Hanley Ramirez says pain in lower back and upper leg is “worst he’s ever felt”

Florida Marlins Hanley Ramirez lies on the ground as he throws the ball to second base in the second inning during their MLB National League baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Miami, Florida, April 9, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Marlins beat writer Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald tweets the pain in Hanley Ramirez’s lower back and upper left leg is “the worst he has ever felt” in his life.

From Rotoworld.com:

For example, Ramirez said he can’t even put his shoes on. That’s no good. The 27-year-old has tried to play through the lingering back pain, which helps explain his uncharacteristic .210/.306/.309 batting line to begin the season. The Marlins haven’t mentioned anything about a potential DL-stint, but we wouldn’t be surprised if he missed a few days this week, at the very least.

Maybe it is time for Ramirez to make a trip to the DL. I remember when he was working out in the offseason and seemed to have a renewed sense of pride in his craft. Now he’s in the midst of his worst season as a professional and if he’s hurt, then pressing isn’t going to help the issue.

Of course, fantasy owners have a real dilemma on their hands. If you drafted him and haven’t dealt him yet, then you’re probably not going to get fair value for him right now unless other owners in your league haven’t been paying attention to his injury situation. At this point, it might be best to ride it out provided that you have other options. If you can pick up someone like Alex Gonzalez, Ryan Theriot or Jason Bartlett in the meantime, maybe Ramirez’s situation will eventually play itself out.

Or, if he is in a ton of pain and you think this is going to be an issue all season, then nobody would fault you for bailing now and seeing what you can get in a trade (assuming you don’t play in a keeper league). But if it were me, I’d be patient. This is a career .307 hitter we’re talking about here. One would think he will turn it around eventually.

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2011 Fantasy Rankings: Shortstops

All 2011 Fantasy Articles | 2011 Position Rankings

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. Shortstop is the new second base, a fantasy wasteland where only six (!) players are projected to be drafted in the first ten rounds. Six, out of a hundred. That’s bad.

New York Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter warms up before the Yankees take on the Texas Rangers in game four of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium on October 19, 2010 in New York. UPI/Monika Graff

“Hello. I’m Derek Jeter, and you’re not.”

Worse, only five of those players are proven fantasy performers year after year, and even that is stretching the truth until it nearly breaks. Truth be told, there is one guy in this group (Hanley Ramirez) that has held up as a reliable fantasy stud. The rest are streaky, as in ‘Will Ferrell in “Old School”‘ streaky. (Tulo, we’re looking at you.) What is a fantasy manager to do once Hanley and Troy Tulowitzki are off the board? For starters, don’t panic, and for God’s sake don’t reach. Continue to take the best guy on the board, and see if one of these guys lands in your lap.

Jose Reyes, Mets
The late, great Sparky Anderson once said, “Just give me 25 guys on the last year of their contracts; I’ll win a pennant every year.” You think he wouldn’t love to have Reyes this year, since he’s essentially auditioning for all of Major League Baseball? The Mets are so bogged down with money issues that there has even been speculation that they will have a hard time paying their players, which makes the likelihood of a contract extension to Reyes unlikely. Meanwhile, the shortstop of the Red Sox, Marco Scutaro, has a player option on his contract for next year, which the club could buy out for $1.5 million. Don’t think for a minute that Reyes doesn’t know this, and will bust his ass to get him some Carl Crawford money. Having said that, don’t bid the moon and the stars to get him. If he comes to you, great. If not, then take a look at…

Marco Scutaro, Red Sox
Reyes’ 2010 stat line was .282-83-11-54-30. Scutaro’s line was .275-92-11-56-5. Nearly identical in every category except steals, and he can be had 11 rounds after Reyes is off the board. If you play in a points league and Reyes is gone, take a deep breath, and remember that the next best thing is a mere 110 picks away. Scutaro is the textbook definition of a value pick, even if he spends the entire year in the 9-hole.

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Hanley Ramirez says that now he’s motivated

Hanley Ramirez told reporters over the weekend that he’s very motivated to rebound in 2011. He even joked that he will be the first player to “win Rookie of the Year twice.”

From the Miami Herald:

“I’m going to be the first player to win Rookie of the Year twice,” Hanley Ramirez playfully told the Marlins and his agent this winter. That’s obviously impossible, but his message – as agent Andy Mota explained – is clear: Ramirez “has the hunger of a rookie” after a humbling 2010.

“Everyone will be very surprised with the new Hanley and his whole makeup,” manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “He is very motivated. He was very disappointed in his season. He knows the whole offense revolves around him.”

That’s great, but where was this “hunger of a rookie” last year? Dude makes almost $12 million a year – why can’t the Marlins get his best effort every season?

Players have up and down seasons – that’s just part of being an athlete. But one thing that Ramirez seems to have a problem with effort. Nobody questions his ability as a player – it’s his drive and focus that are the problem. He doesn’t always hustle and he doesn’t always adjust when his game needs tweaking. As the Miami Herald article points out, he gave away at bats last year because he was unwilling or unable to adjust his approach at the plate. When athletes get older, they have to adjust their game because the opposition knows how to attack their weaknesses.

Will Ramirez be a player that evolves over time or will he continue to rest on his natural abilities? Furthermore, will he put in the work and dedication needed to become one of the very best? He certainly has the athletic ability but does he have the drive? Considering he started his workouts a month early this year, it looks like he does. But we’ll see.

Ortiz outlasts Ramirez in Home Run Derby

American League All-Star David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox hits a home run in the final round during Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in Anaheim, California July 12, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

David Ortiz belted 32 dingers over three rounds on Monday night to best Hanley Ramirez in the Home Run Derby.

From MLB.com:

“It means a lot to me,” Ortiz said. “Thanks to the fans for the support. Thanks to everyone for showing up. We do this for you guys. We want to make sure you guys enjoy the show.”

Though both Ortiz and Ramirez went deep a combined 21 times in the first and second rounds, the slate was wiped clean heading into the head-to-head finals competition.

Ortiz was the first of the two to take his swings, and he set the bar high. Though Ortiz’s production trailed off toward the end of his turn, his eight early blasts were enough to give him an insurmountable lead.

“Hanley is like a son to me. He grew up with us in Boston,” Ortiz said of the Marlins’ shortstop who began his career in the Red Sox’s organization.

The Brewers’ Corey Hart put on a clinic in the first round by sending 13 over the outfield wall, but tanked in the second round by not hitting any. Miguel Cabrera advanced to the semi-finals after hitting seven in the first round, while Matt Holliday hit five and Nick Swisher hit four.

Vernon Wells only hit two, while Chris Young went deep only once.

Report: Marlins fire manager Fredi Gonzalez

In a rather surprising development, the Marlins have fired manager Fredi Gonzalez according to the Palm Beach Post.

Here is part of owner Jeffrey Loria’s statement regarding the firing:

It is never easy to make a change in managers. Fredi has been with our Club for four years. We have become close, and I am extremely fond of Fredi. I, along with all our fans, am grateful for Fredi’s contributions. At the same time, we can’t let personal feelings get in the way of taking steps that we believe are necessary to improve our ballclub.

Decisions on individual personnel cannot supercede our overall goal, which is to win. We believe we can do better and be better. We owe it to our fans to put this team in the best possible position to win. Everyone knows how I feel about winning. That’s the reason we’re making this change.

We still have a very long season in front of us, and plenty of time to turn things around. Everyone – our fans, our team, our organization, and myself – wants us to win. That continues to be, and will always be, the goal.

Along with Gonzalez, bench coach Carlos Tosca and hitting coach Jim Presley were both let go as well. Triple-A New Orleans skipper Edwin Rodriguez was named interim manager, while Brandon Hyde was named interim bench coach and John Mallee was named interim hitting coach.

I couldn’t even begin to speculate why Gonzalez was fired (the Marlins are only two games under .500, although are 7.5 games back in the NL East), but I can assure you that we don’t know the full story yet. He was named The Sporting News Manager of the Year in 2008 and with a win over the Cardinals earlier this year, he won more games than any other skipper in Marlins history. Something doesn’t add up here.

One club that could be interested in Gonzalez’s services is the Braves, with whom he spent a couple of years with before being named manager of the Marlins in 2006. Bobby Cox is retiring at the end of the season and Gonzalez might be the perfect fit.

Either way, Gonzalez will have suitors. He earned a lot of respect for the way he handled an incident with Hanley Ramirez earlier in the season and I’m sure he’ll be back on someone’s bench next season.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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