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by Derek Smart
I don't have a cohesive bone in my body today, so I'm likely to toss up quick vignettes like this as the mood strikes me.
We got a pretty good look last night at what the Cubs give up defensively when sporting their ideal offensive left side of the infield. The play that comes to mind in particular is Craig Biggio's base hit in the first inning, where a weakly hit ball found the exact spot between Aramis and Nomar that their range would not allow them to cover.
That play, along with a few others, was also a solid illustration of how a ballpark can affect a game's outcome. Had that ball been hit at Wrigley with its long, slow infield grass, it's not unreasonable to think that Ramirez might have made a play on the ball (no matter what, Nomar was going to be too deep in the hole to get an out). As it was, the little bugger scooted into the outfield and the ducks began to nibble away at Glendon Rusch.
Of course, the ugly truth is that, while it's a potent offensive group, the Cubs' infield as originally conceived and currently configured is at best a weak defensive unit - even considering Derrek Lee's excellence. Ramirez has been bringing that point home a lot lately (although, some blame goes to his quad and some goes to his brain), and seeing a direct comparison between Todd Walker and Mark Grudzielanek over the weekend was not without its pain.
Aramis isn't going anywhere - he could practically boot a ball a day and you'd still have to consider stomaching the incompetence in exchange for his bat - but I find myself wondering if there isn't a better idea to be found up the middle. The problem in this, for me at least, is twofold, because on the one hand I really like both Nomar and Walker, and on the other, there aren't exactly an endless sea of available free agent or in-house options.
It's going to be one of the big issues this offseason, but I have a feeling it will be resolved quickly in favor of what, at the moment, is the status quo. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, only that I hope all the options are appropriately weighed.