Abreu and Ramirez capture Silver Sluggers, trade interest

This headline presumes there is just always unrequited trade interest for Jose Abreu and thought it would be too clunky to distinguish that only Ramirez has been the subject of recent reports. This is the degradation of journalistic ethics, happening right here in real time.

The Silver Slugger Awards are voted on by MLB managers and coaches, so the honors for best offensive players at each position are still full of decisions like Adrian Gonzalez winning in the National League because he drove in a million runs. 

In that context, the presence of some of the seemingly unnecessary names mentioned in Doug Padilla's announcement of Jose Abreu winning the honors for AL first basemen become understandable.

Neither Mauer nor Hosmer slugged .400 this past season, but Mauer is a former MVP and Hosmer has been the platonic ideal of scouting-based offensive promise for years now, and since he mashed a few taters in the playoffs, he will probably be for a few more. Abreu had to overcome with all that, and a lot of established name value and built-in respect for Miguel Cabrera (who also actually had a good season) to win his honors, and he somehow pulled it off.

Woooo shortstops can't hit was my reaction to the last time Alexei Ramirez won a Silver Slugger Award and that certainly didn't change this season. Ramirez had more of a return to form than a breakout year, barely scraping together a .700 OPS. Yet his 97 wRC+ mark, which he slowly glided down to after a monster April, was good enough for third in the league at the position.

There are theories on why Ramirez might have gotten the edge over Erick Aybar and Jose Reyes, and none of them point to particularly good reasoning. Alexei started out the year on fire and made the All-Star Game, setting an early impression of success that didn't necessarily hold up. Jose Reyes started the year on the DL, adding to the perception of him being injury-prone even though he dug in for two less plate appearances than the typically unbreakable Ramirez.

Despite playing on a juggernaut, Erick Aybar just can't seem to get any name recognition, and can never compete with Ramirez home run totals. Alexei is the only shortstop who slugged over .400, and seems like a brand apart from a collection of contact and slap guys.

As a kid who grew up watching AL managers try to figure out how to get Jeter, A-Rod and Nomar all get playing time during one All-Star Game, it's hard to imagine this being the discussion for best shortstop in the league, but given Ramirez's still wondrous glove and the new standard for offense, he's a default candidate that no one would actually pick to win.

In that vein, people want Alexei Ramirez. Bruce Levine reports the Sox have been receiving offers from all over the league, including the Yankees, Mets and Dodgers. The most detailed information from Levine comes from the team that should be the least motivated.

Levine mentions Mets top pitching prospects Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero as possibilities. The Mets weren't awful last year and get Matt Harvey back. But Snydergaard is their meal ticket for a brighter future. Cashing in their return from the R.A. Dickey trade to have Ramirez be solid for two more years doesn't seem like their play.

The same could be said from the outside about the Sox holding onto Ramirez. They have plenty of fill-in options, but would have to worry about immediate drop-off in performance until when/if Tim Anderson comes into his own. The Sox are a championship core without a team around it at this point. Winning now seems both like something they're obligated to rush toward and also insane. After two bad offensive years, 33-year-old Ramirez being the pick of the litter in the shortstop trade market is found money if they choose to accept it, though I doubt it will be for the Mets' best arms if they do. This sounds like typical Rick Hahn asking for the sun and hoping the opposition settles for the moon.

The White Sox are at a crossroads where some of the benefits of selling look just as appealing as forging ahead for 2015. Replacing Ramirez was going to need to happen soon anyway, and longer-term prospect solutions to holes in the rotation and on the corners would be better than relying on free agency. I'm in favor of the deal in theory, and will take solace in watching one of the most wonderfully entertaining players of my lifetime lead a semi-competitive push for the playoffs if it doesn't work out.


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