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Astros History: Rafael Ramirez And Houston's Shortstop Quest

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In 1988, the Houston Astros made what would probably be considered a pretty gutsy move today. They traded two prospects to the Atlanta Braves for shortstop and offensive whiz Rafael Ramirez. That's not the gutsy part, as offensive shortstops don't grow on trees.

No, the thing that stood out about this was that Ramirez was a year away from free agency when Houston made the trade. Remember, the '88 Astros weren't exactly contending. They had won in '86, struggled for the next two seasons before settling into a pre-rebuilding mode until about '91.

In that respect, there are big parallels between the Ramirez trade and the Miguel Tejada deal. The reason we're talking about him here is he totaled 116 hits in '90, his last big season before becoming a part time player for Houston. Of course, he was also 32 that season, so it's not surprising he declined with age.

The thing is, Ramirez didn't exactly hit like an offensive whiz, in Houston or in Atlanta. He had a reputation as that guy, but he just didn't do many things in an outstanding way. He never won a Gold Glove, he never hit .300 and never had a slugging percentage over .400. His career line was .261/.295/.342, and in his time in Houston and Atlanta, his career OBP was under .300.

Houston didn't give up much for him, but Ramirez became the first in a long line of guys who would try to replace Craig Reynolds and Dickie Thon for the Astros. The names are familiar: Andujar Cedneo, Orlando Miller, Ricky Gutierrez, Tim Bogar, Pat Listach, Eric Yelding, etc., etc. None of them managed to do that, and in the 14 years between Ramirez and Adam Everett, only Cedeno started three or more Opening Days. It was just a revolving door at that spot.

Jed Lowrie appears to be the next in that line, and with this injury and Marwin Gonzalez' play, we may see more change next year. Let the shortstop carousel continue to spin.