Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A-Ram to return in 2011. Did you expect something different?

Aramis Ramirez told Gordon Wittenmyer today that he intends to use his player option for the 2011 season.

Now, for the most part, I look forward to Ramirez leaving at some point in the future. I will forever identify him as belonging to a group of core players that has under achieved almost every season since 2003.

But this is a good thing for the Cubs for now…and here is why.

First, Ramirez is taking a pay cut next season. Ramirez makes almost $16 million this season, but will ‘only’ take home about $14.5 million next year.

Second, the Cubs don’t have much of any alternatives right now to play 3rd base. Josh Vitters, after a disappointing and injury plagued 2010 season, appears to be at least another year away from even being considered as a replacement at third. The rest of the roster contains no one that could remotely replace Ramirez, even in his worst season.

Third, the third base free agent market is week this year. Most of the third basemen that are available offensively are not any better than Ramirez, and, while many of them might come cheaper, likely won’t contribute significantly to a team that is trying to rebuild.

Fourth, if Vitters still isn’t ready by 2012, the Cubs can bring Ramirez back for that season since there is a team option that year.

For Ramirez, the advantage of picking up this option is obvious. Even if he had a good offensive season this year, in the current economic climate, it would be unlikely he would get a contract that would pay him more than the $14.5 million he would get from the Cubs in 2011.

So, be happy that the best third baseman since Ron Santo is returning to the Cubs next season. And remember, it is highly unlikely that he will have a season as bad as this one has been.