Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Back in the 'Burgh Aramis Ramirez to Pirates Deal Might Seem Minor on Paper, but It's Huge in Perception

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Back in the 'Burgh Aramis Ramirez to Pirates Deal Might Seem Minor on Paper, but It's Huge in Perception

Article excerpt

Many Pirates fans have never recovered from the trade that sent Aramis Ramirez to Chicago for a few scrubs almost exactly 12 years ago. Just this week, I've heard from readers who still feel ownership refuses to invest enough in the team, even as it boasts the second-best record in the National League.

That perception endures in no small part because then-general manager Dave Littlefield basically salary dumped Ramirez, a guy who's gone on to become a fringe Hall of Fame candidate, and didn't even get useful prospects in return.

Of course, the Pirates have been a different organization for a while now. Gone are Littlefield and former owner Kevin McClatchy. In are current GM Neal Huntington and owner Bob Nutting, who have invested considerably in the minor league system and budding stars including Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Josh Harrison.

But that skepticism runs deep regardless, which means the Pirates' trade to re-acquire Ramirez on Thursday from Milwaukee is a big deal, regardless of how well the third baseman produces during his second tour here.

It says the Pirates are buyers rather than sellers. It says that those days of shedding good players purely to avoid paying them are long gone. It gives one of the darkest stories in the club's history a chance to finish with a happy ending.

That's the symbolism of the move. The substance of it is probably a little less impactful for the Bucs.

Ramirez is no longer the young slugger who went off for 34 homers in PNC Park's inaugural season. Now, he's a 37-year-old veteran whose power has diminished and who - despite a blistering past few weeks at the plate - is getting on base at just a .295 clip overall.

That's why the Pirates were able to acquire him and a few million bucks to pay his salary for the fungible prospect Yhonathan Barrios, a reliever who throws hard but has questionable command. …

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