Who is Wilson Ramos and Why Do I Like Him?
There's been a lot of stuff going on this week surrounding the Nation's Capital and who'll be living there for the next four years. So I thought I would take it upon myself to give my two cents about what's actually happening in D.C. ESPECIALLY behind home plate.
First of all, Wilson Ramos has an incredible walk up song, "Wilson" by Phish. It's perfect. It's exactly what you want in walk up song; it allows your name to be yelled. It's incredible. It does the job and more. Plus, with that pulsing bass, it's gives a real nice Jaws theme feel. (There's also a ZERO% chance he picked it himself.) Every time I've been to Nationals Park and Ramos gets to the plate, it electrifies the place. Also of note, every game I have been to in D.C. Ramos has homered. The last time I went his solo shot was the only run of the game. You're welcome, Wilson.
Ramos became a Free Agent at the end of the World Series and a lot of people were expecting him to re-sign with the Nationals. To better understand why, let's look back at his 2016.
Ramos had the best year of his career at the right time. The 28 year old Venezuelan catcher put up some serious numbers. Ramos went .307, belting a career high 22 homers and legging out 25 doubles. Ramos was the beneficiary of the Daniel Murphy effect, and found himself hitting in the heart of the order everyday. With the Nationals ability to get on base mixed with Ramos' ability to put the ball in play, he was able to do damage. AND DAMAGE HE DID, knocking in a career high 80 runs in 2016. This offenseive boom for the Washington Backstop also earned him his first All Star Selection. So to say that Ramos had a career year is an understatement. Ramos has the year of his career.
UNTIL he tore his ACL on September 26th, in a game against the already eliminated Arizona Diamondbacks. Delayed by rain, most of the fans had already caught the last metro out of Navy Yard, the Diamondbacks were up 5 to 4. Yasmany Tomas hits a scorcher down the first base line as Paul Goldshmidt and Brandon Drury turned on the jets. Goldy scores easily, and Brandon Drury is sent home. Ryan Zimmerman relays the ball from Right field and throws it high. Ramos goes up to get it, with no intention of making the play and lands funny on his right leg.
The Third Base Coach who sent Brandon Drury?
FORMER NATIONALS MANAGER MATT WILLIAMS
DUN! DUN! DUNNNNNN!!!!
But in all seriousness, it was freak thing. It SUCKED for the Nationals as they then had to go into the postseason with backup catcher Jose Lobaton and Luis Severino now inserted into the back end of the lineup. It took a little bit of air out of the Nationals sails.
So here we are in Free Agency, watching as qualifying offer are going out to players, so good offers to take (NEIL WALKER DON'T FUCK WITH ME), and some just covering their bases (CESPEDES DON'T FUCK WITH ME). Wilson Ramos did not receive a qualifying offer, and there's few good reasons as to why.
1) $17 millions is a lot to spend on a one year deal for a guy who just had ACL Surgery
Tearing your ACL is the fucking worst. For a catcher? It's the FUCKING WORST. When then Chicago Bull Derrick Rose, stick with me we're switching sports, tore his ACL he described the moment he was diagnosed like this: "I couldn't believe it. That's the closest thing to death, the closest to death I've got to right there, where it just seemed like the wind and everything was taken out (of me).'' So it's gotta mess with your head a little bit every single time you suit up. It has for Derrick Rose, as he's been a shell of his potential ever since.
It's worse for when you're a catcher in the MLB. For comparison's sake, let's look at a very similar player, Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers. Martinez started his career off very well with the Cleveland Indians and in 2009 was traded to the Boston Red Sox. If you ever want to look at a weird team that existed in out universe and makes you think "What? No. Really? All of them?" take a look at the 2010 Boston Red Sox. MAKES NO SENSE. So Victor Martinez is a catcher in Cleveland before Boston, and in 2011 he signs with Detroit. in Cleveland and Boston, Martinez caught 250 Games, and in Detroit he catches 112.
And then he tears his ACL. Martinez was signed by Detroit to do the majority of the catching duties and after the first year of his contract, that plan was all systems go. BOOM. ACL. TORN. Since his ACL tear in 2012 Victor Martinez has caught 8 games. EIGHT. If Miguel Cabrera couldn't play the field, and they needed him at DH, Martinez would be done. However, he focused all his efforts on his swing and turned into a very good DH for the Tigers. However, Washington plays in the league where pitchers hit, and Ryan Zimmerman isn't going anywhere for the time being at first base. However, what makes this more interesting is that this is Ramos' second ACL tear.
2) THIS IS THE SECOND TIME WILSON RAMOS HAS TORN HIS ACL
The fact that he can catch after the first tear is, quite frankly, amazing. To be giving your knees that much of strain on a daily basis is insane and must take a lot of conditioning and therapy and rehab. Ramos is facing an uphill battle coming back after his second ACL Surgery. More conditioning, more rehab. In the end, Ramos won't be ready to play until May at the earliest, and even then it's not clear how much he'll be able to play each week. It's a tricky situation when a player tears his ACL, it's even worse for a catcher.
3) He would accept.
This is the biggest reason the Nationals did not extend an offer to Wilson Ramos, who made $5.35 million last season. To offer him $17 million for a year where you might get nothing out of him, it's not worth the risk. In this case, where Ramos is a semi-homegrown player, one would hope that the Nationals are able to re-sign him despite offering him a QO. To let Ramos walk because of one year of questions is not a smart move for the Nationals, especially in the upcoming competitive years in the NL. It's a bit of an arms race in the East, everyone is trying to get to the postseason before they have to make some tough financial decisions. The Nationals do not want to tighten the purse strings too much with Wilson Ramos, that would send a negative message to the rest of the team.
The Nationals have made some both very good and not so good signings. Most of the not so good signings have revolved around injured players, or injury prone guys. The biggest of these signings is Stephen Strasburg, who the Nats inked to a 7 year, $175 million dollar extension. Strasburg has been paid a lot of money for a guy who hasn't started more that 24 games in the last 2 seasons. This guys was supposed to be the Ace of your staff, and you still had to bring in Max Scherzer to lead the staff. Strasburg went down late in the season in 2016, and there seems to be some skepticism about his durability going forward. They have $175 million on the line with Strasburg. I doubt they are going to risk much on Ramos.
Is it surprising that the Nationals are not extending a QO to Ramos? No. Is it surprising that the Nationals are letting Ramos go? I think it is. For the Nationals to turn your back on Wilson Ramos now seems insane to me. He's a great catcher and I think you owe it to him to see how things pan out. Wilson could make it through this and come back strong, but to base your decision off of 2017 only would be dumb. Ramos has a similar style of play of Gary Carter, who played the game until he was 38. This is the middle of Ramos' career and history has shown us that giving up on a guy midway through his career make the organization look like they have no idea what's going on.
Where does Ramos end up? I don't know, but who ever signs him is gonna love him. Because Wilson Ramos is a likable guy, who plays the game well. Also there's the fact that WILSON RAMOS WAS FUCKING KIDNAPPED.