It was with great interest that I watched current Red Sox GM Mike Hazen speak of the plans that were in place for the 2016 season. My ears perked up when he game to Hanley Ramirez’s name, hopeful that he would be the first Red Sox GM to listen to advice, and reveal his plan for moving Ramirez. Instead of those happy words, Hazen laid out a plan that included Ramirez moving to 1B. This will necessitate a move of one of the Red Sox budding young stars, because there simply is not enough positions on the field, not with Fat hanging out across the diamond. All hope was not immediately lost when I heard Hazen’s words. I thought for sure that it was a con he was perpetuating on the rest of MLB. Sure, it was a weak con, in my opinion, but if it worked, perhaps the Red Sox could save a prospect when they dealt him. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. On Saturday night, Brad Johnson of MLB Rumors reported that the plan is still to move Ramirez to 1B in 2016, with an eye towards him becoming a full-time DH in 2017. He noted, with a total lack of sarcasm, that Fragile “will be critical to the Red Sox success this season.” Scarier words have not often been writ about the fortunes of a professional baseball team. He would further state that
Ramirez was a disaster in left field, but there is hope he can be more focused and healthier in an infield role.
Ramirez has been an unmitigated defensive liability for nearly his entire career. He has only topped the league fielding average in 2009 and 2012. So while 2015 may have been bottom of the barrel for him, his previous infield failures at both 3b and SS would not seem to give any reason to hope that he will improve by attending to 1b. As I noted in November, the Red Sox had a .438 winning percentage in games that Ramirez partook. In all other games last season, they had a winning percentage of .561. His WAR for the season was a -1.3, meaning he wasn’t even good enough to qualify as a MLB reserve player. Yet, truck day is only 2 days away, the start of spring training is only 11 days away, and Ramirez is still slated to be the Red Sox starting 1b. Why? There only 2 answers that I can come up with: a.) There is zero market for Fragile’s services in the moment. Perhaps if he gets off to a hot start like he did in 2015, one might develop, but at that point the Sox would never trade him. b.) The Red Sox as an organization are afraid to admit that they made two colossal mistakes in the same off-season13, if you count Rick Porcello, and I most definitely do., they are going to double down and hold on to both Fat and Fragile, while praying for a miracle. Perhaps that will happen. Perhaps everything will go perfect, and like in 2013, players will outperform expectations. Just in case, though, it might be prudent for the Red Sox to budget for some hypnosis sessions with Dr. Bruce N. Eimer. Dr. Eimer makes no specific promises regarding professional athletes, but he does state that he has helped with weight loss2Fat, manage chronic pain, and cope with chronic illnesses3Fragile. Most importantly, he states that he has helped people change many unwanted behaviors. It is perhaps the last point that is most important to me, and all of Red Sox Nation: if he can manage to convince two of the Red Sox biggest enigmas to not be as terrible as they have been throughout their careers, the Red Sox can hope to compete. Otherwise it’s back to hoping for season-ending injuries for both of them, and hopefully before any young players are sent away.