Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What the hell did Aramis Ramirez ever do to you?

Aramis Ramirez has been booed relatively frequently so far this week in his first trip to Wrigley since he declined arbitration from the Cubs in December.


I don't have an answer.  No, seriously, want to know why.  Someone please tell me.

For 30 years, Cubs fans had been looking for a player to replace Ron Santo at third base.  Ramirez did just that...he replaced Ron Santo and it could very well be argued that he actually led the Cubs to more success than Ron Santo ever did.  In Ramirez's 8 1/2 years in Chicago, the Cubs had a winning record 4 Santo's career, 13 years, the Cubs had a winning record 5 times.  Ramirez had 3 playoff appearances.  Santo had none, though divisions didn't exist for the first half of his career.

Santo had Ernie Banks and Billy Williams, two hall-of-famers on his team to help him.  Ramirez had a corked up Sammy Sosa for a couple years, the much maligned Alfonso Soriano pretending he could hit leadoff for 4 years, and the oft-injured Derrek Lee for much of his stay.  No one is going to put any of those guys (perhaps Sosa...some day) into the Hall of Fame.

Ramirez averaged 28 home runs and 97 RBIs in his years with the Cubs.  He only had one season that could be seriously considered sub-par, that being 2010.

People complained about his defense, and though he never had great range, the truth was, after being chastised in 2003 for his poor defense, ended up only committing and average of 13 errors per season for the rest of his Cubs career.  (Just for reference, perennial gold-glover, Ron Santo averaged 23 errors per season at third base.)

Ramirez was relatively soft spoken and was criticized for not speaking up when thing started going a little haywire with some of these Cubs teams.  But neither did Derrek Lee or Alfonso Soriano.  Lee was paid more than Ramirez for most of those seasons in Chicago, paid to be that team leader, yet, after Derrek Lee was traded, he got a standing ovation in his first appearance at Wrigley.

Ramirez was criticized for not being clutch, but that really wasn't true either.  In fact, from my recollection, no player in a Cubs uniform since Sammy Sosa had been more "clutch", with a number of game tying or game winning home runs, especially during the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
Nope...this never happened...never.
(photo via Getty Images)
Then there is the argument that he really didn't try that hard and didn't hustle.  Ramirez was never a fast runner, but if you actually go back and watch footage of it, he ran out ground balls harder than many of the other Cubs players did, and did it even more so after being criticized about it.  He just wasn't very fast.  To say he didn't try is just wrong.  He had a wonderfully loose, easy swing that generate a ton of power, but made it look like he really wasn't swinging hard.  He was relaxed and for the most part, never let the pressure of a moment affect him.

He did have injury issues, but for the most part, he played through them and at times did so when he probably shouldn't have.  He was out for a significant amount of time only once in his Cubs career, in 2009.  He played defense on a shoulder that was likely to pop out an any moment, and it actually did a few times when he dived for balls.

The Cubs consistently underachieved on offense during his time in fact they did practically every year except 2008...but that was in no way due to Aramis Ramirez.  In fact, it's amazing Ramirez was able to put up the RBI numbers he did (over 100 in 4 of his seasons in Chicago).  The Cubs offense would have been historically horrible without Ramirez on the team during that time period.

Ramirez has simply been the best player on the Cubs over the last 9 years.

It's an embarrassment that he has been booed these last two games.

I don't blame him for not wanting to play here anymore, and I'm glad for Aramis that he rejected the arbitration offer the Cubs made to him this past off-season.

The fans didn't want him any more, and Ramirez was sick of being a scapegoat.  And it's all an awful shame.