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Friday, March 28, 2008

Cubs Preview 3/28/08

Roster Spot #4- 3B- Aramis Ramirez #16
Ht: 6'1'' Wt: 215 Bats: Right Throws: Right

Boom Bitch.

July 23, 2003. Most Cubs remember the day, if not the exact date, when the Cubs acquired Aramis Ramirez from the Pittsburgh Pirates, along with Kenny Lofton, in exchange for Jose Hernandez (hehehe), and two minor leaguers: pitcher Matt Bruback and "can't miss" 2nd base prospect Bobby Hill, in what should easily go down as the greatest trade in Cubs history.

In his 4 1/2 season's with the Cubs Ramirez has hit 146 HRs and has 454 RBIs, and averages 33 homers and 103 RBIs per season as a Cub. The other player that the Cubs received in the deal, Kenny Lofton, was the spark plug of the 2003 Cubs offense throughout the second half and playoffs before moving on to a different team each of the last 4 years.

The players the Pirates got? Well, Hernandez hit .223 the rest of '03 in a Pittsburgh uniform and finished the year leading the majors in strikeouts for the third straight year. He's currently unemployed after spending the last four seasons with four different teams (Dodgers '04, Indians '05, Pittsburgh again and Philadelphia '06). Bruback sucked in the minors for the Pirates, was released, claimed by the Padres, then wandered around for a few years before disappearing from baseball after 2006. Bobby Hill never lived up to his potential in the slightest and was out of baseball after bouncing back and forth between the minors and Pittsburgh in '04 and '05 and spending the the 2006 season with the Padres AAA team.

But besides being an absolute frigg'n steal, even after the Cubs signed him to a new 5 year, 73 million dollar deal in November of '06. For those who don't think thats a bargain, see Cabrera, Miguel, Aramis has been the best consistent power hitter for the Cubs over the years, despite his penchant for taking a month off each year with various aches and pains. Though his home runs dipped to 26 last year, that can be attributed to the slow start that all three of the Cubs power guys (Lee, Soriano, and Ramirez) got off to last year, and I expect a return to 35-40 homers this year as the likelihood of all three repeating their off-seasons of last year is extremely remote. Ramirez did rebound from his slow home run start to hit the epic 2 run, game-winning shot off Brewers closer Francisco Cordero on July 29th in a game considered to be the 2007 season's turning point. Ramirez certainly hasn't shown any signs of a slow start this year as he has a .333 average and .451 OBP in spring training, though I'm hoping, given the cases of Fukudome and Lee, that spring training numbers don't mean shit.

Aramis' defense has also greatly improved since joining the Cubs. After committing 25, 19, and 33 errors as a Pirate in 2001-03, Ramirez has posted career lows in each of his years with the Cubs, and last year had only 10 errors and a career high .972 fielding percentage last year, by the way, in a sign that the media clearly DOES NOT have an East Coast bias, New York Mets 3rd baseman and 2007 Gold Glove winner David Wright had far better defensive numbers with only 21 errors and a much higher .954 fielding percentage. Wait, what? How the f*&k did Wright win the Gold Glove? Probably because Wright was on a playoff team and Ramirez was not. Wait, Ramirez was on the playoff team, and Wright had no homers and only 3 RBIs in his teams 1-7 slide at the end of the season that will go down as one of the greatest choke jobs in history. But there is no East Coast bias. This is yet another example of the underrated nature of Aramis' play, as for his first few years in a Cub uniform he was overshadowed by the last good years of Scott Rolen's career, and then had his best 3rd baseman in the NL title wrongfully passed over to Wright.

Now that I've angried up the blood talking about how Ramirez got jobbed of a Gold Glove that he so desperately wants to shed his "disinterested, horrible fielder" reputation, I'll go on the record as saying that this is the year I believe he vaults his way into legendary status and puts up numbers that even the national (New York/Boston) media can't ignore. Here's to Aramis Ramirez. Fuck David Wright, and fuck Andy MacFail (unrelated, but I get some kind of High from saying it).

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