Posted: Wednesday August 30, 2006 12:23PM; Updated: Wednesday August 30, 2006 12:40PM
Aramis set to fly
Aramis Ramirez is telling friends that he plans to exercise an option to opt out of his contract with the Cubs, which would allow him to join Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee as the top positional free agents this winter. Ramirez, who has 31 home runs, 89 RBIs and a .287 batting average, is also telling people he'd love to go to New York, although for now the Yankees are saying there is no consideration being given to trading Alex Rodriguez, who's in a much-analyzed, inexplicable funk.
Wherever Ramirez goes, he should be able to top the $11 million annually he is slated to make. He's having a big finish, and it would make little sense not to capitalize on that even if it means he stays with the Cubs at an increased salary. The Astros, Rangers, Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox and Tigers could be among favored players for Ramirez. But, of course, the Cubs won't let him leave easily.
Around the majors
Ryan Howard has homered against nearly all of the Phillies' opponents this season.
Incredibly, Ryan Howard has homered against 18 of 19 opponents this year. The only team he didn't hit a homer against was the Pirates, against whom he is 2 for 19 with 11 Ks. For good measure, he did homer against ex-Pirates lefty Oliver Perez at Shea Stadium the other day.
Cla Meredith represents yet another Red Sox mistake this year. Meredith, who has 20 2/3 straight scoreless innings and an 0.98 ERA in the Padres' pen, was traded away when Boston became desperate to recover Doug Mirabelli, who's now forming one of baseball's worst catching tandems with Javy Lopez. Mirabelli's value is severely diminished when Tim Wakefield is out with injury, as is the case now.
Soriano is having a marvelous season and would be in the MVP conversation if Washington was in the race. But his concerted effort to get to 40 steals to reach the 40-40 club has been obvious in a couple of recent games. He has 34 in 47 attempts, not a bad percentage. But he recently stole second trailing 11-6. Another time, trailing 8-4, he stole third with two outs.
After Delmon Young was promoted Tuesday, one scout said, "He should have been up long ago. He's the first overall pick and he tears up Double A. He would have been the Devil Rays' best hitter two years ago.''
Mets ninth-round draft choice Jeremy Barfield, arrested last week after allegedly pushing his father and ex-big leaguer, Jesse, down a flight of stairs, told the Mets he intends not to sign and will go to college instead. It's the latest of several setbacks involving their 2006 draft picks.
I received an e-mail yesterday from the House Reform Committee trumpeting the last meeting of the Zero Tolerance Committee formed out of last year's steroid hearings, and I noticed that Curt Schilling was the only player who testified last year still participating. I was informed that Frank Thomas did occasionally participate and that Rafael Palmeiro's invitation was rescinded after he failed a test ("he was not on point''). But Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa contributed the same to the Zero Tolerance Committee that they did to the hearing: zippo.