Yesterday was a big day for a couple of veterans. Speedster Juan Pierre, veteran of 14 big league seasons, decided to hang up his cleats. Pierre did not play all of 2014, so its easy to say his retirement was predictable. Also in the news, current Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez decided the 2015 season will probably be his last. A 17 year veteran, Ramirez has played his fair share of baseball, posting a .285 career batting average with the Pirates, Cubs, and Brewers. These two very different players are similarly winding down their illustrious careers at the same time.
Batting lead-off for this article, number 9, Juan Pierre. A bit of a journeyman, Pierre has played for the Rockies, Marlins (twice), Cubs, Dodgers, White Sox, and Phillies. Over the course of his career, Pierre has posted a .295 batting average, 614 stolen bases, and 2,217 base hits. Fun fact, Juan Pierre has swiped the 18th most stolen bases in MLB history. Known for being a favorite among the fans, he also led the league in games played five times ― with 162. Pierre made his MLB debut for the Colorado Rockies on August 7, 2000 as a pinch runner. How fitting. He was traded to the Florida Marlins two years later and in 2003, he led the National League in games played, at bats, stolen bases, sacrifice hits, and lowest strikeout percentage. In 2005, Juan Pierre was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Ricky Nolasco and prospects; ironically, he was teammates with Aramis Ramirez during that year.
As Juan Pierre’s career flourished, he continued to rack up big numbers on the base paths. After a three year stint on the Los Angeles Dodgers, serving as Manny Ramirez’ back up between his injuries and suspensions, he was but on the trading block and acquired by the Chicago White Sox for prospects. While on the South Side, Pierre nabbed his 500th career stolen base on August 5, 2010. On June 28, 2012, Pierre achieved an equally challenging feat, knocking in his 500th career RBI. The next season, Pierre decided to return to Florida, now the Miami Marlins, to finish his distinguished career.
Aramis Ramirez, unlike Pierre, is known for his intimidating bat. After making his MLB debut on May 26, 1998 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he struggled for the better part of two seasons up and down between the Majors and Triple-A. In 2001, he was given his first full look at the Major Leagues, and he made every at bat count. In his first full season, Ramirez smashed 34 home runs with a .300 batting average. In 2003 he was traded to the Chicago Cubs and eventually helped them advance to the famous 2003 NLCS. If you don’t already know, during Game 6 of this series, unsuspecting fan Steve Bartman reached over the railing to catch a meaningless foul ball, but only deflected it off course from its original flight path. Moises Alou, the left fielder at the time, vividly demanded that he had a legitimate chance to make a play, but Bartman interfered. This single moment swayed the momentum in favor of the Marlins, and they eventually defeated the Cubs and won the World Series.
Over the next decade, Aramis Ramirez slugged about 30 home runs and a .300 batting average. He was elected to the All-Star game twice, but he didn't need awards or popularity to secure his name as a premier slugger. Never known for his defense, Ramirez made up for it with his performances at the plate. He was rewarded with a 3-year $36 million dollar deal from the Milwaukee Brewers, and still remains as their starting third baseman today. With his upcoming retirement at the conclusion of the season, he will have put up a fantastic and honorable career.
It will be exciting to see how Aramis Ramirez preforms in 2015, and everybody will be holding their breath to see if he can go out with a bang. Lastly, congratulations to Juan Pierre for his retirement and best wishes for his life beyond baseball.