Cubs analyst Todd Hollandsworth slams Aramis Ramirez

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Whether’s it’s Manny, Hanley, Ramon or now Aramis, slamming a Ramirez is simply the in thing to do in baseball these days.

Cubs analyst Todd Hollandsworth, who works in the studio for Comcast Sportsnet, decided to take on Aramis Ramirez on “The McNeil and Spiegel Show” this morning.  The Chicago Tribune has the quotes:

When you’ve got your best player — he’s your best hitter, we’ve watched it for years now — and you can’t seem to have a positive effect on the guys around you in your clubhouse, getting them to step up or play to a different level, it’s just hard for me to swallow, especially when you’re being paid to be that guy.

Then you bring into question effort and that’s one thing in the game of baseball that really is inexcusable. One hundred percent effort all the time, there’s really no reason for you not to have 100 percent effort. He’s got impressionable kids around him right now: Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, these kids are growing up, they’re watching it and you know what, they’re not getting any better.

How much better are they supposed to get, Todd?  Barney has performed better as a rookie than his minor league numbers suggested he would.   Castro made the All-Star team as a 21-year-old sophomore.  If Hollandsworth is saying that they haven’t gotten any better from April through August, then maybe he has a point.  But who makes judgments based on such things?

Ramirez has taken more than his fair share of criticism this year.  He got off to a terrible start, he opted out after being asked to the All-Star Game as a last-minute replacement and he decided to use his no-trade clause rather than accept a trade that might help the Cubs in 2012 and beyond.

Yet, here he is in mid-August with 21 homers and 71 RBI.  In a year in which pretty much every NL third baseman has gotten hurt, he’s played in 110 games and posted an .830 OPS.  The only third basemen with higher OPSs are Pablo Sandoval, Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rodriguez, and two of those guys have missed big chunks of the season.

Maybe Ramirez could be a bigger influence in the clubhouse, but the Cubs knew exactly what kind of person he was when they re-signed him after the 2006 season.  It was the second big contract they gave him, and he’s lived up to it with his play on the field.  To suggest that he’s the problem just doesn’t make any sense at all.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.