Hanley Ramirez Will Put Los Angeles Dodgers over the Top in NL West

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIJuly 25, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JULY 23: Hanley Ramirez #2 of the Miami Marlins looks on from the dugout during a game against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park on July 23, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been on the short list to land nearly every pitcher on this year's MLB trade market—instead they just landed one of the best hitting shortstops in the league.

Sources have told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick that the Dodgers and the Miami Marlins have agreed to a deal that will send 2006 Rookie of the Year Hanley Ramirez to LA, along with reliever Randy Choate, in exchange for 22-year-old right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and minor league prospect Scott McGough.

At fourth place in the rugged National League East division, the Marlins have been in super-seller mode recently after dealing Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers.

The Marlins may not be done still, as ace Josh Johnson could also potentially be sold.

Regardless of the situation in Miami, Ramirez is just what the Dodgers need, as they sit just 2.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.

They already have one of the strongest pitching staffs in baseball, led by last year's Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, left-hander Chris Capuano and closer Kenley Jansen.

Jansen has been dominant out of the bullpen for Los Angeles. He currently has 19 saves, a 1.93 ERA and a minuscule 0.86 WHIP, as he has just been shutting the lights out on the opposition late in games. 

Capuano has a 2.81 ERA and leads the team with 10 wins, while Kershaw is 7-6 with a 3.14 ERA and 136 strikeouts, good for fifth in the majors.

But, of the top 10 strikeout leaders in MLB, Kershaw has the worst record despite a very respectable ERA, which points to the fact that the Dodger run support has been lacking.

That is where Ramirez comes in—and at the perfect time to boot.

Shortstop Dee Gordon went down with an injury earlier this month, which forced him to have surgery on his thumb.

The 24-year-old was simply mediocre at the plate before his injury anyway, as he was hitting just .229 and for very little power. His speed is what was missed the most by LA, as he had complied 30 stolen bases before going down.

While Gordon is still on the disabled list, you have to figure that, once he is healthy, he will make a return to the lineup and Ramirez will be shifted to third—another position where the Dodgers are in need of a production boost.

Current starter Juan Uribe has been even worse than Gordon at the plate, hitting .190 with just 17 RBI and two home runs.

Ramirez, a career .300 hitter, hasn't been having the best year of his career, hitting just .246 with 14 home runs and 48 RBI.

But either way you slice it, Ramirez will be a huge production improvement from either Uribe or Gordon.

Simply replacing the run production of Ramirez for that of Uribe puts the Dodgers into the top half of the league in runs scored, out of the cellar of the majors in home runs and up eight spots in total RBI.

He should also benefit from simply being in a batting order alongside two other great hitters, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp.

Of course, one also has to wonder whether he will see a revival in Los Angeles after being moved from a Marlins club where he was notably unhappy at times.

That kind of thing is impossible to predict, as some players improve and some devolve after being traded.

While either way this won't make the Dodgers one of the best teams in the majors offensively, it will be more than enough to supplement a strong pitching staff.

With the temporary loss of Chad Billingsley, the team may try to add another pitcher before August 1, but for now, Hanley Ramirez has the Dodgers are looking like a playoff-caliber squad.