Tag:Alex Gonzalez
Posted on: December 12, 2011 4:15 pm

Aramis isn't Prince, but he should help Brewers

Aramis Ramirez isn't Prince Fielder.

No one's saying he is.

But if you begin with the assumption that keeping Prince Fielder was always going to be a huge longshot, then Aramis Ramirez isn't bad.

The Brewers completed the rebuilding of the left side of their infield Monday, signing Ramirez to a three-year contract that will pay him about $36 mill, according to sources. With Ramirez at third and Alex Gonzalez (signed last week) at shortstop, they should be improved defensively.

And with Ramirez sliding into Fielder's spot in the middle of the batting order, they should be competitive offensively, too.

Ramirez becomes even more important to the Brewers with Ryan Braun's status in doubt. Braun faces a 50-game suspension for a failed drug test, with his appeal scheduled to go before an arbitrator sometime next month.

But Braun will be back. Fielder, barring what would now be an incredible turn of events, will not. The Brewers were faced with replacing 38 home runs, 120 RBI and a .981 OPS out of the cleanup spot.

Ramirez has a career .842 OPS. He has six career 100-RBI seasons, and he drove in 93 runs for a bad Cubs team last year.

He's not Prince, but he is a solid middle-of-the order bat.

With the Ramirez signing, the Brewers could be done with their major winter shopping. The plan has been to try young (and cheap) Mat Gamel at first base, and with Francisco Rodriguez accepting salary arbitration, the Brewers wouldn't have much money to spend on another first baseman, anyway.

They could still trade K-Rod to a team looking for a closer. They could consider dealing starting pitcher Randy Wolf or even Shaun Marcum if they wanted to use the money elsewhere.

But other than adding some depth, the Brewers now don't need to do anything else. Without Prince, and likely without Braun for the first 50 games, they still have a team that should compete again in the National League Central.

The Brewers won the division in 2011. The Cardinals, their closest contender, lost a manager (Tony La Russa) and a superstar (Albert Pujols). The Reds, who won in 2010, have yet to find a deal for the top starting pitcher they have long sought.

The Cubs, even if they sign Fielder, are likely a year or two away from true contention. The Pirates are improving, but not scary. The Astros are just starting on a long rebuilding process.

The Brewers may not be as good without Fielder. But with Ramirez, in this division, they could be good enough.

Posted on: July 14, 2010 1:05 pm

Not an Atlanta Braves type of player

The Braves were sure Yunel Escobar was their shortstop for many years to come. They were so sure of it that even this spring, they were justifying the decision to include Elvis Andrus in the 2007 Mark Teixeira trade by saying that they never thought Andrus would unseat Escobar.

Now, four months later, they've traded Escobar away, for a significantly older, but steady, journeyman.


Hang on, because in another way, this Escobar-Alex Gonzalez trade makes all the sense in the world. And not just because Gonzalez is leading Escobar in 2010 home runs, 17-0.

Sure, that's part of it, and that's what Braves general manager Frank Wren chose to emphasize in his statement announcing the trade.

"We've been looking at ways to strengthen our club offensively, and Alex Gonzalez is a proven veteran player who gives us added power," Wren said.

True enough, and the Red Sox will tell you how much last year's midseason trade for Gonzalez stabilized their infield and was a huge key in carrying them to the playoffs.

But let's be serious. To trade 27-year-old Yunel Escobar for 33-year-old Alex Gonzalez is to acknowledge that Escobar wasn't becoming the player the Braves thought he was.

More than that, it's to acknowledge that Escobar just didn't fit.

As one veteran Braves scout likes to say about some players he sees, "Not an Atlanta Braves type of player."

You know what, Yunel Escobar was not an Atlanta Braves type of player. More and more, that was showing.

There was the time earlier this season in New York, when Escobar inexplicably failed to tag up at third base on a fly ball, in effect costing the Braves a game. There was the time last week in New York, when he lazily tossed a ball to first base, throwing into the runner and nearly getting first baseman Troy Glaus first.

There were the times he was more concerned about his own errors than with whether the team was winning or losing.

He may still develop into the player the Braves thought they had. The talent is there. The Blue Jays, still trying to build for some sort of future, can afford to take that chance.

But in Atlanta, Escobar was developing more and more into a guy who was "not an Atlanta Braves type of player."

Alex Gonzalez isn't the future in Atlanta, but by all accounts he is "an Atlanta Braves type of player."

He fits in, and unlike Escobar you can be sure that he won't be giving manager Bobby Cox fits in Cox's final months in the Braves dugout.

It's strange to say, but a Braves team with Gonzalez at shortstop has a better chance of sending Cox out as a winner than a Braves team with Escobar did.

And what about next year, when Cox is gone?

Well, the Braves will have a new manager, but they don't plan to have a new philosophy. They still plan to build around "Atlanta Braves type of players."

They won't be building around Yunel Escobar.
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