According to a tweet from David Vassegh, [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/THEREAL_DV/status/268205192154062849"]
the Dodgers will be going with Hanley Ramirez as their starting shortstop as planned in 2013. So this means that Dee Gordon will either start the year in Albuquerque or be traded. More than likely he’ll be starting the season in triple-A.
When the Dodgers first acquired Hanley via trade last July, he was placed at third base. Third base is not his natural position though. He’s been a shortstop his entire career, until before the 2011 season when the Marlins signed Jose Reyes. Once that happened, they moved Hanley to shortstop. So when the Dodgers decided to start Hanley at third base once he was acquired, it was only for a couple of weeks while he got adjusted to his new surroundings. After that, the Dodgers moved him back to shortstop, and Luis Cruz took over third base.
The interesting part of this is that Hanley hits much better when playing shortstop anyways. Hanley has a slash line of .304/.376/.503 at shortstop, compared to .249/.329/.437 at the hot corner. Hanley has hit 142 home runs at shortstop, and 15 at third base. So obviously Hanley is much more comfortable at short then at third.
With this bit of information, the Dodgers have two choices for third base. Either let Cochito play, or go out and sign someone. The free agent market is really bad for third baseman. Slim pickens. The best choice would probably be Kevin Youkilis, but that’s a post for another day. Plus the Dodgers absolutely can’t let Juan Uribe waste a roster spot again for another season.
In the meantime, Hanley has been playing in winter ball to work on improving his defense. Hanley has always been a good hitter, but defensively he can be a bit, what’s the word I’m looking for? Eratic, yes, he’s been eratic on defense. Hopefully his time in winter ball will help with that. What I’ve noticed about Hanley’s defense is he has trouble transferring the ball from his glove to his throwing hand. When he makes throws he’s too hesitant. I’m not sure if this is some kind of weird Steve Sax thing going on, or if there is something else we don’t know about. Whatever it is, he’s got to stop doing it, because it’s annoying. How many times did we see Hanley double clutch his throws? Now with Gordon it’s different, he doesn’t double clutch, but his throws don’t go anywhere near the vicinity of first base. If first base were 20 feet off the bag he would be fine, but I digress. So both Hanley and Gordon need to work on their defense, that is true. Regardless Hanley was pretty productive in his short stint with the Dodgers in his first season in Blue. Ramirez batted .271 with a .322 OBP, and 10 home runs, and 44 RBI in 64 games. All total he hit 24 home runs, and drove in 92 runs in 2012.
I’m fine with Hanley being the starting shortstop. As long as it doesn’t force the Dodgers into thinking they have to go out and buy a third baseman, when there are very few players on the market that are worth signing. And none of them are much better than Luis Cruz. It looks like we’ll be SEEING Hanley next season at shortstop.