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.

Must-read: A profile on former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, currently in jail for alleged murders of three men

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Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.

Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.

Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.

Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.

Pedro Martinez: “If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him.”

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On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.

Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:

If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.

Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.

Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.

The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.