How Will Aramis Ramirez Shake Up the Pirates Lineup?

Aramis Ramirez will make his Pirates 2015 debut tonight against the Washington Nationals. Ramirez will be batting in the cleanup spot, sandwiched between Andrew McCutchen and Jung-Ho Kang. Starling Marte has been moved back to the second spot in the order, a position that Clint Hurdle believes will allow Marte to be even more effective with his rare combination of speed and power.

“I think it gives us a chance to get other guys back into positions where they can be more themselves. Marte has done a fantastic job at hitting fourth,” Hurdle said in his pre-game meeting with the press. “That being said, that’s not where we want to keep the kid any longer than we have to.”

Ramirez is a player who has plenty of experience batting in the fourth spot of the batting order — over 4,000 at bats and a career OPS of .846 — and has spent much of the last three years with the Brewers hitting cleanup.

Hurdle referenced his usage of Justin Morneau in the 2013 season as a possible guide to how the Pirates will utilize Ramirez moving forward. Ramirez is a reliable presence in the middle of the lineup and a player who will provide the Pirates with quality at bats and the ability to produce runs at a high level.

“I believe in the pedigree, in the swing. I believe in the run producing abilities,” Hurdle explained. “I believe in what I’ve seen in the last six weeks and what I’ve seen against us for a long time.”

There were questions as to whether or not the 37-year-old’s bat was finally beginning to decline. Ramirez was hitting a low .222 through June and had an OPS of only .674, both career-low paces. However, his bat has heated up in July, batting .352 with a .922 OPS. Ramirez said he couldn’t identify what has changed since his slow start.

“I don’t know, I can’t explain,” Ramirez said. “My whole career I’ve been a slow starter. The first month was kind of tough for me, I couldn’t pinpoint why.”

It will be interesting to see how the Pirates will divide playing time when Josh Harrison returns from injury, something they have not shared with Ramirez to this point.

“I don’t know, I’m going to show up to work everyday,” Ramirez said. “I don’t make the lineup. I’ve been an everyday player my whole career since I’ve come up. I’m here to help. [Harrison] is a pretty good player, hopefully he get well soon. I’m just another piece. I’m here to help. I’ll be ready to play when they put my name [on the lineup card].”

  • I’m gonna throw this out there for your ridicule, but if we’re looking for a reliable guy we can get for no prospects who could probably be convinced to go to middle relief in exchange for a WS ring…

    Bartolo Colon.

    He gets first batters out. He doesn’t walk anyone. The Mets would love to dump his salary and would likely require little in return… hell, they might even take Tabata.

    Colon is better on short rest than long. He’s been better than average in late & close situations. He can spot start (although I wouldn’t throw him against the Cards who have his number in spades). And if you’re going to use him for more than an inning, he doesn’t even need to be pinch hit for.

    As far as ARam goes… hope we don’t see too many more GIDPs.

  • this team needs a front line starter and a relief pitcher (maybe Holdzkom could be that guy?) AJ is going to regress. What would it take to get an Andrew Cashner?? He’s still controllable. The Cubs are going to get Hamels or Price. The Dodgers will get Hamels or Cueto. NH needs to make a big move. A big bat or a top of a rotation type starter.

    • I would be interested in James Shields with SD picking up a big chunk of his deal (like 1/3rd)….I’d take Shields and Benoit in a combo deal. Many think another pitcher is a luxury, but I think it is what would be the smart add. We need a reliever, would be better with a different 1B, and certainly stronger with another SP.

      • # 1 priority 1st base. #2 priority lefty reliever who throws a decent off-speed pitch, #3 priority bench depth. That is it. There is no situation where getting a marque pitcher doesn’t cost way more than its worth. forget it

    • I’ll be surprised if they make a “big move.” NH has shown he is unwilling to get fleeced in a deal, and that’s what will need to happen to get a top line SP like Shields.

      • I don’t know…Shields is expensive and the Padres want out…they look desperate for wanting to trade him immediately after signing him. We will see what happens but I doubt he goes for the haul of prospects you might think.

        • Doesn’t really make any sense. I don’t understand why teams sign players to 4-5 year contracts and then the first year when the team struggles, they unload them. It baffles me, didn’t you get him for 2016-2017 and 2018 too? It seems like its a bait and switch for the fans, just like the Marlins did the year they opened their new park.

          • Yeah, I don’t understand these situations either….I mean they are essentially bailing out and have to expect to get less than what they paid…if someone would have paid more then they wouldn’t have got the free agent anyways.

      • We shall see soon enough what the market really is for a top end starting pitcher (not that I think James Shields is the same as Cueto)…Cueto was JUST traded to the ROYALS (as was rumored last night). We will see what the haul is…

    • People say this every year, and then without fail…..the teams that get those big pitchers and trade half the world to get them, end up getting .5 WAR for their efforts and generally don’t go anywhere. I don’t buy it

      • This is true. I just am more interested in seeing if we could take advantage of the Padres and their moron GM…a GM who gave away a ton to get nothing. Gave away the farm to acure a 70 inning reliever and also agreed to take Melvin Upton’s contract too. You don’t think THAT GM who is now in fire-sale mode couldn’t be convinced to take Tabata and give more salary relief on Shields and take a less than anticipated return?

        • No, because as bad as the initial moves were- a firesale of those moves just makes him look even more incompetent

          • While i agree, it sounds like they are thinking payroll wise and as such willing to move more than a few guys. Maybe not Shields, but multiple sources are saying SD is willing to sell on guys to get their payroll in a better place. Odd that SD is so willing to admit defeat, but its also really obvious that the moves they made didnt help.

            Funny how you need things like defense and a well rounded lineup as opposed to big names.

            • It sold season tickets so….mission accomplished? The trades really made no sense, its so funny to watch how the media fell all over them with excitement. If you want to go the 1990’s Marlins’ ways of winning a championship then sobeit, but you will end up with an empty stadium like them as well. Honestly, the only addition that made sense was Shields. If they want to trade someone it should be Kemp, maybe sell upton to Japan….

              • Idk, i didnt like it at all BUT i thought i could have worked. If Myers stays healthy and plays a non terrible CF, it helps a lot. SP still will be hurt by bad defense, but a healthy Myers maybe gets them closer to .500.

                But yeah, i dont see a realistic option that isnt fanboy unrealistic where that team is LAD/SFG good. Maybe they banked on SFG having a big down year…whoops.

            • BJ upton (the hell with this melvin crap, you still suck)

              • I think the play of Polanco during the entire month of July makes the need for a starting OFer far less needed. Healthy Harrison gets at bats in RF against LHP, so really you’re looking for a decent (and cheap) 4th OFer.

                Agree or not, July has likely saved Polanco from any talk of benching him.

  • Regardless of how well ramirez does or does not do the most glaring weakness for the pirates right now is middle relief. Neither caminero,guerra or bastardo has been consistently good so far, with the glut of pitching available this year the pirates can and should do better on the trade market than they have been getting from those guys.

  • I hope Hurdle isn’t rearranging the lineup for Ramirez, and I’m not following the reference to Morneau that only power he brought to the Pirates was four doubles down the line.

  • Since the break AJ has been smacked around…double digit hits allowed in both starts. Very uncharacteristic of AJ.

  • Cole Hamels just no hit the Cubbies…

    • And then gets traded to them tomorrow. Wouldn’t that be something.

      • Only two pitchers, I believe, have ever been traded the same year they had a no-hitter.

      • I really hope not, send hamels anywhere but the central. ( unless of course it’s to the pirates)

        • He and Lester would be a fierce, fierce 1-2 and both lefties! Add in Arrieta and that is a dynamite rotation…and they have the offensive pieces, even if they are a year away from being fully developed…scary good.

  • Gotta love the attitude from Ramirez, not a surprise really. I like Marte in the #2 spot, but with his contributions so far this year I would have considered strongly leaving him in the 4-spot. I think we will see Walker right behind Kang against righties on most nights. Maybe with Walker down in the order we will get better production from the lower part of our lineup…no more Jung Ho standing on base with no outs and never moving.