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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 12:16 PM

If you’re a baseball fan, you woke up to the news this morning that Hanley Ramirez of the Miami Marlins was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This move signified that the Dodgers were trying to upgrade in their race to make the playoffs…and that Miami was once again having a fire sale even though they promised everyone they wouldn’t do that when they got their new stadium built!

The most important thing to remember as you evaluate this trade is that Ramirez hasn’t been playing all that well this year…and didn’t play all that well last year either. He’s fallen way off from his superstar numbers of 2006-2009. Getting offensive pop from an infielder is a huge plus in this sport because most teams don’t have that. But, advanced stats show that Ramirez has basically been a generic contributor this year and last…somebody who’s not all that hard to replace.

Look at his decline in recent years in the most basic hitting stats…



2009: .342 batting average, .410 on-base pct., .543 slugging pct.

2010: .300 batting average, .378 on-base pct., .475 slugging pct.

2011: .243 batting average, .333 on-base pct., .379 slugging pct.

2012: .246 batting average, .322 on-base pct., .428 slugging pct.

His big years leading up to and including 2009 set up a big contract. He obviously hasn’t been earning that money in 2011 and 2012, hitting below .250 both seasons, not drawing enough walks to turn him into an on-base threat, and slugging at  a pace that’s below his career bests by quite a good bit.

If you took the name away, and just looked the trend, nobody would be saying “Hallelujah! We’ve acquired a .246 hitter with a big contract!” Nobody on the other end is going to be crushed that he’s leaving either. To the degree there is an emotional reaction here, it’s because of what Ramirez used to be able to accomplish rather than what he’s been doing this year and last.

As handicappers, you must try to determine if the decline was caused by:

*Injuries…maybe Ramirez has been playing through nagging injuries and he’ll explode when he finally gets healthy.

*Age…maybe Ramirez is on the list of Dominican players who fudged information about their age…and 2009 was his age 27 season rather than his age 25 season. The decline actually fits the classic aging curve if Ramirez is a couple of years older than he said he was.

*Attitude…there’s been a few soap operas involving this franchise this year and last. Maybe Ramirez was in a funk and will respond very well to a change of scenery. This is certainly what the Dodgers are hoping for. The bad news is…guys who go into a funk during soap operas will often find a way to do that again in the future the next time a new soap opera develops. If the decline of Ramirez is a result of a bad attitude…well, the Dodgers just acquired a guy they may not be able to count on down the road.

For now, it seems logical to expect a honeymoon period for the Dodgers. Keep an eye out for that during tonight’s nationally televised game in St. Louis. It’s certainly a reasonable gamble for a team trying to make the playoffs, and then trying to remain a contender in coming years.  Miami may or may not feel any effect. They’ve been playing horribly for a month and a half anyway, particularly on offense. Losing a poison in the clubhouse is a good thing, particularly if that guy’s recent stats aren’t hard to replace. Had Ramirez become a poison? Miami plays an early game Wednesday at home against Atlanta.

The VSM experts have studied all the early and late action. Among today’s highlights:

*Tony Salinas has a special 3-FOR-1 offer that gets you the exact same plays he’s betting the biggest himself in Las Vegas Wednesday, Thursday, AND Friday for just a one-time payment of $25. This is a perfect chance to try out Tony’s service and find out why he’s a legendary high roller in the gambling capital of the world!

*Wayne Root has guaranteed his Wednesday Card. You must go 2-0 on his No Limit plays (hitting over 70% this year) or Thursday and Friday are yours free. Pay just $25 for these two very strong plays and the guarantee.

*Jim Feist has announced his 15-Star MLB Game of the Month for July. Only $20 for this monster Wednesday release.

Be sure you visit the website every day for big play announcements on the home page and complete package details on the “buy picks” pulldown page. Early bird football packages are available from many of our legends…and the NFL Preseason is now less than two weeks away!

Big day…big games…big offers…big money! Our hot handicappers are waiting to hear from you!

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