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SportsMonday: Cut A-Ram. Now.

It would be such an awesome statement to give King Casual the boot before he can infect Starlin Castro with any more of his "why bother to go 100 percent when you can hit 30 home runs" attitude - except he can't hit 30 home runs anymore.

Yes, Ramirez hit a two-run homer on Sunday and he saved a game recently with a diving play in the field, but those rare highlights only make more stark the fact that he hasn't been able to rouse himself to play hard game in and game out even in his contract year - the last of a five-year, $75 million deal.

Haven't we seen enough?

Supremely talented slackers like Ramirez can usually be counted on to raise their games when there is money on the line. Not so for Ramirez, who could line up a decent payday with a merely decent season.

But he's even too lazy to chase dollar bills.

Meanwhile, Ramirez has pissed off fans yet again with his refusal to run hard to first on ground balls he hits and to go all out after ground balls (i.e., dive) in the field more than once in a blue moon. Though he "saved at least one run with a diving grab" against the Phillies last Thursday, Ramirez long ago stopped being a plus player defensively.

And what a coincidence it was that a story leaked recently that Ramirez was nursing a tight hamstring. No wonder he hasn't been running out ground balls! Now what explains the rest of the time?

"I don't want to make excuses," he told the Sun-Times.

And then he did.

'It's harder when you get older. It happens to everybody,'' he said.

He is 33.

''Especially playing a lot of day games . . . "

But I don't want to make excuses.

" . . . and it doesn't help when it's cold and raining and 30 degrees every day.''

But I don't want to make excuses.

* * *

So why not just trade him? Because that will be nearly impossible.

His delightful contract, yet another Jim Hendry masterpiece, requires that his option be vested if he is traded. So any team acquiring him this year would be on the hook for another $16 million in 2012. No team is that stupid.

Besides that - if you can believe A-Ram's agent - he isn't inclined to waive the no-trade clause that Hendry so generously agreed to.

The Cubs are likely to buy out A-Ram's contract for 2 mil at the end of the year anyway, so why not just let him go now?

Throw your fans a bone. Make a statement about playing the game with determination. Dump him and say to Starlin that "This way is absolutely not the way to play the game."

It would be so easy. Why am I so sure you won't do it?

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Comments welcome.

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1. From John Harrold:

Hey, lay off of Aramis Ramirez. You seem to forget that he has the extra burden of having to worry about his cockfighting endeavor too.


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