Is Hanley Ramirez talking his way out of South Florida?
Marlins fans would certainly hope he is not, though his antics this season are certainly a growing concern.
In yet another bout of immaturity, the Marlins star player chose to speak out to the media regarding an 88 mph fastball he took off of the elbow in the sixth inning of yesterday's game. The pitch, coming from Toronto Blue Jays reliever Dirk Hayhurst, came two innings after a pitch found its way into Jeremy Hermida.
Hanley Ramirez apparently spent some time on the phone with friend Manny Ramirez, he of 50-game suspension fame, during the off-season, as this is not the first time Hanley has been Hanley in the past few months.
During winter ball season, Hanley was quick to note that he wanted to play, despite recovering from an injury and the team instructing him they would prefer he find a different means to staying in shape.
Shortly thereafter, the team insisted the All-Star shortstop trim his dreadlocks and tone down the flashy jewelry. Though not a popular rule, team manager Fredi Gonzalez is not the first Major League manager to enforce this rule, and it's not the first time Hanley has been forced to abide by it, as former Marlins skipper Joe Girardi enforced it.
Hanley responded to the rule by calling out the front office, asking for a trade, and going so far as to produce apparel with his message "eloquently" scrawled across it.
After what should have been a joyous clubhouse yesterday afternoon, Hanley was quick to steal the spotlight back from the sweep, and his fellow teammates who outproduced him in nearly every way during the series.
That Josh Johnson pitched a complete game, once a rarity for the Fish, nor the fact that the team's slumbering lumber woke up over the weekend would not stop the 25 year old from speaking out.
When speaking to reporters after the game, instead of discussing the issue with his teammates or coach, Ramirez quipped, "Everybody knows it, I think Fredi Knows it. (JJ) knows it. (Hayhurst) was throwing strikes." This despite him hitting Jeremy Hermida, who has been one of the Marlins best hitters and biggest surprises this season, early in the game.
Hanley went on to tell reporters, in Spanish, that he will soon be afraid to approach the plate in the same manner if he keeps getting hit, and the team does not retaliate, according to media in the clubhouse.
Whether the team or league will seek penalty from Ramirez for calling for retaliation is yet to be determined, but manager Fredi Gonzalez took action by throwing out the media and accusing them of trying to stir up issues in the clubhouse.
The Marlins were leading the team from Toronto 8-3 with a runner at third and two outs at the time of the plunking, so Hanley was going to get pitched around either way. The fact that he is the team's star, and theoretically biggest offensive threat did not help his cause.
Hayhurst will never say the truth on the pitch, most likely, due to the financial implications of admitting such a thing.
When a cost-conscience team has you signed to a long-term deal, and you are the center of their offense and marketing, it is best not to tick off the higher ups. Joe Girardi did it, and that did not work out well for him in Miami.
Particularly when your criticism is aimed at a manager who just signed a contract extension and a starting pitcher who, in all likelihood, is next on the list for a long term contract. There is a better way to approach a situation; perhaps talking to the pitcher, or the coach?
Fredi Gonzalez has never been the aggressive type either, so what Hanley was hoping for is more so confusing. Fredi rarely argues a call, like Cody Ross' double the night before that appeared to bounce on something beyond the wall. For Gonzalez to suddenly order a plunking would be out of character.
With the Marlins leading 8-3 at the time, they had a comfortable lead, but Toronto's bats have power potential, and giving away a free pass when your pitcher is cruising is never wise. A base runner and a hanging slider could quickly turn to a 8-5 game.
One would hope that the issue has since been dealt with in the last 24 hours, but with the immaturity recurring, it could be a Manny-in-Boston issue growing in South Florida. It is certainly not the attitude you wish to see from your star player, and a role model in the community.
What if the team falls out of contention in the next month, and wishes to shed some payroll? It would certainly open up the possibility of signing the center of Hanley's criticism, the staff ace, to a long term deal.
The player in question, a youthful, powerful, affordable short stop, would certainly be in demand as well.
The Red Sox, for one, his original team, would jump at the opportunity. They have already been linked to him every year since the trade that brought him to South Florida. They also have all the pieces to get a deal done, with a farm system full of young stud pitchers and position players with potential at every spot except SS.
Of course, every team would check in with the Fish, but most would not have the pieces to get the job done, as the Marlins demands would likely restock multiple farm systems for years to come.
Do not count on a trade to occur because of Hanley's outburst, but the Marlin's have a policy of listening to every offer. This was a red flag for Hanley, and makes his character slightly more questionable.
The team definitely does not want the next Manny out there, and if Hanley's antics continue, be it frequently or rarely, the likelihood that he talks his way to another team increases.
Marlins fans, hope this was just an outburst, a behind-the-scenes view of the young man that Hanley still is. He has a lot of baseball ahead of him, and a lot of maturing left to do, evidently.
Hope that someone pulled him aside, calmed him down, and set him straight. Hope his mouth does not take him out of the Teal and Black.