A year ago, I celebrated the promotion of Erasmo Ramirez, using the headline "Finally, Erasmo." Jeremy Bonderman was booted, Ramirez had been teasing once again in AAA, and as you'll see within, I had dreams of a 2014 rotation that included Felix, Iwakuma, Ramirez, Walker, and Hultzen. James Paxton was wildly inconsistent at the time, Danny Hultzen's injury was a mystery, and Ramirez seemed, finally healthy, that he might be ready to reclaim his role as the strike-throwing command master he was back in 2012.
Erasmo quickly reminded us that he wasn't back in form, and despite some positive signs and justified optimism, Ramirez has been a bizarro version of himself this year, walking nearly five batters every 9 innings despite still generating bunches of swing and miss pitches. The command was gone, and while he's stopped walking people in Tacoma, he's still getting hit hard. Ramirez can still throw strikes, but he can no longer throw them consistently in an area that isn't the middle of the plate. Not with this coaching staff, at least. Maybe it's in his head, maybe he isn't fixable. Maybe it's mechanical. At this point, most of the hope for Ramirez is gone, and there's a good chance he's become an afterthought in the organization's plans.
We've really only thought of the Mariners as buyers at this point, using their assets to pry away win-now talent from teams out of contention. But a little blurb in Bob Dutton's morning piece today indicates that other teams have some interest in trying to repair Ramirez.
Several clubs, including Milwaukee, are showing interest in right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, whose next scheduled start is Friday for Tacoma...
Very rarely do you see two winning ballclubs exchange players at the deadline, but in theory, this could work. The Mariners could use a bat, even a low-impact defensively-challenged one, and while the Brewers have been excellent from 1-4 in the rotation, the back end is in flux with Marco Estrada. If the Brewers are indeed interested, among other teams, they're doing exactly what I would suggest the Mariners do in other years -- buy low on a talented pitcher with what would appear to be a reasonable shot to bounce back.
There's no question that Ramirez has talent. He still throws relatively hard, has a devastating change when he can command it, and somewhere inside him has the ability to paint the black instead of paint the red, the latter of which is all he's done lately. I rarely advocate teams selling low, but if there's a mutually beneficial deal here to help the offense, it might be the right move. I'm no longer convinced that Ramirez can be fixed by the Mariners organization, and even if he goes on to settle in as a nice 4/5 type pitcher in another organization, sometimes it's unavoidable. Another coaching staff might have a different approach, or maybe the fresh start reboots his career.
There's no reason to sell him unless the M's get a piece that actually helps them now, but who knows? Perhaps Ramirez has more value around the league than I thought he did. Teams could be as enamored by his 2012 as many of us once were/still are.
Writing this bums me out. I've been a supporter of Erasmo for a long time, and have always believed in his skillset, criminally undervalued because of his size, injuries, and general lack of pedigree. But after watching what he's done this year, this simply isn't the same pitcher that I grew infatuated with several years ago, just like Dustin Ackley isn't the confident, ripping machine he was when he first emerged. Letting go of baseball crushes is hard.
What do you think? Is selling Erasmo Ramirez at the deadline giving up on him, or is it a savvy decision to cut ties while he still has some value? There are excellent arguments both ways, and I'm teetering on the fence. Guide me.