Aramis Ramirez’s Tenure as a Cub Over?

The Cubs 3rd base position had been left vacant ever since the Ron Santo trade took place with the Chicago White Sox in 1974. During that 30 year span the team failed to bring credibility to the corner position until an incredible mid season deal was produced by GM Jim Hendry.

On July 23, 2003 the Pittsburgh Pirates sent Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton to the Northside for Jose Hernandez, minor league pitcher Matt Bruback and the once touted prospect Bobby Hill. At the time the deal was seen as a payroll dump by a team with “selling” tendencies but one that still filled the Cubs’ gaping holes at third base and centerfield. Even though it was considered a lopsided deal at the time, no one could have predicted the scales tipping in favor to the Cubs to the extent they have.

In 7 complete seasons with the Chicago Cubs Aramis Ramirez has averaged a .293 batting average, 29 homeruns, and 96 RBIs. Very solid numbers at a difficult position to fill. As the 2011 trade deadline nears rumors have been swirling about interest for Ramirez. The most well known suitor is the Los Angeles Angels or even a return to the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, Aramis has already addressed the rumors by stating he will enact his ten-and-five rule which allows players with 10 years of service, the last five with the same team, to decline any trade.

“My family’s here,” he said. “I got two little boys. It’s hard to move in the middle of the season. I’ve done that before and that’s not fun. That’s the end of that. I’ve heard a lot of it, but right now I’m not going anywhere.”

When you look back at the career Ramirez has put up in Chicago I can only envision him as going down as one of the Cub’s best in a storied franchise. This is a difficult feat to achieve and it was not an easy task to accomplish with many doubters. There are two sides you can choose on the tale of Aramis Ramirez, the clutch hitter or pressure less stat padder.

The doubters claim that Ramirez is lazy. That he doesn’t run out fly balls and purposely plays on the line so he only has to dive in one direction. But their biggest part of their argument is that he only “turns the lights on” when the Cubs are out of contention. You can argue that Ramirez and Derek Lee killed the team in 2010. Ramirez himself hit .152 in April, .173 in May and .265 in June. During that span the Cubs only trailed by 4 games or less but once they dropped to 10.5 games out in July Ramirez’s stat line changed. He was huge in July and August batting over .300 the rest of the way. Even if you go back a little further to the playoffs in ’07 and ’08 you can argue that big pressure situations weigh on Ramirez’s shoulders. He had no hits in the ’07 and hit .182 ’08 playoffs both resulting in series sweeps.

But I’m a believer. My mind tells me that Aramis Ramirez is one of the most clutch players I have seen in a Cub’s uniform. I cite how crucial he was in getting the Cubs to the playoffs in the ’07 and ’08 and not the poor ABs he put up while in them. The only reason why his batting average is so poor in the beginning of the seasons is due to him being a bad cold weather hitter, which at times can be brutal at Wrigley Field. But his bat quickly warms up once the summer hits. He puts up lofty numbers from June on and is clutch in situational hitting. Base runners have scored from any base 18% of the time when Ramirez takes to the plate, which is above the MLB average. He posts a .429 average when base runners are on third with 2 outs and has 43 RBIs in 103 AB with RISP with 2 outs. Yes, he has a large contract and bats in the clean-up spot but I think he earns his pay. Whether or not you think he is clutch or not the Cub’s third base option mostly on Jeff Baker in 2012 has me hoping that Ramirez is true to his words and fights to stay with the Cubs for at least one more season.

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  • Billy Wolfe

    I agree wholeheartedly. Ramirez has never been one to toot his own horn or talk like a superstar diva the way many other people making his kind of money do. I think he’s caught a lot of unnecessary criticism over the years and will not go down as one of the well-respected players in Cubs history the way he should.

    The fact is, he’s a little fragile and baseball is a grinding season. I don’t mind him running at 70% on a ball off the wall that he only gets a double out of instead of a triple. If it keeps him healthy in the long run so be it. I always thought his defense was underrated when he was in his prime and thought he came up with plenty of big plays. Not only that, but he has come up with big hits! How many times have we seen him hit a walk-off, go ahead, or game tying home run late in a game?

    Ramirez is a team player too. When he signed his big contract with the Cubs, he was offered more money to play elsewhere. He turned down the deals and took less money to stay in Chicago and allow the Cubs to afford more for Alfonso Soriano. Yes, Soriano didn’t work out the way we wanted but Ramirez still made a deal like that even possible. Not only that, but Ramirez made phone calls to Soriano to convince him to come this way.

    Ramirez said the other day that he’s “earned the right to refuse a trade” and I couldn’t agree more. He’s doing his job, living with his family, and now he has to deal with people trying to push him out of town and tell him he’s making the wrong decision. It’s his right to be comfortable, to stay in Chicago and not have to move his family.

    I think everyone should respect Aramis Ramirez’s decision, no matter what it is. It may be a necessary evil to trade him and open up space for other free agents, but that doesn’t mean I can’t hate to see him go. No matter what they decide to do with Ramirez, I’ll understand. I’d rather see him stick around.

  • admin

    Billy,

    It’s about being a professional. A true professional cares about the direction of the organization, while understanding the business side. I don’t disagree with anything Aramis has done for the organization since coming from Pittsburgh, and has been a big time bat in the middle. However, the organization has to come first. Aramis knows that allowing a trade, will bring back talent to help the Cubs in the long run. We’re talking 2 months. TWO months of not being in Chicago. Not to mention, if he works out a buy out with the team that trades for him- he could always come back for less money. Aramis won’t have his option picked up, and at this rate- won’t be resigned either.

    How a player wouldn’t welcome a chance to win a World Series for two months making millions of dollars? Is just insane to me. Derrek Lee didn’t want to go anywhere. He didn’t want to go all the way out to California…that’s understandable. However he allowed a trade to Atlanta. Why couldn’t Aramis accept a trade to New York? Or Tampa? Or Texas? Where it’s still a quick plane ride?

    Again- this comes down to being a professional. What about an executive being transfered? And has to move his whole family across the country? He doesn’t have a choice because that’s his job. Aramis’s job is to play baseball, and in this instance- should waive his no trade clause to better the franchise…and then come back via free agency.