Saying Goodbye: Aramis Ramirez

I’ve sort of been putting this post off. How do you properly say farewell to a guy like Rami, a guy who was not only one of the longest tenured Cubs over the past several years, but who was also our most productive player over the past decade? How do you say goodbye to the man who, upon his arrival in Chicago, filled a position (third base) that had basically been a black hole for the previous several decades? Most stinging, how how do you wish well a player you loved when he is going to play for a team you loathe?

And, hey, as long as I’m asking such a copious amount of questions, what am I supposed to do with my Aramis jersey? Cross my fingers and hope the Cubs sign or call up another “Ramirez” and he happens to choose #16?

I have yet to come up with any good answers to all these questions. Thus, I am just gonna say the only thing I know to say:

Thank you, Rami.

Thank you for eight years of great play. Thank you for every little bit you contributed to this organization during your time here. Thank you, especially, for that 2-run walk-off homer you launched on the first pitch off of Francisco Cordero to beat Milwaukee on Friday, June 29th, 2007 (it is still one of my all-time favorite Cubs memories.)

Thank you, in short, for everything, Rami. You were spectacular. And we will miss you.

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GM For a Day

It had reached that time of year when fans the nation over begin to put their GM caps on and think/talk about what moves they would make if they were in charge. GM caps aren’t nearly as fun to play with when your team is mired in sub .500 mediocrity, but it is something to do nonetheless.

The following is a just-for-fun looksee at what I would consider doing if I were the Cubs GM for a day. You will see that, even as sentimental as I am, I do not share real GM Jim Hendry’s somewhat alarming stance on fire-sales and rebuilding.

This may be the most heartless post I’ve ever written.

***

Dempster, Ryan: While I am trying not to let my heart interfere with my head in my pretend 1-day tenure as Cubs general manager, I can’t help it with Dempsty. I couldn’t possibly let him go anywhere. (See also: Wood, Kerry.)

Garza, Matt: I never would have traded for Matt in the first place. Unless some other team was daft enough willing to part with 3 of its top ten prospects, I wouldn’t let go of him this year. It just seems pointless.

Grabow, John: Free to a good home.

Marmol, Carlos: There was a time when I would have considered Carlos #2 as untouchable. I don’t any longer. I suppose all that 9th inning stress has gotten to my head. I am not saying that I would trade Carlos, only that I wouldn’t rule it out. And I would demand a LOT in any possible trade situation (more than he is worth.)

Marshall, Sean: Sigh. It would be difficult for me to pull the trigger on any deal involving Sean, but I hope that in the end I would be able to do what was right for him and the Cubs.

Russell, James: If John Grabow and Sean Marshall aren’t around I guess that would make James the new go-to lefty in our bullpen.

Samardzija, Jeff: He’s done OK this year, certainly better than anyone expected. I would just keep Jeff where he is and ride out that contract.

Wells, Randy: Most of these fellows fit into one of three basic divisions. One, the guys somebody may want. Two, the guys that nobody want. Three, the guys people want but can’t have. I’m afraid that Randy might be a two.

Wood, Kerry: Maybe Kerry should be a one, but he’s a three as long as I’m GM.

Zambrano, Carlos: I wouldn’t even consider Carlos #1 as trade bait. If only to annoy Paul Sullivan.

Hill, Koyie: I heard a rumor that someone might be interested in Koyie. If it’s true, he’s theirs. But it probably isn’t.

Soto, Geovany: Not for sale. Catchers, even half decent ones, are too hard to come by.

Baker, Jeff: If I were the GM of a team that was in contention, I would want Jeff Baker. As Cubs GM, I would hesitate to part with him. Players as versatile and inexpensive as Jeffy B. are worth hanging onto, even in a bad year.

Barney, Darwin: Not going anywhere on my watch.

Castro, Starlin: Crown prince of all the untouchables.

DeWitt, Blake: Blake has never really seemed like a fit on the Cubs. I would send him some place where he could be more useful.

Pena, Carlos: I love Carlos Pena. I always have. I’ve enjoyed watching him as a Cub. But he is still probably the first guy on the proverbial chopping block.

Ramirez, Aramis: The times, they are a-changing. I’m willing to say goodbye if he is.

Byrd, Marlon: Yet another prime trade candidate who I’d miss.

Campana, Tony: Should probably be in triple-A getting more seasoning and playing time, but if half the trade propositions I’ve suggested went down, he’d probably have to tough it out in Chicago.

Fukudome, Kosuke: Sayonara, Fuke. (I seriously feel so mean all of a sudden.)

Johnson, Reed: I couldn’t let go of Reed. So much for that head/heart business.

Soriano, Alfonso: Rumors, schmumors. Fonsie isn’t going anywhere, whether we like it or not.

*Jackson, Brett: I would appease the people (myself included) who would like to have a peek at Mr. Jackson in Chicago before the 2011 season expires.

*Flaherty, Ryan: How do you feel about third base, Mr. Flaherty?

***

So, how ’bout it? What would you all do if you had GM powers for a day?

Wildcard Wednesday: Happy Birthday, Frank Oz!

Happy Wednesday, all. You know the drill…

Today’s notable birthdays:

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803), Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (1878), Ian McKellen (1939), and FRANK OZ! (1944).

And other stuff:

Eyre M. Shaw became the oldest Olympic gold medal winner at 78 years of age (1900)

Babe Ruth was suspended for one game and fined $200 for throwing dirt on an umpire (1922)

Willie Mays made his Major League debut for the New York Giants and went 0-for-5 (1951)

Braves pitcher Max Surkont struck out 8 Reds batters in a row (1953)

Early Wynn won his 300th game (1963)

Dennis Eckersley made his Major League debut in Cleveland, shutting out the A’s 6-0 (1975)

“Star Wars” was released (1978)

Fergie Jenkins became the 7th pitcher to record 3,000 strikeouts (1982)

The Red Sox traded Dennis Eckersley to the Cubs for Bill Buckner (1984)

The Mariners traded Mark Langston to the Expos for Randy Johnson (1989)

*

Who caught the Cubs and Red Sox in their vintage uniforms on Saturday? I didn’t (stupid FOX), but fortunately there were lots of photos.

Predictorama!: Your 2011 Chicago Cubs, Part Two

A most happy MLB Opening Day to one and all! The Cubs turn doesn’t come until tomorrow afternoon, but there are several games (real games!) being played to hold us over for 24 hours. There is also this, part two of my Cubs prediction party, as promised. Get caught up with Part One, if you missed it!

~

Picking right up where I left off…

Reed Johnson: I anticipate bookoos of Reed-inspired baby sloth smiles from innumerable  game-saving web-gems and a copious amount of hit-by-pitches. It’s good to have him back, isn’t it?

Carlos Marmol: Give Marmee one sloth hug for strikeout, minus one for every walk. I think he’ll come out well enough ahead. I’m calling Carlos #2 makes the NL All Star team. Or, if he doesn’t, we will all consider it injust and be wild with fury.

Sean Marshall: If he can replicate the outstanding numbers he put up last year, our bullpen isn’t going to be too shabby. 1 baby sloth hug for every time Sean’s curveball gives me goosebumps. 25 more if VCU wins the NCAA championship.

Marcos Mateo: I totally typed in “Juan Mateo” at first by accident right there. Does anyone else remember that game in 2006 when Juan was- for some reason- used as a pinch runner in extra innings and scored the winning run? And Derrek Lee proclaimed something like “that’s the slowest I’ve ever seen a human being run”? You remember the little things in seasons like that…

Anyway, if Marcos can do something that amuses me half as much as his brother did then, I shall be delighted.

Carlos Pena: It is hard to say exactly what kind of numbers Carlos will put up, or what kind of year he will have. It is easy to say that he will certainly charm us all with his winning smile, and good defense (maybe even a walk-off home run or two.) He isn’t going find baby sloth hugs hard to come by, no matter what his batting average is.

Aramis Ramirez: Probably not going to win any more silver sluggers or golden gloves. Sigh. Sometimes reality and time aren’t fun.

James Russell: One consolation baby sloth hug for every time James is going to be shuffled from Chicago to Iowa. The same goes for Justin Berg, and anyone else like that.

Jeff Samardzija: Every bullpen seems to have at least one designated kitten-eater… one guy that elicits groans before he has even tossed a warm-up pitch in the bullpen. I’m calling that that guy is gonna be Shark in 2011. 3 sympathy baby sloth hugs for him, but he can’t collect them until he cuts his hair.

Alfonso Soriano: Either Mr. Soriano has been flying under the radar lately, or people have run out of things to say about him. I, for one, have hardly given him a thought this spring. But Sori isn’t just the Canadian word for “sorry”… it’s still our left-fielder, too. I am hoping he quietly has a half-decent season, provided the injury bug doesn’t bite. 4 baby sloth hugs per home run, minus 2 for every groan-inducing defensive play.

Geovany Soto: This is one guy who I genuinely look forward to watching every day… one of the few I don’t feel like I have to cross my fingers for. I foresee good things (good health, potent bat, possible all star selection if he isn’t barred out by Brian McCann and Buster Posey.) 5 bonus baby sloth hugs for every stolen base, triple, and/or inside-the-park home run Geo hits this year. 100 Bonus baby sloth hugs if he ever does a handspring on the base paths.

Randy Wells: I’ll feel better about Randy when I know he’s found a good woman.

Kerry Wood: Kerry will always be allowed as many baby sloth hugs as he wishes, regardless how he performs. I predict a solid year from my all-time favorite Cubs, with just one negligible DL stint.

I’m happy he’s home.

Carlos Zambrano: Two baby sloth hugs per hit recorded. I don’t know what to say about Big Z anymore. I mean, his bat is easier to rely on than his arm. I am going to err on the side of superstition and not predict anything. I just hope… no, wait… I don’t. My lips are zipped.

 

 

Week Seven In Review

Week seven of the major league season : In which Florida’s young shortstop caused a bit of a kerfuffle and the Cubs reeled us back in a smidgin’.

Around The Majors…

No More Ouchies: This was not a good week, health-wise, for major leaguers. Andre Ethier broke his pinkie finger, Asdrubal Cabrera broke his arm, Marcus Thames broke his ankle by accidentally stepping on his own bat, Josh Beckett went down with back problems and Grady Sizemore with a badly bruised knee. Fantasy teams everywhere are crashing and burning.

Don’t see that everyday…: On Wednesday, the Mets’ Angel Pagan hit an inside the park home run AND started a triple play (8-2-6-3.) This last happened in 1955. How can anyone not love this crazy sport?

Hanley, Hanley, Hanley. : He may be one of the best young stars in the game today, but Hanley Ramirez is also a big baby. Lack of hustle wasn’t the issue here. Hanley’s problem is more the lack of maturity and common sense. If you remember a year or so ago when he demanded a trade following the Marlins mandate that he cut his hair, then this didn’t surprise you. Morgan Ensberg had a good take on the whole thing, in case you missed it.

“Sigh” Young Awards: Trevor Hoffman. Kerry Wood. Sigh. And an honorable mention for Dan Haren.

Titter-inducing tweets of the week : Courtesy Dirk Hayhurst and Fred Lewis…

As for the Cubs…

Big Z (The Continuing Saga): Lou has said that Carlos Zambrano will assume a long relief role in the ‘pen for a spell with the aim of stretching his arm out for an eventual return to the rotation. What a baseball soap opera!

Say! Speaking of that…: If the Cubs season thus far WERE a soap opera, what would it be called?

Super Hero of the Week: Let’s give it to Rami for his walk-off home run. Also deserving, Starlin Castro. For continuing to hit like it’s his job, and for making plays like THIS.

Kitten Eaters of the Week: John Grabow and Bob Howry (who has yet to even ink his contract, put on a uniform, or throw a pitch.)

Outstanding gloviness: Tom Gorzelanny blew my mind with this play. On a similar note…

Seeing Double – Faceplant Edition:

If he hadn’t been hurt on the play, I’d say that the “slide” by Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo (above, left) was one of the funnier things I’d seen in awhile.

Hug of the Week: I bestow it upon Tyler Colvin. Just because we have an exciting new rookie shortstop doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten that we have a pretty cool rookie outfielder as well.