I was prepared to be excited if the A's landed Hanley Ramirez, because how can you not be excited at the idea of upgrading your SS position from a .541 OPS to a guy who can slug that? A 28-year old already with 3 All-Star appearances and a runner-up in the MVP award balloting? Clearly a "potential impact player" at your position of greatest weakness.
Ramirez was traded, as last night turned to this morning, to the Dodgers in a deal in which Nate Eovaldi was the centerpiece, a player to be named later was also sent to the Marlins, and no cash changed hands. I am absolutely fine with the A's not matching or trumping that deal, and Hanley's "clubhouse cancer" reputation has absolutely nothing to do with it.
First of all, I think the whole "clubhouse cancer" thing was always irrelevant to this trade. Clubhouse cancers don't arrive at the trading deadline and immediately begin destroying the team's atmosphere. In fact, often times there's a honeymoon period where it seems like the guy has "finally found a home". It's over time that these guys wear out their welcome and problems emerge. Guys like Hanley Ramirez and Milton Bradley -- they are ideal guys to acquire for half a season. They're just not always ideal for much longer.
Yet as the dust clears, I'm more relieved than disappointed that the A's didn't trump the Dodgers' offer. Why? Several reasons...
1. Don't be too quick to overlook the impact of bad defense at a key defensive position. You can't hide bad defense at SS and on a team whose success starts with limiting runs it is unclear how much Hanley's hitting would have been "more better" than his bad defense was "more costly".
2. Not only has Hanley been a very ordinary hitter this season (.246/.322/.428) but he was actually worse last season (.243/.333/.379), so he's actually 2 seasons removed from being better than an "ok" offensive player. Plus, he is currently nursing a hand injury in which the effects of punching a water cooler have been exacerbated by an infection. In other words, there is no certainty that he will provide great offensive production right now, just hope. What you can probably count on, for sure, is the bad defense.
3. The names being bandied about included Michael Choice, Dan Straily, A.J. Griffin, and Brad Peacock. Given that the actual deal was for Nate Eovaldi, if you wanted to pick up Hanley's entire salary you likely had to part with Griffin, and if you wanted the Marlins to pick up a substantial amount you were talking about at least one of Choice, Straily, Peacock.
Frankly, I would have been mad had the A's dealt Straily, and I hope they won't in any subsequent deal that might go down in the next 6 days. I would have disappointed to see Choice dealt, and while I think the A's can afford to part with Peacock, given the presence of Parker, Milone, Griffin, and Blackley ahead of him, and Gray right behind him, he is a valuable piece even in trade, so it's not as if the A's would have been getting Hanley as a "salary dump". They would have been getting him at a price.
What I'm saying is that while some of those guys -- specifically Griffin and Peacock -- I would swap for the chance to get Hanley, we are not talking about Ross, Godfrey, or any other relative "table scraps". Acquiring Hanley was going to require taking a chance on bad SS defense and "roll the dice" hitting (ok? good? great? ok?) at the expense of losing some real young talent. Had it been Griffin, the A's would be absorbing a ton of salary. And had it been Straily, I would have be fuming.
It's nobody. We still have all our talent, all our trade chips, all our payroll flexibility, and a 15-2 July record. We can still look for a SS on our terms. I like where the A's are today and had we acquired Hanley, I might be excited -- no, I would be excited -- but I might like where we are a little less.