Alfonso Soriano and Cliff Floyd of the Chicago Cubs join the team in welcoming teammate Aramis Ramirez after Ramirez hit a two-run, walk-off home run to beat the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Brewers 6-5. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Aramis Ramirez won't be a stranger to the Cubs for the next three years, as he's reportedly signed a three-year deal with the Brewers for an amount somewhere between $34 and $37 million.
So we'll see him from 15-18 times a year, depending on how schedules work out; it will be odd to see someone who has been such a big part of Cubs history for the last nine seasons, wearing a uniform with a different shade of blue. Remember, when he was acquired from the Pirates on July 23, 2003, along with Kenny Lofton, it was Lofton the Cubs were after. They needed an immediate replacement for the injured Corey Patterson. At the time, Ramirez, who had just turned 25, was considered to be somewhat of a washout, having had a disappointing, injury-filled 2002, and not off to a great start in 2003.
He made that one of the best deals of Jim Hendry's tenure. He leaves ranking fifth on the all-time Cubs list in OPS (.887), and sixth in home runs (239). He had several spectacular seasons, and from 2004-2007 averaged .305/.362/.564 with 33 HR and 104 RBI; beyond new Hall of Famer Ron Santo, the only 3B in Cubs history who put up numbers as good as Aramis was Stan Hack.
Ramirez was in three postseasons for the Cubs and though overall his playoff numbers are poor (.194/.299/.433 in 77 PA), it was his grand slam in Game 4 of the 2003 NLCS that gave all of us the feeling, "Hey, maybe this IS for real."
It wasn't, unfortunately, but Aramis surely contributed his share of excitement to Cubs baseball during his tenure at third base. People have complained about his injuries and his not-always-great defense and alleged he was "lazy" (something I don't necessarily agree with), but the memories of things like that NLCS slam, or what you see in the photo at the top of this post, his amazing walkoff on June 29, 2007 (only a week after he had come off the DL), or this from 2008:
... make Ramirez part of Cub lore, that we will all remember for many years to come.
We are almost completely out of the 2003 era; only Carlos Zambrano and Kerry Wood remain from that star-crossed team, and it doesn't appear either will be around for much longer. New management brings us into a new era, and that's a good thing; but let us not forget someone who helped bring us many victories and happy times at Wrigley.
I wish A-Ram well; it's not really possible for me to root for him as a Brewer, and I hope he has especially bad games when he faces the Cubs. But I'll always remember the great moments, the memories, and his eight-plus fine seasons as a Cub.