Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2010 Cubs preview: Third Base

On June 20, 2008, Ramirez hit a game-winning home run off Scott Linebrink to lead the Cubs to a 4-3 victory over the White Sox. I watched it with Trevor Sierra and Andrew Kapral from the Cask 'n Flagon across the street from Fenway Park. Unfortunately, we didn't see enough of this last year due to Ramirez's shoulder injury.

On paper, this would seem to be the easiest position to predict. Since Aramis Ramirez joined the Cubs in 2003, you could pen him in (pen, not pencil) for about 30 home runs:

2003: 27
2004: 36
2005: 31
2006: 38
2007: 26
2008: 27

You also knew he'd be right around the 100 RBI mark:

2003: 106
2004: 103
2005: 92
2006: 119
2007: 101
2008: 111

While Ramirez had just 15 HR and 65 RBI in 2009 due to a shoulder injury that limited him to almost exactly half the season (82 games), translating those stats into a full season's worth of at-bats calculates to 27 HR and 116 RBI. Yup, sounds like A-Ram.

And let us not forget that the man can hit for average as well. Though he hit just .272 between the Pirates and Cubs in 2003, his lowest average since then was .289 in 2008. He topped the .300 mark in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009, reaching a high-water mark of .318 in 2004.

In short, Ramirez is the biggest key to success for the Cubs' offense. It's no coincidence that the Cubs scored 148 fewer runs in 2009 than in 2008 given that Ramirez had just over 300 at-bats last year. He opted not to have shoulder surgery in the offseason--let's hope he can remain healthy all year.

It's sort of a contract year for Ramirez. I say "sort of" because he has a player option for next year at $14.6 million (he'll be 32 years old at the end of the season, by the way). If he has a productive year, he can test the free agent market or at least try to force the Cubs to ante up with a longer contract. If he struggles, he would likely exercise the option. While he's not in the same situation as Derrek Lee, he still has plenty of incentive to have a strong year. I think he's hungry to once again put up the numbers he's accustomed to: .305 avg., 29 HR, 114 RBI.


  1. I think Ramirez will probably have one stretch on the DL and miss a few other games. I think he plays in 115 games and puts up a .307 avg., 21 HR, 88 RBI.

  2. I'm a big believer in the contract year effect, and he will get a longer contract for more cash at 32 as opposed to 33: .310, 33 HR, 118 RBI.