other reasons, he’ll be working with Mike Barwis again, while Bogaerts will not.

One less thing to worry about — there will be no Hanley Ramirez drama for Mets fans to stress about in 2015. Whew! Any comment? Post it below.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. DanB November 24, 2014 at 6:29 pm
    I believe the plan is to have Flores stink for two years and then have a good year and then give the Mets credit for wasting two more years for one decent year with no guarentee for future years. It worked for Davis and Duda.
  2. Bat November 24, 2014 at 8:52 pm
    You are ranting about Ramirez not being considered for SS, but from what I have read the vast majority of teams do not believe he can play SS anymore.

    My understanding is that the Red Sox are moving him to LF.

    So a better question, in my humble opinion, is why wasn’t he considered for LF?

    Answer: because he was too expensive and where was Nimmo and Conforto going to play in 1 to 2 years when they are ready?

    Notice how the Red Sox don’t seem to be worried about their prospects being blocked: they will deal those guys for pitching or to make any other area of weakness stronger.

    The Mets could have gone to extremes like this and signed Han Ram to play LF, Sandoval to play 3B, and moved an increasingly fragile Wright to 1B, dealing Duda for (just by way of example) a lights out closer to pair with Mejia, Familia, Black, Edgin, etc.

    But unfortunately the Mets are a small market team playing baseball in New York and I read that even guys like Andrew Miller are too expensive for them.

  3. DaveSchneck November 24, 2014 at 10:37 pm
    The pros and cons of Ham Ram are well known…basically that he is a big time RH bat that comes with some baggage. Besides the Mets, 28 teams did not find him worth $22 mil a year for his age 31-34 seasons, including his spend-free former employer. The Mets elected to sign another RH batting champ instead, for his age 36 and 37 seasons, and save $67 mil. We shall see, but I think Bat’s final sentence above sums it up best, at least until facts prove otherwise.
    • Joe Janish November 24, 2014 at 11:53 pm
      Even in an off-year, and even in a year in which he played only 128 games, Hanley Ramirez would have either led the Mets or been in the top 3 in just about every offensive category. In 2013, he played only a half-season and still hit 20 HR with an OPS over 1.000. Is he a below-average shortstop defensively? Yes — as is Wilmer Flores. Is he “no longer a shortstop”? I don’t think so, not considering his athletic ability and his offensive production. Maybe I’m nuts, but I’m sure he can play a better defensive shortstop if he wants to / is motivated. Even if he remains as “bad” defensively as he’s been the past two years, it’s excusable if he’s hitting 15-20 HR with a .800+ OPS — the Mets will be lucky to get anything near that production from Flores, and have lived with worse from Daniel Murphy at 2B.

      Why am I so stuck on Han-Ram? I guess it’s because, to me, it’s mind-blowing that Mets fans seem to be OK with the fact that their club was never even sniffing Ramirez, despite him being the most obvious and perfect answer to their #1 most glaring hole. Credit spin doctor Sandy Alderson and the Mets Kool-Aid-drenched social media machine for convincing a majority of fans to believe that Han-Ram would have been a bad idea — in part because of the financial risk. Really? Financial risk, in NYC? And here I thought with the specter of a 2015 playoff run on the horizon, fans might start saying, “we’re not in Kansas (City) any more…”

      Maybe Hanley Ramirez will be a complete bust over the next four years. It doesn’t matter. The point is, he was the Mets’ answer to their problems at shortstop, he could have been acquired without expending any of the Mets’ precious young arms, his presence would instantly turn the Mets into a legitimate Wild Card threat, and signing him would have been the New York Thing To Do — both from a ticket-selling perspective and an improve-the-team perspective. I’m stunned that the MLBPA and/or Scott Boras hasn’t stepped up and publicly berated the Mets and Bud Selig for allowing Ramirez to wander in free agency without so much as a whisper of interest from Flushing.

      But that’s just me. The “smart” people, I’m sure, will be thrilled to see the Mets save money and make a more efficient acquisition, such as a trade for Didi Gregorius or Brad Miller / Chris Taylor.

      • DaveSchneck November 25, 2014 at 9:30 am
        I agree 100% that the Mets should be “in play” for the Ramirezs and the Andrew Millers. Whether that amounts to serious bidding or PR is hard to tell. What is also being seriously overlooked is that the Mets are in BIG need of a #3 hitter. DW is a huge question mark, much bigger than being reported. The combination of potential skill erosion and health make him far from certain, with no plan B (I don’t count a 36 year old oft injured guy as a legit plan B). I can attest first hand that when you incur a shoulder injury that leaves the shoulder “loose”, even with rehab and workouts the tendons do not tighten. Mine had to be repaired surgically, and DW will have that looming when he plays, swings, dives, slides, etc.

        I do agree with Argon regarding the pitching and the pen. Yes, the Mets have potential, but frankly they are a ways from being an elite staff. Wheeler, for all the hype, was league average, as were Gee, Niese, and Colon (more or less). The pen has a lot of power arms, but Parnell returning from TJ is a question mark and Black hasn’t proven squat. Leather, for all his Ks, has a very high walk rate and has not dominated AAA bats in any way. Miller would be a perfect fit, and even with an overpay, that contract won’t sink the finances. With all the young power arms supposedly on the way, and only 5 starting spots on the big team, I’m sure a whiz like Alderson should be able to weed out some bullpen arms as they hit the arb years and bring in some lower cost options, while maintaining a Miller and/or Robertson. Yes, they need a SS upgrade, but I want the lockdown pen more if given the choice. I won’t buy this 90 win nonsense without the addition of a legit lefty, not some Lannan/Biemel retread. I would take Argon’s Pennington/Robertson/Miller trifecta over Hanley if given that choice. Since it won’t happen, I’ll two Millers – Brad at SS and Andrew in the pen. I can live with Miller-Murphy-Flores-Tejada manning 2B-SS with a big time pen.

        • TexasGusCC November 25, 2014 at 10:53 am
          Dave and Argon,

          You do realize that Miller was a gopher-prone pitcher that walks the ballpark until this past year. How can you trust him going forward? If you feel that Familia and Mejia may regress, wouldn’t you expect Miller moreso?

          And Pennington? What does he bring to the table? Ramirez can do some serious damage while getting better pitches for players in front of him and being on base for players behind him. What would Pennington do? And, how many plays would Pennington make that Ramirez cannot?

          Come on guys, players like Pennington won’t start anywhere because they cannot contribute enough offensively to come close to acceptable. And Miller had one year of putting it together, and those guys I just can’t trust.

        • argonbunnies November 25, 2014 at 3:44 pm
          Pennington is not a great player, but he does one thing well — make plays at SS. He’s rated above MLB average at the position every year he’s played, which sets him high above anyone else the Mets have considered. I’m not saying he’s better than Hanley, I’m just saying that I’d be perfectly happy with his defense as a consolation prize for missing out on Hanley’s offense and spending Hanley money elsewhere.

          Brad Miller is a gamble. Neither his offense nor defense are reliable yet, but he’s shown flashes of brilliance in both areas and is young enough to improve. If the Mets are still building, he makes sense. If the priority is winning in 2015, he probably doesn’t.

        • argonbunnies November 25, 2014 at 3:47 pm
          Oops, sorry, you were talking about Andrew Miller, not the Miller who plays SS!

          The question with Andrew is whether he can keep the ball around the plate enough to get swings on close pitches. His stuff is elite, his health has been fine, he should be entering his prime. No, he’s not a complete sure thing, but there are very few relievers who are more of a sure thing than that. By the time someone like Clippard has put together 6 straight solid years, he’s usually beginning his decline.

      • friend November 25, 2014 at 10:06 am
        “their club was never even sniffing Ramirez”

        I knew that dogs do this to choose companions, and now I can’t get rid of the image of the Mets doing this to choose players. Thanks!

        • Joe Janish November 25, 2014 at 6:19 pm
        • TexasGusCC November 25, 2014 at 10:35 pm
          I think you are probably capable of understanding the point of view of the point, but let offer my help. This is from Wikipaedia for your review:

          A metaphor is a figure of speech that identifies one thing as being the same as some unrelated other thing, thus strongly implying the similarities between the two. It is therefore considered more rhetorically powerful than a simile. While a simile compares two items, a metaphor directly equates them, and so does not apply any words of comparison, such as “like” or “as.” Metaphor is a type of analogy and is closely related to other rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via association, comparison or resemblance including allegory, hyperbole, and simile.

  4. argonbunnies November 24, 2014 at 11:14 pm
    If the Mets are gonna spend another $22M on players, I’m glad they didn’t spend it on Hanley. If they don’t spend that, then yes, obviously, I would prefer they had spent it on Hanley.

    What better way to spend $22M? Well, just off the top of my head, you could pay Cliff Pennington to play SS, Miller for the 8th and Robertson for the 9th. That’d prevent a lot more runs than Hanley’s bat would add.

    • Joe Janish November 25, 2014 at 12:02 am
      Except, the Mets don’t need Andrew Miller and David Robertson — they need offense. And a shortstop. A team has to have a lead in the late innings in order for late-inning relievers to have value.

      I was under the impression that the Mets’ holdovers of Mejia, Familia, Black, and Edgin, with the additions of Parnell and The Talented Mr. Leathersich, would make the bullpen as good as any in the NL. But … they’ll need leads to protect, and that means they need to score runs.

      Who cares about the cost of Ramirez? This is New York, not Wichita Falls. Ticket prices aren’t going down significantly as a result of all this significant payroll reduction, as far as I can tell.

      • argonbunnies November 25, 2014 at 1:32 am
        C’mon, you know the bullpen is chaotic. Familia’s coming off a huge workload, Mejia allowed a ton of baserunners, Black’s had spinal problems, Edgin’s excelled only briefly and only as a specialist, Parnell has barely seen a mound since July 2013, Leathersich walked the world in AAA. There is exciting potential, to be sure, but most teams can boast that. Every team has at least 6 guys getting sizable workloads each year — giving two of those spots to proven dominators would be a HUGE step forward.

        Hanley’s offense would also be a huge step forward… but then his glove vs Pennington’s is a huge step back. So with Hanley, the Mets win several more games 5-4, but with Pennington/Robertson/Miller, the Mets win MANY more games 3-2.

        For a big doubter of the company line, Joe, I’m surprised to hear you echo the AlderSpin that what the Mets need is offense. In truth, in 2014 the Mets’ offense and pitching were nearly identical relative to their peers. It’s not politic for the Mets to admit that their vaunted pitching has yet to actually produce a significant competitive edge, but that’s the reality.

        Personally, I just want the Mets to win more games. If I have to watch the same frustrating offense, but the pitching and defense is so good that it works, I’ll take it. If you think adding another bat is a safer bet, then fair enough; I suppose I could be over-rating Miller after one great year.

        Agreed on the ticket prices. Fielding a cheap team and charging full price is dumb. The 2015 payroll will definitely be higher than the past two years, for whatever that’s worth…

        • Joe Janish November 25, 2014 at 6:46 pm
          Agreed that the Mets’ offense and pitching were nearly identical to their peers. However, their peers were the Phillies and Marlins, so if they don’t improve BOTH their offense and pitching, they’re looking at another run for a three- or four-way tie for second place / second-to-last place.

          Being the Chicken Little I am, I do believe that the Mets will lose to injury at least 3-4 or more of the pitchers they’re counting on for 2015. But when numbers-crunchers look at the Mets’ roster and young pitchers, they see depth and strength — and Alderson has made public statements supporting the theory that the Mets won’t focus on pitching this winter, but bats.

          I do think they need to deal away Niese, Gee, and Colon before their arms fall off, and they probably should sell high on Wheeler and/or Syndegaard if it means a worthwhile package in return. But pitching is easy to get these days, while offense is much more difficult to obtain, and so it makes sense to focus on bats — especially if the Mets are going to move forward with defensive liabilities such as Granderson, Cuddyer, Duda, Murphy, and d’Arnaud, because they’re going to have to outscore their mistakes. One great-fielding shortstop won’t be enough to overcome the rest of the infield, just like Juan Lagares won’t be enough to overcome the limitations of the corner guys. Mostly, though, I’m not convinced that Han-Ram’s defense nullifies his offense — he’s better at SS than Murphy is at 2B, and he provides MUCH more with the bat, and he’s CAPABLE of being better in the field.

        • argonbunnies November 26, 2014 at 12:13 am
          Hmm. Give up on excelling at run prevention, and instead try to make up for poor D and depth by scoring runs? Well, they ARE bringing in the fences… You might be onto something…
  5. argonbunnies November 25, 2014 at 1:32 am
    Grr. Lots of “comment awaiting approval” errors lately.
  6. TexasGusCC November 25, 2014 at 2:54 am
    I cannot help but agree with Joe completely tonight. The Mets needed an upgrade, and that’s coming from a fan that wants to see Flores excel. The Mets had one glaring weakness all year, firepower from the right side. Sign HanRam and keep your arms. However, the Mets don’t seem to be open to adding money to their payroll, but open to making it look like they are trying to win by signing a cheaper free agent (modus operandi: See Bay/Holliday, for example) and thn telling us they expect 90 wins, playoffs or bust, yada yada yada.

    I’m not advocating just spending money, but they didn’t even sniff this player. Nor will they sniff Cuban players, nor will they ever be aggressive in their pursuit of winning. They will be passive, almost glacierly in their attempts to excel.

    • argonbunnies November 25, 2014 at 6:39 am
      I do agree that hyping a mediocre roster instead of improving it is pretty awful. All you Mets players who don’t like being booed at home: blame your bosses, who keep telling us we should expect more from you.
  7. Aparicio Rodriguez November 25, 2014 at 10:56 am
    I wonder why Dilson Herrera seems to be completely out of the picture when Mets’ shortstop options are considered. I would be really interested in any insider thoughts on this.
    • argonbunnies November 25, 2014 at 3:52 pm
      In his brief time in MLB, Dilson showed good athleticism in the field, but had some problems getting ground balls into his glove. His arm is nothing special. He’s very young and could still turn into a good or great second baseman, but the odds of him excelling at SS seem tiny.

      Of course, if the Mets are just throwing promising hitters out there regardless of whether they can actually play SS, then sure, Hererra should be considered…

    • Joe Janish November 25, 2014 at 6:35 pm
      Agree with Argon re: Herrera. He looks like he could be a nice player some day, but a) not sure he’s ready for MLB just yet; b) not sure he has the arm for SS; and, c) he’s played all of 27 games at SS in his pro career.

      The kid is only 20, turning 21 next March, and he doesn’t appear to be ready to take on an everyday MLB job at any position — much less shortstop — for a team that insists it’s gunning for the postseason. Even Derek Jeter was 22 when he started playing everyday for the Yankees, and he was a natural shortstop and a very unique individual.

  8. Joe Janish November 25, 2014 at 6:26 pm
    Regarding Cliff Pennington – it seems as though the D-Backs are going to hold on to him as a backup infielder; this would be even more likely if they deal away Gregorius or Owings.

    If a guy like Pennington is the answer, heck, the Mets missed the boat by letting the Orioles sign Paul Janish to a minor-league contract a few days ago. Janish and Pennington are essentially the same player, except Janish is better with the glove, probably worse with the bat, and a heckuva lot cheaper — that last factor, perhaps most important for the Mets. Oh well.

  9. argonbunnies November 26, 2014 at 12:10 am
    Okay, here’s a different approach I like better than Hanley: sign James Shields, and trade Syndergaard for a good young SS, maybe Castro. I am not a huge Castro fan, but I think if you factor in O, D, and durability, he’ll be better than Hanley by 2017 if not before. Plus few minor league pitchers become as good as Shields, regardless of their hype.

    Honestly, with that $22M I think there are a lot of good options. It’s only the not spending it at all that I’d object to.

    • Joe Janish November 26, 2014 at 6:17 pm
      Here’s an approach I like: sign Hanley AND Shields AND Robertson. I wouldn’t bother with Miller, he reminds me a little of B.J. Ryan, in that he came out of nowhere to suddenly be an impact LH reliever in his late twenties for the Orioles, and could drop out of sight just as quickly after signing a huge contract in his early 30s.

      The Yankees would make big three signings like that, if they felt it was necessary. The Red Sox may very well do it this winter. Why can’t the Mets? Wasn’t that the whole point of creating “payroll flexibility”? So that they could go “all in” when they felt they were ready to make a run?

      • DaveSchneck November 26, 2014 at 6:56 pm
        I think that most if not all of us are saying essentially the same thing, albeit in a slightly different way. Alderson and the Mets to date are still pretending, making them pretenders, until proven otherwise. Giving up the #1 pick on Cuddyer does not remove the tag of pretenders, they need to do way more to improve the team and close the huge gap between them and the Nats. Now, the offseason is still young, and the proof will be in the pudding. I don’t buy a word of what Alderson says, as it can be intended in one or many ways – appeasing the fan base, blowing smoke for other GMs to hear, yada yada yada. What he does and doesn’t do will tell the story. Looks like the Cuban RH power hitter is signing for under $70 mil, and not costing a draft pick. Not saying he is or would be the solution, but from the outside it looks like the Mets dropped out real fast. Ditto on Miller, who as you point out is a gamble, but are the Mets staying in the mix? The “real” contenders manage to hang in there. So, yeah, even with Han Ram off the market, count me in for Shields, Robertson, and then dangling Wheeler and a vet for a SS upgrade. I like that plan.
      • Dan B November 28, 2014 at 8:56 am
        If your goal is a payroll under $90 million and 85 wins then I think the Mets are having a fine offseason. The Mets can hover at 85 wins for a long time and sell the team as a wild card contender. In an era of trophies for participating that might be enough to sell tickets. The move I have my eye on is how do the Mets trade Murphy? How do they sell 2015 being the year AND trade Murphy (your only all star last year) for prospects? Will fans still believe the Mets have the money but are just looking for the right players?
        • DanSchneck November 28, 2014 at 10:15 am
          In general I agree with you. However, putting aside payroll (which is virtually impossible for Mets fans like us), the Mets still have baseball concerns. Primarily, they need another bat in the lineup, they need to sure up their infield defense, and they need to find a leadoff hitter. The two positions that provide the best opportunity to accomplish those goals are 2B and SS, but the task is monumental since everyone wants middle infielders that are good with the glove and the stick. The “easiest” solution is to find a plus-fielding SS that can lead off and get on base at a .350 clip minimally. Not likely. That means Murphy can be on the table for some type of combo move that leaves them stronger defensively at both SS and 2b as the “upgrade”, whereby they consider Flores a defensive upgrade at 2B and able to match Murphy’s offense, while adding a plus defensive SS to hit 8th. I still think it won’t be enough, but t least it will support the pitching.
        • argonbunnies November 29, 2014 at 3:33 pm
          Watching Murph loop singles all over the field is nice, but watching middle infielders eat up grounders is also nice.

          Let’s not assume Flores is any sort of answer — I’m down to give the kid more looks, but if I had to bet, I’d guess that his defense is Murphy-like and his bat is far worse (might slug as well and walk as much, but won’t reach base nearly as much due to a much lower batting average).

          A few years ago, Elvis Andrus looked exactly like the player you’re yearning for. Last year, he looked barely playable. It’d be an interesting buy-low gamble… if we could actually buy low. Think the Rangers are eager enough to get Profar and Odor in there that they’d eat some of Elvis’s contract? If not, think we could get Profar? The media seems to think the Cubs aren’t actually eager to pick one of Castro/Baez/Russell to trade, but I haven’t heard similar reports about the Rangers…

      • argonbunnies November 29, 2014 at 3:24 pm
        Okay, fair enough, Joe, that WOULD be better. I think we all agree that the Mets skimping on payroll is deplorable. I guess I just figure that if I’m gonna armchair GM, I need to accept SOME constraints. Y’know, for the sake of challenge. Otherwise, it’s a simple matter of just pointing at the best available players and saying, “I’d get those.”
  10. argonbunnies November 29, 2014 at 7:31 pm
    Not a Hanley level player, but possibly interesting is Jung-ho Kang:

    If the Mets have figured out where they went wrong with Kazuo Matsui, then maybe they can evaluate this 38-HR gold glove SS from Korea…