Hanley's exit allows for new leaders to emerge

Hanley's exit allows for new leaders to emerge

Hanley's exit allows for new leaders to emerge
MIAMI -- Memorable moments and unfulfilled potential underscored Hanley Ramirez's legacy with the Marlins.

One of the greatest talents in franchise history, Ramirez is a three-time All-Star, former Rookie of the Year, a Silver Slugger Award winner and the National League's batting champion in 2009.

At 28, when he should be reaching his prime, Ramirez instead on Wednesday found himself headed to another organization.

Completing a deal in the middle of the night, the Marlins traded Ramirez and lefty relief specialist Randy Choate to the Dodgers for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and pitching prospect Scott McGough.

Los Angeles will pick up the remainder of Ramirez's contract (about $40 million) through 2014.

The Marlins, meanwhile, will be moving in another direction now that Ramirez is no longer at third base.

Fair or not, Ramirez was asked to live up to enormous expectations.

"I can't control that," he said when the trade was announced. "I don't know what to say about that. Like I said, 'Everybody is trying to put the best team out there and they're trying to do the best they can to win games, to win championships.'"

There was strong speculation on Tuesday that Ramirez would be dealt. The veteran infielder said he received plenty of support from the fans as he was leaving the ballpark following Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Braves.

"I still love them," Ramirez said. "They showed me a lot of support after the game when I was walking to my car. They're always going to be in my heart. Seven years that I spent that I'm never going to forget in my life. They showed me a lot of support through the years with what I went through, they were always there."

In terms of pure talent, there was no one better on the Marlins' roster.

Manager Ozzie Guillen said as much following the trade. In front of reporters, for effect, Guillen picked up his lineup card, glanced at it, and quipped, "Make sure I don't overlook no one."

With so much raw ability, why did Ramirez exit Miami with a .246 average with 14 home runs and 48 RBIs? From 2006, when he was the NL Rookie of the Year, to 2010, he had a .313 career average with 124 home runs, 196 stolen bases, 389 RBIs and 562 runs scored.

"What can I say? I mean, I didn't do what they expected me to do," Ramirez said. "I think that's what happened, in my opinion. I don't think they just gave up on me. I didn't do what I was supposed to do on the field."

Ramirez said he found out he was being dealt to the Dodgers around 8 a.m. ET.

It's the second time in his career that he's been traded. The Marlins acquired him on Thanksgiving night in 2005 from the Red Sox. In that major move, Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez came to Florida as part of the Josh Beckett-Mike Lowell trade.

In a span of three days, the Marlins parted with Ramirez and Sanchez, who was sent to the Tigers along with Omar Infante.

Ramirez's first reaction when he learned of the deal was sadness.

"It's the second time it's happened in my career," he said. "It's painful. You're starting over. You just got to keep your head up and move forward."

As a team, the Marlins are going to move forward.

Guillen said Jose Reyes and Logan Morrison will be counted on to show leadership.

"We expect him to be the leader," Guillen said of Reyes. "We expect him to be the guy, yes. I expect him to be the guy. He did it before, he should be again.

"I think here, you have the potential for it to be a couple of guys' team. Reyes and LoMo. I think those are the guys we'll look for to be the leaders on the team. It's not easy to be the leaders on a team. It's easy to be a leader when you're 4-for-4 hitting .390.

"To be a leader, that package is pretty heavy. I think LoMo has the chance to be a leader, and I think Reyes is one already."

Reyes found out about the trade after receiving a text message from Ramirez.

"He was the one who texted me today," Reyes said. "He said, 'Come to the ballpark early, I've been traded.' I didn't believe him, but when I saw his locker was gone, I was like, 'Woah, it was for real.'"

Reyes, who signed a six-year, $106 million contract in December, developed a close friendship with Ramirez.

"It was sad to see Hanley go, because we developed a great relationship since Spring Training," Reyes said. "But we're still confident. If you look around, we still have some pieces here. We just need to do it on the field. It wasn't working out."

With Ramirez gone, and new players added, it changes the mood of the clubhouse.

"The old one wasn't very good, so hopefully it will be better," Morrison said. "Look yourself in the mirror if you're on the team. I feel like that's where [leadership] has to come from. Hold yourself accountable. If anybody has higher expectations on you than yourself, then you don't need to be playing in the big leagues.

"I feel like if everybody holds themselves accountable and they can live up to their expectations of themselves then [shoot], we'll win a World Series every year. Is that going to happen? Is that gonna happen? No, but that's what needs to happen."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.