Dodgers @ Giants April 17, 2014: No Hanley, And Bad History For Ryu

attparkThe Dodgers are looking to salvage this series — much like the last series against the Giants — in the final game of a 3-game set. They turn to Hyun-jin Ryu to be the “stopper.”

Normally, I’d feel pretty confident (even going up against Madison Bumgarner), but for whatever reason, Ryu struggles against San Francisco.

In six career outings — including the disastrous April 4 home opener when he gave up six runs on eight hits in two innings — Ryu has been less than stellar against the Giants:

Dodgers
Giants
12:45 pm PT
San Francisco, CA
2B
Gordon
SS
Arias
SS
Turner
RF
Pence
RF
Puig
3B
Sandoval
1B
Gonzalez
C
Posey
CF
Kemp
LF
Morse
LF
Van Slyke
1B
Belt
3B
Uribe
2B
Hicks
C
Federowicz
CF
Blanco
P
Ryu (L)
P
Bumgarner (L)
  • 3.89 ERA
  • 1.58 WHIP
  • 3.4 BB/9
  • 5.2 K/9
  • 1.54 K/BB
  • .300 BAA

If you take out his numbers against the Giants, Ryu looks like an even better pitcher than he already is against the rest of baseball:

  • 2.77 ERA
  • 1.11 WHIP
  • 7.8 H/9
  • 2.2 BB/9
  • 7.9 K/9

The only thing that hasn’t done (knock on wood) is give up a lot of homers to the Giants. Ryu’s biggest problem has been the walks. In fact, 22.8 percent of the walks he’s issued in his career have come against the Giants. The Giants’ plate discipline won’t be confused for the Red Sox or A’s anytime soon, which makes the higher-than-optimal walk rate against SF rather surprising.

The hitters who have given him the biggest problems are Angel Pagan (5-for-8), Andres Torres (5-for-11, 1 2B), Hunter Pence (6-for-15, 2 2B, 2 BB), Marco Scutaro (5-for-12, 1 BB) and Pablo Sandoval (4-for-14, 1 2B, 3 BB)

If there’s any silver lining, it’s that Ryu has fared better in San Francisco against the Giants than he has in Los Angeles.

  • 3 games
  • 3.20 ERA
  • 19 2/3 IP
  • 16 H
  • 7 R
  • 7 ER
  • 1 HR
  • 6 BB
  • 11 K

The Dodgers have struggled against the Giants so far (1-4), and a win on Thursday would do a lot to stop the bleeding. I’ve said it on the podcast, but I think the Dodgers and Giants will be fighting for the majority of the season for first place, with the Dodgers ultimately pulling away in August or September. But, as is always the case, the Giants will be a tough draw for the Dodgers.

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Yet another story detailing Yasiel Puig‘s journey from Cuba to the United States was published. ESPN has it this time with some additional details than the article that came out on Sunday in Los Angeles Magazine.

“Sometime after 1 in the morning, the knock came. Two men dressed in burglar back stood silently at the door. Somehow, there were no guards that night. (Yunior) Despaigne is at a loss to say why. Regardless, Tomasito had chosen an inopportune moment to relax his grip on his captives. Following the two men in black, Despaigne, Puig, his girlfriend and the padrino crept out of the hotel and down a few dark streets and into a marina and onto a waiting boat that ferried them across the water to Cancun. No violence, no Tomasito, no Leo, no guards. The heist had worked. But the Rubio group had also just ripped off a criminal gang whose highly lucrative underworld ventures required the sanction of Los Zetas. They had now motivated some darkly uncompromising individuals. In plotting the heist, they hadn’t really even discussed the dangers; they were just that obvious. But so too were the rewards, and they’d come to an unstated consensus: For a chance to get Yasiel Puig, they were willing to risk their lives.”

So, the next time you run into someone who’s badmouthing Puig for “not playing the game the right (white) way,” show them these articles. It might be a waste of time because there are just some folks with tiny brains and a complete unwillingness to open their minds to the other side.

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Hanley Ramirez is out today after taking a fastball off his hand/wrist last night. X-rays were negative, which is encouraging. Ramirez says he plans to play tomorrow, which is nice, as though we all haven’t heard that one before. But the Dodgers can really ill-afford to lose Ramirez for an extended period of time. Justin Turner gets the nod in his place.

Giants 2, Dodgers 1: Life Is Pain

I’m sorry Chad made these GIFs. I’m even sorrier I have to show them to you. But you know that I do, right? This is what happened to Hanley Ramirez leading off against Ryan Vogelsong in the 7th inning:

Looks fun, right? Except, oh:

You know how we’re always complaining that Coors Field swallows up Dodger outfielders, not only essentially ruining Matt Kemp‘s career but also banging up Yasiel Puig and Andre Ethier? That’s how I’m starting to feel about Ramirez in San Francisco. Last year, he destroyed his thumb there in the WBC, then blew out his hamstring there days after returning. I hate that place. But then, between Coors, and the pool in Arizona, the NL West isn’t really friendly these days. Heart you, Petco?

* * *

Oh, and there was a game, I guess, and before Ramirez was injured, it was actually an interesting one, if not necessarily a well-played one. Vogelsong and Paul Maholm each made it through six full innings allowing just one run, with the Dodgers doing their best to help with endless dumb errors. (Kemp & Carl Crawford couldn’t figure out who was going to catch a ball that Kemp eventually dropped; Adrian Gonzalez was called out on batter’s interference; Kemp was picked off first; Juan Uribe, inexplicably running, was thrown out stealing easily.)

Maholm wasn’t exactly dominant, striking out two against three walks, but did induce two double plays and allowed only a Buster Posey single to drive in Hunter Pence. He also drew a walk and came around on Dee Gordon‘s triple, which is a real thing that happened.

Unfortunately, that was pretty much all the offense we saw, since the Dodgers managed just six hits, three by Gordon. The inning that began with Ramirez’ hit-by-pitch turned into a bases loaded, one out situation, but then Uribe ended any hope there with a double play.

* * *

I was going to continue, but let’s reserve a separate section for the Mattingly-bashing, of which there were two specific items on the agenda. The first, I’ll be honest, I didn’t dislike nearly as much as many others seemed to. In the bottom of the 7th, the Giants had two outs and a man on second. Mattingly intentionally walked Pence to get to Pablo Sandoval. That added a force play, and Sandoval was hitting .164/.270/.309 entering the night. That Sandoval singled in the run didn’t help, but I at least understood that.

But… holy good lord, the top of the eighth. Gordon singled with two outs, and moved to second when Javier Lopez threw away a pickoff. Lopez exists in this sport only because of what he does to lefties, against whom he has a .211/.293/.299 line in his career. Righties tag him for .303/.387/.429. You’d think that would be a situation where you absolutely wouldn’t want any lefty batter against him, but especially not Crawford, who has a .259/.305/.373 career line against lefties. This is why Scott Van Slyke exists. This may be the only reason that Van Slyke exists Unless we find out that Van Slyke got run over by a trolley on the way to the park or was otherwise unavailable, there is just about no rational reason to let Crawford hit. But since we saw him on deck with two outs in the ninth, it sure seemed like he wasn’t dead. And not that I wanted him to be dead — he seems like a nice guy — but man, it sure would have explained a lot.

Mattingly let Crawford hit, for reasons I cannot comprehend. He grounded out to first. You might as well have just ended the game there.

* * *

Back to Ramirez, the Dodgers announced that initial X-rays on his hand were negative, which is great news, if only because there’s no immediate indication of a break. (And good on Stan Conte for forcing him to come out, since it sure seemed like he wanted to stay in.) Until we learn more, we can stand down on the “will Gordon play short!” and “is Alex Guerrero coming up?!” business that came up on social media within literal seconds of the pitch. Unfortunately, the Dodgers have exhausted their ridiculous run of days off, and assuming Ramirez needs at least some down time, we’re looking at Justin Turner and Chone Figgins at shortstop. For a team struggling on offense, this is not appealing.

* * *

Oh well. There’s always this:

Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 0: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Adrian Gonzalez lead the way

ryu_2014-03-30-standsThat went about as well as could be expected. The Dodgers had a comfortable 6-0 victory on Friday night in Arizona behind great performances from Hyun-Jin Ryu and Adrian Gonzalez.

Ryu, starting for the first time in a week, threw seven scoreless innings, allowed two hits, walked one and struck out eight Diamondback hitters. He threw 99 pitches (70 strikes) in his seven innings. He showed no ill effects from his toenail injury. His velocity was on-par with his season average to date (90.9 MPH tonight, 90.7 MPH on the season), and he topped out at 93.1 MPH. He mixed his pitches well, throwing just 56 fastballs, 19 sliders, 16 changeups and eight curveballs. He had all his pitches working on this evening.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Dodger game without some kind of injury — even though it’s minor.

Sounds like he’ll be OK. Jamey Wright threw two scoreless innings of relief to close out the game.

Gonzalez got things going right away in the first inning, turning on a Brandon McCarthy fastball and hitting a no-doubter to right field. He followed that up with a 2-run single and an RBI single. In fact, the only at-bat in which he didn’t get a hit was when Paul Goldschmidt (whom the Dodgers, somehow, kept off base) made a diving stop on a liner down the line. It was Gonzalez’s best game of the season, logging three hits and five RBIs.

Hanley Ramirez chipped in three hits of his own, scoring three runs and driving in Yasiel Puig (who went 1-for-4 with a double in his return to the lineup) in the eighth inning.

Dee Gordon continued his hot hitting, chipping in two singles and a stolen base out of the No. 8 spot in the lineup. Juan Uribe had a rough night at the plate, grounding into two double plays. But he made a great play in the field and is the early leader in defensive runs saved for the Dodgers (+4).

The Dodgers send Zack Greinke to the hill on Saturday to face Wade Miley. Expect a different lineup than the one that was out there on Friday. First pitch is at 5:10 p.m. AHT. The Dodgers are now 7-4, while the Diamondbacks fall to 4-9.

Dodgers 5, Padres 1: Dan Haren, offense good enough

haren_dan_4.2.14The Dodgers’ offense finally woke up a bit in a 5-1 win in San Diego on Wednesday night. They recorded the most hits (nine) in a game since March 23 in Australia (13).

Carl Crawford led off with a double, followed by a Yasiel Puig bunt up the first base line. The play was almost challenged by the Padres, but manager Bud Black thought better of it. Hanley Ramirez came through with a grounder down the left field line for a 2-run double. Ramirez came into the game in a 1-for-15 slump. Adrian Gonzalez followed it up with an RBI single off Padre starter Tyson Ross.

Haren retired the first nine batters he faced, just like Zack Greinke did the night before (was actually 10). Haren ran into a little trouble in the fourth inning, just like Greinke did. He allowed a run on two singles and a questionable catcher’s interference call. Haren came back to strike out Jedd Gyorko and Will Venable (favorable strike three call) to get out of the inning.

Haren’s line: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K

He threw 63 percent (58 of 92) of his pitches for strikes, but wasn’t sharp the entire night. However, it was good enough to help the Dodgers win their fourth game of the season.

Despite the offensive “outburst,” the Dodgers’ 3-4-5 hitters (Ramirez, Gonzalez and Andre Ethier) are a combined 8-for-55 (.145) through five games. That’s going to have to improve going forward — and it will. Also, the Dodgers should be getting Matt Kemp this weekend, so it will definitely change.

It was a pretty dull game otherwise. The Dodger bullpen threw three scoreless innings, with Chris Perez pitched the final frame without incident. I have a feeling it would have been him — not Kenley Jansen — regardless of the score. Jansen had a rough go of it last night and has pitched in three of the five Dodger games thus far.

Also, this was the 11th consecutive game in which the Dodgers have held the Padres to three or fewer runs in a game.

The Dodgers make the long trek back to Los Angeles and are rewarded with an off day on Thursday before starting their first series of the 2014 season against the Giants. Hyun-Jin Ryu takes the hill against Ryan Vogelsong.

Hanley Ramirez, Zack Greinke shine in loss to Angels

ramirez_hanley ST 3.13.14

Hanley Ramirez, destroyer of baseballs. (By: Dustin Nosler)

If there’s anything to take away from the Dodgers’ 7-5 exhibition loss Thursday night to the Angels is that Hanley Ramirez and Zack Greinke appear to be ready for action.

Ramirez showed off his impressive power in the third inning by smacking a home run over the right field wall. He followed it up with one of the hardest balls I’ve ever seen him hit in the fifth inning. Seriously, it landed near the top of the left field pavilion. It traveled 465 feet. As long as he plays, oh, 135-plus games, he could very well walk away with the National League MVP.

Greinke displayed some good control (6 IP, 0 BB), consistent velocity and the ability to use and locate all his pitches in his final preseason tune-up for the 2014 season. Greinke will start Tuesday’s game in San Diego.

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Adrian Gonzalez left the game in the third inning after being hit by a pitch on his right elbow. He said he’s OK.

Sunday’s starter is still undetermined, but it could be Hyun-Jin Ryu if Friday’s bullpen session goes well. If it doesn’t, expect Dan Haren to get the call in the stateside opener against the Padres.

Stephen Fife will start Friday’s leg of the Freeway Series at Dodger Stadium.

Hanley Ramirez Did An Unreasonable Thing to Martin Perez

Just look at what Hanley Ramirez did to Texas’ Martin Perez today:

Good lord. Spring training and all that, and to be fair, Ramirez honestly hadn’t done a whole lot early in spring before this. (He’d had two singles and a walk in 17 plate appearances, I say as though I care.) So no, we’re not putting a ton of importance on a single homer. Still, Perez is a pretty good young pitcher, and that ball was absolutely destroyed.

I don’t think it’s overstating it to say that Ramirez was the single most important player in the Dodger lineup last year. Obviously, Matt Kemp‘s lost season was a killer, but this team has outfield depth. And you could argue that A.J. Ellis, though far less flashy, is nearly as irreplaceable given the depth behind him. But I think we all saw how different this lineup looked with and without a healthy Ramirez in 2013, particularly in the NLCS, when he struggled to answer the bell after a Joe Kelly fastball broke his ribs. It’s not overstating it to say that it’s absolutely critical that he remain healthy, especially with Nick Punto in Oakland. If Gordon isn’t even an option at all at shortstop any longer, a Ramirez-less world features… what? Brendan Harris? Justin Turner?

I don’t even want to think about it. Neither do you. I just want to watch Ramirez destroying baseballs on a continuous loop, and I just might do that.

***

As for the rest of the game — don’t know the score, don’t care — Zach Lee made his spring debut and got through two scoreless innings, and we finally got to get a look at Tom Windle, last year’s second pick, who finished it off with two scoreless of his own. In between, most of the regular bullpen looked pretty good, other than Brandon League, who will now forever be known as “it could have been worse,” which is how Charley Steiner put it. I’m not sure how, I guess. Maybe we’ll find out.

The Time To Extend Hanley Ramirez Is Now

The issue of Hanley Ramirez‘s contract status entering the 2014 season has been speculated on for a while now. Going back to November, it was reported that the two parties were engaged in talks, and that was reiterated in a late-January report.

Just the other day, his contract status was raised once again, with Hanley stating that he’d like to remain a Dodger for life.

In the clubhouse a day before position players were scheduled to report for spring training, Hanley Ramirez said Wednesday he wanted to be “a Dodger for life.”

But Ramirez otherwise declined to talk about his contractual status, saying with a smile, “I’m a baseball player.”

With Clayton Kershaw now locked up, the only main cog left unattended to is Ramirez, who becomes a free agent after the season. And make no mistake, despite Hanley’s performance struggles in previous years and concerns about injuries, he remains an elite talent.

Hanley Going Forward

System PA BA OBP SLG OPS wOBA WAR
2013 336 .345 .402 .638 1.040 .442 5.2
Steamer ’14 565 .279 .349 .463 .812 .352 4.3
ZiPS ’14 491 .276 .342 .486 .828 .357 3.8
Oliver ’14 600 .296 .358 .525 .883 .379 5.7

Hanley put up an amazing line in 2013, and his effectiveness has increased as he’s gotten further away from labrum surgery in 2011. His 2013 line of .345/.402/.638/1.040 and solid defense at short put him on a ~9 WAR full season pace. That performance has meant that even with his horrible 2011, average 2012, and injury-shortened 2013, he’s still projected as a plus regular over a full season by all the systems.

But that’s with the generally conservative projection systems, and I think there’s more reason to believe in his resurgence than doubt it. For starters, there’s his shoulder and his recovery.

Ramirez also credited the Dodgers medical staff with helping him revive his career. Not only did Ramirez recover from a broken thumb and strained hamstring this year, he also gained strength in his surgically repaired left shoulder.

“My body feels good,” he said.

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Hanley Ramirez said he felt more confident than he had in three years when he came off the disabled list at the end of April. Why?

“Because of this,” Ramirez said, gesturing to the three-inch scar on his left shoulder, a souvenir from September 2011 surgery. It took Ramirez that long — 18 months — to feel as if he was back to being himself following the surgery.

We read about this before, especially when discussing Matt Kemp‘s labrum surgery and Adrian Gonzalez‘s similar shoulder issues, but it bears repeating because of the power-sapping, swing-altering nature of that injury.

Still, those quotes could all be meaningless without evidence, and fortunately Hanley has shown us signs of his previous self. From 2007-9, when he was an elite offensive threat, he struck out 15.5% of the time. When he was toiling away from 2011-12, he posted an increased 18.8% strikeout rate, but in 2013 he came back down to that 15.5% rate again. Additionally, the distribution of his batted balls changed for the better. From 2007-9, his fly ball percentage was 41.9%, 36.7%, and 41.5%, respectively. But in 2011, he essentially became a groundball hitter, as he put just 33.2% of batted balls in the air, and, like with everything else, that improved gradually in 2012 to 34.4%. Then, in 2013, he posted a 37.4% FB rate to go along with a career-high 22.0% line drive rate. Furthermore, his batted ball distance in 2013 on fly balls was 303.9 feet and 284.2 feet on line drives. Contrast that with his 2011-12 distances of 281.1 on fly balls and 252.4 on line drives, and there’s clear evidence that not only was he hitting fly balls and line drives more frequently than before, but when he did, he was driving them with more authority.

For a hitter like Hanley, lifting/driving the ball again is a sign that his swing path and strength are returning to pre-shoulder injury levels. So while his .363 BABIP will undoubtedly regress, there’s positive signs that the rest of his resurgence is legitimate. He still projects as a 4 WAR player in the immediate future due to his question marks, but there’s a strong case to be made that he’s much closer to a return to the 6-7 WAR levels he used to achieve on a yearly basis (at least offensively).

So How Much Is He Worth?

This past off-season, 32-year-old Jhonny Peralta got ~$13 million per year over four seasons after a steroid suspension and alternating seasons of effectiveness — he averages 2.4 WAR per 600 PA and Steamer projects him at 2.7 WAR in 2014. Additionally, as we’ve seen with the rising salaries due to the influx of TV money, wins are now going for around $6 million per (arguably $7 million).

So given that, and the fact that Hanley projects as at least as a 4 WAR player going forward, the Dodgers are probably looking at an extension worth something between a five-year, $100 million deal ($20MM AAV) and a six-year, $138 million deal ($23 MM AAV). That might sound like a ridiculous amount of money to commit given his injury issues and struggles prior to last year, but the only reason he might be that CHEAP is because of those unknown factors.

Hanley still has major question marks regarding his health and effectiveness, questions that haven’t adequately been answered since around 2009. Additionally, it’s likely he’ll have to move off shortstop sooner than later. And it’s those problems that are exactly why this is the ideal time for the Dodgers to get an extension done.

So he has multiple question marks and that’s why the team should throw millions at him?

Yeah, pretty much.

I know, I know, why not wait him out, right? Why not let him prove it to the team in 2014 before jumping to lock him up? After all, the Dodgers can afford to wait to re-sign him at whatever price if they want, and that way they get another season to judge his health and productivity. The Dodgers’ payroll gives them that luxury of being able to compete with anybody on the free agent market anyway, right?

All that is true, but the problem is (all jokes aside) the payroll isn’t literally unlimited, and the Masahiro Tanaka signing showed that they’re still thinking about getting deals they like. So if the Dodgers don’t eventually want to be saddled with ALL of the most expensive contracts in baseball history — most of them poor deals from a value standpoint — then they have to be proactive with deals like this at some point. Stan Kasten himself has said he doesn’t want to be reliant on the payroll to do everything in the future.

Perhaps most importantly though, I don’t think there’s a ton to be gained from waiting.

The Alternatives: Worse, Worser, Worserest

Given the desire to have a reasonable payroll someday, one reason there’s risk in waiting out Hanley is because of his potential contract demands. I suggested only a five- or six-year extension mainly because Kasten has said that he doesn’t want to sign guys long-term past the age of 36. That’s relevant because teams nowadays are paying in years on contracts for marquee free agents in addition to dollars. So while the team could maybe get Hanley to ink a five-year deal now, what if he puts up a .320/30 season in 2014? Then he’s going to demand a contract that might literally make him a Dodger for life, and he’ll probably deserve one too. For a team that already has a bunch of players either on the decline or signed well into their decline years, the Dodgers would probably prefer not to add another contract that will be an albatross towards the end of it.

Besides that, the most compelling reason may be that the alternatives … well … sort of suck. Since the Dodgers allegedly want Hanley to eventually move to third in due time, here are the players at both short and third that will be free agents in 2015 (without options):

Shortstops

Asdrubal Cabrera (29)
Rafael Furcal (37)
Alex Gonzalez (37)
J.J. Hardy (32)
Derek Jeter (41)
Jed Lowrie (31)
John McDonald (40)

Third Basemen

Yuniesky Betancourt (33)
Wilson Betemit (33)
Alberto Callaspo (32)
Eric Chavez (37)
Chase Headley (31)
Casey McGehee (32)
Donnie Murphy (32)
Pablo Sandoval (28)
Ty Wigginton (37)
Kevin Youkilis (36)

A bountiful cornucopia of desirable signings.

Seriously though, every player on that list is either older than Hanley or wasn’t nearly as productive in 2013, and none have Hanley’s upside. So even assuming Hanley misses time again in 2014, is there another player you’d prefer to have going in 2015? Not me.

One concern that I had given thought to is the impact on Corey Seager‘s future with the team, which Mike talked about the other day. But for as much as I love Seager, he’s still a prospect, and it’s a hard to endorse prioritizing the future of a player who could be elite over a player who is elite now. Also, as Mike said, the Dodgers are insisting that Seager will be a shortstop going forward (I disagree), so maybe it’s Seager they want to move Hanley to third for? We can only hope.

Conclusion

After considering all those factors, I feel like it’s absolutely in the team’s best interest to lock Hanley up before the season. While it may come with a bit more risk now, it could potentially save a ton of cash and a lot of years, thus sparing the Dodgers a late-30s decline. And unless he has a career-ending injury in 2014, the team will want him back in 2015 and beyond anyway, as he’s the best player the Dodgers (and everybody else) are going to find on the open market. An extension now is thus a sensible risk to take on a player with elite upside, especially for a team that aims to build around a core of star players.

Where Is Corey Seager’s Future?

(Via Dustin Nosler)

(Via Dustin Nosler)

Yesterday, Ken Gurnick posted a story at dodgers.com about Hanley Ramirez, mainly focusing on Ramirez’ intention to be healthy — he claims to be pain-free in his back and his ribs — and his still uncertain contract status, which Ramirez punctuated by saying “I want to be a Dodger for life.” Yet the most interesting piece of news about Ramirez’ future didn’t even come in that article, it came buried at the bottom of a story about the Dodgers working to sign Cuban Erisbel Arruebarruena:

The Dodgers still apparently are interested in giving a contract extension to current shortstop Hanley Ramirez, but with an understanding that he would move permanently to third base when a shortstop replacement is ready.

That’s a story unto itself, because Ramirez has long preferred to remain at shortstop rather than move to third, very vocally stating that when the Marlins forced him to move over to start 2012. Ramirez played the first eight games of his Dodger career at third, then moved back to shortstop, where he’s been ever since. Despite a surprisingly decent 2013 fielding performance, I think we all know that as he ages and slows in his 30s, shortstop isn’t the ideal position for him, and so if he signs an extension, moving him to third base makes all the sense in the world.

Except… what of Corey Seager? Perhaps it’s premature to be asking this, because Seager is all but certain to start the year at High-A Rancho Cucamonga, and even with a strong showing it’s difficult to see him reaching the bigs before a late call-up in 2015 — at best — and ideally with an eye towards being a regular big leaguer in 2016. That’s two years from now, and so much can happen between now and then. He can flame out, like Joel Guzman, or be involved in some ludicrous trade for a Giancarlo Stanton or David Price. Ramirez could depart or decline or get injured. This could be a conversation that never ends up being relevant.

Still, the thought of Ramirez at third long-term does make you start thinking about where Seager’s place in all this is, because at 6’4″, he’d be one of the biggest shortstops in history. Only Cal Ripken, Jr., managed to have any sort of career at the position, and it’s long been assumed by nearly every outside observer that Seager moving to third was an inevitability. If Ramirez is there, that presents a sizable roadblock, and while Arruebarruena may not hit enough to start shortstop, the rumored amount of money the Dodgers are prepared to give him — still unconfirmed, of course — indicates otherwise about how the Dodgers look at him.

Since Arruebarruena hasn’t even officially signed yet, let’s not worry about him for the moment. The question then becomes, do the Dodgers really see something in Seager that absolutely no one else does? I’m not even really being facetious there — from Keith Law to Ben Badler to Baseball Prospectus to everyone else, I don’t think I’ve seen a single reputable prospect report that gives him a chance of sticking at shortstop.

But then, the only opinion that matters is that of the organization, and I go back to what DeJon Watson said to our pal Christopher Jackson last July:

He’s a really good player. Grounded, just an unbelievable feel for the flow of the game. His internal clock is really advanced for his age. He’s a shortstop, he’s staying at shortstop, he’s playing it well and he’s really just stabilizing the infield defense whenever he gets in the lineup. His play has been consistent, he never wavers. Again, he’s a pretty advanced player for such a young age. We’re really excited for him.

It could be posturing to improve Seager’s perceived value, or he could really mean it. We don’t know, though there’s really not a ton of urgency to move him. (Manny Machado, for example, played exactly two minor league games at third after 203 at shortstop before being promoted to the hot corner in Baltimore. It worked out just fine.)

Either way, a Ramirez extension seems more likely than not, and the premise of him playing third base for most or all of that deal seems likely as well. Maybe the idea would be that it’s, say, a four-year deal that gets done before the season, and that Seager could manage to handle short for his first year or two in the big leagues until Ramirez is gone and then Seager makes the same transition. (Where all this ends up leaving Arruebarruena, I have no idea.) Maybe one or both is gone before then. No matter what, it’s an interesting wrinkle to the future of one of the top prospects in the system… and a wonderful problem to have.