Aramis Ramirez

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.

Diamondbacks name Dan Haren as pitching strategist

PHOENIX - APRIL 05:  Starting pitcher Dan Haren #15 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the San Diego Padres during the Opening Day major league baseball game at Chase Field on April 5, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Padres 6-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Diamondbacks announced on Tuesday afternoon that former major leaguer Dan Haren has been named the organization’s new pitching strategist. The role will include working with the front office, the major league coaching staff, and the analytics department.

Haren, 36, ended his 13-year playing career after the 2015 season. He finished with a 153-131 record and a 3.75 ERA across 2,419 2/3 innings.

Since retiring, Haren has been one of the more enjoyable players to follow on Twitter. He promised to teach his disciples how to tweet as part of his new responsibilities.

Pablo Sandoval is in the best shape of his life

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For a guy who won a World Series MVP Award and has been to a couple of All-Star Games, it’s amazing how many stories have been written about Pablo Sandoval‘s off-the-field exploits compared to his on-the-field exploits. Specifically, stories about his conditioning. Or lack of conditioning. Of him getting into shape, falling out of shape and getting back into shape again. It’s been this way since he emerged as an everyday player in 2009.

And it continues anew:

There is no claim here that Sandoval is, in fact, in The Best Shape of His Life. However, longtime BSOHL fans know that the claim is not about the magic words being used. The idea is that, in the offseason, players with something to prove will routinely make an effort to create the impression that they are a new man. Often it is from claiming that one is in The Best Shape of His Life. Often it comes from surrogates talking about how many pounds of fat one has lost or pounds of pure muscle one has added. Sometimes — as here — it comes in the form of showing post-workout photos.

Whatever the purpose of the photo, Sandoval is certainly looking good compared to where he was last spring:

FORT MYERS, - MARCH 14: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox makes the throw to first on the ground ball from Jason Rogers (not in photo) of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fourth inning of the Spring Training Game on March 14, 2016 at Jet Blue Park at Fenway South, Florida. The Pirates defeated the Red Sox 3-1. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Or at the end of the 2015 season:

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 31: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox warms up prior to the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on August 31, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won the game 4-3. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Even if this is part of a plan to get Sandoval some good press heading into the 2017 season, I’m happy to see that he appears to be recovered from shoulder surgery and appears to be taking good care of himself and is thinking about his baseball futrue.

Either way, expect the Panda Weight Watch to continue at Red Sox spring training come February.