Patrick Daugherty

Baseball Daily Dose

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Hanley Heads West

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Some players leave town with grace and humility (Kerry Wood). Others set sail with mixed emotions (Kevin Youkilis).

Hanley Ramirez? He punched a fan (the thing that blows cool air, thankfully, not a person), got a nasty cut, didn’t take his antibiotics and developed an infection.

It was a crazy, if fitting, encapsulation of his time with the Marlins, which featured a lot of great baseball, but even more immaturity, mental lapses and a general sense of “what the hell is this guy doing?”

There’s no question Ramirez — a player who counts Manny Ramirez as one of his primary mentors — has all the talent in the world, but the question is, what has he made of it?

After hitting .342 to win the 2009 National League batting title and come in second to a man named Albert Pujols in the MVP race, Ramirez has played some baffling baseball, hitting .269/.350/.435 to go along with an OPS+ of 110 since Opening Day 2010.

Granted, those are still numbers a large majority of MLBers would take (particularly shortstops, H2R’s position before 2012, and likely home in Los Angeles), but befitting of the six-year, $70 million pact he signed in May 2008? Hardly.   

The production is even more troubling when you isolate it to the past two seasons, where Ramirez has hit .245/.327/.404 and posted a 97 OPS+. 100, of course, is considered the baseline for normalized on-base plus slugging percentage.

So what does it mean for the man going forward? Will getting traded do what Jack McKeon, Ozzie Guillen, a new position and “new era” of Marlins baseball couldn’t — wake Ramirez back to being one of the game’s most exciting and versatile offensive talents?

Or will it prove to be just the latest detour in a career that’s taken nothing but wrong turns after things seemed full steam ahead?

Only one man knows. We can only hope he’s focused enough to find the right answer.

It Tolls For Thee

Francisco Cordero was awful for the Blue Jays this season, posting a 5.77 ERA and 1.81 WHIP while blowing three of five save opportunities.

So is it surprising or predictable that he’s been even worse for the Astros, allowing six runs and eight baserunners in 2 1/3 innings while blowing both of his save chances?

Whatever it is, it’s one thing: an impetus for change in the ninth inning in Houston.

Wilton Lopez was pitching better than Brett Myers before he was traded, and is certainly pitching better than Cordero. In 38 innings across 37 appearances, Lopez has allowed just 11 runs and 40 baserunners (2.61 ERA, 1.05 WHIP), and could potentially be one of the league’s better stoppers if given the opportunity.

Chances are, he will be, and provided he isn’t shipped out of town before Tuesday’s trade deadline, he could be that sneaky, cheap source of saves you’ve long been looking for.

Ricky Romero’s Broke, J.P. Arencibia Is Too

There’s no such thing as a good 16-0 loss, but the Blue Jays suffered a particularly brutal one at the hands of the A’s on Wednesday, losing their hot-hitting catcher to a fractured right hand, and would-be ace to yet another disastrous performance.

With Arencibia, at least there’s clarity. The .242/.279/.466 hitting backstop — .321/.345/.736 in July entering play on Wednesday — will need six weeks to heal, and won’t take the field again until September.

With Romero, however, there’s questions followed by more questions topped off by questions. The 27-year-old lefty has allowed at least four runs in 10 of his past 12 starts, and surrendered six or more four times in the same timespan. Wednesday, he was torched for eight tallies on four hits and six walks while recording four outs.   

It’s unacceptably bad pitching for a team that desperately needs a stabilizing force in a rotation that’s been ravaged by injury, and might finally have Romero in for at least a bumped start. Romero’s next scheduled matchup — on the road in Seattle — would be any pitcher’s dream, but don’t count on him making it, and certainly don’t leave him in your lineup if he does.  

Game Notes: Mike Trout did Mike Trout things. The MVP talk grows louder and less fanciful. … Stephen Strasburg made mincemeat of the collapsing Mets. … Kyle Lohse tossed his 10th consecutive quality start, and 16th of the season. … Yoenis Cespedes roped two more doubles and drove in two more runs. He’s hitting .477 since the All-Star break, and has 50 RBI in 65 games. … The evil Tim Lincecum showed up and got out-dueled by...Jason Marquis. … Chase Headley hit his 12th, and possibly last as a Padre, home run. … Ryan Roberts had himself a day in his Rays debut. … David Price fanned 10, picked up his 14th win. … Dustin Pedroia hit his first home run since coming off the disabled list. … Miguel Montero went 3-for-3 with a home run against a lefty, whom he was hitting .202/.297/.292 against entering play on Wednesday.   

National League Short Hops: The Phillies gave Cole Hamels six-years and $144 million — the second richest deal ever handed out to a pitcher — to remain in Philadelphia. … The Pirates finally promoted top outfield prospect Starling Marte, who was hitting .286/.348/.500 for Triple-A Indianapolis. If you’re a Season Pass subscriber, you can read more about the Pirates’ latest outfield fix in yesterday’s Prospect Report. … FOX’s Ken Rosenthal reported the Reds have “kicked the tires” on Denard Span. Span would certainly fill the Reds’ leadoff hole, but likely cost too much in prospects for a team that surrendered a boatload of them in the Mat Latos deal. … The Phillies are actively shopping Shane Victorino, and possibly shopping Cliff Lee. From the sound of things, Victorino could be had for as little as a competent bullpen arm. It’s highly unlikely Lee is dealt. … Jayson Werth (wrist) could be activated as early as Tuesday. … Giancarlo Stanton (knee surgery) estimates he’s two weeks away from a return.   

American League Short Hops: Albert Pujols is day-to-day following a flare up with his perennially troublesome right elbow. The joint has bothered El Hombre since 2003. He should return on Friday. … Evan Longoria (hamstring) has been cleared to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham. Rays manager Joe Maddon originally believed Longo would need only 3-4 games to get back up to speed, but he'll likely spend at least a week on the farm. Nevertheless, his return is finally near. … Kevin Youkilis left the White Sox win over the Twins with a sprained left ankle. He’s tentatively hoping to return on Friday. … The Rays DFAed Hideki Matsui. Godzilla hit an abysmal .147/.214/.221 during his 34-game Tampa tenure. If he’s done for good, he’ll finish his MLB career with an .822 OPS compiled over 1,236 games. Not too shabby.  

Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for He can be found on Twitter .
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