That's not to suggest Ramirez is a superstar without flaws. The consensus reports on his defense at shortstop are lukewarm at best, and I suspect the Sox targeted him as a center fielder, particularly if Ellsbury was part of the package. And he has some frustrating space-shot tendencies similar to a certain namesake of his. (Yes, it is weird to be writing "Ramirez" over and over again and meaning someone other than Manny.) The respected and usually soft-spoken Andre Dawson, a Marlins special assistant, even questioned Ramirez's dedication last season not long after he signed his extension. The Hawk's quote:
''I'd like to see a bit more hunger. That's what makes you a team leader. His intensity is yet to reach that peak. And I want to see him cut his swing down in RBI situations. He's over-swinging.''
While Dawson's words are somewhat alarming, I don't think the Red Sox should be particularly concerned. After all, they're more than familiar with the quirks of Ramirez's personality, having had to discipline him for "maturity issues" more than once when he was the jewel of their farm system. If they're willing to pursue him so soon after curing themselves of the Manny headache, that tells you all you need to know about the insignificance of those issues.
I am extremely curious as to where this report originated and who the specific sources were. If it came from the Red Sox, a cynic might wonder if they leaked interest in a "hey, look, we're trying here" sort of way to appease a fan base frustrated that the coveted Teixeira took the pinstriped enemy's money instead. You can't tell me such a tactic isn't in Larry Lucchino's playbook.
If it originated from the Marlins, however, it makes me wonder if it's a trial balloon from an organization that's trying to entice a larger payroll team to make them an offer for Ramirez that they can't refuse. In other words: If, say, Robinson Cano, Philip Hughes, and a dugout full of other Yankees prospects (and suspects) found themselves wearing teal next season, I wouldn't be completely shocked. If that happened, I'd also retire to a cabin in the Maine woods to begin working on my Manifesto.
Hey, like I said: Conjecture and fantasy. But if Theo Epstein truly did look into acquiring Ramirez, then I applaud him, because that tells you he's approaching his job exactly as you'd hope the general manager of your favorite baseball team would: By coming up with creative possibilities to improve the team on the field, then investigating them in the chance -- however slim it may be -- that they might be doable.
Hanley Ramirez, returning to where it all began? It sure is fun to think about.
And we're fortunate Epstein apparently thought about it, too.
* * *
As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
See any resemblance to his half-brother?
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.