Kris Bryant and Javier Baez will now have to battle for the number 2 spot when it comes to popularity, because Manny Ramirez is taking the field in Des Moines today. When I first wrote about Manny signing with the Cubs, I was still getting over my initial thought that it was a bad joke.
And now, barely more than a month later, it still seems a little unreal. I mean, I've been clamoring for a strong veteran presence at Wrigley all season, but this isn't exactly what I had in mind. And my compatriot, Justin Jabs, just wrote about the possibility (far-fetched though it may be) of the Cubs going after a big bat at the deadline.
But Manny Ramirez is no longer a big bat, despite the monster blast he launched in extended Spring Training ball. Nor is he going to be playing at Wrigley, at least per Theo Epstein's repeated statements (and we can always take the Cubs' brass at face value, right?). And then there's the matter of getting popped for 'roids...twice.
But the second time was just for Clomid, which he might have been taking in order to increase his virility in order to have a 3rd son named Manny (yes, he's already got two: Manny Jr. and Manuelito "Manny"). That's plausible, as all the Colts fans will tell you is the reason Robert Mathis was so unfairly persecuted by the No Fun League.
Some have speculated that Manny's in Iowa to teach the youngsters how to juice properly, but that'd be like hiring Bernie Madoff to teach your brokerage firm how to run a Ponzi scheme. Lord knows he's not there to teach the kids how to hustle, which is probably why he's nowhere near Jorge Soler.
So what's he really there to do? Is it to impart some of his 42-year-old wisdom to the Cubs' sluggers of the future or to absorb some of the harsh glare of the spotlight? Or both? If this was merely another publicity stunt, it'd be taking place 340 east of Principle Park, with its uber-quaint address of One Line Drive.
If you'll indulge me in a a moment of tangential rambling, I just have to say that that has got to just be the quintessence of "quaint." If that's not the most perfect summary of the soul of minor-league baseball, I don't know what is. Maybe a dread-locked has-been getting shoe-horned into a lineup with swoon-worthy prospects?
But in the interest of full disclosure (as if you couldn't just get the information in a Patrick Mooney post), Manny's debut will actually come 1,077 miles west of West Addison, during at least one half of a twin bill against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, a team with the disappointingly blase street address of 4385 Tutt Blvd.
Perhaps that's fitting though, as many a tut-tut rippled through Cubdom at the news that Manny would be being Manny for their team, or at least one of its offspring. And it's probably just as well, since the request for media credentials would likely be unlike anything Iowa's staff has ever seen. It was bad enough for Kris Bryant's debut, which I understand the great Carrie Muskat was on hand to witness.
You know things aren't going well when the Cubs.com beat writer gets sent to the AAA team to cover that game rather than the big league team's contest. Or maybe that's a sign that things will be going well, if only in the as-yet-to-be-determined future. But is it too much to ask of a hopelessly neurotic fanbase to fawn over their two transcendent prospects AND frown over the impact of a disgraced 12-time All-Star?
All season, fans have been treating Kris Bryant, not to mention Javy Baez, like a baby. But can they expect Manny to be, well, a manny (that's a mashup of "man" and "nanny" for those of you not hip to the popular nomenclature) for these kids? And how many questions can I write without actually answering any? That's eight so far by my count.
Well, let's just see if we can remedy that right quick: no, not entirely sure, yes and yes (kind of dual question that I still only counted as one), yes (by nature of the last two both being yes), no (because awesome zombie apocalypse jerseys are more representative of the heart and soul of the minors), no, I kinda doubt it, and eight (I already answered that, but I'm not above giving myself credit twice). Kudos to you if you actually followed along.
I've been critical of Crane Kenny's clown college and their consistent bungling of business matters, but this isn't a business deal; this came strictly from the baseball perspective. Theo Epstein is hardly infallible, but he's earned the benefit of the doubt with his past decisions, many of which have involved reclamation projects (not a word, E-Jax haters; everyone laments that deal, so we're taking a mulligan).
Listen, I'm no genius (quiet, peanut gallery). Hell, I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn last night; it was a Hyatt Place, and I was only there for about 5 hours at that. But I am really good at parenthetical continuations of thought, along with being a fairly well-grounded and realistic optimist.
That said, I do think Manny can do some good for the I-Cubs. Given the makeup of Baez and Bryant, particularly Bryant, I don't see this as a move that can possibly be detrimental. Ramirez knows what he's there to do and the Cubs have made things clear so that their players and fans maintain expectations as well.
At it's worst, this is a failed minor league contract that goes nowhere. At it's best, Manny aids in the further development of players who could soon join or overtake Castro and Rizzo as organizational corner pieces. The latter is certainly ideal but the former is purely innocuous.
At the end of the day, I doubt this will have any real impact on the futures of the players at Iowa. But it'll sure as hell be fun to watch. So go on, Manny, give me something more to write about.
Follow me on Twitter: @DEvanAltman
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Filed under: Minor League News