The dead period in sports, also known as February, is on the verge of becoming a lot more interesting. With temperatures reaching 60 in some areas of Chicagoland this past Tuesday, signs of spring are everywhere you look. Perhaps no signs bigger than the what's taking place in Arizona. On Friday the Cubs will start reporting to training camp, and will be followed by the White Sox on Saturday which means sunshine and baseball are just around the corner.
Which also means it's time for baseball discussions that have no real answer, but are still fun to debate none the less. The Chicago Sun-Times Chris DeLuca got things started by proclaiming that White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez is the best baseball player in the city.
Ramirez, 27, who cut his teeth playing in the rough-and-tumble world of the Cuban league, not only is one of the most underrated players in the majors, but he doesn't get the attention he deserves in Chicago.
When scouts talk about the elusive five-tool player, look no further than Ramirez. He has speed, a strong arm and can hit for power and for average. And when it comes to defense, he looks good in center field, second base or -- his best position -- shortstop.
It's hard to argue De Luca's proclamation, though Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto are pretty close to Ramirez. All they lack are the wheels. According to the survey that accompanies the article, the city agrees, as Ramirez has garnered 60% of the vote with Carlos Quentin and the always popular Other tied for a distant second with only 12% (as of when this article was posted) of the votes.
Also, even though it's pretty accepted fact that Cubs fans outnumber White Sox fans in Chicago, the White Sox are winning just about every other poll question. Mark Buehrle edges out Carlos Zambrano as Chicago's game seven starter (no question Big Z has better stuff, but his playoff performances no doubt hurt his chances), while Bobby Jenks is a belly ahead of Carlos Marmol as the one man fans want to get their team out of a jam. Also, Ozzie Guillen has a 56% to 43% advantage over Lou Piniella for game seven manager.
The only question in which a Cubs player leads is the most clutch player in the city, which Aramis Ramirez is beating out Alexei by 5% of the votes. Consider this further proof that despite the rivalry, Chicago baseball fans are just as smart, if not smarter, than any other fans in the country.
Along with writing for NBCCHICAGO.com, Tom Fornelli can also be found contributing at FanHouse, SPORTSbyBROOKS, and his own Chicago sports blog Foul Balls. Though he's never been called a five-tool player, he has been called a tool.