Brewers should make next pitch to Ramirez

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Michael Hunt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Friday, December 9, 2011
— Having Albert Pujols off the schedule for at least 18 games a year does not make up for losing Prince Fielder behind Ryan Braun for 162, give or take.

Almost, though, considering how Pujols destroyed the Brewers in the NLCS and pretty much any other time that monster stared down one of their pitchers.

At least its a major consolation prize for the Brewers, who still must do something to protect their National League MVP in the lineup.

Signing Aramis Ramirez wont compensate for losing Fielder, but its about as close as the Brewers are going to come in making up for that hole blown in the middle of their order.

And close just might be enough now that Pujols is out of the division, as well as the league.

If the money is right, signing Ramirez to play third base and hit fourth could be among the best personnel moves Doug Melvin has made, which is saying something.

Ramirez fields the position better than incumbent Casey McGehee, vital for a team that did not catch the ball befitting a contender last season. Defense is even more important when its still unclear if Mat Gamel, Corey Hart or somebody else is going to be playing first base by the time the 2012 season turns serious.

The only infield defensive given at the moment is Rickie Weeks. Bargain-basement shortstop Alex Gonzales should be a defensive upgrade of Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop, but well see with this bridge move. Ramirez is guaranteed to make half the infield whole.

Defense is not an option if the Brewers wish to remain a National League player, but signing Ramirez would make such a nice fit in the first post-Fielder season. He cant completely compensate for the big guys bat, but no one out there within the budget could fill that massive hole any closer than Ramirez.

Signing Ramirez would allow the Brewers to come about as close as they could to maintaining their contending status through at least 2012.

He would hit a lot of home runs at Miller Park. His slugging and on-base percentages were high last season. He hit better than .300, drove in almost 100 runs and knocked 26 baseballs out of the park.

That is enough to ensure hittable pitches for Braun. Maybe not the same ones he had grown accustomed to in front of Fielder, but enough that the Brewers could again be the scourge of the NL Central, especially with Pujols gone.

Meanwhile, its taken this long in the column to mention that Ramirez was a longtime Cub, like that matters.

It wont take him long to adjust to an organization dedicated to winning and the comfort of its players in a modern environment.

Chances are, he would be pleased about a warm roof over his head, 21st-century conveniences and ownership that has a clue. He would like and respect the manager. He would bring no personal baggage to a largely issueless clubhouse.

He would no doubt enjoy a place where success is a higher priority than selling a dumpy, old tourist trap repackaged as charm.

Better than all that, Ramirez should fit the Brewers like no free agent has in a while. He would help keep them in the playoff conversation.

The Brewers will bring back a pitching staff that is long since over the shellacking the Cardinals gave them, pretty much like the Cardinals gave everybody. They would be set everywhere except maybe center and definitely at first.

They will even have the worlds most expensive setup guy. There are no rules that require the Brewers to take better care of John Axford, who, as a closer, remains subject to the whims of the games most unreliable position. Still, Id throw him something a little extra, just to make sure he feels appreciated.

Should he become a Brewer, Ramirez would definitely be appreciated around here in the first post-Fielder season, and most assuredly the first post-Pujols season. The feeling should be mutual.

Last updated: 7:09 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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