Cubs

Its probably the end for Cubs, Ramirez

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Its probably the end for Cubs, Ramirez

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011Posted: 10:30 p.m. Updated: 11:30 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com Cubs Insider Follow @CSNMooney
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Aramis Ramirez rarely shows emotion. If this is it, then there should be no hard feelings. Hes a businessman who understands that he may have played his final game in a Cubs uniform at Wrigley Field.

Probably, yeah, theres a good chance, Ramirez said after Tuesdays 5-1 loss to the Brewers. Right now, I dont know whats going to happen. But it looks like Im going to hit the market.

Those are the strongest words Ramirez has so far said about his future.

The third baseman left the game with a mild quad strain after his at-bat in the sixth inning. It sounded doubtful that hed be ready by Wednesday, when the Brewers will try to cut their magic number to clinch the division down to two.

The Cubs are a team in transition. Jim Hendry who has a strong relationship with Ramirez showed up at Wrigley Field on Tuesday to see a few old friends before the Cubs leave for their final road trip of the season.

If Hendry hadnt been fired, then its likely he would be negotiating an extension with Paul Kinzer, whose clients include Ramirez, Starlin Castro and Geovany Soto.

Ramirez has met with his agent this week in Chicago, but they havent heard anything yet from upper management or the Ricketts family. The Cubs hold a 16 million option for 2012, which Ramirez can void to become a free agent.

I dont know what they want to do, Ramirez said. We dont have a GM, so I dont know who you talk to. I think were ready to move on.

Ramirez, who will turn 34 next year, said he thinks he can play three or four more seasons. Hes made quite a salary drive by hitting .306 with 25 homers and 92 RBI, positioning himself to be the No. 1 third baseman on the market.

Ramirez had been playing through the quad injury. He doesnt intend to shut it down for the final seven games.

Im going to do my best to finish the season, he said. Hopefully Ill play in St. Louis or San Diego.

Ramirez took a below-market deal when he signed a five-year, 75 million deal after the 2006 season. He knew a big-market team would spend the money to compete, but now no one is quite sure what direction the franchise will take. His family is comfortable here, and his preference is to stay in Chicago.

Ive been saying that all along, Ramirez said. Thats no secret to anybody. But it doesnt look that way right now. At least we havent heard anything.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: The bullpen falters twice. Is it time to call Craig Kimbrel?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: The bullpen falters twice. Is it time to call Craig Kimbrel?

Mark Schanowski, Mark Carman and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel.

0:00- The Cubs take 2 out of 3 from the D'Backs thanks to a surprisingly solid start from Tyler Chatwood. Should the Cubs trust him more than they trust Yu Darvish? Meanwhile, the bullpen falters twice. Is it time to call Craig Kimbrel?

12:00- The guys preview the huge series against the Dodgers at Wrigley.

16:00- The White Sox lose 2 of 3 in Detroit but Kap is still excited about the future.

20:00- The NBA Eastern Conference playoffs are becoming a fight. So who will win the East? And can anybody even threaten the Warriors?

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Cubs' pitching coming through with Jon Lester injured

Cubs' pitching coming through with Jon Lester injured

After starting the season 2-7 on the road, two weeks without Jon Lester looked like a possible death sentence for the Cubs. Instead, it now looks like a turning point.

Somebody needed to step up. Anybody. Bullpen or rotation, but preferably both. Well, that is exactly what happened and the Cubs are quickly back to the .500 mark at 10-10.

Jose Quintana was the first to accept the challenge, dominating the surprising Pirates with the eleven strikeouts and then seven shutout innings against the lowly Marlins in his next outing. He pitched "like a Porcshe" while attacking batters in both games with precision handling and it was contagious. Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood followed his lead while the bullpen turned around their production, too.

Our stats guru, Chris Kamka, offered up these facts to show the startling improvements.

In the first nine games, the Cubs' team ERA, starter ERA and reliever ERA all ranked 29th or worse in MLB. It's a team game, but it was obvious which part of the team was struggling. Over the last 11 games, everything has changed. Since that opening road trip from Hell, the Cubs have led the majors in all three categories. The relievers have posted a 1.85 ERA and the starters are at a blistering 1.66 ERA with six quality starts since Lester went on the injured list. 

Yes, it's a small sample size in a 162 game season. However, if we're going to overreact to a disastrous start, it's only fair to also hyperbolize this spectacular stretch. We asked for somebody to step-up. The Cubs' pitching staff did just that.    

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