Ex-Cub Aramis Ramirez has reasons to gloat but won’t
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com March 22, 2013 11:32PM
Former Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez had a strong year for the Brewers in 2012. | Morry gash~AP
Updated: April 24, 2013 6:20AM
MARYVALE, Ariz. — Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez says he has no hard feelings about the way he left the Cubs.
Of course, that’s easy for him to say, considering he’s in the middle of a last laugh.
The Cubs’ third-base position has broken out again into the open sore it had been for decades until Ramirez took over in 2003.
Getting ready for his second season with the Cubs’ division rivals, the guy who thought he would stay in Chicago until Jim Hendry was fired as general manager in the summer of 2011 is over the whole show-them-what-they’re-missing thing.
“I did it last year. That’s enough,” he said, smiling. “Nah, I just try to do my job. I don’t try to show anybody what kind of player I am. All you’ve got to do is look at my career, and that’ll tell you what kind of player I have been for a long time.”
For all of Ramirez’s critics in Chicago, Brewers management and teammates raved about him as a veteran presence and leader last season, and he delivered a .300 season that included a league-leading 50 doubles, 27 home runs, 105 RBI and a .901 OPS to go along with a top-10 finish in MVP voting.
The Cubs? Not so much. Especially at the position that has historically dogged the franchise for decades at a time.
Before Ramirez got to Chicago from Pittsburgh in one of the more lopsided trades of the last 20 years, the Cubs were going on 30 years with a revolving door at the position after Ron Santo.
As they enter their second season without him, the position is a wide-open door, with .224-hitting converted second baseman Luis Valbuena set to open the season as the starter and disappointing Ian Stewart set to open the season on the disabled list, where he finished last season.
Stewart has been such a non-factor since being acquired from the Rockies for Tyler Colvin and D.J. LeMahieu that Ramirez said Friday, “I didn’t realize he was there. … Maybe because he hasn’t played.”
Ramirez said he didn’t imagine the Cubs would have nearly the trouble they’ve had filling the position.
“No, because there’s a lot of good players out there,” he said. “But they aren’t trying to get good players. [Kevin] Youkilis was a free agent. They didn’t go after him.’’
But Youkilis got $12 million from the Yankees for this season, far more than the Cubs were willing to pay.
“I can understand that because they’re not ready to win right now,” Ramirez said. “They’ve got to start over.”
That’s why he’s not there anymore. The $36 million he got from the Brewers for three years wasn’t in Cubs president Theo Epstein’s rebuilding vision.
“It would have made no sense for them to re-sign me long-term,” Ramirez, 34, said. “They’re doing what they have to do. They’re going young. And they’re paying the price. They lost 100 games last year, and that’s what happens when you’re trying to rebuild.
“But you’ve got to start over at some point. Obviously, what we were doing wasn’t working.”
CUBS 4, BREWERS 1
ALL BUSINESS: Fifth starter Carlos Villanueva said he was furious at himself for his one-out walk to Rickie Weeks in the sixth, but that was about the extent of the unhappiness over a six-inning scoreless start against his old teammates. “I had a couple of text messages already at 7 a.m. [from Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo],” Villanueva said. “We were pretty much airtight when I was there. There was a lot of trash-talking back and forth the last couple of days. I have a lot of friends on that team, but when it comes down to business, it’s business.”
POWER HOUR: Gold Glove second baseman Darwin Barney yanked a two-run homer over the left-field wall with two out in the ninth inning for the go-ahead runs. And Dioner Navarro came off the bench to follow up with another blast.
SPRING CLEANING: The Cubs delivered their biggest cuts to get the roster down to 31 healthy players with only one bench spot and one bullpen spot left to decide. Pitchers sent out: right-handers Casey Coleman, Blake Parker, Jaye Chapman, Jensen Lewis and Drew Carpenter and left-hander Chris Rusin (who was optioned to Class AAA Iowa). Infielders: Edwin Maysonet and Brad Nelson. Outfielders: Brian Bogusevic, Darnell McDonald and Johermyn Chavez.
BATTLEGROUNDS: With Dave Sappelt in as the fifth outfielder, infielder Alberto Gonzalez and catcher/infielder Steve Clevenger are battling for the final bench job. The final bullpen spot is down to left-hander Hisanori Takahashi and right-handers Cory Wade, Zach Putnam and Rafael Dolis.
ON DECK: Angels at Cubs, HoHoKam Stadium, 3:05 p.m. Saturday, Ch. 9, 720-AM. Edwin Jackson vs. Joe Blanton.