Tag Archives: Aramis Ramirez

Cubs Suffering Power Outage

Chicago Cubs HR

It’s clear the Cubs could use more pop in the lineup.

Since leading the National League in home runs in 2004 (the Cubs finished second in MLB to the Yankees & White Sox who tied with 242 HR) Chicago’s seen a steady decline in its overall power numbers.

The threesome of Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano accounted for the lion’s share of home run production from 2007 until the band was broken up in 2010 with the trade of Lee to Atlanta. Aramis was gone a year later and Soriano appears out the door any day now.

From 2009 on the Cubs have had only two players aside from A-Ram, D-Lee and Soriano crack 20+ home runs in a season: Tyler Colvin with 20 (2010) and Carlos Pena with 28 (2011).

Not surprisingly, with Colvin and Pena departed by 2012 the Cubs had but one hitter surpass the 20 home run mark last season: Soriano with 32 HR. The next closest was Bryan LaHair with 16 HR.

The outlook for 2013, unfortunately, isn’t much better. With LaHair traded this offseason to Japan, and Soriano rumored to be headed elsewhere via trade, the Cubs are starved for power at the traditional power positions for an NL team.

Ideally you want your big boppers patrolling the corner outfield and the corner infield. As it stands, the Cubs’ outfield consists of David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz–who combined for 15 HR last season–and a handful of light-hitting backups. So unless Ian Stewart and Louis Valbuena finally reach their potential, it’s basically Anthony Rizzo as the lone power threat at the corners.

Rizzo of course appears to be a lock to reach 20+ home runs for the foreseeable future. He hit 15 HR in 87-games last year, which projects out to roughly 30 bombs over a full season. And thankfully more muscle appears on the horizon.

  • Starlin Castro could develop more power. His home run numbers have increased in each of his first three seasons: 3, 10, 14.
  • Top prospect Jorge Soler, 20, has all the makings of a dynamic major league power hitter. At 6’3″, 205lbs he’s already displayed majestic power shots in the minor leagues; quickly earning the nickname ‘Soler Power’.
  • Outfielder Albert Almora, 18, who was Chicago’s top-pick in the amateur draft last June, could potentially be a 20+ home run hitter.
  • Shortstop Javier Baez, ranked the top prospect in the Midwest League this past season, has shown plenty of raw power.
  • Brett Jackson still has a shot to be a power guy if his revamped swing this offseason pans out.

There are likely to be other prospects who will show power potential and it’s fair to assume the Cubs will eventually dip into the free agent market to land a slugger. My guess is that would most likely come to fruition next winter, although this offseason is far from over and it’s becoming more unpredictable by the day.

But while it’s nice to think about the Cubs’ power production looking upwards in the seasons to come, it’s worth remembering round-trippers don’t mean everything.

What better example than the world champion Giants? San Francisco not only hit 34 fewer home runs than the Cubs did last season, but ranked dead last in all of baseball with 103 dingers.

Pitching and defense have always been the staples of championship teams, but it couldn’t hurt the Cubs’ anemic offense to park a few more hits on Waveland and Sheffield next summer.

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Hack to Santo to Aramis

The Cubs are still searching for a starting third baseman in 2013 and there’s plenty of speculation as to who that player will be.

The bigger question, however, is how long before the Cubs find a long-term solution at third?

It took the Cubs 30-years to bridge the gap from Ron Santo to Aramis Ramirez…and 13-years to find Santo after Stan Hack. Next season marks the second campaign without A-Ram, who was a staple at the hot corner for nine-seasons.

History doesn’t appear to be on the Cubs side. But does that mean Chicago can’t close the gap more quickly that it has in years past?

Josh Vitters isn’t knocking the door down at Triple-A the way Team Theo would like him to. So perhaps one of the Cubs’ brightest prospects, shortstop Javier Baez, could make the transition to third and play alongside Starlin Castro in a season or two–although early indications of the move suggest otherwise.

Additionally, highly touted prospects Christian Villanueva (acquired in the Dempster trade) and Jurickson Profar could be the next Anthony Rizzo at third…or the next Gary Scott.

Either way, determining if the above prospects are the long-term solution will take precious time, possibly 2 or 3 more years.

And if the Cubs fail to develop a third baseman from within, they’ll be left to look via trade or free agency. But of course, you have to give to get, and there’s no counting on a quality third baseman hitting the FA market before passing his prime, either.

I wouldn’t fault the Cubs for not having its long-term answer at third solved by 2014 or even 2015. But it goes without saying the answer to Aramis needs to come much sooner than it did after Santo and Hack.

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Former Cub Leading MLB In Extra Base Hits

Aramis Ramirez currently leads all of baseball in extra base hits (59) and doubles (40). He’s on pace for 54 two-baggers this season, which would surpass the Brewers franchise record of 53 doubles set by Lyle Overbay in 2004.

Surprised?

Many Cubs fans thought the Brewers were insane for signing the 34-year-old Ramirez to a 3yr-$36M deal this offseason. How quickly they forget he won the Silver Slugger Award last season.

MORE HARWARE FOR ARAMIS?

Aramis hasn’t skipped a beat since joining Milwaukee. Following his typical slow start at the plate he’s hit .322 over his last 74 games raising his batting average from .218 to .288 to go along with 17 HR & 72 RBI all totaled.

At this rate he’ll challenge David Wright (.320, 16 HR, 75 RBI) during the next six weeks to defend his Silver Slugger title. And that’s not all.

Ramirez also has the highest fielding percentage (.973) and fewest number of errors (6) of any National League third baseman. A Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award in the same season?

Who would’ve thunk it?

I’m not suggesting the Cubs were fools for not re-signing Ramirez. His nine seasons spent on the North Side were highly productive, if not under-valued, but his time was up.

Aramis had clearly soured professionally under Mike Quade, and at the tail end of his career he didn’t appear interested, or willing, to invest in the Cubs lengthy rebuilding process. Who could blame him?

MR. CLUTCH

I gave Ramirez the nickname ‘Mr. Clutch’ for obvious reasons; he delivered more big-hits than any other Cub I can remember since his first season with Chicago in 2003.

A-Ram’s long been one of my favorite players, and always one of my favorite Cubs. He was also arguably the best acquisition Jim Hendry ever made as the Cubs GM, and unquestionably, the MVP of both the Cubs last two division winning teams in 2007-08.

But even so, Ramirez spent the better part of his Cubs tenure quietly going about his business in the shadow of Sammy Sosa and Carlos Zambrano, among others. Few, if any, however, actually outperformed him.

It seems a new deal and a new team hasn’t changed a thing about Ramirez. He continues to tear up National League pitching, and quite honestly, there’s no reason any Cubs fans should be surprised.

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Cubs Aiming For 700 Club


Remember the number 700. It’s likely the minimum number of runs scored the Cubs need to reach to make the postseason.

In 2011 Chicago managed 654 runs scored, good for eighth place in the 16 team NL, but only fourth best in their own division.

The world champion Cardinals, meanwhile, led the NL with 762 runs scored–108 more runs than Chicago.

Playoff contenders Arizona (No.4), Milwaukee (No.5) & Philadelphia (No.7) all finished in the top 10 spots.

Although the Cubs did as well, there’s a sizable gap in this department compared to the Phillies who finished one spot higher.

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Top 5 Sluggers In The NL Central

The NL Central has long held the distinction of hosting some of the game’s greatest sluggers.

Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire held court before the arrivals of Adam Dunn, Carlos Lee and Derrek Lee.

But with the decisions of Albert Pujols & Prince Fielder to sign lucrative free agent contracts in L.A. and Detroit, respectively, the question arises as to which player takes over the crown as the NL Central’s greatest slugger?

Here’s how I see it:

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Aramis Out To Prove Cubs Wrong?

Maybe I’m reading into this too much, but I get the feeling Aramis is trying to stick it to his old team by signing with Milwaukee.

The motivation is clearly there when you think about it.

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Aramis Top F.A. At Third Base

I take Aramis Ramirez’s claim that he’s ‘probably’ played his last game at Wrigley Field with a grain of salt.

If anything, Ramirez and his agent, Paul Kinzer, are posturing for a new deal with Chicago, likely in the area of three to four more years, knowing the Cubs are without a viable option to fill his departure at third base.

Although Aramis appears peeved with the Cubs front office in a state of flux, he’s clearly the top-billing for free agent third basemen entering the offseason. 

That alone should keep Ramirez patient enough to see who Ricketts hires as his new GM, and what offer, if any, is presented to him following the season.

Going the free agent route to replace Ramirez is hardly an option for the Cubs. The 2012 F.A. class is mostly a mix of washed-up veterans and journeymen including: Wilson Betemit KC, Casey Blake LAD, Eric Chavez NYY, Mark DeRosa SF, Greg Dobbs PHI, Edwin Encarnacion TOR, Wes Helms FLA, Melvin Mora ARI & Miguel Tejada.

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