What happens if Aramis Ramirez goes away?

Aramis Ramirez had just walked into the clubhouse and told reporters that he'd "probably" played his last game at Wrigley Field, when suddenly there was a loud rumble out on the diamond. 
A giant sink hole had appeared, coincidentally right at the spot Aramis had just vacated.
Fortunately, no one was hurt.
But alert Cub fans will remember this same phenomenon happening right after Ron Santo was traded to the White Sox in 1974, where the hole remained for the next 29 years.
Cubs staff plugged the hole in 2003, when they traded Jose Hernandez, Matt Bruback and a player to be named to the Pirates for Kenny Lofton, Aramis Ramirez, and cash money.

Gazing down into the hole last night, Jeff Baker was heard to say, "Hey, Gary Scott! That you?"

Comments

I think the hole appeared before last night's game.

He took a halfassed swipe at the Rickie Weeks ground ball that turned into a run-scoring single (should have been an error). Brenly correctly noted that ARam has the habit of leaving his feet when he doesn't have to. My kid does that, too. He's 12.

Well I suppose if A-Ram goes....it'll be a battle of:
Jeff Baker
DJ LeMahieu
Marquez Smith
Josh Vitters
Blake DeWitt
Steve Ontiveros
Vance Law
Luis Salazar

The Cubs have a 3rd-base prospect who had 19 HRs and 88 RBI and an .824 OPS in AA and AAA this season. Still plays some SS so should be fine at third, a big improvement defensively over Aram. He's not on your list.

Flaherty played 63 games at 2B, 28 at 3B, 28 in LF, 14 at SS, 13 in RF, 7 at DH and a handful just labeled as OF

he played 57 at 3B and 55 at 2B in 2010

so far his fielding percentages at 3b are abysmal...not sure if he'll help much in fixing the Cubs biggest problem of 2011 which was there defense. The numbers certainly seem he's more comfortable at 2B.

Judging by his playing time, the Cubs must see him more as a utility option than a potential starter.

In terms of PAs, Flaherty led the Cubs' high minors.

Flaherty 530
LaHair 523
Jackson 512
Vitters 488
Ridling 485
MGonz 465

If you think Flaherty is a utility player, it's because LeMahieu was being groomed for second and Vitters for third, and Flaherty had to find somewhere else to play. But he was in the lineup every day.

Vitters will be in the minors next season while Flaherty will be due to graduate. LeMahieu doesn't hit like a third baseman and will have to vie with Barney. One thing that might be in LeMahieu's favor, even at third--also in Baker's favor--is that Flaherty hits lefty and the Cubs are starting to trend very left-handed.

If you think Flaherty is a utility player, it's because LeMahieu was being groomed for second and Vitters for third, and Flaherty had to find somewhere else to play. But he was in the lineup every day.

well I'm not sure I do, but ultimately my opinion doesn't matter, that's clearly what the Cubs are thinking. You just said it yourself, they were more comfortable keeping Vitters at 3B (and he could easily be moved to 1b, LF or RF) and LeMahieu at 2B, while shifting Flaherty around. If they felt better about Flahery, they'd be shifting the other guys around.

I like Flaherty's offensive skillset, although he's a bit old for his leagues and tends to have a hard time initially adjusting, but he's certainly at the age where it's make or break it at the major league level.

But he's clearly having some difficulties at 3b and he'd be certainly more valuable as a 2B-men if he can maintain an .800 or above OPS.

The Cubs have always liked LeMahieu better than Flaherty for second base. At third, the hitting bar goes up too high for LeMahieu, but it's less of a problem for Flaherty.

I'm not sure they still "like" Vitters at third, but they want him to succeed there, for Wilken's sake if for no other reason. If Vitters can't field the position at third, the hitting bar goes way up at first and in left. But the Cubs are in no rush to get Vitters to the majors, and he signaled his customary unreadiness by going 1 for 17 in the recent playoff finals.

I don't think there is really a question about Flaherty's ability to field third base. If you can play short, you can play third. Flaherty has played 111 games at short in the minors, including 14 this year.

Put it all together, and things could fall into place for Flaherty if there's a vacancy at third next season.

Others are probably tired of it, so I'll take my turn pointing out that you're taking 17 PAs you didn't see any of except in a box score as evidence that Vitters isn't ready to advance. I'm not really arguing with the claim that Vitters isn't ready for the majors yet--I just don't think that's very compelling evidence of anything.

Since you're talking "tired," I'm a little tired of hearing about small data samples. It's a championship series, not a home-and-away series in June. Why do they play the games and spill all that champagne if the size of the data sample makes it meaningless?

A data sample can be small but concentrated.

I'm realizing that this is the same argument I've been getting into about the 2008 Cubs.

VA Phil Hall Of Fame

Cody Ross, Yadier Molina, Scott Brosius, Elliot Soto, Mike Fontenot, Aaron Boone

And Mark Lemke!

And yet you guys say that LaHair's numbers this month won't tell us anything because they're September games among non-contenders.

So apparently some games are more significant than others. I suppose, then, that the importance of individual at-bats can be magnified. Interesting!

I do like Elliot Soto, by the way, for what he did during the season, and I've been meaning to give him a shout-out, so thanks for reminding me.

"We just showed a lot of character," said Daytona manager Buddy Bailey. "We had a lot of changes and had to find the right formula. The front office getting Elliot Soto (from Peoria) was a huge factor. It allowed us to put Logan Watkins back at second.

I don't recall what Soto did in the playoffs. I do recall what Szczur did, also what Jae-Hoon Ha did for Tennessee.

(And you guys thought I didn't like Soto.)

And yet you guys say that LaHair's numbers this month won't tell us anything because they're September games among non-contenders.

they don't mean much cause it's gonna be less than 50 PA's

Let's just hope Pena gets to 30 HR's.

If we used small samples of playoff production as meaningful examples, we would conclude that Barry Bonds wasn't ready for the majors until 1997 or maybe 2002.

17 PAs can have some meaning. But they rarely (if ever) tell us whether a player is ready to advance to the next level or not. Vitters' 2011 season tells us that he's not exactly dominating, so there isn't any reason to rush him.

Babe Ruth started his career 1 for 12 in the playoffs, no walks and 4 K's.

Sounds like Vitters is destined to be a Hall of Famer.

I don't think there is really a question about Flaherty's ability to field third base. If you can play short, you can play third. Flaherty has played 111 games at short in the minors, including 14 this year.

ability? probably has it in spades

ability to do it well in the majors in 2012 might still be up in the air though.

Josh Vitters is supposedly being moved to the OF at the AFL next month. I don't think he is considered the Cubs future 3B anymore.

And with it the final bit of prospect status he still had.

And now Javier Baez fills the Josh Vitters role (can't miss hitting prospect without exceptional fielding/running skills).

I like Vitters and hope he still makes it -- he is young and hit pretty well at AA. But it looks like he is now David Kelton, sweet swinging right handed 3b who had lots of promise at draft time and early minors, but can't develop any further.

The list of guys who don't contribute to the majors because of their bats is probably 20 times the length of guys who don't make it because of their gloves or baserunning.

That's sort of like basing drafting a pitcher on their ability to hit.

If you draft a hitter in the first round, you need to be pretty damned sure he's going to be able to hit major league pitching at some point. If he can't stick at SS or Catcher, you can move him down the defensive spectrum, but if he can't hit .250, playing center field like a 21 year old Andruw Jones won't mean anything.

I work with a guy who could probably cover CF for a major league team... can't hit a curveball to save his life. Helluva softball player, though.

Simple arithmetic. If you grant that Castro and LeMahieu and Flaherty, say, can play shortstop, there are 7 positions on the field available to them, and 224 starting spots (including DL) on all the ML teams. If one of them happens to throw lefthanded, he's down to 4 positions and 134 spots among all teams. But if he's like Soriano or Dunn and can only play LF or DH, that's only 44 job opportunities. That's before you start to consider hitting.

"The list of guys who don't contribute to the majors because of their bats is probably 20 times the length of guys who don't make it because of their gloves or baserunning."

Well, you have a convenient category of 4A (AAAA) for all the 1B/LF/DH types who languish in the minors, many of whom could certainly hit well enough in the majors to stick at one of the more defense-oriented positions if they had the requisite skills.

Dubois got 227 plate appearances in the majors. Pie has over a thousand, while Corey Patterson is just under 4500. It's all about hitting? There's not much that a slugger like Dubois can do with 227 intermittent PAs, but his OPS (.729) is still higher than Pie's (.673) and Patterson's (.690). But you would say that Dubois is 4-A and it's his bat that's the problem.

Interesting, but off topic.

We were talking about A and B, and you went into a long discussion about B and C.

All those guys you listed had a least some success at AAA, whereas Spring's real point, at least a I understood it was talking about decision like Baez versus Starling, where you can see a guy who has physical tools, and you can see a guy who is a good baseball player, and Springs likes the tools over skills. To a certain degree he's right, you're more likely to get the super stars drafting that way, but two all stars, three regulars, and five busts are worth a lot more than one super star and nine busts.

I would say that Dubios is too old, and "mastered" AAA at a much later point in life than Pie or Patterson did, which would explain the vast amount of the difference in PT. Then there's also 2003 when Patterson played like a top 50 ballplayer for half a season, that kind of performance is going to get you a lot of chances. There's also a certain amount of organzational favoritism and investment that will get a guy some more PT in the majors. A point I previously argued when comparing LaHair to Pena.

But you argument you're making is inherently flawed, because gold glove caliber Ryan Harvey (top of first round) and Kyler Burke (supplemental first rounder) never got any major league PA's and Jason Dubois (14th round, 1999 Colonial Athletic Conference All-Star DH) did.

Why?

Because you're 20 times more likely to wash out for not being able to hit as you are for not being able to field.

You don't have to believe, me, you can look it up yourself. Find guys who could hit AAA pitching very well, and didn't get to the majors. The list will be very short. Then search for guys who could run and throw, but never got to AAA, that list will be much longer. Take any team or any year of the draft as your pool of players, and the answer is going to be roughly the same. Position players washout because they can't hit.

Here's the position players the Cubs took before Dubois in 2000:

Montanez SS
Bobby Hill SS
Nick Jackson CF
Gary Banks SS
J.J. Johnson SS
Ryan Jorgensen C
Blake Blasi 2B
Antoine Cameron OF(?)
Jeremy Flanagan OF(?)

Lots of guys who could in theory move down the defensive spectrum (and in the case of two of them did). Only one of them got a legitimate shot at the big leagues, and he wasn't drafted for his glove.

Everybody is a shortstop in little league and, to a slightly lesser extent, high school.

Did Montanez project as a major-league shortstop? Obviously not. After his first full year as a pro at age 19, he never played an inning of SS again. That just doesn't happen with Wilken shortstops. They don't slide down a greased "defensive spectrum" the way Montanez (and, I'm sure, other Stockstill picks) did.

(Clevenger was supposedly a SS at some level at some point, but never with the Cubs, who put him at catcher right away.)

Obviously the pre-Wilken Cubs couldn't discern that Montanez wasn't a middle infielder, and that doomed him as a major leaguer, since as you move down the defensive spectrum you have to move up the offensive spectrum.

It seems clear to me that Dubois was a better hitter than Pie or Patterson but had almost no chance of reaching 1,000 PAs in the major, because he wasn't an elite hitter. Vogelbach--and probably at this point Vitters--had better be elite hitters.

I don't even know what we're talking about at this point. Thanks for the news flash that you have to be able to hit to get to the majors.

edit: Actually, I do know what we're talking about. I'm saying defense is necessary to make the majors and you're saying it's not sufficient. On that much, we can probably agree.

the best players in little league are the catchers and pitchers, then SS.

My recollection is that the coach's son played SS when he wasn't pitching, while (I agree with you) the catcher was busiest and had the most fun and developed the most skills.

Eh. The coach's son is often the best player on a little league team anyway. He tends to get a lot of practice, whether he wants it or not, and he tends to take the game seriously, whether he wants to or not. I wonder how many major leaguers were at one time the coach's son. My guess is a lot.

the kid is 21, he still has 3-5 years before he needs to be in the majors and 3-5 years to start hitting HR's.

I agree and I believe it was Oscar Wilde who said, "familiarity breeds contempt". Vitters may indeed turn out to be another Dave Kelton-flameout, but maybe we should wait until he's about to turn 24 before jumping off cliffs??

...or consigning him to the prospect scrap heap.

If I thought the Cubs would consider him...I would. I have a sneaking suspicion that they don't consider him a 3B...but a utility guy.

I like Flaherty. Sure..add him to the list!

Quick push Baker in, I'm sure Quade will jump in to save him

Could we really be that lucky? Can we get Hill to jump in to save Quade?

I thought Quade and Hill are attached at the hip.

sign Reyes and Fielder, move Castro to 3b

Done and Done :)

Castro to second, and Who-The-Fuck-Cares-Considering-The-Other-3/4ths-of-the-Infield can play third. Castro, Reyes, Fielder, Soto, and anyone else would easily be the most offensively productive infield in the division. It would almost make up for starting Soriano in LF and having the amazingly average Byrd starting in CF.

It would almost make up for starting Soriano in LF and having the amazingly average Byrd starting in CF.

almost, but not quite

just add Beltran to RF and Sabathia to the rotation if he opts out!!!!

i do wonder if they could get Reyes on a 6-year deal with a player opt out after 3, if it meant not giving him an NTC for the back half of his deal or some other team-friendly terms.

Fans seem to hate those deals, but players like them because they can cash in on a bigger deal if they're doing well. Teams don't mind them too much because they may get out of a big money deal. And if Reyes did opt out, moving Castro back to SS at the ripe old age of 25, probably wouldn't be a big deal.

just spit-ballin'

That actually seems like a better idea to me than dumping tons of money into Prince Fielder, who I suspect is going to be looking at injuries and immobility as he ages. I don't see it happening, though. Seems to be the organizations plan to give Castro every chance to be the short stop, at least until he has a chance to show whether or not he can cut down on the errors. (Well, and Reyes comes with own injury concerns--just seems like he would command fewer years and less money.)

nah, going after Reyes instead of Fielder would not be smart, presuming it's one or the other. Cubs have a farm system of middle infielders and not a single 1b-men or OF that could move to 1B worth mentioning that isn't 5 years away.

and as you said, Reyes has actual injury concerns, Fielder has hypothetical ones.

but you know, if some savvy GM candidate can talk Ricketts into competing now while still committing to the farm system, it wouldn't be the worst plan. They also need a SP or two and some vastly improved defense.

I have a theory, and one I admit I've not looked much into and could be proved bogus, that FA contracts for under 30's, prove to be far more fruitful to a club than the ones handed to 30's and over. Plus the aforementioned savvy GM will hopefully convince Ricketts that the value of FA contracts is in the front end, and you just have to be willing to absorb the loss of value on the backend. Hopefully you make smart choices and limit the backend (hey there Soriano), but essentially every big FA signing gets "too much money" and "too many years". It's the nature of the beast.

Fair enough. I'm sure I just don't like the idea of Fielder.

going after reyes wouldn't be smart...he's going to cost as much as a top slugger while doing his best to imitate carl crawford's deal in BOS.

The one time Hendry did a moneyball concept was after 2006 when he splurged on a bunch of type A free agents. The draft pick compensation is less and less for each Type A you sign, (2nd round pick for the first,, 3rd round pick for the second, etc) making them comparatively cheaper.

Let's hope Aram does hit Type A status, because I think (maybe AZ Phil or one of the other rules afficianados can chime in) that those comp picks are protected as well.

Also, if A-Ram goes...the Cubs will hopefully fully embrace rebuilding, as the available FA 3b's are mediocre, at best....ghastly at worst.

Ricketts will advocate going cheap. I can see Kevin Kouzmanoff or Ian Stewart being brought in.

I'd be OK with either I suppose. If we aren't going to spend in 2012.

If we're not going to spend, why not one of the guys from Dusty's list there? Kouzmanoff has a career OPS+ of 94, and Stewart comes in at a sterling 88.

I'd prefer seeing LeMayWho, Vitters or Smith over any FA not named Aram.

Agreed..Kouz or Stewart?
Ian Stewart: .236/.323/.428 career.
The "Kouz": .255/.300/.417 career

The Ironic thing about that photo is it slightly overstates AramRam's range at third.

lol

Blast from the past...

Jeff Pico named DBacks minor league field coordinator

heh

Bruce Miles tweet

#Cubs Quade on if he'd want Big Z back: "I'd like his arm back if he fit into the mix. But it would be tough for him to come back, for me."

don't think that'll be a concern for you Q-Ball.

also, full article where he expects to be back next year

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball...

Similar article by Muskat:

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?...

Best part of that article:

Asked how he would grade himself as manager, Quade said he was "disappointed in the record."

"I'm not disappointed in myself at all," he said...

"I look at this as a variety of things, and no one escapes blame, and you understand that going in," Quade said. "But I also look at it as a realist and try to think about the things I could or couldn't control, whether it's the clubhouse or running the game. I evaluate it all.

"You sit here and take the blame -- that's what you do." (sounds like he's not taking any blame at all)

The only aspect of the team's performance he wasn't happy with was the poor defensive play.

"One disappointment, if I had one, that would be it," Quade said. "It wasn't for lack of work on it or concentration or emphasis, from the beginning of Spring Training."

He did everything right and the veterans are doing just great.

So where are all the losses coming from? Injuries, Castro, and Barney?

197hits6/DJL5/Johnson9/Baker4/Soto2/Byrd8/Soriano7/LaHair3/Garza1

Looking forward to AZ Phil posts from instructional league

for Castro

appears he got thrown out trying to get triple #10

very close play

also the wrong play with 0 outs.

Yeah, I get it, but I'll never complain about a guy trying to hustle out a triple with zero outs as long as he has a real shot at it. I might feel differently if the Cubs had a more reliable offense that didn't leave guys stranded on base all the time.

Zero outs is not nearly as bothersome as 2 outs. The Cubs hitters aren't exaclty famous for situational hitting after all.

not terribly upset about it with the current state of the Cubs, but it certainly wasn't good baserunning. Had the play right in front of him, Braun jogged to the ball and made a very deliberate throw to SS and they still got him.

heh

@Aisle424 If Castro had just been more lazy, he'd be standing at 2nd.

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/Moneyball-...

lots of great quotes from baseball folk on integrating both sides, the advance of technology, and so forth. Can't recommend the article enough...

Wow...Castro and Barney looking like they've never played together....
Why would the 2B set up for the double play, on the 3B side?

look, an unearned run off Garza and a Castro error

Yeah..I wasn't real impressed with Barney's effort either...

#199! past the third baseman Hairston and an RBi

for Castro, an RBI single

LaHair with a double off a lefty as well.

...as LaHair sits the next 3 games....lol.

Now you're just exagerating. He'll get a PH opportunity.

AHA! Forgeot about the PH plans.....make him the new Lenny Harris/Manny Mota type!

Kinzer says he told Bush and Ricketts that they'll test FA market regardless.

http://espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/700...

if Cubs screw up this arbitration thing with Ramirez, may they burn in hell.

says they're looking for a 3-4 year deal.

If Cubs don't blow this, Garza could still manage 10 wins on the season with today's game and a win Monday over Padres

speaking of Padres up 4-0 in 5th, Pirates down 3-1 in 2nd

Garza at 85 pitches through 7, complete game watch is on

Don't look now, but LeMahieu is batting a decent .280.

And slugging .300!

haha.

Seven runs and no RBI's from the 3 and 4 hitters today. It's almost like Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson aren't suited to hitting #3 and #4.

fwiw, Morgan lost LeMahieu's double in the sun

True... but he did still hit off the wall to straightaway center.

D'oh! He's now down to 275/294

Cubs went over 3M fans yet again according to Muskat tweet

I'm guessing you and Muskat missed the part where the Cubs let the 3,000,000th fan throw out the first pitch today.

I'm also guessing that I don't really give a fuck, but thought I'd pass the info along as I know some readers do care about such things.

DJ drops the game ending infield pop up

Garza now approaching 120 pitches....

Garza impressed me in the 9th inning today. Brenly and others have noted how fidgity Garza is, and I know there were (very) low mumblings about possible focus and competitiveness issues with him when we got him from Tampa. But when LeMahieu dropped that pop-up, Garza demanded the ball, gave him a pat on the ass, and threw four straight strikes to Kottaras, the last three of them curves, to K the extra batter he had to face to complete his game that ought to have been a shutout, too. (Even for someone who still isn't crazy about giving up Lee in the trade, I can't complain about Garza--you know, aside from his fielding and ability to handle the bat. Nothing wrong with the way he pitches or handles himself when he's on the rubber.)

I'm feeling a lot better about "the trade" lately. Garza seems to have made great progress focusing. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but nothing bothers him now (that Z is gone).

I have to admit, he's done a lot better than I thought should be expected. The disappearance of the flyballs was really stunning, and I hope it's something he keeps up, but at the end of the day, it was a still a bad trade, since the Cubs, as expected, didn't do shit, and their chances in 2013 with Lee, Archer etc would be a lot better.

Ditto for certain on being a bad trade and Garza being better than expected. Garza is now coming into a position (assuming Z is gone) where he is going to be the stopper, the guy the team needs to count on as an ace (assuming Demps ages and is no longer ace material and we don't sign anyone).

Some players struggle with this pressure while others thrive. Garza has great stuff and if this role provides further consistency, we could have a stellar #1.

Garza impressed me in the 9th inning today. Brenly and others have noted how fidgity Garza is, and I know there were (very) low mumblings about possible focus and competitiveness issues with him when we got him from Tampa. But when LeMahieu dropped that pop-up, Garza demanded the ball, gave him a pat on the ass, and threw four straight strikes to Kottaras, the last three of them curves, to K the extra batter he had to face to complete his game that ought to have been a shutout, too. (Even for someone who still isn't crazy about giving up Lee in the trade, I can't complain about Garza--you know, aside from his fielding and ability to handle the bat. Nothing wrong with the way he pitches or handles himself when he's on the rubber.)

Hey CHARLIE: Did Garza impress you in the 9th today?

Well, since you ask, The E-Man, I was in fact impressed.

Garza impressed me in the 9th inning today. Brenly and others have noted how fidgity Garza is, and I know there were (very) low mumblings about possible focus and competitiveness issues with him when we got him from Tampa. But when LeMahieu dropped that pop-up, Garza demanded the ball, gave him a pat on the ass, and threw four straight strikes to Kottaras, the last three of them curves, to K the extra batter he had to face to complete his game that ought to have been a shutout, too. (Even for someone who still isn't crazy about giving up Lee in the trade, I can't complain about Garza--you know, aside from his fielding and ability to handle the bat. Nothing wrong with the way he pitches or handles himself when he's on the rubber.)

Wow! I guess Garza's 9th-inning was incredibly impressive!

I concur.

How did Garza handle the ninth?

Hey y'all, sorry about the double post.

Garza impressed me in the 9th inning today. Brenly and others have noted how fidgity Garza is, and I know there were (very) low mumblings about possible focus and competitiveness issues with him when we got him from Tampa. But when LeMahieu dropped that pop-up, Garza demanded the ball, gave him a pat on the ass, and threw four straight strikes to Kottaras, the last three of them curves, to K the extra batter he had to face to complete his game that ought to have been a shutout, too. (Even for someone who still isn't crazy about giving up Lee in the trade, I can't complain about Garza--you know, aside from his fielding and ability to handle the bat. Nothing wrong with the way he pitches or handles himself when he's on the rubber.)

Assholes.

I love this blog!

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