Red Sox need patience with Ramirez, Sandoval


Winning brings impatience – especially within the Red Sox Kingdom, where fans, media and even management expect positive results immediately. This attitude is especially prevalent with prospects and high priced additions where having growing or adjustments pains is unacceptable. Many were ready to close the book on Xander Bogaerts. Or the first few seasons of John Lackey who went from mistake to hero – part was injury, but part was taking conditioning control of his life.

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Into this cauldron stepped two players who the Red Sox handed close to a combined 200M to grace our batting order with what was being advertised as new-found respectability. Both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez would provide the spark to once again light up the statistical team charts for all pertinent statistics. They have failed to meet expectations.

This is the flip side to an article I posted regarding the need to dismiss both from the team – just bite the onerous fiscal bullet and move on.

Boston remains mired in the depths of productivity for a second season and that is truly a unique situation for a team often noted for pure bashing.

Sandoval has been a bitter disappointment as his “numbers” clearly demonstrate. Then, comes a defense that would need a bathyscaphe to examine the bottom rungs of fielding metrics. This is a costly mistake, but exhibit patience.

Sandoval has accepted responsibility for his miscues in the field – no litany of excuses. Faced with failure as a right-handed hitter he packed that in and takes his cuts as a lefty. In the field and the base paths the Panda is certainly willing to sacrifice his plump body for a ball or to break up a play. You look at those rare occasions when a game winning scrum takes place and Pablo is a very active participant. I will take a leap of faith and expect Sandoval to be as introspective with his physical issues as with his decaying swings from the right side.

So if all the intangibles and semi-intangibles are in place that leaves the very disappointing hitting and sub-set of fielding. At age 28 I find it difficult to believe that he is our next Allen Craig. Sure players – especially portly ones – have difficulty maintain skills with extra cabbage around the waistline, but, to me, it is worth the wait. Another year to see if this is symptomatic of a decline or an adjustment issue.

The weight needs to be addressed and that brings in personal responsibility. With the investment, a nutritionist and personal trainer should be an intricate part of “Team Sandoval” in an attempt to get conditioning back on track. This is a life issue as well as a baseball issue. Weight and conditioning were certainly an issue with David Ortiz, who adopted changes that have shown tangible results in that most important of baseball categories – numbers.

The glove work is simple – a move to first base. The opening exists and Sandoval has played first before and that will certainly reduce errant throws and some poor decision-making on ground balls and then toss in the range factor. The fact is it is very difficult to trade a player with that type of contract and production, so Boston fans may have to accept the production of Sandoval – based on his last three and one-half seasons, to average around .280 with 15/80. A departure simply is not cost efficient.

Ramirez falls into the same positive teammate category as Sandoval. Murmurings of past indiscretions in LA and Miami have not surfaced. Depicted as a “cancer” and that now – at least for 100 games – appears in remission. Ramirez was open to switch positions and that is the crux of much disdain as that change leaves much to be improved. Defensively, it is an extreme understatement to say it has not worked out.

Ramirez simply belongs elsewhere on the field. Third base? First base? Logically the best position is designated hitter where a manager does not have to attempt to hide an iron glove. At DH, Hanley can return to what the Red Sox paid 88M for and that is to provide significant right-handed punch – and Hanley has actually done that.

The total numbers may be less than expected, but with a series of nagging bumps and bruises to the hands and feet – key to any hitter – Hanley has stayed put in the line-up with no excuses. The real Hanley was in April. The faux Hanley was in May.

Ramirez, as with Sandoval, needs patience. Ramirez is in baseball middle age and has shown that when he is healthy, he can be a dominant force.

With both this season is a wash-out, as it is for the entire team – a real collective effort at incompetence, but one season does not a contract make. For 2016 patience may be well rewarded – if not the Red Sox will have to absorb a boatload of dead money.

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