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|Aramis Ramirez continues to make himself attractive to contending teams, hitting a home run in the first inning Monday.|
“The Cubs need to rebuild, not reload, painful as it might be for ticket sales. The group assembled for the past three playoff appearances peaked in 2008, and unless Todd Ricketts is building a flux capacitor, there's no return to that fleeting glory. For whatever reason, this team just can't get back on track. The Cubs looked good Monday night against Halladay, and that win made them 39-58. The team has gotten progressively worse in each of the past three seasons. Everyone knows it's time to shuffle the deck. "We shouldn't be 20 under; we're better than that," Ramirez said. "I don't know if we're a 95- or 100-win type ballclub, but we're not as bad as we're playing." Sorry, the record is the record. The Cubs are this bad. And we're all sick of it. He should be, too. Ramirez could actually bring back solid prospects this summer, not the C-list talent the Cubs have gotten back in recent money-saving deals. That's why the Cubs should do everything they can to get a deal done. I'm not a fan of dumping players just for the sake of change or because fans are upset. But that wouldn't be the case, necessarily. I'm not giving Cubs general manager Jim Hendry any new ideas here. He has tough decisions to make once the trade market gets sorted out. Marlon Byrd and Carlos Pena are also very attractive options for teams looking to make a run. Pittsburgh could use all three of them. Now, that would be a reversal of fortune. Ramirez doesn't want to waive his rights to refuse a trade, a privilege he earned by being the best Cubs third baseman since Ron Santo. He's also stated the main reason he doesn't want to leave is that he has no interest in uprooting his family -- even though they live here only during the summer. "My family's here," he said Monday. "I got two little boys. It's hard to move in the middle of the season. I've done that before, and that's not fun. That's the end of that. I've heard a lot of it, but right now I'm not going anywhere." But his two boys, ages 3 and 7, and his wife will go back to the Dominican Republic next month, so you wonder whether the Family Man could relent in the next two weeks. After all, he gets a $1 million kicker if he's traded. That can pay for a pretty nice apartment, even in Manhattan. Kinzer said Ramirez has wavered on his desire to stay in Chicago a few times in conversation but has always doubled back, saying, "I know I like it here." Kinzer, who is close with Ramirez, said he really doesn't know how Ramirez really feels right now. "I'm going to talk to him to get a better feel," Kinzer said in a phone conversation. "If it looks like there's no chance [he stays with the Cubs in 2012], then we'll sit down and talk about it." Kinzer has a strong relationship with Hendry. He has four clients on the current roster: Ramirez, Geovany Soto, John Grabow and most importantly Starlin Castro. But he doesn't know Tom Ricketts from Tom Selleck, and so there's no sense of what kind of team the Cubs will field in 2012 or whether Hendry will be making the decisions after the season. "It's hard to see what the future holds for him in Chicago," Kinzer said. "We'll sit down and talk. He's always wanted to finish his career in Chicago, but sometimes, it's not the player's choice." Ramirez said he's interested to see how the Cubs fix things here. He's been through one rebuilding already. "Well, we'll see what happens," he said of coming back in 2012. "Of course I want to be in Chicago, but at the same time, I want to win, so I have to wait and see what's going on here." Let me save you some time, Aramis: Go. Go to the Angels or the Yankees or whoever courts you. Go now, help yourself get a fat new deal, help another team win a pennant and help the Cubs build for the future. It's time to log off. Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.
Of course I want to be in Chicago, but at the same time, I want to win, so I have to wait and see what's going on here.” -- Aramis Ramirez