Aramis Ramirez says he wouldn’t mind playing for Ozzie Guillen
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com September 27, 2011 10:52PM
Aramis Ramirez says Ozzie Guillen is a good manager who knows what it takes to win. | John Grieshop~Getty Images
Updated: November 11, 2011 4:32PM
SAN DIEGO — The seismic baseball shift on the South Side is starting to deliver significant aftershocks on the North Side, too.
Suddenly, there’s a viable trade market for Carlos Zambrano as well as an expanding potential free-agent market for Aramis Ramirez.
With Ozzie Guillen likely headed to the Florida Marlins, Ramirez said Miami just became an attractive destination.
‘‘Of course,’’ said Ramirez, who promises to become one of the top hitters on the free-agent market if the Cubs don’t offer him a multiyear extension. ‘‘They already got better [by acquiring Guillen]. Some people might not like the way he goes about his business, but the bottom line is he’s a good manager, and he’s won before. He knows what it takes.
‘‘I wouldn’t mind going there and playing.’’
Ramirez, who has more home runs and RBI since 2001 than any active third baseman except for Alex Rodriguez, would fit a huge need for the Marlins, who rank last in the National League at the position in both categories (five, 44).
And if he winds up in Miami next year, he might not be the only Cubs fixture headed to South Beach.
Those close to Guillen say he likes Cubs manager Mike Quade well enough that he’s expected to try to hire him for his new coaching staff in Miami — probably to coach third — if Quade doesn’t survive the Cubs’ regime change.
And Guillen’s relocation may have created a legitimate trading partner for problem-child pitcher Zambrano that won’t require a full-scale image-cleansing sales pitch or waiting out the market for months.
Until now, the only thing that seemed certain about the identity of Zambrano’s team next year was that it wasn’t the Cubs — despite $18 million left on the final year of the deal — with chairman Tom Ricketts having said he doesn’t envision Zambrano pitching for the team again.
Guillen has said for years that longtime friend Zambrano not only can pitch for him but would succeed under him. But the idea of Zambrano doing that without leaving Chicago seemed remote, especially with little need for starting pitching on the White Sox.
Now? He not only seems to be a trading fit with Florida but might even give the Cubs at least a semblance of leverage when talking to other teams about Zambrano.
‘‘Everybody knows he can still pitch,’’ Ramirez said. ‘‘If he goes there, I’m pretty sure the Cubs have to eat a lot of the money, if not all of the money. The question’s going to be if the front office wants to take what else comes with him.’’
Ramirez said Zambrano’s presence on the Marlins’ roster wouldn’t dissuade him from playing there.
‘‘I don’t have any problem with Zambrano,’’ he said. ‘‘I know he does a lot of things you’re not supposed to do, and he’d be the first to tell you that. But I never had any problem with him.’’
Meanwhile, other potential Cubs free agents and trade targets also are suddenly looking at the Marlins differently than they did a day or two ago — not only as a team in a desirable city but as a contender.
‘‘I think with Ozzie’s presence, the place just got better,’’ first baseman Carlos Pena said. ‘‘When you have Ozzie Guillen there, it makes a huge difference.’’
‘‘Believe it,’’ veteran pitcher Ramon Ortiz said. ‘‘You watch what happens. You’ll see.’’