By Matt Abbatacola-
CHICAGO (WSCR) He’s the hottest hitter in the game right now. I’ve watched Aramis Ramirez play for the Cubs since 2003. I’ve seen him get hot before and carry this club.
Entering Wednesday night’s game with the Braves, Ramirez has a 12-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .563 with five walks, nine runs, three doubles, four homers, 14 RBI, and nine multi-hit efforts. Last night, he had a career-best five-hit game.
On the current homestand (2-1 v. St. Louis and 0-2 v. Atlanta), Ramirez has reached base in 16 of his 23 plate appearances.
And he is just one home run away from Cubs greatness.
Last Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals, Ramirez hit his team-leading 24th home run of the season to compliment his 30 doubles. One more home run and he will join Hall of Famer Billy Williams as the only players in Cubs history to hit at least 30 doubles and 25 homers in six different seasons.
Ramirez is in his eighth full season with Chicago and ninth overall. He played in just 63 games for the Cubs in the 2003 season after being acquired from Pittsburgh along with Kenny Lofton and cash for Matt Bruback, Jose Hernandez, and Bobby Hill.
With Chicago, Ramirez owns a .295 batting average and an OPS of .889. His 237 home runs ranks sixth all-time in team history.
Aramis has been known to get off to slow starts. His worst batting months are April and May (combined .261). He heats up in June (.301), July (.283), and August (.308) before cooling off again during September and October (.277).
In 18 playoff games for the Cubs, Ramirez has a .194 batting average and an OPS of .732 to along with four home runs and 10 RBI. All of those power numbers came in the 2003 season. In 2007, against Arizona, he was 0-for-12. In 2008, against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he went 2-for-11.
No one should be surprised by Ramirez’s current streak or his month so far. This is what Aramis Ramirez doe …
Now, the question is: What should the Cubs do with Ramirez for 2012?
The Cubs own the option for Ramirez for 2012 at $16 million. They could also choose to buy him out for $2 million, thereby making him an unrestricted free agent. A third possibility is that the club exercises the option for 2012 and Ramirez can void and forfeit the option if he chooses.
Ramirez will be the best available third baseman on the market if he and the Cubs part ways. Some current options at third on the roster today would include Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt — both players are arbitration eligible in 2012. Minor leaguer, D.J. LeMahieu, is also an option for the club.
I would prefer to see the next GM spend Ramirez’s money for next year on pitching — C.J. Wilson from Texas would interest me. There will be a spot or two to fill in the rotation and the bullpen in 2012.
If Ramirez is back next year, take some advice from me: don’t get too upset when he starts off really slow and don’t get too excited when he heats up like crazy in the Chicago summer – that’s just Aramis being Aramis.
My gut feeling is that it’s time for both sides to move on.