Christian:The only major leaguer ever named after a Musketeer settled in upon his arrival last year, forestalling the eventuality of crowning Mr. Post-Santo #100 at Wrigley Field's hot corner. With the amount of ink that's been spilled about this guy, discussing whether he'll ever amount to anything, it's instructive to note that he won't turn 26 until the middle of the season. Of course, it's also instructive to note that among his Baseball-Reference.com similar batters lurk such washouts as Fernando Tatis, Russ Davis, and the immortal Ray Jablonski. Those are not names that inspire confidence.
Those looking for positive signs should go back to the whole age thing, and also to some different names that show up on his PECOTA comps: Larry Parrish, Tony Perez, and George Scott. Of course, all three of those guys were off third base by age 29. Maybe A-Ram's future is on the other side of the diamond; if it is, it's also on another team, because he'd have to put up George Brett numbers to displace Derrek Lee.
Both PECOTA and ZIPS foresee Ramirez inching his way back to the numbers he flashed in his first full-time season, and I think that, if he flirts with 30 homers and a .500 SLG, Cubs fans will be deliriously happy.
Alex: I'm pretty optimistic on Ramirez, and am looking forward to seeing what he'll do over the course of a full season. Like Lee, he should benefit from Wrigley -- especially when facing lefties (think Pettitte), since he regularly smacks balls to left against southpaws. Speaking of Lee, could there be any player more excited about the Cubs' acquisition of Rodan than Ramirez? With his huge stretch and soft hands, Lee's presence alone will likely lower Aramis's error totals.
I do have to admit, though, that I can't quite figure out Ramirez's approach at the plate. His batting stance reminds me of a drunken bar patron who's just gotten off his stool, swaying slightly while trying to stand upright. Watching him over the last half of the season, he strikes me as a player who has a decent batting eye, but who hasn't parlayed that eye into a patient approach at the plate: he ranked 3rd lowest in the NL last year in pitches taken per at-bat. I remember reading somewhere that Ramirez was known as a patient type in the minors, so maybe that part of his game is still coming. If it ever does, he won't just be the best Cubs third sacker since Santo, he'll also be capable of putting up a couple Santo-like seasons with the bat.