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Yagyu+
06-04-2010, 05:12 PM
I caught this article a few days ago at Baseball Analysts (http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2010/06/fading_stars.php), but I didn't have the chance to post. It more or less addresses a subject of debate in this forum for the past few weeks.


A little over a month ago in a piece about Geovany Soto's hot start, I noted the following about the Cubs offense:

When your biggest problems are Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, there's hope.

Now, on June 2nd, the question has become "when your two biggest problems are Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez for the first third of the season, and you're 6.5 games out of a playoff spot as a result, is there still hope?". Lee is hitting a career-worst .232/.339/.366, while Ramirez, at .162/.227/.269, might be the very worst regular in baseball so far in 2010. Lee is not living up to his potential, Ramirez isn't living up to MY potential. Since I wrote the sentence above on April 29th, Lee has hit .252/.341/.365, Ramirez .169/.239/.241.

So, is there hope? For Chicago, given the strong play from those around Ramirez and Lee, the prospect of the two performing at anywhere near their career norms is tantalizing. Here is how Cubs regulars have performed thus far in 2010:


AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Soto .260 .409 .415 .376
Fontenot .324 .373 .481 .372
Castro .310 .355 .414 .334
Soriano .301 .368 .589 .414
Byrd .299 .340 .490 .366
Fukudome .294 .392 .490 .382

Lee is a career .283/.368/.500 hitter, while Ramirez put up a .292/.369/.539 line from 2006 to 2009. Add those two hitting the way they can and suddenly the Cubs have one of the best lineups in the National League. Will Ramirez and Lee turn it around? Let's take a look at some numbers that might offer a glimpse (the line drive numbers are from 2002 on).


BABIP LD% K% BB%
Lee '10 .275 23.0 23.8 13.7
Lee Career .322 21.3 23.1 11.3
Ramirez '10 .187 15.0 25.7 8.1
Ramirez Career .288 19.8 15.5 7.3

In Lee's case, I think we can safely expect significant improvement. He's hitting the ball hard, and his strikeouts and walks are in line with his career totals. If anything, Lee's peripherals presented above look better than his career numbers.

As for Ramirez, everything looks pretty ominous. He is striking out way more than he ever did, while only walking slightly more often, and not hitting the ball as hard as he has in the past. His .187 BABIP is ridiculously low so he's likely to improve - really, he cannot get any worse - but there's a chance Ramirez may not return to form in 2010. Given what we've seen from the third baseman thus far, I don't think it's premature for the Cubs to contingency-plan for 3rd base while looking out for signs of improvement from Ramirez over the next 30-50 games or so. Maybe the best available way to glean how Lee and Ramirez figure to play the rest of the year is by looking at their Rest of Season Zips projections on Fangraphs.


AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Lee .277 .363 .466 .366
Ramirez .265 .337 .460 .349

That Ramirez projection looks optimistic to me, but one can hope.

Even if Lee and Ramirez return to form, the rest of the lineup that has performed so ably to date for the Cubs might regress. There are no guarantees. The lesson of this Cubs season so far is that teams need their stars to perform in order to fulfill expectations. The Cubs remain within striking distance, but a 2-4 stretch with just 11 total runs scored over their last 6 games has made it painfully obvious that this Cubs offense needs a productive Lee and Ramirez to mount a playoff charge.

Tmo440
06-04-2010, 05:47 PM
I am so glad that we finally have some good young prospects in our minor league farm system because our players are getting old pretty quickly. Obviously, Lee and Ramirez aren't living up to expectations, and I think we should trade both of them now so we can get something in return. I am just happy that we have a farm system that can produce some major league ready talent. Does anyone know how Josh Vitters is doing in the minors?

hoggin88
06-05-2010, 12:33 AM
It's pretty sad when your all-star 3B is getting outhit by Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells 1/3 of the way into the season.

...and with full playing time. :sigh:

ty_smitty21
06-05-2010, 12:47 AM
I am so glad that we finally have some good young prospects in our minor league farm system because our players are getting old pretty quickly. Obviously, Lee and Ramirez aren't living up to expectations, and I think we should trade both of them now so we can get something in return. I am just happy that we have a farm system that can produce some major league ready talent. Does anyone know how Josh Vitters is doing in the minors?

Unfortunately, Vitters is NOT doing well this year in the minors. He was in high A ball, then moved up to AA ball and he hasn't been performing too well. He prospect status continues to decline. If Ramirez wasn't hitting .150, I'd say trade Vitters while his value is still high.

He may turn it back around. The talent is certainly there.

The rest of our system is solid. With our payroll and good system, we could be contenders again very soon IF and only IF the right moves are made.... get the right GM, get the right manager, and make the right trades. Even if we get rid of a FEW big contracts by next season, we will have money to play with. And next year the 3 C's will take over.. Colvin, Castro, and Cashner.

I'm not sure how Ramy declined so quickly, but it definitely doesn't look good.

ggross
06-05-2010, 12:52 AM
Unfortunately, Vitters is NOT doing well this year in the minors. He was in high A ball, then moved up to AA ball and he hasn't been performing too well. He prospect status continues to decline. If Ramirez wasn't hitting .150, I'd say trade Vitters while his value is still high.

He may turn it back around. The talent is certainly there.

The rest of our system is solid. With our payroll and good system, we could be contenders again very soon IF and only IF the right moves are made.... get the right GM, get the right manager, and make the right trades. Even if we get rid of a FEW big contracts by next season, we will have money to play with. And next year the 3 C's will take over.. Colvin, Castro, and Cashner.

I'm not sure how Ramy declined so quickly, but it definitely doesn't look good.

As I have suggested for a while now... they should strongly consider including Vitters in any package if he is in demand. IMHO he will not be a ML impact player... or anything resembling one.

Tmo440
06-05-2010, 01:01 AM
Is the only way to get Colvin at bats is if we move him to first base next spring, and does anybody think that he can play first? And also, do we keep Andrew Cashner as a Set up man? Because what we did with Jeff Samardja didn't work out.

cowboydoc45
06-05-2010, 01:15 AM
As I have suggested for a while now... they should strongly consider including Vitters in any package if he is in demand. IMHO he will not be a ML impact player... or anything resembling one.

I would be cautious in just jettisoning Vitters... remember McGhee, yeah, bet you wish he were still in the organization...


Is the only way to get Colvin at bats is if we move him to first base next spring, and does anybody think that he can play first? And also, do we keep Andrew Cashner as a Set up man? Because what we did with Jeff Samardja didn't work out.

I am almost to the point with Samrdzja (not sure about spelling, don't care enough) that he had his shot, has not translated, and probably missed out on a brilliant football career...

Reese's
06-05-2010, 01:47 AM
I say Lee is on the way down, while Ramirez is just still feeling the effects of last years injury.

semperfi
06-05-2010, 09:20 AM
.

Mell413
06-05-2010, 09:34 AM
I can only imagine what this offense can do if Lee and Ramirez were hitting for their career averages. It's unfortunate those two have forgotten how to hit. I keep thinking Lee is going to break out, but he hasn't done it yet. I've pretty much given up on Aramis this year. This team is probably in first if those two are hitting. The worst thing is that the division and the NL as a whole is winnable, but these two are killing us.

ggross
06-05-2010, 10:18 AM
I would be cautious in just jettisoning Vitters... remember McGhee, yeah, bet you wish he were still in the organization......


True, but McGehee never had any trade value whereas Vitters does. And I don't want to just give Vitters away. I know this sounds contrary to what they should be doing (selling older players), but I am just saying I would bet on Vitters not being an impact ML player and would be willing to trade him to someone betting otherwise if the deal was right.

CubbieSteve
06-05-2010, 10:27 AM
I say Lee is on the way down, while Ramirez is just still feeling the effects of last years injury.

I would buy that excuse if he hadn't come back from the shoulder injury last year and play well.

Ramirez's problems are a mystery to me. I just can't wrap my head around it. He's just been so god damn awful.