I don't understand even the idea of not re-signing Ramirez. You mentioned a four-year deal is a stretch. Ramirez would only be 37 then and he has not showed any signs of dropping in production. He's led the Cubs in home runs and RBIs since he came here in 2003, aside from Derrek Lee's season in '05. There is no one in the Minor League system good enough to take his place in the near future, and there are not many all-around third basemen out there, either. To me, the Cubs are asking to lose if they let Ramy go. They would be losing half of their offensive production. Even when he has had injuries, he still leads the team in almost every offensive category. It's absurd to me. How many other third basemen have had numbers close to Ramirez since 2003?
-- Alycia T., DeMotte, Ind.
The Cubs were considering picking up Ramirez's $16 million option for 2012, but his agent told the team on Wednesday that the third baseman will test the free-agent market. Ramirez, 33, will be the best third baseman available this offseason and may get a three- or four-year deal from a team. You're right that the Cubs don't have an heir apparent. As I said Sept. 8: "The main question is whether he wants to stay with the Cubs." Evidently, he's answered that question.
What are the chances of seeing an outfield of Tyler Colvin in left, Brett Jackson in center and Bryan LaHair in right in 2012? That would give the Cubs young left-handed power that the team hasn't seen in years. Marlon Byrd's 35 RBIs in 460 at-bats in the middle of the order is pathetic.
-- Ron M., South Bend, Ind.
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The chances aren't real good. Alfonso Soriano is signed through 2014, so unless he's moved this offseason, he'll be back in left. Colvin (.154/.208/.313) has a lot of work to do. Jackson would have to wow the team this spring. Right field is risky for LaHair. Byrd has some work to do this offseason, and he admitted that on Wednesday, saying it's a mechanical thing. Said Byrd: "I'm sure it's an easy fix, and I'll get it done for 2012."
With all the talk about how bad the Cubs' average with runners in scoring position has been this year, I am curious to compare this year's to each of the past 10 years, but I can't find the stat anywhere.
-- Tim G., Burbank, Ill.
Here you go:
For comparison's sake, the National League West-leading D-backs are batting .252 with RISP this year, the East-leading Phillies are hitting .267 and the Central-leading Brewers are at .264.
With the Cubs' first-base situation next year, why is Mike Quade not letting LaHair show what he can do at his normal position?
-- John P., Swifton, Ark.
Quade wants to give Carlos Pena a chance to hit 30 home runs this year.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.