Hanley Ramirez hit his 23rd HR last night -- his 8th since joining the Los Angeles Dodgers just over a month ago. In fact, for the Dodgers Hanley is hitting a pretty robust .273/.338/.511 (.848 OPS). It's not difficult to see why many A's fans were anywhere from disappointed to downright angry that Oakland couldn't land Ramirez when it looked like they might: The difference between how Hanley hits, compared to the way A's shortstops have hit this year, is cavernous.
If it cost the A's Dan Straily, to land him, if it cost the A's absorbing a $38M commitment to land him-- maybe Oakland was close enough in the playoff chase that it was worth it.
I was never in that camp, partly because I feared Ramirez' poor defense would offset too much of his hitting value, partly because I hold Straily in pretty high esteem, but also largely because of exactly what has happened in August.
Hanley Ramirez has, generally, performed well for the Dodgers. Los Angeles even went "all in" recently and added more star power in Adrian Gonzalez. Yet the Dodgers wake up this morning 4.5 games out of first place, and 1.5 games back of the second wild card with two teams to pass. You can "improve yourself now" at the expense of costing you later, and still not get where you're striving for.
Meanwhile, the A's hung on to Straily (and Michael Choice or whomever else might have been discussed along the way). They did not take on a $19M or $38M commitment, leaving them with financial flexibility that may have allowed them to take on Stephen Drew's contract this year and/or next year.
And all the A's have done -- with Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales still strongly in the mix, I should add -- is play great in August, win 8 in a row (and counting), get to 18 games over .500, lead the first wild card and pull to within 3 games of the division lead. You can pass up, or miss, the chance to add an "impact player" and still find you have enough to keep the magic going to the finish line.
No doubt it would have been exciting to add a player as talented, and potentially explosive, as Hanley Ramirez. But what the Dodgers are finding is that it's a 25-man roster and that one or two players, over a short period of time, can only impact the team so much. If they miss the post-season, they'll enter the off-season without 2-3 of their best prospects and with over 1/4 of a billion dollars in recently added contract commitments. The A's will enter the off-season with every key prospect intact, with ample financial flexibility, and with a core that is already thriving beyond what anyone expected. Who would you rather be right now? 2nd place in a sweepstakes never felt so good.
The A's go for another sweep of the Red Sox at 1:05pm today behind Brett Anderson. See you then!