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Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Here's a solution to Ramirez question

By Bruce Levine

CINCINNATI -- After hearing Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez wants an extension, a lot of people responded with surprise to his desire for a two- or three-year deal. Ramirez has his down sides like every player, but Cubs fans should look at the whole picture surrounding this player and their team before they scoff at Ramirez's insistence that a two- or three-year deal would be a plausible solution.

Here is a look at some factors that should be considered before you judge Ramirez's request:

Aramis Ramirez
Aramis Ramirez has hit 25 home runs and 30 doubles for the sixth time as a Cub.
  • April and May: Ramirez will not hit for power in cold weather. Home runs have been almost none existent for Ramirez in the first two months of 2010 and 2011. Among all the Cubs, only Alfonso Soriano hit home runs early in the season [Carlos Pena hit his first home on May 3].

  • Power surge: Ramirez is a lock to hit 25-30 home runs and drive in 100 runs in a healthy season. He has at least 30 doubles and 25 home runs, joining Hall of Famer Billy Williams as the only Cubs to hit that combination six times.

  • Possible replacements: Former No. 1 pick Josh Vitters is the only viable candidate to replace Ramirez within the organization. But Vitters is not ready to play in the majors after hitting in the .280s at Double-A, and he was plagued by defensive lapses at third. He will play in the Arizona Fall League. Outside of the organization, there is no one close to Ramirez on the free agent market.

  • In the field: Defensively, Ramirez, 33, is not the Gold Glove-caliber third baseman he once was, but he still makes most of the routine plays even if his range has been affected by age.

  • Leadership: Ramirez has never wanted to be responsible for telling other players what to do and how to do it. His idea of being a good teammate is being ready to play, being supportive of teammates and driving in the game-winning run. He is a friendly but private person who has not changed his persona in his 8 1/2 years with the Cubs.

  • Solution: Tear up Ramirez's $16 million option for 2012 and offer him a two-year deal for $25 million with a $15 million option for 2014. Both sides could get creative and have out clauses in the second year of the contract with buyout language.It's important to know that Ramirez can opt out of his 2011 option. Also teams such as the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Angels, Florida Marlins and Detroit Tigers all will have strong interest in Ramirez. The Red Sox could easily move Kevin Youkilis to designated hitter and say good-bye to David Ortiz. The Yankees may also feel it's time for Alex Rodriguez to DH after numerous injuries have limited his games played. The Angels and Tigers approached the Cubs about a Ramirez trade before former general manager Jim Hendry honored his no-trade clause and told possible suitors that Ramirez was staying put.