Take a minute to find a paper towel so that you can clean off your computer after spitting out whatever you were drinking when you read this headline.
No, you did not miss an announcement from the Chicago Cubs, and no decision has been made about what to do with Manny Ramirez after the 2014 season. As things currently stand, Ramirez is staying with the Iowa Cubs throughout the 2014 season as a player/coach to help mentor the younger players who are working their way up to the big leagues. Currently, Ramirez is only signed through the 2014 season, and will not be called up to play with the big league club.
When the deal was initially announced, fans and analysts alike saw this as nothing more than a publicity stunt, something to take the attention away from the ugly season at the big league level. Most people were against the move because of Ramirez well publicized steroid use, and felt that he would be nothing more than a distraction while with Iowa. They could not see why Theo Epstein thought bringing him in to work with the youngsters was a good idea. With the cloud of PEDs over his head, and assumptions of his being “a lazy, me first” player, most thought that he would be a bad influence on the kids.
Two weeks into the whole “Manny Experiment” there is plenty of reason to believe his detractors were wrong. Both Kris Bryant and Javier Baez are enjoying his presence with them on the I-Cubs and are learning a lot from him.
Ramirez is teaching the kids exactly what Epstein was hoping he would. He is passing along his wisdom of what pitches a batter should expect, and when to expect him.
One instance that Bryant related to Jesse Rogers was an at bat he recently had where Ramirez told him which pitch he should be looking for on the first pitch. Bryant listen to Manny, watched for the predicted pitch, and drove it for a single to right field.
I am sure most will brush that off as something all veterans learn as they grow in the game, and they are right. Eventually, all good hitters will be able to figure out what pitch they should expect at a given time. But having a veteran presence in your ear at the beginning of your career cannot hurt one bit. That is something that can only help a player develop.
Bryant is not the only player who is taking advantage of having a player like Ramirez around at all times. Baez says that he is also learning a lot from Manny, who he says is a nice guy who is trying to help everyone in camp; which is exactly what Epstein was hoping he would be able to do.
I guess that “Manny being Manny” is not such a bad thing. Sure, he had a care free attitude and treats the game of baseball like a game. He has fun out there, and enjoys himself
every time he takes the field. He may be carefree, but he works hard at his craft, and the young players around him have taken notice.
Ramirez has been telling them how they should be approaching every at bat, using his experiences over his career to give them an edge as they progress at the major league level. He tells them that the pitchers will attack every at bat by every batter differently. He preaches to the young players in his charge to have a plan every time they step into the batters box.
While that may all seem like common knowledge, sometimes players need to be told.
As far as accusations of his being lazy, Bryant would like you to know that you are mistaken. He says Ramirez is always really early getting to the park, working in the cages as with the kids in the organization.
But….. What about his PED use? Well, he is also warning the players of the use of PEDs as well. He is telling them to be very careful about what they put into their body, and to avoid taking anything over the counter, warning that there are severe consequences for using PEDs.
Seems like he is passing along quality advice to the kids in the system, and actually is helping them develop. Perhaps Epstein knew what he was doing after all when he signed Ramirez to be a player coach.
Oh, about Manny being a coach for the Cubs in 2015? If he is helping all of the young players as much as Baez and Bryant say he is, I would not mind one bit if he was “called up” to continue coaching them when they were brought into the big leagues. He obviously has experience that is helping them get there.