Now Batting for the Iowa Cubs, Player-Coach...Manny Ramirez?

Now Batting for the Iowa Cubs, Player-Coach...Manny Ramirez?

The Cubs' moves just keep getting curiouser and curiouser. Upon reading the headline of Patrick Mooney's post, I first blinked a couple times to clear my vision. Then I checked the calendar: yep, still Memorial Day and not April 1st.

That's right, folks: the Cubs have signed Manny Ramirez to a minor league deal that will make him a player-coach for the AAA Iowa Cubs. Yes, that Manny Ramirez; the man who was popped for juicing, who seemed at times to be oblivious to the game going on around him, who once disappeared into the outfield scoreboard at Fenway.

But speaking about Man-Ram on Sunday morning, Cubs president Theo Epstein described him as both a “gifted teacher” and a “tireless worker who is very serious about the craft of hitting.” I can't speak for the first of those superlatives, but the latter is certainly true. I mean, dude swatted 555 HRs and hit .312 over a career that stretched 19 years.

When I first heard the news, I pictured Theo as some sort of gonzo marketing vigilante, stroking his chin with a maniacal laugh, saying, "How can I take the attention away from the mess the jackasses on the business side have made? I know: Manny!" My little thought bubble was quickly butst, however, when I read these words from Epstein:

“While Manny is not and will not be a fit on the Cubs’ major-league roster. We do think at this stage of his life he’s a nice fit as a mentor for some of the young talented hitters we have in the organization. Manny will coach full-time and play part-time in a limited role that does not take at-bats away from our prospects.

“If he shows there is still some magic in his bat, perhaps he will find his way to the major leagues and help another team. But that is not why he is here. We are thrilled that he wants to work with our young hitters and make a difference.”

Okay, whew, this does appear to be a move aimed at helping the young players and not simply at sending a much-needed jolt of excitement into the major league team. I mean, gimmicks with the decade celebrations and all the decorations at Wrigley are one thing, but bringing in a big name just for the sake of novelty would be so much worse.

Now, when it comes to the Cubs bringing in disgraced sluggers, Manny Ramirez isn't the first name that comes to mind. I wonder what Sammy Sosa's thinking right now; maybe he's been too busy getting facials and building his Pinterest following to notice, but I'm guessing he might be a little miffed. Oh well.

But for his part, Ramirez seems to be totally on board with his role as a teacher and isn't viewing this as some sort of opportunity to recapture his former glory. And I think it's his willingness to take on this, I don't know, challenge, that surprised me most of all.

“I’m at the stage of my life and career where I really want to give something back to the game that I love — the game that has meant so much to me and done so much for me and my family. I know I am nearing the end of my playing days, but I have a lot of knowledge to pass on to the next generation — both what to do and what not to do.

“The Cubs have some very talented young hitters, and I would love nothing more than to make a positive impact on their careers. I am passionate about baseball and about hitting, and I have a lot to offer. While I would love to return to the major leagues, I leave that in God’s hands. My focus will be on working with the young hitters, making sure they don't make the same mistakes I made, and helping the team any way I can.”

Much has been made of the Cubs' lack of veteran leadership and the fact that the team is becoming ever more reliant upon youngsters to lead it. Perhaps this is a way to bridge that gap without impacting the development of those players in the minors and without making Wrigley any more of a circus than it already is.

And now players like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant won't be the biggest names in the minors for the Cubs, though they're still clearly the most sought-after ones. Maybe this move can take some of the pressure off of those players as they develop, although Bryant certainly doesn't seem to be suffering any ill effects from the high expectations.

Sure, it's an experiment. But with little to no risk, it's one that really can only help. Okay, it might do nothing. So why not, right? I mean, what's the worst that could happen? On second thought, don't answer that.

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  • Interesting move on the CUBS part. Perhaps just what they need, not only for Baez and Bryant, but also for Vitters and Jackson.

  • In reply to PANAMALIMITED:

    I don't think he or anyone can do anything with Jackson.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Maybe they can hire Roger Clemens as an instructor.

  • This topic has turned (at least on the radio) to "What is Manny getting out of this?" and "Isn't he still under a 100 game suspension?" Also, why is he a "player" coach instead of just an instructor, and especially why, according to cubs.com "Ramirez will report to the Cubs' spring training facility in Mesa, Ariz., for at-bats in extended spring training before joining Iowa." Did Mark McGwire have to go to spring training before becoming a hitting coach? Does Baez have to wait until Manny gets his swing back before getting any instruction?

    Theo says that Manny isn't getting on the Cubs roster, but he is apparently trying to get onto someone's.

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    I'm sure he's trying to get onto someone's roster, but I'm okay with that. I know that my fellow NJ-SP HS alumnus, David Haugh, is not on board with this, but I say why the hell not. I suppose you can run into chemistry issues (pun intended), but the guy was a great hitter regardless of pharmaceutical assistance. If he can help Baez with pitch recognition and maybe impart a little wisdom, it's a good move. I have to think the worst outcome is a wash, but we'll see.

    But at least it's a baseball move that's making news, rather than another asinine play from the biz side of things. My understanding is that the 100-game suspension deals only with MLB and not MiLB, but I could be wrong there. However, I thought that was part of the conversation when he was booted, that he could sign a minor league deal and play during the suspension, as it applied to him sitting while actually on an MLB roster.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    The radio folks didn't have a coherent answer to the last one, and there was an implication that the retirement time counted against the suspension.

    I see that technically, A Rod is on the Yankees roster, but not the 40 man roster, and, of course, on the restricted list (mlb.com).

  • Manny Ramirez is my favorite player of all time. Ironically, the Cubs are my team. I keep reading conflicting stories about Ramirez and whether or not he is in fact with the Iowa Cubs or not.
    As of April 2015 he was but as of now {Dec 2015} I'm reading that he is NOT.
    If anyone reading this has accurate information on whether he is or is not going to be with the Iowa Cubs for 2016 will you please email me? I'd really appreciate it.
    jenn.robello67@gmail.com
    Thanks,
    Jennifer

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