New Dodger Hanley Ramirez is a two-time All-Star and a batting champion,… (Sarah Glenn / Getty Images )
You roll the dice, you take your chances. Of course, there are reasonable bets and those in which the house has the craps stick on the move before the chips leave your little hand.
The Dodgers are gambling that mercurial infielder Hanley Ramirez will find peace and happiness in his new Chavez Ravine home, and that is absolutely no sure bet.
Just an awfully good one.
No one doubts his talent. Ramirez is a three-time All-Star, a batting champion and, of course, the former face of the Miami Marlins. Those are superstar credentials.
He’s also the guy who’s had his maturity questioned, not always given full effort and battled with managers and teammates. And the lifetime .300 hitter is batting only .247 this season, though with 14 homers and 47 RBI.
But on a team desperate for additional power bat, Ramirez fills a huge need. And whether he ultimately plays third or shortstop, power bats at either position have become as rare as a Sasquatch sighting. Look at the heated market for mediocre Padres third baseman Chase Headley.
If the Dodgers are gambling that Ramirez will be reenergized by a new start and fit happily into their very solid clubhouse, the one thing they are actually risking is something the Frank McCourt Dodgers never did — serious money.
The team’s new owners said money would not prevent them from making moves. And needing to prove it to fans early on, they definitely have.
The team's minor league depth is as thin as Dee Gordon’s profile, which severely limits their deadline trading ability in which prospects are the driving currency. The one thing they apparently do have, however, is money. And it’s what helped them acquire Ramirez and left-handed reliever Randy Choate from Miami on Tuesday for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and minor-league pitcher Scott McGough.
The surprising Oakland A’s wanted Ramirez too, but it was the Dodgers who were willing to pick up the rest of his $38-million salary package (he’s signed through 2014). The Dodgers have now spent over $165 million on Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig and Ramirez in the past six weeks.
This is not the same planet the Dodgers operated on under Frank McCourt. Then they did not want to pick up salary, dealing Carlos Santana and Jonathan Meloan to the Indians for Casey Blake and cash.
These new Dodgers, however, are the ones spending. Eovaldi is young and talented and has a promising future, but young starting pitchers with a promising future is their system’s lone area of strength.
General Manager Ned Colletti made a smart gamble, and the new owners backed him. It was only money, the one thing they have and are willing to use to make a statement. That has to please fans who bemoaned the team failing to act like it played in the nation’s second-biggest market under McCourt.
If Ramirez only continues to play as he has been to this point, that’s still a major improvement over either Juan Uribe or Gordon. And if he returns to being the premier player he was three years ago when he hit .342 with 24 homers and 106 RBI, then that’s one seriously impressive upgrade.
And when you have the money to lose, it's one smart roll of the dice.
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