Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Han on the LAM

Jose Reyes' arrival in Miami isn't sitting well with former face of the franchise Hanley Ramirez.
With the baseball off-season hot stove at full burn, here's what we can say right now.

  1. The Miami Marlins are spending money like the New York Yankees.
  2. Jose Reyes got paid $100M+ to play about 131 games a year.
  3. Hanley Ramirez's shift to 3B is not going to be easy.
So while that's where we are today, that's not necessarily where we will be by the time the 2012 season begins. It may be fun to speculate what the Miami Marlins line-up may look like with Albert Pujols smack dab in the middle of it, for the purposes of being current what we are looking at is a team that acquired a new $100M shortstop to supplant their current $70M shortstop. And wouldn't you know it, the $70M shortstop might just be better. That's why the announcement of Jose Reyes signing is causing almost as much turmoil down on South Beach as another announcement.

That's good fodder for Buster Olney and Jayson Stark, but what I'm concerned with are the fantasy baseball implications. 

Let's dream Han-Ram is a Marlin in 2012. A happy Marlin.
Two years ago, Hanley was the best player in all of fantasy, let alone best player at the shortstop position. Injuries, questionable behavior, and quite frankly a downturn in production has made this upcoming season a pivotal one for the 27 year old. So, I can understand, coming back from shoulder surgery, supposed to be the face of the franchise, and generally a bad teammate why Hanley is opposed to a move from his natural position even though it seems to make sense (makes the team better, he's a poor fielding shortstop, he's too big to play shortstop).

For the sake of not predicting the future, let's say all of that subsides. Jeffrey Loira works some magic, and Hanley and Jose are happy teammates on the Miami Marlins. Hanley is hitting like 2009 Hanley and all Hanley fantasy owners can rejoice that their frustrating franchise player is back to where he needs to be.

Hanley is the key member of my dynasty league baseball team, so all opinions moving forward are a tinge on the optimistic side.

Here are the Top 5 Reasons why fantasy owners shouldn't panic about Hanley. 
  1. If everything breaks correctly and Hanley is happy and healthy in 2012, he'll be a top 10 fantasy player again and still carry over his SS eligibility from 2011. This won't provide much long-term solace for dynasty fantasy owners, but it's no reason to panic and trade Hanley away so you can draft J.J. Hardy.
  2. Now, if things break like I say, Hanley will be the everyday 3B for the Marlins. This does jeopardize his 2013 SS eligibility, but the good news is, the guy taking his spot is Jose Reyes, who has played in 36, 133, and 126 games each of the past three years due to a nagging hamstring injury. Reyes steals bases and runs...a lot. The likelihood of him re-injuring or getting some rest to stave off injury is likely. Should the Marlins give Hanley those starts, then SS eligibility retained for another year (depending on your individual league's format).
  3. Ok, so Hanley plays 3B is happy, and has Reyes playing SS and batting in front of him. Well, he loses SS eligibility in 2013, but offensively he has Jose Reyes in front of him. Reyes is one of the most prolific leadoff men in the league, and a key part of the line-up that Hanley has been missing ever since the leadoff hitter was Hanley himself. Emilio Bonifacio had a great year, and can be a solid player, but there's no comparison to what Jose Reyes does on the basepaths. Reyes' OBP averages 20 points higher than Bonifacio, and while Bonifacio hasn't scored more than 78 runs or stolen more than 40 bases in his career, Reyes has 4 years of 100+ runs (not including a 99R year) and 40+ steals. That equals run production for run producers. Better pitches at the plate getting statistical payoffs for doing what Hanley does. No more 33 HR 67 RBI seasons for Hanley.
  4. The Great Unknown.
  5. There's a new ballpark. With new ballparks always comes the great unknown. Parks have been built as pitcher friendly only to turn out hitter friendly and vice versa. It has to do with jet streams or something. All indications are the new home for the Marlins, fish tank and all, will be more hitter friendly than the old football stadium they used to pack with 19,000 whole (announced) fans. A better offensive ballpark will help Hanley and his cast of characters.
  6. If all doesn't end well when the 2012 season wraps up, or maybe even earlier, Hanley will be traded. You're not moving Reyes' contract anywhere, and if Hanley can bounce back can fetch a great price for the Marlins to build up their pitching staff. Hanley should be entering his prime years at a fairly sane contract number. Assuming clubs want to plug him back at SS then there should be demand for his services from nearly every team in baseball. Odds are, more likely than not, he will make his way to a contending team and continue where he left off.
The drama in South Beach is just starting, but like the new Marlins logo hints at, sunny times are ahead.

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