Word on the street is that the Phillies have two guys at the top of their free agent wish list. The first name, Alfonso Soriano, is no surprise. He would be a more than adequate replacement for Pat “The Flat” Burrell.
The second name on the list is Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez, who could become a free agent if Chicago doesn’t sign him to an extension.
Ramirez puts up big numbers — .291 avg., 38 HR, 119 RBI – and will command a big payday. But he’s not a player the Phillies want on their team. He is, in a word, lazy. From the Chicago Tribune:
The perception that Aramis Ramirez was allowed to get away with not hustling was one Baker continuously fought, even as he insisted he spoke to Ramirez about it behind closed doors and even “jacked him up,” meaning he got in Ramirez’s face. If Ramirez returns, as expected, Piniella will have to make sure from the outset that the third baseman understands the importance of running hard on every ground ball. If he can’t handle that simple rule, take the money from some other team and run.
Now, I know that it can get frustrating playing for a losing team. And sometimes it’s hard to motivate yourself to leg out infield grounders when you know that the season is already lost. But Phils GM Pat Gillick needs to ask himself this: if Ramirez couldn’t find a reason to play hard in a contract year, what chance is there that he’ll give 100 percent after he signs a long term pact?
The Phillies don’t have enough money that they can afford to sign more than a few marquee players. Ryan Howard is going to require a big contract soon. Chase Utley will also need to get paid. Blowing big bucks on Ramirez, a guy who would get ruthelessly booed by Philly fans the first time he dogged a play, would be a big mistake.
The Phils should go balls out for Soriano. But if they don’t get him, there are other sluggers available besides Ramirez. And while the free agent 3B crop is thin, their are options. Word is the White Sox are shopping Joe Crede and there is an intriguing Japanese import looking for a team. Gillick should take a look at those guys. Ramirez isn’t right for the Phils.