HANLEY RAMIREZ, 31, shortstop.
Final 2014 stats: .283 batting average, 13 home runs, 71 RBI, 35 doubles, 64 runs and .373 on-base and .500 slugging percentages in 512 plate appearances.
Contract status: Signed with the Red Sox for four years at $88 million.
The good: Despite appearing in only 128 games (121 starts), he was third on the team in RBI and fourth in homers and doubles. Hit left-handers (.282) and right-handers (.283) the same. Batted .303 on the road. Went 6-for-14 in the playoffs (.429). And remember, all this for a shortstop.
The bad: Struggled to stay healthy all season. His list of injuries -- thumb, calf, shoulder, oblique, leg -- was difficult to keep up with. When it became clear the Dodgers were not going to offer him a contract extension until the season played out and demonstrated he could stay injury-free, he stopped talking to reporters, so whatever he was thinking became conjecture.
Though still an effective hitter, he was a long way from the guy the Dodgers saw crush baseballs in 2013. His slugging percentage dropped almost 200 points. And his defense continued to suffer. His range shrunk and he became unreliable on the balls he could get to. Apparently it was enough to persuade even him it was time to change, signing as an outfielder with the Red Sox. Though that $88 million was pretty good incentive.
What’s next: No one doubts that when Ramirez is healthy and focused, he can be one of the game’s best hitters. The trouble is keeping him healthy and focused, which is now Boston’s concern. He’ll have to adjust to a new position, but no one anticipates that will prove a serious problem.
The take: Players are always going to be compared with their best years, and by that standard Ramirez had a disappointing 2014 season. Still, if you’re able to subtract the mind-numbing amount of injuries, he had a productive season.
Ramirez claimed, after he signed with the Red Sox, that he grew up with the Dodgers and learned how to win. Not sure that was always on display, Ramirez seemingly an island unto himself. Wouldn’t exactly call him a disruptive force -- as had been claimed with the Marlins -- but he seemed to sulk about his contract and hardly appeared the ultimate team guy.
Now he’s gone and the Dodgers are going to replace him with one year of Jimmy Rollins while waiting for phenom Corey Seager to develop. Maybe Ramirez stays healthy and plays like the superstar the Dodgers were counting on while in Boston, Rollins plays OK and then departs, Seager never emerges as the future and the deal looks bad.
That’s a gamble the Dodgers were willing to take, and it’s hard to blame them. Ramirez is only 31, though as frequently mentioned, it’s an old 31. Now Ramirez and the $16 million he earned last year are gone and the Dodgers are just fine with moving on.