For a long time, the 2005 trade that brought Josh Beckett (and Mike Lowell) to Boston in exchange for Hanley Ramirez (as well as Guillermo Mota and some throw-ins!) was considered a rarity in baseball circles.
It was rare in that it was one of the few trades in baseball that appeared to benefit both teams equally.
For the Red Sox, Beckett led them to the 2007 World Series, a series in which Lowell was named MVP. And for the Marlins, they got Ramirez, a player thought to be one of the best prospects in the game at the time as well as someone expected to be a terrific shortstop for a long time.
There is no denying his incredible physical talents, especially when you look at the numbers. In his first five seasons with the Fish, Ramirez hit .313 with a .906 OPS to go along with averages of 25 home runs and 78 RBIs per season. He's a three-time All-Star who has a batting crown to boot.
In short, he has been one of the best shortstops in the game over the last half of a decade.
However, Ramirez's numbers are down this year. And it's true, everyone has a down season now and then. Look no further than the final numbers from Beckett's injury-riddled 2010 season. But the more concerning problem emerging around Ramirez is an apparent attitude problem and a lack of respect for the game.
Ramirez has been called out by his teammates on more than one occasion, something that really got ugly in 2009 when he had a confrontation with Dan Uggla.
The real problems started last season when Ramirez showed a lack of hustle when chasing after a ball down the line. The 27-year-old kicked the ball then jogged after it, drawing the ire of then manager Fredi Gonzalez. The lack of hustle earned Ramirez a spot on the bench for the rest of that game. Then, when Ramirez criticized the skipper, he was forced to sit again.
Things haven't been much better this season. When 80-year-old Jack McKeon took over as interim manager midway through the season, he used his first day back on the job to send a message to Ramirez by benching him, citing the fact that McKeon "didn't like the way he was running" in a previous game.
Outfielder Logan Morrison then reportedly berated Ramirez in front of teammates after Ramirez continued to flirt with tardiness on a daily basis.
The latest incident, though, involves a former Marlin, arguably a "franchise great," at least in Florida Marlins terms. Jeff Conine, now serving as a special assistant to the Marlins' president, recently said that he would "probably" trade Ramirez if it were up to him, saying that "there are some nights when [Ramirez] doesn't try as hard as he should."
The comments set Ramirez off in a somewhat bizarre tirade in which he called Conine "chicken." Ramirez also went on to say that he was going to take over the nickname of "Mr. Marlin," the nickname that was given to Conine during his playing days, all before boldly proclaiming that he was going to go into the Hall of Fame as a Marlin.
The more you hear about Ramirez, the more you start to question if the talent is all totally worth it. And, you have to take into account that Ramirez is now a long way from Boston, a city where this kind of behavior would be chewed up and spit out by fans and media alike.
When you look back at the trade that sent Ramirez to Florida, it's easy to see that the trade was pretty balanced in terms of talent. But how much talent does it take to make up for the ongoing headaches that Ramirez is seemingly causing with more frequency?
Ramirez praised the Boston organization in 2010 for all that they did in helping him through the minor league system, claiming that they helped him learn to play the game the right way.
"It was a lot of fun, a lot of fun," he told ESPN.com during spring training of 2010 of his time in the Boston organization. "They taught me how to play the game. You have to respect the game, and when you go on the field, you have to play like it's going to be your last game. That's why I respect them so much."
Somewhere along the line, that changed. Either that, or those comments were lip service and nothing more. Regardless, it doesn't reflect well upon Ramirez.
Ramirez likely isn't going anywhere. He's still a great player on a team with some good, young talent. He'll almost certainly remain in South Florida as the Fish move into a new stadium in 2012. And because of that, the Marlins and their fans will continue to have to deal with "Hanley Being Hanley."
Meanwhile, up north, the Red Sox will continue to try and ride the right arm of Josh Beckett to another World Series championship. That on its own continues to validate the trade five seasons later, but Hanley Ramirez's continued antics certainly don't hurt, either.
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