Can Jack McKeon Turn Hanley Ramirez Around?

Hanley Ramirez has had a rough year. The 27-year-old former All-Star shortstop, who should be in the middle of his prime years, is hitting .206/.302/.299 and when Jack McKeon took over as Marlins manager, one of his first actions was to bench Ramirez:

McKeon explained to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald that he benched Ramirez because he "didn’t like the way he was running yesterday" and Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post reports that Ramirez also showed up late to the ballpark.

The "late to the ballpark" issue blew up yesterday when Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison blasted Ramirez for doing just that:

Morrison reportedly addressed Ramirez for repeatedly arriving just minutes before the team stretch begins. He scolded the three-time All-Star and blamed the tardiness as the reason for Ramirez's season-long slump.

According to the report, Ramirez waited for Morrison to leave before reacting and yelling at no one in particular.

McKeon put Ramirez back in the lineup Tuesday as the Marlins snapped their 11-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Angels. Hanley went 2-for-4 and scored two runs, his first multi-hit game in a month. His OPS edged to .601 -- it's been over .600 for only about half his games this year, far below his previous level. It's clear the Marlins need Ramirez to play brilliantly in order to have any chance of success -- but can he do that? This isn't the first time he's had a run-in with a Marlins manager. In May 2010, Ramirez was yanked by then-manager Fredi Gonzalez from a game after Gonzalez felt Ramirez didn't hustle:

Ramirez was pulled out of Monday's 5-1 loss to Arizona in the second inning after he kicked a bloop single down the left-field line and then jogged after it. He was benched Tuesday in Florida's 8-0 defeat of the Diamondbacks and has ignored calls by Gonzalez and teammates to apologize.

"For what? We got a lot of people dogging it after ground balls. They don't apologize," said Ramirez, who described his benching Monday night as "brutal."

Ramirez said he lost "a little bit" of respect for Gonzalez, who explained Ramirez's benching by saying Monday night, "There's 24 (other) guys busting their butts."

All of that was credited with being the beginning of the end of Gonzalez's managerial tenure in Florida; he was fired about a month after that May 2010 incident.

The Marlins aren't likely going to fire Jack McKeon and if they do, he probably won't care. McKeon is old school -- literally -- and it's clear that Hanley Ramirez has to perform if the Marlins are going to succeed. It may be that one of the primary reasons for the hiring of McKeon was to try to get Florida's temperamental star to stop whining and start playing baseball like a player who's going to be paid over $46 million from 2012-2014.

Otherwise, watch for Ramirez to be the target of a salary-dump deal by Florida. He's eating up almost 20 percent of the Marlins' payroll this year. With the team losing and dead last in MLB attendance at 16,906 per game, Jeffrey Loria & Co. can't afford to keep him ... unless Jack McKeon can turn him around.

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