MILWAUKEE Aramis Ramirez is officially a Milwaukee Brewer.
The team introduced the 33-year-old third baseman Wednesday during a press conference at Miller Park, and his powerful bat could go a long way to filling the void left by departing free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder.
A career .284 hitter, Ramirez is also a two-time All-Star, has reached 100 RBI six times in his career, hit 30 home runs four times in his career and has four three-homer games under his belt; accomplishments Brewers GM Doug Melvin was quick to address in his introductory remarks.
"He's got some pretty impressive credentials and numbers," Melvin said.
Against Milwaukee, he has a career average of .269 with 34 home runs and 114 RBI.
"When we played him, he was the one guy I always feared in key situations with men on base," Melvin said. "We're really happy that he's on our side."
Ramirez spent the last eight-plus seasons with the Cubs and hit .294 with 239 home runs and 836 RBI. When it became apparent the Cubs weren't going to re-sign him, staying in the National League Central was a priority, as did playing for a winning team. The Brewers, in need of some pop in their lineup with Fielder all but certain to leave and with left fielder Ryan Braun facing a possible suspension, were a natural fit.
"We're getting one of the top 25 active sluggers in the game today," Melvin said. "He's a good pure hitter. A lot of doubles, home runs. I think our ballpark is suited for his type of swing."
Playing in Miller Park, with its controlled climate and convertible roof, added to the appeal for Ramirez.
"I just don't like the cold weather," he said. "I'm from the Dominican, an island."
Melvin's courtship of Ramirez began last month during the MLB owners meetings in Milwaukee. He had several discussions with Paul Kinzer, Ramirez's agent, during that week, but the sides weren't able to agree to a deal at that time.
They talked again later on, when Ramirez traveled to California to meet with another team. The Brewers then set up a meeting between Ramirez, Kinzer, owner Mark Attanasio and manager Ron Roenicke. The discussions continued during the winter meetings in Dallas, and the parties finally came to an agreement last weekend, settling on a three-year deal worth approximately 36 million, according to published reports.
In Milwaukee, Ramirez will likely hit fourth, taking the spot held for the past five years by Fielder. Ramirez has good offensive numbers he hit .306 with 26 homers last season to Fielders .299 and 38 homers -- but knows he'll have big shoes to fill.
"It's a 25-man roster," said Ramirez, who will be part of a revamped infield that will include new starters at third base, shortstop (Alex Gonzalez) and first base (likely Mat Gamel). "You can't replace Prince Fielder. He's one of the best hitters in the game. It's hard to replace that. I want to do my best, what I'm capable of. I'm not going to try to do what I can't."
Ramirez doesn't see the loss of Fielder will have a negative impact on the Brewers' chances to win in 2012, and moving forward.
"Not really," Ramirez said. "I think you win with pitching, and the pitching is intact. You've got K-Rod, a good closer and a good five-man rotation. That's how you win games. Of course, you have to score some runs, but the key to winning is pitching.