When the Cubs take the field today for their last home game of the season against the Milwaukee Brewers. there is good chance that this will be the last game at Wrigley Field as a member of the Cubs’ organization for a number of players. With Brett Jackson looking likely to earn a roster spot in 2012, that increases the chance that Marlon Byrd will be traded during the off-season. The same can be said about starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano and left fielder Alfonso Soriano, as both players seem to have worn out their welcome on the North Side.
One player in particular is more than willing to admit that he “probably” has played his last game at Wrigley Field while with the Cubs. That player of course is third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Within the past month, it has seemed that Ramirez is more willing to talk about his contract with the media rather than with members of the Cubs front office.
Ramirez was taken out of yesterday’s game with a mild right quad strain and it is believed that the third baseman will miss the Cubs’ home finale. Ramirez told reporters that he has “probably” played his last game at Wrigley Field as a Cubs’ player, and that “it looks like” he is going to hit the free agent market. This is no different than what Ramirez has said for the past month. Ramirez has said on numerous occasions over the past month that he ready to move on from the Cubs’ organization. The timing of Ramirez’s media on-slought is not surprising. Ramirez’s fondness for negotiating in the media started shortly after the Cubs made the firing of general manager Jim Hendry official. Before then, we barely heard a peep from the Cubs’ third baseman. Ramirez and his agent, Paul Kinzer, believed that there was an understanding between their side and Hendry that the third baseman would return to the Cubs’ in 2012. But with a regime change coming in the form of a new general manager, Ramirez has used that as his out from the Cubs’ organization.
To be honest, Ramirez sounds like someone who has had their feelings hurt once learning that his “happy-go-lucky” general manager will not return next season. It is obvious that Ramirez respected Hendry enough to withhold from going in detail about his contract status with the media. But with Hendry now being fired, it would appear that Ramirez feels like the Cubs did him wrong and is using that as his excuse for why he will not be returning next season to the Cubs. That feeling could have some merit. Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts told Hendry that he was fired during the last week of July, however, those are the only two people in the entire organization that knew that Hendry would no longer be the general manager of the Cubs. It was not until a month later when the Ricketts went public with the firing, and the everyone in the organization discovered that Hendry would no longer be with the Cubs. Judging by Ramirez’s comments, Hendry was probably working with Ramirez and his agent–even after Ricketts told him he was going to be fired–to sell the idea that Hendry would be back next season. Obviously, Hendry–in risk of stepping on the new general manager’s toes–was not intent on signing Ramirez to an extension.
Every Cubs’ fan knows the type of player that Ramirez is. Ramirez’s 2011 season has been the perfect microcosm of his career as a whole with the Cubs. Ramirez started the 2011 season looking like he forgot how to hit a baseball, and of course, that was when the games were still important for the Cubs. But as the Cubs began to fall deeper in the standings, Ramirez’s production began to increase. Ramirez is now one of top offensive third baseman in the National League and is looking like the top free agent third baseman this winter. Ramirez has already told reporters that he is seeking a multi-year deal, and the only way he is going to get such a deal will be from another team.
The Florida Marlins have already expressed interest in the free agent-to-be and they will likely be one of many teams to register interest in the veteran third baseman.