When Mariah Carey first recorded her now timeless version of "All I want for Christmas is you", I’m sure she didn’t imagine it’s relevance would expand much beyond the simple holiday romances it was intended to incite.
This Christmas season, the Boston Red Sox have deeply immersed themselves in Mariah’s sensual lyrics in attempt to lure potential suitors (in this case, free agents/trade targets) back home to the charms of Fenway Park for the holidays.
The failed pursuits of some big name interests in recent weeks -- namely Gio Gonzalez and Carlos Beltran -- have left Sox GM Ben Cherrington and Co. without a flashy new toy to show off come Christmas morning.
Luckily for the Boston brass, there are a few high priced gadgets left on the shelves and plenty of time to line their stockings before opening day.
After a historic September collapse, that most New Englanders are still trying to forget, there are plenty of needs to fill for the Red Sox before taking the field in 2012.
Most notably, starting pitching is a major area of concern and as much as it pains me to say it, John Lackey’s Tommy John surgery dealt an even more significant blow to an already paper thin starting staff.
While the Sox’ arms race remains a primary concern, spending added time on evaluations of potential candidates – Ryan Madson, Gavin Floyd and Roy Oswalt to name a few -- in lieu of spending more money on risky buys (e.g: Lackey and Matsuzaka) the team’s future may be better served.
That in mind, there is one major move to be made that could immediately bolster a Boston team middling in early winter failures.
Trade 3B Kevin Youkilis, OF Josh Reddick And P Anthony Ranaudo To Miami Marlins For SS Hanley Ramirez
At first glance, the package the Sox would have to forfeit may seem like quite the price to pay for any player, better yet an average defensive infielder, who struggled at the plate through almost the entirety of the 2011 season.
Making a deal for Ramirez is definitely a risk/reward scenario after a year in which Ramirez finished with career-lows in every major category. After appearing in better than 142 games in each of his first five seasons, Ramirez played just 92 games in 2011 while batting just .243 – a near .50 departure from his previous low of .292 during his rookie season – with a mere 10 home runs and 45 RBI.
While the risk of taking on a that sort of rapid decline is almost glaring, Hanley’s stock is likely at the lowest it will ever be and with a possible return to his pre-2011 form this deal could be viewed as near mugging in but a year’s time.
The Marlins could certainly benefit from the deal, as they would get rid of their dissatisfied superstar -- Ramirez adamantly refuses to accept his imminent shift to third-base -- and solve their corner infield issue; pairing newly acquired $100M short stop Jose Reyes with the typically reliable Youkilis. Miami, who is gearing up to win now, would also add depth to their core of young outfielders as well as a promising young pitcher that could anchor their rotation in a few years.
As for the Red Sox, the addition of a healthy and productive Ramirez would help alleviate some pressure from Adrian Gonzalez Dustin Pedroia and Jocaboy Ellsbury offensively as well as offering new manager Bobby Valentine some flexibility to his likely lineup problems.
Hanley would immediately take up residency in the middle of Boston’s infield for the near and distant future -- a need the Sox have had since the days of Nomar Garciaparra -- while the combination of utility fielders Marco Scutaro, Nick Punto and Mike Aviles could fill the void left at third-base.
Meanwhile, Youkilis' departure would clear room for promising prospect Will Middlebrooks to inherit the corner infield spot, whenever he’s ready for the jump to the big leagues.
The move, as any big trade, obviously presents some inherent risks but bringing back old friend Hanley could pay huge dividends for the Red Sox both now and in the future, when a starting infield of Gonzalez, Pedroia, Ramirez and Middlebrooks could arguably take the field at Fenway each day.
The impact would be immediate and the potential immeasurable, but without a doubt adding a talented 28-year-old (Happy Birthday Hanley) Ramirez to an already stacked Sox' roster could mean, in the words of Lebron James, "Not 1. Not 2. Not 3."... on second thought, let's just say it could mean another title for titletown.
In other words, Hanley Ramirez, all Ben Cherrington should want for Christmas is you.