Let’s take a look at our infield – at least this was a little more tolerable than the atrocious Cubs outfield. The trio of Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez is solid, but when Ramirez went down for 2 months with a dislocated shoulder and when no 2nd baseman stood out from among the pack, the Cubs offensive weaknesses were clearly exposed…
Aramis Ramirez – 3rd Base
2009 Report Card Grade – B+. This is kind of a tough one. His numbers were solid as usual, but with only 3+ months to grade, it is tough to really analyze Ramirez based upon a full season. Ramirez did not get the surgery he needed during the season, so he probably was not 100% healthy at any point after he dislocated his shoulder back on May 8th. On the other hand, when he did play, he produced, so he has to be commended for his dedication and commitment, even when it was pretty obvious that the season was a lost cause by the middle of August.
2009 stats – 82 games; 306 at-bats; .317 batting average; .389 on-base percentage; 15 HR’s, 65 RBI’s; 46 runs scored; 43 K’s; 28 walks.
2008 stats – 149 games; 554 at-bats; .289 batting average; .380 on-base percentage; 27 HR’s, 111 RBI’s; 97 runs scored; 94 K’s; 74 walks.
If you process his “half-season” numbers out over a full year, you’d be loving life. 30 HR’s, 120+ RBI’s, 90 runs scored, high batting averages and on-base percentages, plus a strikeout number under 100 which is surprising for a power hitter. In fact, in Ramirez’s 7 season with the Cubs, he has never struck out more than 94 times. Pretty damn good. At the age of 31, Ramirez still has a lot of good years left in him. When healthy, Ramirez is the Cubs’ best hitter, even better than Derrek Lee. Ramirez makes opposing pitchers respect everyone else in the lineup – he produces for the club even when he draws a walk or makes pitchers throw a lot of pitches to get his pitch counts up. The Cubs clearly suffered from Ramirez’s 2-month absence in 2009. The Cubs led the league in runs scored in 2008 and those numbers severely dwindled in 2009. Sure, several other key players were either bad (Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, Mike Fontenot) or had been traded (Mark DeRosa), but I really feel like Ramirez is the pulse of the Cubs offensive unit. So Aramis goes, so the Cubs go.
Ramirez should be healthy and ready to go for the 2010 MLB schedule. With a healthy Aramis back in the mix, I have a good feeling that the Cubs offense will start to click again. Theriot is solid at the top of the lineup, Kosuke Fukudome showed a greater comfort level in 2009 than he did in 2008, and if the Cubs can find a good replacement for Milton Bradley (someone that actually tries every day), the lineup should be able to produce at an acceptable level – maybe not as good as 2008, but definitely better than 2009. Soto and Soriano can’t be any worse than they were in 2009, so there should be a lot to cheer for in 2010 with the Cubs.
Ramirez is a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. Ramirez has 2 more years left on the 5-year, $75 million deal that he signed back in 2007. The Cubs and Ramirez also have a mutual option for the 2012 MLB season, so hopefully the 2 sides can figure out a way to keep him in a Cubs uniform for at least another 4 years with some sort of 2-year or 3-year extension. Health and consistency will be 2 keys for Ramirez in 2010, so let’s hope his off-season regimen gets him strong and ready for 2010. That will make him a very popular man on the north side of Chicago…