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Cubs Thu Jan 20 2011

Cubs Preview: Part One -- Aramis Ramirez

Thumbnail image for cubs.gifPart of a series previewing the 2011 Cubs.

When the Cubs acquired Aramis Ramirez from the Pirates in 2003 he stopped what had been a revolving door at third base since Ron Santo crossed town in 1974. When Cubs offense is clicking on all cylinders Ramirez is somewhere in the middle of it. When he's cold or injured the Cubs offense suffers accordingly.

Never was that more evident than when Ramirez missed two months because of a shoulder injury in 2009. When healthy, he hit well: a .317 average with a .389 on-base percentage and a .905 OPS.

Then last year, Ramirez played through nagging injuries and had perhaps the worst season of his career. Though he managed to hit 25 home runs in 124 games, he batted .241 with a hideous .294 on-base percentage.

That's why he is one of the biggest questions for the Cubs in 2011.

As his 33rd birthday approaches this summer, can Ramirez stay healthy? I believe he can and will be great shape when he reports to Arizona in a few weeks for spring training. He is due for a bounce-back year after two sub-par seasons.

When he is healthy he is capable of putting up all-star numbers: a .280-.310 batting average, 25-plus home runs, 100-plus RBIs, an on-base percentage above .350 and an OPS above .900.

It never ceases to amaze me when I hear fans suggesting that Ramirez should be traded. I have to step back and scratch my head and ask why would you want to do that? He has produced for the Cubs for 7 1/2 years. Does anyone honestly want to return to a time when the team had eight third basemen in eight years?

Ramirez has his flaws, but when the game is on the line there are only a few others I would like to have at the plate. His ability in the clutch is ridiculous. Most memorable for Cubs fans would be his game-winning home run against the Brewers on June 29, 2007.

It is hard to argue against having a guy like this on your ball club. In my opinion he is one of the top 10 third basemen in the National League. His offense and defense are what drives this team. Another issue with him early on in his career was his defense, which has improved dramatically since 2003. He's never had more than 23 errors in a season since then.

The biggest question about Ramirez at this point is his health. I think this year will be about silencing his critics. It will prove that not only can he stay healthy, but perform at the level Cubs fans have come to expect from him.

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Jennifer / January 21, 2011 9:55 AM

Let's hope that your predictions are right and Aramis can prove the doubting critics and Cubs fans wrong. Nothing beats seeing this guy jump to catch a line drive. I wasn't really excited about the new season until I read this story. It gives me hope and confidence for the new season ahead.

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