According to the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez, Dodgers star Hanley Ramirez could miss as many as 10 weeks if his thumb injury turns out to be serious.
UPDATE: Thursday, March 21, 12:50 PM ET by Stephen Meyer
Hanley Ramirez is headed to the operating table and is expected to miss eight weeks of action for the Dodgers.
Hanley Ramirez's right thumb will require surgery. Ramirez is expected to return to competition in approximately 8 weeks.— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 21, 2013
--End of update--
Ramirez jammed his thumb in Tuesday's World Baseball Classic championship while playing for the Dominican Republic, which eventually captured its first tournament title over Puerto Rico.
The importance of Ramirez to the Dodgers in 2013 cannot be understated. If the multi-billion dollar club is going to live up to expectations and make a run at the World Series, it needs its starting shortstop in the lineup.
In a worst-case scenario, Ramirez gets fitted for a cast, sits out until June and then slumps in the following weeks as he rediscovers his swing. Hopefully, the MRI reveals a minor injury that can be rested, iced and healed quickly so all of that nonsense is avoided.
Just in case, though, let's explore three hypothetical moves the Dodgers could make to replace Ramirez for the time being.
Please keep in mind that I do not want, nor expect, the Dodgers to swing a trade. But in the event that they do consider it, these are three viable solutions.
Dodgers get: 3B Wilson Betemit and a minor leaguer
Orioles get: SP Chris Capuano
It's always nice to bring an old friend back into the fold (Betemit hit 10 homers in 84 games as a Dodger in 2007). The Orioles are rolling with Manny Machado as their starting third baseman in 2013 and Betemit will simply back him up.
That being said, the O's might hesitate to trade their most powerful bench hitter.
For the Dodgers, this move would bring a guy with tons of MLB experience to the hot corner for the first two months of the season and slide Cruz over to shortstop temporarily.
When Ramirez returns, Betemit would take on more of a backup, pinch-hitting role, which also gives the Dodgers a switch-hitting power threat off the bench.
Giving up on Capuano hurts the heart a little bit, but there is no room in the rotation for him or Aaron Harang and the Orioles are likely desperate for starting pitching depth to counter the hefty lineups in the AL East.
Trading away Capuano may be enough to get Baltimore interested in swapping Betemit, who can also back up Adrian Gonzalez at first base.
Dodgers get: IF D.J. LeMahieu
Rockies get: SP Aaron Harang and a minor leaguer
Much like the other two scenarios here, I think making a move for said player is unnecessary. With Jerry Hairston, Jr., Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto all proving they can be serviceable starters in the past, the Dodgers would be better-suited to find a way to rotate them in as starters (maybe with a dash of Dee Gordon and hopefully none of Juan Uribe) until Ramirez returns.
But if the chance to nab a guy like LeMahieu from a division rival comes along, I hope the front office jumps at the chance. He's a career .287 hitter in limited time in MLB and is still just 24 years old.
LeMahieu, who was a second-round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 2009 after leading LSU to a national title, can play an infield position, though he's primarily a second baseman.
There is reason for optimism with LeMahieu still, though he hasn't had much of an opportunity to showcase his skills in Colorado yet. He has always torn up the minor leagues, so the Rockies might be hanging on to him for the future—especially given that his path has been blocked.
However, the starting pitching woes at Coors Field will run deep this year and the Rockies could benefit from adding a veteran arm.
Dodgers get: IF Robert Andino
Mariners get: RP Javy Guerra and minor leaguer
I don't know how high the Mariners are on Andino (sure to be the first guy off the bench at second base, shortstop and third base this year), but this is probably the least likely trade of the three I've proposed.
Andino is a very versatile player who would be an upgrade over the other three utility infielders on the Dodgers roster (Hairston, Jr., Schumaker and Punto).
There is little room in the Dodgers' bullpen, especially for someone who has been as inconsistent as Guerra. They already reassigned the former closer to Triple-A to start the season, and while you can never have enough pitching, the Dodgers seem to be overstocked on barely-above-average right-handed relievers right now.
Ideally, this trade would keep Luis Cruz at third base and insert Andino at shortstop. At worst, it gives the Dodgers another option for the position. A revolving door of Hairston, Jr., Punto, Schumaker, Andino and even Gordon would do just fine while Ramirez is recovering.
You can follow Jeremy Dorn on Twitter @Jamblinman.