President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest and general manager Mike Hill discussed the Hanley Ramirez trade and more Wednesday morning:
What did Hanley Ramirez mean to the organization?
Beinfest: "He meant a lot to this organization, a premium talent, an uber talent in a lot of respects. Looking back on it and what he’s done for the organization, these are tough moves. These are tough trades. But when you underachieve at the level this team has underachieved, and has not won at the level we expected it to, we talked about a restructuring and this was part of it. Maybe it’s time for a fresh start for Hanley, and maybe it’s time for a fresh start with the Marlins. We could not figure out why Hanley and his talent, in his prime, was hitting in the mid-.240s. So hopefully he will do what he’s capable of, which is obviously not a .245 hitter.
"We’ve had certainly a lot of achievements with Hanley. We never got to the playoffs with him. We had some challenges and disappointments with Hanley along the way. But the bottom line is he is an exceptional talent. Are we giving up on the season? I’ll leave that up to you guys. We don’t feel that way. We weren’t winning with the group we had, and we want to make changes."
Any idea why he struggled so much?
Beinfest: "We all kind of beat our heads....there were several guys....this guy is a proven major league player. Why are they performing the way they are. We’re going to try to get to the root of it. Hanley’s in the prime of his career, an exceptional talent. You can see he’s in great shape. Still the same kid we got to know seven years ago. Never thought he’d be hitting .246. Again, maybe it was time for a fresh start.
I think they (fans) should be wondering. I think they should be disappointed in the way we’ve played, where we are in the standings. We’re not going to do something just to do something. These things came together relatively quickkly
Did you get back what you wanted?
Beinfest: "We wanted to bring back a young starting pitcher, that was a goal. If we were going to market Hanley, and Eovaldi fit that deal. Our plan is to put Eovaldi in the rotation. He should start here on Saturday. Wade LeBlanc will stay in the bullpen. We’ll see. We’ve got six days to go to the trade deadline.
Why make the trade?
Beinfest: "We were waiting for it to click, waiting for May to happen again, and we just felt like it wasn’t going to happen. I’m not going to tell you that third base is not going to be a focus between now and next April. I think it will be. I think it should be. We’re going to have to look at other avenues to fortify the lineup. We need Logan Morrison to perform better than he has. We need guys to pick it up. We still probably have some additional work to do. Whether that’s going to happen in the next six days, who knows? But between now and next April, we need to look at the middle of the lineup. We need to look at third base and see how we’re going to move ahead."
Did Hanley have a bad attitude or attitude issues?
Beinfest: "I think some of that stuff has been well documented and again, without getting into specifics, we’ve had some challenges with him. We’ve had challenges with other players too. But because of hype and because he’s a star player and achieved at the level he’s achieved, it’s a little more out in front. Hanley Ramirez is a Marlin today if this team is cranking. If we’re right there in the division, or we’re banging on the door of the wild card, and people are performing up to their abilities....we’re not quite there. They have just underachieved en masse."
What has Jeffrey Loria's reaction been?
Beinfest: "Jeffrey loves his players. I think he definitely had a soft spot for Hanley. We can talk about some of the challenges we had with Hanley. There were tremendous positives with Hanley. He’s an intelligent guy, sweet guy. You get to know him away from some of the superstar persona, there’s some really endearing things about Hanley. Very tough on Jeffrey. He had high expectations. We’re in this brand new building. It’s beautiful. It’s done its job. And the team has underachieved. And he’s very involved in every aspect of what we’re doing. At the same time, this has been difficult for him.
What is the financial component of the trade? Does this mean you will be active in free agency?
Beinfest: "We’ll see. Players all come with something. They come at 500 grand. They come at $15 million. And this trade where we wanted to restructure, this player had a hefty contract that he earned based on how he produced. So there is that financial component. We’ll get with Jeffrey and talk about net year. That’s putting the cart a little bit ahead of the horse right now. No doubt, Hanley had a substantial contract that the Dodgers have taken in total. To find major league starting pitching is very very hard. This kid has the worst run support. He’s a good-looking player. There was money being exchanged, so that was part of the component when you talk about a trade. There was a sliding scale. You take on money and maybe the player dynamic changes a little bit. That’s exactly what happened here. There were multiple suitors for Hanley Ramirez. We were working with them right up past midnight last night. This deal really wasn’t really completed done until 2:30, 3 in the morning eastern time."
What did you get in return?
Beinfest: "We wanted a young, controllable in the rotation starting pitcher. Eovaldi, Jacob Turner. These are major pieces for us going forward. There’s probably been more disappointment than joy. This building deserves better. I think our fans deserve better. We’ve had some challenges. The Ozzie thing was disappointing. There’s no getting around that. The team’s performance other than May has been disappointing, period. We would have liked to have made a better showing. But there is no sugar-coating it. We did not achieve up to our expectations, which I thought were realistic."
Is it hard to fathom what’s transpired since you spent all that money during the winter meetings in Dallas?
Beinfest: "I think we have to fathom it. We had a completely different picture of how this summer would look, yes. Love the talent we brought in. Loved the existing talent we had here. Thought that the team had a little bit of everything to compete in a difficult division: front-line starting pitching, speed and defense, fortified bullpen -- the whole package. And it’s baseball. It’s not always perfect. We were probably, at least to this point, more wrong than we were right. And that’s the way it goes and we are going to try to make things better and win more games. But none of us envisioned where we are today, but we are. So we have to deal with it."
Can you talk about the plan for Jacob Turner?
Beinfest: "I think he’s pitching Saturday in New Orleans. Let’s get him pitching. Let’s get to know him."
Are you guys waving the white flag?
Beinfest: "I think fans and all of you in the media, I think it’s fair to couch this however way you like. I will tell you how we feel internally, and you can buy it or not. Is that it wasn’t working, and if we were wrong, we were wrong. If people want to call white flags, they want to call selling -- however you guys want to do it -- I think it’s fair. But we felt like this thing wasn’t going to click. Jeffrey was very supportive, and he was extremely disappointed. We were all in and now -- we were all in that we needed to make some changes.
"We wanted to target young starting pitching. We think it’s the most coveted thing in the game, toughest thing to acquire. We’re talking about high, top end young starting pitching. And when you’re talking about a jacob turner in the detroit deal, this is one of the top prospects in the game, Widely known. We think he’s going to be a frontline starter for us for a long time, so we were able to achieve that. With Eovaldi, you’ve got a guy performing in the majors leagus, under control, and ready to start for us on Saturday. You look at the rest of the detroit deal with the catcher, left-handed hitting upside offense, profiles out as a starting catcher in the major leagues. Again a commodity that’s very difficult to get your hands on. Truthfully, we’ve had a tough time developing internally, so we’ve had to go externally to find that player. And we did. It’s part of a restructure. And we move ahead with it.
Is there concern about attendance after losing Hanley?
Beinfest: "We’re concerned about everything because of the complete disappointment we have in this ball club. These are difficult decisions we had to make, but we made them. So, yeah, I think we’re concerned about everything. I think we need to look at ourselves in the mirror. I think players need to look at themselves in the mirror, and say, hey, this is where we’re at and either deal with or not, and we’ve chosen to deal with it."
Was there just a big abberation between what you thought you had and reality?
Hill: "The formula that we put together, we expected players with track records, we expected them to do what they’ve historically done. You can’t sugarcoat what the numbers are."