Around the Horn: Aramis Ramierez
The Chicago Cubs have been home to many great and legendary superstars throughout their storied history. If you go back to the early 1900s you will find the legendary double play combination of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance. Then In the 1930s we had the great Hack Wilson, who still holds the record for most RBI in a season. In the 1960s we had Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins who were a part of one of the most beloved teams in Cubs history, despite the collapse. In the 1980s and 90s we had greats like Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg and Greg Maddux. Now, a player who could very well join them in our very own third baseman Aramis Ramierez.
In 2003, Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry picked up the young slugging Ramierez in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, only giving up second baseman Bobby Hill. In a move where Hendry should have been wearing a ski mask and carrying a weapon, he solidified a position which has seen close to one hundred players try to fill since Santo was traded from the club in the 70s. In his time in Chicago, Ramierez has become one of the best third baseman in the National League, if not all of baseball. While his defense was among the leagues worst early in his career, he has taken several steps to correct flaws in his fielding, and has improved greatly. Granted, he will likely never win a gold glove, which is isnít always based solely on defensive numbers, but that wont be due to lack of effort.
While he has been labeled as a player who will dog it now and then earlier in his career, giving a less then full effort, he still puts up top notch statistics. Many people believe that hiring Lou Piniella as the Cubs manager might have been the greatest thing for Ramierez. Since Piniella got here, there hasnít been much if any talk of him dogging it during a game. Even with the talk of Ramierez supposedly lollygagging during games, he is one of the most clutch players on the Cubs, and he is always coming up with a key base hit driving in a much needed run. I nicknamed him Shark, because he smells the RBI on the bases much like a shark can smell blood in the water. With his improving defense, and seemingly overpowering offense, he has earned a spot in Cub fans hearts which could last a lot longer then people realize.
Ramierez has recently stated that he would love to finish his career with the Cubs. If he follows through with his words, Ramierez could possibly retire as one of the greatest third baseman, if not players, to ever wear a Cubs uniform. As things currently stand, Ramierez is ranked 11th on the home runs list, as he has hit 173 bombs as a Cub, which is only one behind Dawson. If he puts up his usual 30 home runs, he will end the 2009 season ranked 7th or 8th overall around Bill Nicholson and his 205 Cubs homeruns. For those who are interested, Santo hit out 337 as a Cub.
This year, Ramierez could have one of his best years ever, especially with the Cubs adding another power bat to an already strong lineup in Milton Bradley. Last year, players and coaches alike said that Bradley was the toughest person to get out in the American League. If that continues to be the case, and he proves that he will continue to be a tough out , Ramierez will have more chances to drive runners in as Bradley is slated to his 4th in between Derrek Lee and Ramierez who will be moved back to the 5 hole. No matter where he hits in the lineup though, Ramierez will be a threat to deliver a crushing blow to any opposing team.