Aramis Ramirez 'surprised' by criticism

Aramis Ramirez and his agent said they were "surprised" by the critical comments Chicago Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly made about the third baseman on Wednesday.

Brenly said on ESPN 1000's "Waddle and Silvy" show that it was probably best for the Cubs if Ramirez moved on next year and that he was not a good clutch hitter in 2011.

"This is the first negative thing that I've heard from anybody about my ability to produce on the baseball field," Ramirez told ESPNChicago.com from his home in the Dominican Republic. "This is the first time in 8½ years in Chicago I've heard that. Everyone during my time with the Cubs has been great to me. And the fans are the best there, they supported me and the other players when we were good and when we were bad. But I'm surprised that Bob would say those things now."

Ramirez, who will declare free agency following the World Series, is seeking a three- or four-year contract and is not ruling out a return to the Cubs. He led the Cubs with 93 RBIs this season and had 26 home runs and a .306 batting average.

"I said it before, the Cubs are one of my top choices if they want me back." Ramirez said. "I said this as well, that if they feel like they're going to be competitive, then I hope they make an offer to us. I'll see what they have in mind in the next few weeks."

The Cubs hold a $16 million option on Ramirez for 2012, but the player has his own option, which gives him the ability to declare free agency. Ramirez's agent, Paul Kinzer, who has already said that they will explore free agency, defended his client's statistics.

"Aramis' numbers with men in scoring position and all of his power numbers are in line with all the top players in the game over the past nine years," Kinzer said. "It surprises me that anyone would take issue with him now when he's almost a free agent. Aramis was treated with class and respect by everyone in the Cubs organization. He paid homage to the Cub fans by going to the Cubs Convention last year, knowing that it might be his last season with the team. He had a chance in the past to get more money and play in other cities, but chose to stay due to his affinity for the franchise, the fans and the city."

Ramirez had an opt-out clause in his contract that would have allowed him to be a free agent after the 2009 season, according to a major league source. However, he chose to stay with the Cubs at that time.

Another source confirmed that Ramirez left more years and more money on the table in an offer from the Los Angeles Angels when he signed his five-year, $75 million contract with the Cubs in November 2006.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.