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Ex-Cub Ramirez: Cubs “paying the price” for rebuilding
MARYVALE, Ariz. – Milwaukee 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 on that one – with the Cubs’ third base position breaking 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 his critics in Chicago, Brewers management and teammates raved about Ramirez as a veteran presence and leader last season, and he delivered a .300 season that included a league-leading 50 doubles, 27 homers, 105 RBIs and .901 OPS – and 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 following 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 DL, where he finished last season.
Stewart has been such a non-factor since being acquired from Colorado 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 filling the position that they have.
“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 New York 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.”