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If the Chicago Cubs fall out of contention by mid to late June (10 games or more out), I’ve heard from more than one source that they’ll be pulling the plug on 2011, and planning for 2012. That means, among other things, they’ll start dumping players who aren’t in the plans for 2012.

One such player that may not be back is third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez, who is a free agent after the season (unless the Cubs exercise their $16 million option (yikes)), has underwhelmed so far this year. His lack of power and production have been rivaled only by his apparent lack of desire. No player looks more uninterested in baseball right now, which is, on some level, an unfair criticism (how can you really tell where a guy’s heart is?). But, fair or not, Ramirez simply doesn’t appear to be interested in playing.

So, for a number of reasons, the Cubs would probably love to move Ramirez around the trade deadline if they’re out of the race. But, Jayson Stark says, it’s not likely to happen.

If the Cubs don’t get back on track, one potential trade target we’ve heard people speculating about is Aramis Ramirez. But you can wipe him off your list right now.

First off, Ramirez has complete veto power over any trade. Second, if he gets traded, it vests his $16 million option for next year, but still gives him the right to opt out of his contract in search of a multiyear deal. So any team interested in trading for him would, essentially, have to pay him long-term free-agent-market dollars to get him to stick around, plus give the Cubs a significant prospect or two. Chances of that happening? None, we’d say.

It’s possible that a team would be willing to trade for Ramirez knowing that they’re either not going to have him for 2012, or they’re going to be paying hime $16 million. It’s also possible that the Cubs could send some money along with Ramirez, and he could agree in advance not to opt out.

Ramirez’s passion for the game could become a real issue, though. If he’s not interested in playing beyond this year, as he’s suggested at times in the past, he’s just as likely to veto a trade so he can finish out his time in Chicago, and then move on.

  • KB

    It’s stunning how JH backs himself into a corner with these absurd contracts.

  • Lou

    Knew this from Cot’s and don’t like it. We should be getting something for this guy. Hendry’s gotta go. Gonna be the best move made for 2012.

  • Cactus

    The three related posts, especially the one about the Braves trying to land Aramis Ramirez, are seriously out of date and should be deleted.

    • Ace

      It’s an automated thing. At some point I’ll probably update it to pull only from the last year or whatever.

  • jstraw

    Fine. Whatever. So A-Ram plays out the year. It’s the least of the Cubs’ worries.

    • Ace

      The least? Given the slim chance for success this year, I’d say tradeable pieces is at least in the middle.

  • JR

    To me, getting rid of Ramirez is not giving up on 2011; it’s the beginning of creating a team, can-do attitude and style of play. Watching Campana run the bases or Darwin Barney work his at-bats is exciting baseball–much more exciting than watching player after player with inflated contracts and egos swing for the fences with runners on base rather than doing the little things to get the run home. I’d eat the money and outright release Ramirez (if that’s contractually possible) if they can’t trade him to send a message to the equally apathetic Soriano. Let Jeff Baker play third the rest of the season. Heck, trade Marlin Byrd and have Reed Johnson platoon with Tyler Colvin (but only after he’s regained the confidence sucked out of him by batting him almost exclusively against lefties at the beginning of the year). No offense meant to Byrd, great attitude and hustle but little upside and we need to move on at this point. Let the bench players (who all have been great) and young guys play.

    As for giving Ramirez the benefit of the doubt, I think it’s a bit late for that. No one is suggesting he develop Zambrano-level enthusiasm. But the moping around the field coupled with the lack of hustle, paying attention on the bases, etc. is indicative of a bad attitude. And bad attitudes are contagious, especially if you’re not winning.

  • Jeff

    I don’t think Ramirez would bring much back anyway. I think it might be worth it to play out the season with him and let him walk away unrestricted and take the draft pick compensation for him.

    The thing I took out of Stark’s article was the Hendry quote: (“I haven’t talked to them about next year at all,” Hendry said. “And why would I? We’re not worried about next year. We’re worried about getting back on track this year.”) Clearly obvious statement that says he isn’t concerned about the long term future of the team and only cares about winning now. I don’t see how this guy can get away with saying stuff like this.

  • Serio

    I am SO SICK of losing Baseball

  • Serio

    I am now Randy Quaid from Major League 2

    • Michigan Goat

      Perfect reference, I’ve never been so frustrated with the cubs

      • Ace

        They win just enough/score just enough to make us frustrated.

  • Serio
  • Dan0mite

    A random thought I had earlier. Is it possible that part of the reason for Ramirez DHing and Baker playing 3rd is a bit of an audition for him. Perhaps putting him on 3rd against a good offensive team (as of late) is a way to gauge how he can do there. He is much cheaper and is hitting very well so far this season.

    • Dan0mite

      I don’t mean to imply that is the only reason for him playing 3rd, just a reason.

    • Ace

      Eh. I doubt it. The Cubs know he could handle third defensively; the question is whether his bat can handle it. And I doubt the Cubs would really consider making Baker the 3B of the future, unless they’re able to deal Ramirez this year, in which case Baker would finish out the year as the 3B (if not DeWitt), and then the Cubs would figure out a more full-time replacement next year.

      • Dan0mite

        Question than. Why couldn’t Baker be a longish term replacement (2 years)? The Cubs don’t really have an heir apparent and next year there aren’t many 3rd base free agents, so why not Baker?

        • Ace

          I just don’t think, as a full-time starter, that he’s got the bat to carry 3B on a playoff team. I’m not saying the Cubs have an obvious replacement; I’m just saying settling for Baker seems a lot like settling for Todd Hollandsworth.

          • Jeff

            Baker is arbitration eligible again this offseason and even if his salary gets doubled, I think he’s well worth 2.5 million, even if they want to give him that at a couple more years, I think it’s a favorable deal and would leave them with the flexibility to go out and get another 3rd basemen or super utility guy to take his spot.

            • Ace

              Nobody’s saying get rid of Baker. I’m just saying expecting him to be the starter next year is probably the wrong plan.

    • Michigan Goat

      I like that but I dont think this org is that smart… Maybe if he plays third the majority of interleague

    • Jeff

      Or it could be that Quade figured out ARam has mailed it in already but can’t bench him, so he took the first chance he could get to get him out of playing defense. Or he’s just going to be moving Baker around to give different guys days off in the field the rest of the series.

  • LouCub

    As a Cub fan since 1977, I’d like to see a complete overhaul and go young..I DO NOT WANT Soriano and Ramirez influncing the young Castro in any way, shape or form.Their overall lack of doing the little things or hustling speaks volumes as to why this team is a JOKE!!! Tom Ricketts needs to step to the plate and eat some of these salaries so Jim Hendry can remove these cancers from the team. (Although the big contracts and lengths are his own doing)The guys who should be moved are Byrd, Dempster, Ramirez, Soriano, Fukodome and Soto..I wish Soriano and Ramirez had Z’s fire…They play like a couple of limp d#@*s!!!! Byrd and Fukodome need to go to allow the kids to play..Dempster should never have gotten that outrageous contract, Soto is a pansy and for as much as I used to love Ram and his clutch hitting, he and Alfonsblow are pathetically lazy and don’t act like true veterans..Throwing Quade to the curb is fine with me too, the guy is not as advertised. Ryno should have gotten the gig or at least Girardi should have been hired 4 years ago instead of Lou Piniella,

  • http://bleachernation ramy16

    i think trading away aramis would be stupid!! you tell what 3rd baseman is ready to step in and play? josh vitters?? blake dewitt? nobody and theres nobody in fa market either..aramis has also starting heat up i know his homerun numbers are down..hes batting .296 and 20 rbi..him barney and castro are carring the cubs…i agree that hendry has fucked our team for awhile..we need pitching..the good thing is we play in the nl central and nobody is really running away with the division..as far as mike quade goes hes trying to play with the hand that hes been delt with. cant blame him…the cubs have lost a lot of games that they should have won! i havent lost hope yet..and weve been better in the second half of the season..i feel if we can maintain at least 5-6 games back before the all star game we have a chance

    • Jeff

      Carried the team???? He’s on pace for 4 homeruns and 60 rbi’s. I’m pretty sure Blake DeWitt could put up those numbers on a full time basis, they are not so impressive. His lackluster defense and baserunning are setting great examples for the young guys too. That 16 million can go to a lot better uses. I think Jeff Baker would be a good bet for 15-20 homers and 70 some rbi’s as a much cheaper and better defensive alternative to ARam. I know there isn’t much there in terms of free agency, but that should drive up his trade value, and like I said, Baker is actually producing more than ARam at the moment, so it’s not like it would be a huge blow to the offense. I think it might actually help them move on to the new Cubs era instead of sticking to guys who WERE good, but are struggling now.

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    I believe Ramirez will be gone after this season. You make a good point though. Who would replace him? That should be a bigger concern for next season than whether to sign Pujols or Fielder if they’re available.

  • DieHard

    Plans to move Castro to 3rd cause in minors is future long term SS?…I read about a youngster who I believe is from Taiwan and may be better than Castro?…

    • Ace

      The kid you read about is Hak-Ju Lee, who is now a member of the Rays’ organization (traded for Matt Garza). It’s possible that Castro could move to 3rd in a few years, but the Cubs are going to give him a serious go at short for a while (otherwise, they’d just put Barney at short).

  • EQ

    Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes are FA’s next year right?

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