Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner believes that it’s too early to judge the deals for Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval.
Fans have generally been supportive of the moves that the Boston Red Sox made this winter to turn the struggling franchise around in the wake of two consecutive last place finishes. Then again, many of us were giddy about some of the high profile signings that the team made the previous year and we know how that has turned out so far.
Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval became the poster children for everything that went wrong with the Red Sox 2015 season. Both signed lucrative long-term deals to come to Boston, only to fall well short of expectations at the plate while delivering some of the most atrocious defensive performances seen across the majors. Only one year into their respective deals these veterans have already been labeled as busts.
Not so fast, warns Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. One bad season does not tarnish what they accomplished in previous years, nor does it necessarily dictate an expectation for how the rest of their careers will play out.
"“I think it’s way too early to think that the moves didn’t work out,” Werner said in an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show. “These guys are both really talented baseball players. They were coveted by other teams, and there’s no doubt that they had disappointing years last year, but I think it’s too early to make a judgement on it.”"
We saw what a healthy Ramirez was capable of at the plate last April when he mashed 10 home runs, drove in 22 runs and posted a .999 OPS in 21 games. A shoulder injury suffered in early May sapped his power, sending him spiraling into a tailspin from which he would never fully recover. Following an offseason to heal, there’s reason to be optimistic about Ramirez rediscovering his swing.
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What frustrated fans most about Ramirez’s season was his dreadful defense. It was bad enough that he often appeared to show a lack of effort chasing down fly balls in left field, but it was clear he didn’t put in the work to adequately prepare himself for the position change. Will a move to first base work out any better? Expectations are understandably low, but his familiarity with the infield should make the transition a little easier.
As for Sandoval, it’s his poor conditioning that has fans in an uproar. He certainly didn’t endear himself to Boston’s unforgiving fan base with his comments this spring that defiantly deflected the notion that the Red Sox asked him to lose weight. He didn’t look noticeably slimmer when he arrived in camp, but owner John Henry was pleased to report that Sandoval’s body fat is 17 percent, down from 21 percent last year. Indications from those who have seen him on the field this week are that he is moving around much better at third base and looks more comfortable at the plate compared to last year.
Will Ramirez or Sandoval bounce back this season? It’s too soon to tell, but Werner’s point is that it’s also too early to write them off. They both have the talent to be productive players, so as long as they are healthy then it’s a matter of effort. We don’t know if they will be any better this year, only that they are capable of it. That alone should be reason for at least a shred of optimism.
The Red Sox front office hasn’t given up on these guys and neither should we. At least not yet. If they can recapture their previous form over the remaining duration of their contracts then we may end up forgetting all about how poorly it started, so it’s only fair to wait to see how it plays out before judging either of them as a massive mistake.