Cubs honor Aramis Ramirez as 18-year career nears its end


Cubs honor Aramis Ramirez as 18-year career nears its end

Armies Ramirez spent the best years of his career on Clark and Addison, and before his final regular season game in Chicago was honored by his former club.

The 37-year-old Ramirez will retire after the 2015 season, ending an 18-year tenure in the major leagues with just shy of 400 home runs. He starred for the Cubs from 2003-2011 and was a key part of the team’s last three playoff appearances in 2003, 2007 and 2008.

Before Sunday’s game, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro presented the Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman with a No. 16 placard -- his number with the Cubs -- from the center field scoreboard to a warm round of applause from the Wrigley Field crowd.

“Any time they do something like that, you have to appreciate it,” Ramirez said. “That means they appreciate what I did here for a long time.”

[MORE: The Cubs are Anthony Rizzo’s playoff team now]

The Cubs acquired Ramirez and outfielder Kenny Lofton from Pittsburgh on July 23, 2003, a move that helped spur the team’s run to the National League Championship Series. Ramirez hit 15 home runs in 63 games for the Cubs in 2003, the first of 239 home runs hit with the Cubs. Ramirez, who made a pair of All-Star appearances (2005 and 2008), hit .294/.356/.531 with 806 RBIs from 2003-2011.

Ramirez began his major league career with Pittsburgh in 1998, and hit 34 home runs as a 23-year-old in 2001. He signed a four-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers after leaving the Cubs following the 2011 season and reached his third All-Star Game in 2014. The Pirates acquired him on July 23, exactly 12 years after trading him away to the Cubs.

“I’m pretty proud of what I did in my career, not only here in Chicago,” Ramirez said. “In Milwaukee, back in Pittsburgh. I’m proud every single moment in my career.”

Joe Girardi steps down as manager for Olympic qualifying team to pursue MLB openings

Joe Girardi steps down as manager for Olympic qualifying team to pursue MLB openings

Joe Girardi’s name has come up for just about every managerial opening in Major League Baseball and it sounds like he is all in on pursuing that opportunity.

Girardi was set to manage USA Baseball’s Olympic qualifying team. He was named the manager of Team USA in August. His first tournament was going to be the upcoming Premier12 tournament, which is the first chance to qualify for the Olympics. Camp was set to begin on Oct. 21 and the U.S.’s first game is Nov. 2.

Instead, Girardi has stepped down. USA Baseball broke the news with a press release that announced Scott Brosius, a former teammate of Girardi’s on the Yankees, will take over.

The reason is the interesting part. He stepped down “as he pursues open managerial opportunities in Major League Baseball.”

At the very least, it sounds like Girardi is interested in at least one of the openings in MLB. He interviewed with the Cubs last week so this won't quell any speculation that he would come back to the North Side as a manager.

David Ross may still be the odds on favorite to fill the Cubs’ vacancy, but Girardi’s apparent interest in rejoining the ranks of MLB managers is certainly noteworthy. One would think if Girardi wants to get back into managing in MLB, at this indicates, he will get a job. Now the question is where he will land.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream

Joe Maddon already has a new job, signs on with Angels

Joe Maddon already has a new job, signs on with Angels

Barring a Cubs-Angels World Series, the Wrigley Field faithful might not have much of an opportunity to welcome Joe Maddon back to The Friendly Confines.

It didn't take long for Maddon to find a job, as he reportedly agreed this week to join the Los Angeles Angels as their next manager. This was a widely speculated move after the Angels let go of manager Brad Ausmus just one year into a three-year contract immediately after the Cubs announced they were parting ways with Maddon. 

According to ESPN's Jesse Rogers, Maddon's deal will likely be for three years at $4-5 million a season:

Maddon came up as a coach in the Angels system, referencing his three decades there often during the course of his five years in Chicago.

Once the Cubs got rid of Maddon, it was obvious he would have plenty of suitors, as just about any team with a managerial vacancy would be interested in the future Hall of Famer. But instead of going to an up-and-coming team like the Padres or a squad on the cusp of the playoffs like the Phillies, Maddon opted to return to his baseball home.

That means he will most likely not face off against the Cubs over the next couple of seasons, as the Cubs hosted the Angels in 2019 and are not slated to play each other again until 2021 (which will take place in L.A.). Barring the aforementioned World Series meeting, Maddon and the Cubs likely won’t cross paths in Chicago for the next few seasons.

It also means Maddon will get to team up with the best player in the game (Mike Trout) and an exciting young two-way star (Shohei Ohtani) while inheriting a roster that otherwise has some major flaws. The Angels have struggled to build up a roster around Trout over his nine seasons, making the playoffs just once in 2014 and getting bounced from the ALDS by the Kansas City Royals that season.

But the Angels do have some intriguing prospects coming up the system — led by outfielder Jo Adell — and Maddon has experience taking a team and elevating them to contender status immediately. He also carries immediate clout that will help draw free agents to L.A., as he did in Chicago with Jon Lester.

Maddon will be reunited with former Cubs fan favorite Tommy La Stella, who was starring for the Angels earlier this season before a leg injury sent him to the shelf for several months.

In many ways, this is an ideal fit for Maddon, who will get to stay in a big market with a team willing to spend and a roster that at least has some incredible talent from Day 1. It would obviously be a difficult task to try to overtake the juggernaut Houston Astros in the AL West, but he accomplished a similar feat in Chicago when he led the Cubs past the Cardinals in Year 1 (and kept the Cards out of the playoffs for the next three years until their return to October baseball this fall).

The Cubs, meanwhile, have not yet announced a new manager, though David Ross still looms as the favorite to take over Maddon's former gig. Theo Epstein's front office interviewed Mark Loretta, Will Venable, Joe Girardi and Ross earlier this month and also planned to talk to Joe Espada and Gabe Kapler this week.

Epstein said the Cubs are "full speed ahead" to hire a new manager, so expect them to move quickly to finalize Maddon's heir.