Carrying On Without Aramis: Cubs vs. Brewers, Saturday 5/9, 6:05 CT

Here's the official press release regarding Aramis Ramirez going on the DL. (They need to fix the spelling of "Aramis", incidentally.) Ryan Freel will be activated for today's game and wear uniform #4.

Rather than continuing to speculate on how long A-Ram is going to be out, I thought I'd take a look at how other recent teams have done without a player of his significance. We are going to see another example of this in 2009, as the Dodgers will be playing 50 games without Manny Ramirez (so far, they're 0-2, including blowing a 6-0, sixth-inning lead to the worst team in baseball, the Nationals).

We need go back only a year to find an example with the Cubs: in 2008, Alfonso Soriano missed 53 games. The Cubs were 69-38 with Soriano in the starting lineup; 28-26 without him. Though Soriano wasn't the primary reason the Cubs won 97 games in 2008, we all remember how he got hot right after he came back in July and so did the team.

Another example from recent Cub history was the loss of Derrek Lee early in the 2006 season. Now, I'm not saying that the 2006 Cubs would have contended had D-Lee not been injured -- that was a desperately flawed team -- but they almost certainly would have won more than 66 games had Lee been in the lineup. In 2005, the Cubs lost Nomar Garciaparra for most of the season. That's when Nomar still could have made a difference. The '05 Cubs finished 10 games out of the wild card. I think having a healthy Nomar at SS, rather than "Neifi saved us" (the goofy Dusty Baker quote -- saved the Cubs from what, exactly?), might have gotten the Cubs closer to contention, though it's impossible to argue that he alone could have made a 10-game difference.

Nomar does figure into one team's failure: the 2001 Red Sox. He got hit in the hand early in the year and played only 21 games, one year after he hit .372 with a 1.033 OPS. That year's Red Sox won only 82 games and fired their manager. The next year, with a healthy Nomar hitting .310 with 120 RBI, the Red Sox won 93 games.

In 2003, Derek Jeter suffered an almost identical injury to what happened to A-Ram yesterday, on Opening Day in Toronto, when Blue Jays catcher Ken Huckaby tried to block a slide Jeter was making into 3B. Jeter's shoulder hit Huckaby's shin guard and was dislocated. He missed 36 games, but when he came back, he actually had better numbers than he had in 2002, which was one of his worst seasons. The Yankees didn't seem to miss him at all; they were 25-11 in his absence.

Now, the Cubs aren't likely to do that with Ramirez out; but if Derrek Lee, Geovany Soto and Milton Bradley, whose offensive contributions thus far have been near zero, can step up to their expected performance levels, the Cubs should be OK even if Ramirez has to miss six weeks.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ryan Dempster
Ryan Dempster
Cubs
vs. Yovani Gallardo
Yovani Gallardo
Brewers
2-1 W-L 3-1
4.86 ERA 3.02
32 SO 39
16 BB 12
4 HR 4
vs. Mil -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Ryan Dempster 2-1 6 6 0 0 0 0 37.0 34 20 20 4 16 32 4.86 1.35


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Yovani Gallardo 3-1 6 6 1 0 0 0 41.2 28 14 14 4 12 39 3.02 .96

Yovani Gallardo has no decisions in two career starts vs. the Cubs; that includes the game on May 1, 2008 at Wrigley Field in which he suffered a horrifying knee injury running the bases that put him out most of the year. Both Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukudome are 3-for-3 against him. Interesting Gallardo fact: on April 29 against the Pirates, he hit a solo HR, struck out 11 and won 1-0, becoming only the third pitcher in baseball history that has accomplished that feat:

The other two are Hall of Famers - Red Ruffing for the Yankees against the Washington Senators, April 13, 1932, and Early Wynn for the White Sox against the Red Sox, May 1, 1959.

Gallardo's good, but it's way too early in his career to say he should be in that company. That homer was his second of the season and fourth of his career in only 64 at-bats, so at the very least, the Cubs should pitch carefully to him.

Good news about Ryan Dempster: he has gone at least six innings in all six of his starts so far this year. Bad news about Ryan Dempster: he's gotten hit pretty hard in most of them, except his last outing vs. the Giants. He has already pitched in Miller Park this year, on April 12, a game the Cubs won largely because of Reed Johnson's grand-slam saving catch on Prince Fielder's long fly to right. Inexplicably, Jason Kendall is the Brewer who hits him best: 16-for-40 with 5 walks.

Today's game is on cable in Chicago and Milwaukee, and on EI (probably again, with just the Brewers feed). For more games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Overflow comment threads will post today at 7 pm, 8 pm and 8:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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