For the longest time, it seems, I have been advocating for the Cubs to add a veteran presence to the MLB roster.
I have been hoping for an accomplished player that can both insulate and guide some of the young talent to soon come through Chicago.
GM Jed Hoyer has alluded to doing just that recently in recent media visits; Hoyer even specifically mentioned Scott Rolen as a comp. The Reds did something to this affect by unexpectedly adding Rolen to their young-and-still-turning-the-corner squad at the trade deadline of 2009.
Well, for now, the Cubs did the next best thing.
They brought in a guy that fits the bill beyond my expectations in Manny Ramirez. But the Cubs aren't bringing Manny to Chicago; they just dropped him right into Iowa, where he could begin working with the next wave of Cubs stars like Kris Bryant and Javy Baez before they even make it to Wrigley Field.
Risky, you may say. I say forward thinking.
Ramirez can have an effect immediately for someone like Baez, who needs some help with his approach going forward, both on and off the field. This is a radical, unique approach. It's still early, but it could end up being quite innovative.
Patrick Mooney has some thoughts from Theo Epstein on this experiment thus far.
"They've (Iowa staff) been preaching work ethic to our young guys about just how much work it takes to get ready for a game to be able to succeed not just at Triple-A, but up here in the big leagues. For them to see Manny be the first one at the field and take the most swings and do the most pregame preparation is invaluable. It just reinforces the lessons they're trying to teach."
Epstein said the younger players at Iowa are following Ramirez around like "a pied piper".
Meanwhile, the guy the front office brought in to be a settling force for the younger players at the MLB level, like Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, is likely to benefit from the early mentoring Ramirez can provide his future players.
“Well, he was brought on to be able to share his experiences with all the players that are there,” Rick Renteria said. “And we’ll probably follow it more through how some of the kids are responding, some of the conversations that are had, some of the aspects of how he prepares on a daily basis.”
Renteria has been doing a great job getting his younger players to thrive and grow in his time as the Cubs skipper. Eventually, the Cubs are going to bring in an established everyday player to help protect the young bats in the lineup, along with some on-the-field leadership skills to help out the young, yet budding leaders like Rizzo.
In the meantime, the Manny Ramirez Experiment maybe something we may look back on as another genius move from the "Ivy League" gang.
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