Hanley Ramirez, Fredi Gonzalez, and the jogging fiasco


Note: This is a long rant. It gets a bit unorganized near the end, because I was so peeved about the whole situation. Bear with me. Bear with the whole ordeal, in fact.

If you’re a Marlins fan, I’m sure you saw this yesterday. Hanley Ramirez fouled a ball off his foot earlier in the game and then booted a popup into left field, only leisurely jogging after it as the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks scored two runs. At the end of the inning, manager Fredi Gonzalez confronted Hanley, said a few quick words, and Hanley was heading into the back and out of the game. Afterward, Fredi had this to say (more or less) about Hanley’s lack of effort (courtesy of Joe Capozzi):

“He got smoked by the ball in the ankle. Whether he’s hurt or not hurt or whatever it was, we felt the effort wasn’t there that we wanted. There’s 24 guys out there busting their butts. Cody Ross got hit by a ball 95 miles an hour that wasn’t thrown any less slower and he stayed in the game. And battled and got two hits.

“You know what? There’s some injuries there but we expect an effort from 25 guys on this team and when that doesn’t happen we gotta do something.”

What did you tell Hanley when he came into the dugout?
“I told him he needed to go inside and we’re gonna run (Brian) Barden out there, who has a sprained ankle, by the way. And he battled eight innings with a sprained ankle probably killing him, but that’s the effort we’re looking for as any organization.”

Gonzalez said Ramirez offered no excuse when he came off the field after the play.

Will Hanley receive any further discipline?
“You need more embarrassment other than being taken out of a major league game?”

Will he start Tuesday?
“We’ll see.”

How disappointing is it to see that from your marquee player?
“You guys call him a marquee guy. I got 25 guys all wearing the same uniform with the same Marlins insignia on the front. I thnik it’s disappointing if anybody did it, not just one guy.”

Apparently, today Wes Helms suggested Hanley apologize to the team. Hanley wanted no business with any of that (again, courtesy of Joe Capozzi).

Do you want some time to get past it?
“For what?”

To talk top Fredi
“Who’s that?”

Your manager.
“Oh yea? Im just gonna play the game…”

Did you lose respect for Fredi?
“A little bit. We got 24 more guys out there. Hopefully they can do the same things I do. They’re wearing the Marlins uniform.’’

Do you plan to apologize to the team?
“To who?”

One of your teammates suggested an apology might be good if you did that.
“Do what?”

Apologize.
“For what?”

They thought that you were dogging it chasing that ball.
“We got a lot of people dogging it after ground balls. They don’t apologize.’’

Are you playing today?
“I don’t think so. I don’t know when I’m going to be back on the field.’’

I’m not perfect. Once, in Little League, I dogged a play. I wasn’t paying attention in right field and a ball flew over my head. I hustled over and got rid of it to the closest cutoff man, but my team wasn’t happy. My manager pulled me aside and said, “Hey, pay attention out there. That could have hit you. Focus!” That was the end of it.

That was Little League. I probably could have used the lesson on paying attention, as I was ten years old (or something). Somehow I doubt major leaguers who have worked their butts off their entire careers to get to the bigs could use the same lesson from their manager. That’s part of my problem with how Fredi handled this situation. Let’s break the story down into multiple angles, so we can hit as many points as possible.

The Production Issue

Yes, that play cost the team some runs in that particular instance, there’s no doubt about that. There’s a good shot at least one run scores from that mess, and the boot gave up a second run plus the advancement to third on what should have been a single. That’s the fault of the error. What about the lazy jog? Well, maybe the jog got the runner to third instead of second base, a loss of maybe .25 or so runs. The second run would have scored anyway on the error itself.

So what are we arguing about? Errors happen, so that’s not the issue (it was a bonehead error, but it happens). The jog cost the team a quarter of a run or so. Fredi’s move of inserting Brian Barden for Hanley actually cost the team more runs! Based on career numbers, Hanley has been worth around 0.177 runs per PA, Barden around 0.067 runs. Over the three PA Barden got, the team lost an expected 0.33 runs. If anything, Hanley’s error and Fredi’s move were evenly detrimental to the team.

And what if he was dogging the play because he felt he may get injured? Then both Fredi and Hanley’s moves were right, provided the injury chance was high enough. There’s no reason to sacrifice two weeks of one of the best players in baseball for one extra base essentially. Either they are both right or both wrong. Your choice.

The Leader of Men

Why is everyone getting into a huff about it? Part of it is that some people seem to think that Hanley, as a veteran and superstar of the Marlins, should be a leader and lead by example. My counter to that is that most adults probably do not need to be inspired by strong work ethic to display strong work ethic themselves. I have never worked at a suboptimal level  because somebody far more talented than I am worked the same job at a suboptimal level. I’m not wired that way; I’m going to work at my pace in order to maintain my job. I’m fairly certain many would feel the same way.

So it is odd to me see Hanley get this “leader of men” label and be pigeonholed into leading by example. If it doesn’t work in the workforce, why would it work in baseball? It’s one thing to ask for advice and assistance on how to play, as I’m sure the young players have asked the veterans numerous times. But if young players are so impressionable that they would emulate what is clearly bad behavior, then they do not care enough about their major league career to maintain it. Hanley is not the manager of this team. He is not the GM of this team. He should have no say as to how any of the players play, and he should not be held accountable to them for anything but his production.

This idea that, as a “leader of men,” Hanley should never dog a play is preposterous too. Everyone dogs it at work occasionally. I should have had this article done a few hours earlier, but I was too busy talking about this on Twitter. I dogged it today. It happens. Is it a good thing? No, not really. Is it something that everyone in the Marlins blogging community should be up in arms about? Should Craig and Kelly of FishStripes or Dave and Ted at Marlins Diehards get on me for dogging today’s article and demand that I apologize to the Marlins blogging community? Probably not either. No, because it happens. If your boss catches you dogging it at work, you begrudgingly admit your fault, get mad that your boss caught you, and go back to work.

The Comeback

Except that this just isn’t happening, because Hanley is not playing the role of the worker who got caught. Instead, he’s  playing the whole thing off and being defensive, which I think all of us Marlins fans agree is the wrong thing to do. Maybe Hanley does not have to apologize; after all, he did not cost the team any more runs than Fredi did for pulling him. But by insulting everyone involved and making this into a “me against the world” issue, he is now hurting the team. Fredi might not start Hanley again until he apologizes to the team (heard it on ESPN Radio, don’t have a link to confirm; if anyone can help on this, that would be great), and it is at this point that both sides are now affecting production because of this spat.

There is only one thing I care about in baseball, and that’s entertainment. And the thing that entertains me the most is production. If Hanley’s attitude is going to get in the way of production, then we have a problem. If his attitude is going to prevent him from playing at a high level, then we have a problem. Perhaps if Fredi had dealt this in a more private manner rather than going to the media irate about the issue, this would have been resolved like last year’s Hanley/Dan Uggla tiff. But Hanley lashed out because Fredi openly undressed him to the media, and his attitude was such that his reaction was to defend himself to the media with harsh words.

Whoever was wrong at the start does not matter. The key now is resolving this issue and moving forward. Every game in which Hanley sits, the blame for the lost production lies on both Fredi and Hanley for the way they handled this mess. Neither did right, and both may cause plenty of problems in the future if the situation persists.

Tags: Fredi Gonzalez Hanley Ramirez Miami Marlins

  • http://motorcitybengals.com John Parent

    Micheal- So it’s your contention that Gonzalez should have left Ramirez in the game? I understand the numbers you are using to determine the values of having Ramirez in the lineup, there is no debating that the Marlins are better with him on the field, but you don’t feel any action should have been taken against him for jogging after the ball?

    Honestly I’m a bit surprised you would take that stance in that you are an intelligent fellow. Surely you can see how allowing Ramirez to continue in this game could have actually turned Gonzalez’s own team against him. There is right way to play and a wrong way, and the way Ramirez went after the ball was very wrong. If Gonzalez allows his best player to put up that effort without repercussion he risks losing the respect of the other 24 guys.

    I have no issue with the error, like you said that kind of thing happens, but there had better be a sense of urgency to retrieve the ball. If Ramirez was hurt, and that was as hard as he could go (I don’t buy it, he was running much harder in his attempt to catch the ball), he should have come out of the game before even taking the field in the second.

    • Michael Jong

      John,

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Right at the onset, I mentioned that either the moves were equally detrimental or equally correct. I forgot to say this exactly, but if there was a time to pull Hanley, Fredi chose the right one, given the game situation. The team was way behind, and we probably had a 25% chance of winning at that point. From a game-winning standpoint, bringing Barden in did very little.

      The clubhouse isn’t mine to manage, but I think Fredi’s move to publicly rail on Hanley to the media was not a good one. Would you react well to your boss doing that for you slipping at work a little? Let’s face it, the mistake he made cost the team very little; the jog only took the runner from second to third. Fredi could have at least handled it internally. Instead, for a small indiscretion, he blew it up.

      I’m not a big supporter of the “right way to play the game.” In my opinion, it’s a game; treat it just like a job. Sure, there’s a right way to do your job, but you handle it and move on. There should be no righteous indignation like many people have taken with this. There should be no need to “apologize” to teammates like it’s a personal wrongdoing.

      That’s my opinion on the matter. I’m not going to pretend to know what might happen to clubhouse psyche if Ramirez wasn’t dealt with, but I do know that with the way it has been dealt so far, if Ramirez missed significant playing time for something silly like an apology, both him and Fredi are hurting their team for nothing.

  • http://nothingxs.net nothingxs

    I love stats. I think baseball, when played at its most efficient level, is awesome.

    However, players are not robots and psychological issues exist in the game. I agree with the previous commenter: if Hanley stays, you send the worst message possible to the rest of the team. Hanley needed to be pulled, period, and he needs to apologize.

    Whether this was all the right way to handle it or not, most of this lies squarely on Hanley’s lap, and he needs to start taking steps to rectify it. Acting like a huge baby isn’t one of those steps.

    • Michael Jong

      Andre,

      My question is why is everyone upset about him dogging it on a play that ultimately cost the team 0.3 runs? If it’s production, there’s no need to be this upset. If it’s an attitude, then why the furor? Why the need for an apology? My boss would never force me to apologize to my team of workers for dogging it a bit during work, especially if the differences were as minor as they were. To me, it seems silly.

      It reeks of this idea that baseball is some hallowed sport which needs to be respected, when in reality it’s BASEBALL, a sport kids play, and ultimately a job for these guys. Get mad at the guy behind closed doors. Don’t bring up this faux “morality of the game” into it.

      Hanley’s attitude after the incident is his fault. As I mentioned, if I get reprimanded for being lazy, I get peeved about it, I begrudgingly apologize to my boss, and we move on. Hanley is not doing that, and that’s the wrong attitude to have. But to get all up in arms about something that meant so little game-wise and was more of a one-on-one issue between manager and player is unproductive.

  • JoeA.

    Michael,

    I agree that things like this should be handled privately. Bottom line, bonehead error or not, Hanley Ramirez has done more to help the Marlins win ball games over the last few years than anyone, including Freddi Gonzalez. I hope we don’t turn Hanley into a pariah like Manny Ramirez was in Boston. The best player on the team by far, hated by fans and media alike.

  • JoeA.

    Furthermore, as a fan I think Fredi should publicly apologize to the team for inexplicably starting Emilio Bonifacio for 3/4 of the year last season, therefore killing our playoff chances.

  • Phil

    Greetings,

    I’ve seen the video of Hanley fouling the ball off his shin, not running hard on the subsequent grounder that became an inning ending double play, and the incredible play in the top of the 2nd that resulted in 2 runs scored and the hitter reaching 3rd base.

    First, the foul off his shin was wicked and it seemed to hurt Ramirez a lot. His first reaction upon kneeling down was to look into the dugout. After a visit from the trainer and getting some time for the intial pain to subside he stays in the game. However, the video of the GIDP that followed showed him not running hard down the line. Okay, he’s obviously hurting. Why not talk to him immediately and take him out of the game for treatment (ice is nice, or whatever)? The club is only down 1-0.

    Maybe a conversation took place between the manager and the player before the club took the field for the top of the 2nd. But once Ramirez is out there he’s a shortstop in the major leagues and his only obligation (in my eyes as a fan) is to give a professional athletic effort on every play. When the ball was popped in the air and the camera showed Ramirez he was running harder than he ran for the GIDP in the bottom of the 1st. He slowed when he saw he could not catch the ball and he really dogged it after booting the ball. That cannot be allowed to pass. Ramirez had to be removed right then (once Ramirez could not catch the ball he has to get out of the way so the LF can get the ball into the infield; obviously, Ramirez no longer had his head in the game). The manager does not have to argue with the player about it. All that has to be said is that Hanley was injured in the previous inning, thought he could play through it, but it became evident he needed treatment. Waiting for the club to come in to the dugout for the bottom of the 2nd to confront the player was a tactical error on the manager’s part.

  • http://thatballsouttahere.com Justin

    What it comes down to is that not hustling sends a message, to the fans, to the coaches, to the players: “I didn’t care enough to hustle.” So what if the play cost you no runs? What if it had? Would that make him care? Think about how much money he makes to play a “game kids play.” Think about how long and hard it takes guys to reach that level. Think about all the guys stuck in the minors, waiting, struggling, screaming at the mirror, just DYING for that chance to play in the majors, and then they see a guy like Hanley Ramirez jog casually after his own error like it’s Sunday morning in the suburbs. It’s a complete slap in the face to everybody. And if he thinks he’s done nothing wrong, then he’s ignorant of everyone but himself, and that means he’s not a team player, and that’s, obviously, not good for the team.

    It says he doesn’t care. Why do you think we don’t see such lackadaisical bullshit from the hundreds of other players in this league (though there are others probably guilty of this, I’m sure he’s not alone)?

    If Fredi doesn’t pull Ramirez, HE’S saying that HE’S okay with it, and that’s even WORSE. He’s the leader of the team, and in a lot of ways, so is Ramirez. You’re, its a kids game. And they teach us as kids to give it everything you’ve got. If you’re not going to do that, what the hell’s the point? Go walk dogs for a living.

    This turned into a rant too, mainly because I’m kind of shocked that you wouldn’t feel this way, Michael.

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  • JoeA.

    He is by far our best player. He has a career wOBA of .395. That did not occur by accident. Unless he is some kind of magician that doesn’t happen if you don’t hustle. My point is IT’S ONE PLAY. Pull him out of the game if you want, I guess. Take him aside privately and ask him what happened. Don’t publicly ridicule him and compare his hustle to other half injured teammates while talking to the media. Don’t further ridicule him by asking him to publicly apologize. My other post where I asked for Fredi to apologize for playing Boni last year was meant to illustrate how ridiculous it is. It is a game played by, and coached by humans. They make mistakes. Hanley may have simply had a “brain fart” and forgotten there were any men on base, or even that it wasn’t spring training. He could have just zoned out. Who knows. But Freddi has already drawn national attention to it and blown it way out of proportion. One play. This board has much more intelligent discussion but over at the Yahoo(aptly named) board I would guess 50 percent of the criticism of Hanley is based on either 1)he makes a lot of money or 2)he is an immigrant and should be happy he is allowed to make a lot of money for playing the “hallowed American game”. That’s just wrong. As I said before the most valuable asset to the Marlins except possibly Mike Stanton (or Billy). He was worth 7.2 WAR last year. Worth 32.5 million dollars last year according to Fangraphs. If it were Tony LaRussa and Albert Puljos it would be absurd but it’s not. But it’s not. It’s Freddi “Bonifacio is fast” Gonzalez isolating our best player from his teammates so they, and the fans, and the media can throw fruit at him like the villagers at Quasimodo. One play. If one of them now has to go then please Fredi go screw up the Braves and Jason Heyward. Heck we’ll even let you take Boni with you. Just my opinion.

    • Michael Jong

      JoeA,

      You and I agree, it’s going to ultimately boil down to production. Is this going to cost the team production-wise? What’s the detriment in production if an action wasn’t taken? This question I’ve yet to see answered.

      Now, if the message needs to be sent (and I do believe some message does need to be sent, because you’re not SUPPOSED to be slacking at work), do it in a way that carefully manages the situation and doesn’t step on anyone’s toes. If Fredi did that, this issue would be long gone. He did not.

  • http://thatballsouttahere.com Justin

    I see your point, but if you let him get away with it on ONE PLAY, then it opens the floodgates. What if he does it again? What if another player lollygags? If you let it go one time, then the first question asked when it happens again is “Well, why didn’t you do anything the first time?” Maybe it WAS just a brain fart (hard to believe, though), but when it comes down to it, he should have been running after that ball, and he wasn’t.

    Though I agree that Gonzalez is going out of his way to leave Ramirez naked in the breeze, which is childish crap, hidden under the guise of “managerial discipline.” That’s Fredi’s own issues coming to surface, and they’re… just bad. I have to think if it really came down to one or the other, barring any further issues with Ramirez, the Marlins wouldn’t hesitate to drop their manager before their star player and reigning NL batting champ.

    Pulling Hanley? Good. Doing it publicly? Bad.

    • Michael Jong

      Justin,

      I see baseball differently. Those guys out there are doing a job. When one of them dogs it, he should get reprimanded (as he was). If my boss caught me slacking, he’d have a few words with me, I’d get some punishment (probably not major, but it depends), and we’d be done with it. Instead, as you mentioned, Fredi went with the “righteous indignation” route, publicly humiliated him, and I’m sure played a big hand in fueling how Ramirez reacted. Had he taken him behind closed doors, told him what’s what, and settled it outside of the media’s hands, there wouldn’t be so much backlash. I believe we agree in that respect.

      The other thing I’ve been mad about is the whole holier than thou attitude that fans have had with Ramirez for that play. Everyone gets a little lazy at work, but no one has their co-workers or others involved (other than their boss) get on their case about “not doing the job the right way” and things like that. There are people who would love to have a 9-5 desk job in this country right now. Wouldn’t someone slacking off at that job, watching YouTube videos and Twittering at work, be a slap in the face of many of the unemployed people capable of doing that job?

      It isn’t because of two things:

      1) That desk job isn’t a public thing

      and

      2) That incident really only involves that person and his or her boss.

      I think it’s silly to expect some moral code from a baseball player (or any other sport, really) and not expect one from the guy in the next cubicle. People don’t react like this with any other job other than fans of professional sports.

      I’m glad you came by Justin, as well John, from the other FanSided sites to chime in. I like the discussion, and I like that here at FanSided, we can remain civil and keep a discourse going about an issue like this. Thanks again guys.

      • http://thatballsouttahere.com Justin

        Yeah, but what that comes down to is… if you don’t want a job that comes with constant judgement and scrutiny, don’t play a professional sport. Them’s the breaks.

        Which I guess is saying more about the intense focus on sports in general that society has. Remember the “controversy” about the kid getting tasered in my neck of the woods? Well, it wasn’t really a controversy at all, because everybody was in agreement that he was a jackass and deserved it. And that still got national press coverage.

        So I get what you’re saying–any other job can have people do the same thing and they don’t get publicly slapped around–but at the same time, being in the spotlight is part of being a pro athlete. Its something they’ve got to shoulder; its part of THEIR job to suffer through being watched. It probably sucks, but it is. Just like its also part of their job (maybe not officially in some cases, but certainly they are encouraged by the brass) to engage in charity events for the community and other off the field things.

        Its all under the same umbrella. Playing a pro sport comes with its upsides, like getting paid to play the game they love and getting laid with a pretty high degree of success (except maybe in Pittsburgh), and its downsides, like getting reprimanded by TV analysts you’ve never met. A pro athlete’s job isn’t like any other job, though there may be comparisons and parallels, when you get down to it, its the truth. So when you slack off, people know about it. If John Q. Cubicle spent all day watching Hulu instead of snaring the Peterson account, and lost his company money, and for some reason THAT was put on ESPN, people would criticize him and say that he should pick up the slack.

        Anyways. Yeah, how about that? 16 comments and nobody got vulgar or racist. I think we just broke the internet.

        • http://thatballsouttahere.com Justin

          Also what’s funny is that I’m like 20 minutes late for work right now.

        • Michael Jong

          Justin,

          I’ll give you that, but I’m of the impression that that is less Hanley’s fault than it is the media’s. The media glorifies and brings down these players to tell a story, but in the end they are all people with flaws. Why do we have to magnify anyone’s problems?

          Alas, news doesn’t sell when it’s not opinionated, and that’s why we discuss this. Shame, I’m somewhat benefiting from the fiasco myself, when I’d rather be talking about actual baseball.

  • aramgh

    Michael,

    I don’t think it’s really fair to compare what’s going on here to your day job. There aren’t millions of fans hanging on your every move. Yea, you may dog it at work for a little while, we all do, but there are some pretty clear differences between whatever you do and a professional baseball game. Baseball isn’t the easiest game to always be attentive in, I caught because it was the only way I could stay in it, but while the ball is in play this shouldn’t really be a problem.

    I also think there’s something to the “leader of men” aspect to this. I don’t think it necessarily has to be the best player, but I think I speak for most, if not all of us who have played sports at a reasonably competitive level when I say that there’s usually a guy on your team you don’t want to dissapoint. In high school or college it may be the senior thats put 4 years into the team and wants to finally win something. I think part of the problem with this scenario is that the Marlins have always wanted Hanley to become that guy, and he just isn’t. The constant pushing for him to be something he’s not sort of erupts every now and again into things like this.

    • Michael Jong

      Aramgh,

      I think fans know what they ultimately want, and what they want is production. If Hanley had stayed in the game and hit a grand slam his next time up, I doubt people would be so up in arms. Ultimately, if you produce runs (as he does), the fans will overlook these things.

      No, the reason why this has become a fiasco (and why I can watch highlights of Marlins games on ESPN again, huzzah!) is the way Fredi handled it. If it’s behind closed doors, it would happen more like last year’s Uggla/Ramirez spat. Now that’s it’s been thrown out to the media dogs, with Fredi saying the inflammable things he said to the public, it’s cast Ramirez in a far more negative light than he probably should have. And as a result, he fired back just as harshly, an equally unintelligent move.

      Imagine if Fredi handles this the way all clubhouse things should be managed, behind closed doors. You and I would probably be putting it aside by now. That, I think, is one of the biggest problems in this situation, this public back and forth between the two.

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  • aramgh

    I agree with the idea that if it was handled behind closed doors it would be over, but I’m not sure the Marlins didn’t want to publicly humiliate him a bit. Hanley probably doesn’t care, but the the reaction (this site not included) has been fairly unanimously anti-Hanley. I think this may be a sort of last ditch effort by the organization to force him to grow up. That being said, I dont really care if he turns into the “leader of men” or not. Another guy with the same last name seems to have done ok doing his own thing, that being Manny.

    • Michael Jong

      Aramgh,

      It’s ridiculous that the team would risk alienating him and really souring him to the team by doing something like this. It would be far more beneficial to the Marlins to have a happy Hanley Ramirez than to have one that is forced to be a leader when he does not necessarily want to be. I don’t get it at all.

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