Hanley Ramirez showed up at Red Sox Spring Training on Wednesday and he was missing his own first baseman’s glove. Ramirez had to use a glove that Mike Napoli used last year during workouts. He told the media that he had a glove on the way. Not a good start!
Here’s what we can assume about Ramirez.
1. He was told by the Red Sox back in October that he was going to be their first baseman this year.
2. He had the opportunity to work out and prepare to be the first baseman for five months.
3. After five months of knowing this, Ramirez still does not have a first baseman’s glove on the day he arrived.
Could Ramirez be sending a message that he’s not going to change his ways?
This first base experiment may be lining up to be a failure for Ramirez and the Red Sox. Is Ramirez capable of playing first base? Probably. Is he going to make the effort to learn the position and improve at it? Based on what we’ve seen so far, probably not. Not owning a first baseman’s glove on your first day of camp certainly does not suggest otherwise. This is a guy who less than a year ago stated he was not interested in bending over to field ground balls. He did not make much of an effort to improve in left field. Now he’s the starting first baseman?
The Red Sox have a known defensive liability in Ramirez. They knew this when they brought him in. He was expected to hit and the below average defense would just need to be dealt with. What do teams usually do with players who are weak defensively? They try to hide them in the corner outfield positions. The Sox tried that last year with Ramirez and the plan failed miserably. Now the plan is to put him in a position where he’ll be more involved than any position on the field besides catcher. Granted, first base is not that difficult of a position to play in comparison to the infield positions. But, you still need to learn the position, the footwork, and make the effort there.
Heres the good news. There’s time. Over the course of the next month and half, the Red Sox will have a better idea of how Ramirez looks at first base. He’ll probably get 20+ games in Spring Training at first base in. He’ll get to play with Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, and Pablo Sandoval to see if he can be an average defender at the position. If it doesn’t work out, John Farrell is going to need to make a bold move and put Travis Shaw at first base. Shaw was the better option at the end of 2015 and he may be the better option to start this year.
If Ramirez cannot play the position and does not make the effort, he automatically makes Pedroia and Bogaerts worse defenders. Their error totals would surely go up. Forget about Gold Glove caliber defense if the first baseman can’t pick the throws.
The trade deadline passed for the Celtics today with no moves made. There was an expectation for something big and it didn’t happen. The Red Sox deadline is five months away. There still may be an opportunity to move Hanley if he doesn’t fit in. The Red Sox have been trying to find a spot for a player who does not fit in for two years. How long will Farrell and Dave Dombrowski put up with this?
Hopefully not past Opening Day…