The Daily CCO: Happy Memorial Day and Manny Ramirez

Happy Memorial Day from ChicagoCubsOnline … a tip of the cap to all of the men and women that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom

It’s safe to say the Cubs shocked the baseball world when the team announced Sunday that Theo Epstein and Manny Ramirez put their past behind them and Ramirez signed a minor league contract to be a player-coach for the Iowa Cubs.

According to a report from Patrick Mooney, Theo Epstein thinks Ramirez has “changed, coming clean to Major League Baseball and wanting to give back to the game.” Epstein admitted there is no way to know for sure but “there’s potential for high impact.”

Theo Epstein explained that if Ramirez “can just influence one player, make them a little bit calmer in the box, give them a little better mental approach to hitting, teach him something about how to approach the right-handed breaking ball the right way” and to be the right influence while telling players not to use PEDs “then it was worthwhile.”

Patrick Mooney reported “the Cubs won’t hesitate to end this experiment” if it does not go well with Manny Ramirez. Epstein, however, thinks it will go well and he told Patrick Mooney he thinks “we’re doing this for the right reasons.”

Mike Olt was asked about Ramirez from their time together last season in the Rangers organization. Last year Olt said he learned a lot about hitting from Ramirez and reiterated the same on Sunday. Olt said he had “an awesome experience” with Ramirez.

Former teammate and current Cubs’ hitting coach, Bill Mueller told Patrick Mooney, “If he’s going to be open to help and be unselfish, it’s going to be a great fit.”

The Des Moines Register caught up with the I-Cubs general manager, Sam Bernabe. Bernabe said he would’t be surprised if Ramirez has joined the team by the time Iowa returns home from a long road trip on June 5. When asked about the role Ramirez will have with the team, Marty Pevey told the Des Moines Register he will mostly be used in pinch-hitting situations and as a designated hitter.

This is a questionable decision, one that should be looked at very carefully. If Manny Ramirez can help teach players like Javier Baez how to hit and how to prepare on a daily basis, it will turn out to be a good addition to the organization. But if Ramirez is unable to keep up his end of the deal, the relationship should be ended quickly.

Minor News and Notes

Kyle Hendricks pitched six innings on Sunday, picked up the win and said after the game that the sprained foot that forced him to miss his last start is doing fine.

Kris Bryant’s hitting streak came to an end on Sunday. Kris Bryant went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the Smokies’ 7-2 win over Mobile. Bryant’s hitless day dropped his line over the last 10 games all the way down to .361/.425/.639 with a 1.064 OPS.

Javier Baez extended his hitting streak to 10 games in grand fashion. After a single in his second at bat to extended the streak, Baez hit a home run to right center in the fifth with the bags loaded. Baez is up to .211/.278/.415 for the season with seven doubles, one triple and seven home runs. Baez is slashing .390/.409/.829 during his 10 game hitting streak with six doubles, four home runs and a 1.238 OPS.

This Day In Cubstory

2011 – Cubs traded Ryan Buchter to the Braves for Rodrigo Lopez

1997 – Sammy Sosa hit an inside-the-park home run in the sixth inning of a Cubs 2-1 victory at Wrigley Field. Tony Womack also hit an inside-the-park homer run in the sixth inning for the Pirates. And for the first time in 20 years two different players hit inside the park home runs in the same inning. Bump Wills and Toby Harrah accomplished the feat for the Rangers on consecutive pitches at Yankee Stadium in 1977.

1995 – The Red Sox selected Tuffy Rhodes off waivers from the Cubs

1986 – Jim Deshaies picked up his first big league win in an Astros’ 4-1 victory over the Cardinals. Deshaies struck out 10 batters in seven innings.

1971 – Jason Bere, born

1957 – Rookie pitcher Dick Drott struck out 15 batters (Hank Aaron four times) in a 7-5 victory over the Braves at Wrigley Field. The 20-year old right hander set the modern franchise mark (since 1900) in his seventh start. Burt Hooton (1971) and Rick Sutcliffe (1984) equaled his mark. Kerry Wood broke the record Drott set 41 years later.

1935 – Eddie Haas, born

1909 – Oval Overall pitched a complete game and beat George Bell and Brooklyn 2-0. Overall extended his winning streak over Brooklyn to 11 straight games, the streak began in 1906.

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  • Ripsnorter1

    Let’s see:
    Manny–caught not once, not twice, but three times with the PEDS. Pushed a 64 yr old traveling secretary down because the man was having trouble getting 16 free tickets for Manny’s entourage. It was pinching Manny financially. (Manny has made more the $200 million in his MLB career). Manny who took swings at Kevin Youkilis because Youkilis objected to his slow response to joining his teammates in a bench clearing brawl. Manny wouldn’t run out ground balls. And he took days off with “sore knees” when the MRI showed no damage. Then there is always “Manny being Manny,” with the do rag, the dreadlocks, the proud attitude, and more.

    How does Team Theo view him: he’s appreciated. Let’s bring him back.

    Ryne Sandberg–Hall of Fame hitter and fielder. Clean cut, hard working, no PED and no character. Not a cheater. Not a jerk. A leader of men.

    How does Team Theo view Ryno: he’s unappreciated. Talk a walk, Ryne.

    Sammy Sosa–Greatest Cubs hitter in history. No proven PED charges, although he was suspected of it.

    How does Team Theo view him: unappreciated.

    Santo memorabilia–unappreciated. Toss it in a dumpster.

    And somebody in that FO can’t tell the difference between Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park.

    And now they are bringing in a hoodlum to teach Baez to hit ML pitching?
    There isn’t a single person with some character available?

    Theo saying “Manny’s changed” is a lie. Look at his haircut. Has he cut his hair like a man, or is he still showing the world he is in a state of rebellion?
    You’ll know Manny’s changed when the haircut’s changed.

    • Scott

      Basing everything off of the style of hair? Yeah…makes sense.

      I am not thrilled with the move as I have concerns about his character as well, but there are indications that he has shown himself to be a positive mentor to younger players. And there is little doubt that he had an incredible ability to hit. For power and average. If he has the ability to teach that in any way, this could be successful.

      This situation will be very closely monitored by the FO. If there are any indications that this is not working out, they will send him packing.

      And Manny has screwed up in the past. And he is well aware of that. IF (and that is a big if) he really has learned from his mistakes, he could be a great mentor for teaching some of the kids what NOT to do.

      As for Sammy-he is much more to blame than the Cubs and especially THIS FO. If Sammy would cone out and apologize for the things he has done, I believe the FO would welcome him back. But the FO will not kiss his…well, you know. And it could go even higher than Theo as to why he isnt welcome right now. If TR has mandated Sammy be excluded, not much Theo can do.

      As for Ryno-while he is under contract with another team, the Cubs might not want to bring him back for much and he might not want to right now. I still agree with Theo not signing him as manager when he started because of the rebuild. The backlash for firing a Cubs legend would be a lot to take right now.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Well said. And I’m pretty sure Manny HAS acknowledged his mistakes and apologized unlike Sosa. Sosa could certainly learn something from Manny in that arena. And he could have learned some tips about hitting too. Sosa was a prodigious power hitter in non clutch situations, where Manny was a prodigious overall hitter, mostly when the game was most important and in the postseason.

        • cubtex

          Wow. Dissing a guy with 600 plus HR’s and one of the greatest Cub players in history for a 2 time convicted cheat, a guy who was terrible with the press and media for years, a clown and circus show just because “Team Theo” is bringing him in the Cubs organization? What’s next? Call Hack Wilson a drunk?

          • Tony_H

            I think most Cub fans have been dissing Sosa since he walked out on the team the last day he played for the Cubs. Sosa needs to come clean with what he has done in the past and he will be welcomed back. But this isn’t about Sosa.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I’ve always liked and still do like Sosa. But he cheated too. Regulations and testing weren’t as strict for PED’s during his prime. If you don’t think he cheated you can explain how OJ is innocent too. And I do seem to remember an incident with a corked bat. I guess I’m a forgiving sort as I find respect for Sosa an Manny.

            All I said was Manny was a better hitter whih is a fact. An tht Manny has apologized where Sammy had not which is also a fact.

          • cubtex

            BTW. Mr. no clutch Sosa hit .276 with a .375 OBP 156 HR and 1038 RBI with RISP. How does that compare to the “best” hitter on the Cubs now? Lol

          • Tony_H

            Just a little different era for hitting stats.

          • cubtex

            Hitting in clutch is hitting in clutch. Something Mr Rizzo doesn’t do

          • Tony_H

            So whats the big deal about steriods and other PEDS, if it doesn’t help the hitters? Plus OBP were higher because pitchers were afraid to throw anything near the plate with the big Peds users hitting mistakes out of the park.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            He’s in his 2nd year. Tough to say what he does or doesn’t do yet. What was Sosa doing in his 2nd year?

          • cubtex

            He’s played in 340 plus games. How many has Puig played in?

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Another non sequitur. I don’t get what Puig has to do with any of this?

          • Tony_H

            Thought you would like this article. Picking Beede to the Cubs with the 4th pick (assuming underslot).

            http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-insider/2014/05/mlb-draft-2104-cubs-draft-talk-with-amateur-expert-dan-kirby-10-2nd-round-names-to-watch/

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I’d love to see Sosa’s stats in his first 4 years to compare with Castro or Rizzo. That would be more apropos. But Sosa is an all-time great. I have always been a a fan. So is Manny and he was better in the clutch from what I remember. Is this wrong?

          • Tony_H

            1989 – 183 AB’s
            257/303/366 – 4 HR’s

            1990 – 532 AB’s
            233/282/404/687 – 15 HR’s

            1991 – 316 AB’s
            203/240/335/576 – 10 HR’s

            1992 – 262 AB’s
            260/317/393/710

            1993 – 598 AB’s
            261/309/485/794 – 33 HR’s

            Kind of makes Rizzo’s first 4 years look better.

          • cubtex

            Really? What did Rizzo hit last year again with RISP? I believe it was lower than any of those years

          • Tony_H

            Rizzo
            2011 – 103/333/103/437
            2012 – 338/403/559/961
            2013 – 191/306/309/615
            2014 – 216/404/243/647

            Sosa
            1989 – 211/273/289/562
            1990 – 243/296/436/731
            1991 – 238/279/463/742
            1992 – 229/291/396/687
            1993 – 213/286/341/627

            #’s with RISP

            Keep in mind Sosa was never asked to be the 3 hitter in those lineups, usually 5 or 6, with some 4th and 7th and even leadoff.

            Looking at those numbers only one year is good and that is Rizzo’s 2012. Maybe this is something that some hitters get better with experience.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Rizzo had more bombs his first year than Sosa did his first four. If were extrapolating and comparing i guess Rizzo will hit over 600 for his career.

            Again I don’t want to pick in Sosa. I loved the guy and always will. And I dot see what Rizzo had to do with this discussion originally but Ray always like to drag him in. Picking on that “blunder,” of a trade.

          • Ripsnorter1

            3 time PED cheater. He got caught in 2003 in a secret report that was later “outted.”

          • John_CC

            You aren’t really going t just put your head in the sand and say Sosa never used because he wasn’t caught are you? And Bond? Clemens? McGwire? How many times where they “caught” and punished?

            Again, I am not condoning it but to me the liars are worse than the guys who got caught and accepted their sentences.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I’d say I was one of the guys on here that doesn’t put his head in the sand.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Many of our readers do not have their heads in the sand as you say.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I only said that I did not think I had my head in the sand. No comment was made about anyone else’s head.

    • cubtex

      Agreed with everything you said except the point about the hair.

    • paulcatanese

      Agree with everything you say, and as an ex-barber, especially the hair.
      Not a Yankee fan per say, but their no facial hair or long locks is right for me, and cannot stand to watch two pitchers taking the hill for the Cubs
      with the beards and long hair, reminds me of the old House of David baseball team, now its a no class act. Not only the Cubs, but around the league, long hair and beards, it’s a crutch.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Next time you’re out this way, I’ll hire you to cut my five boys hair. At 6 haircuts at a time, I’ve got to be a barber’s dream.

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  • John_CC

    I wonder if this can be anymore blow out of proportion? I think it will.

    Manny is on a AAA contract as a player/coach. He is not going to starts away from anyone (that matters), and he isn’t on a coach’s contract. It is clear they will cut him free if this doesn’t work out. The guy has been very conciliatory about the PED use, he was aging and breaking down and trying to keep up. We was an amazing slugger with an amazing plate approach, his career OPS is over .950. If he can teach Baez one thing about recognizing a breaking ball, laying off questionable pitches, how to focus at the plate, it will be worth it. And he can do this by standing in the on deck circle next to Javy once in awhile, and by Javy actually watching him at the plate.

    If sucks and can’t hit anymore, or is a slacker then he’s gone. Big deal. An example of what happens when you are lazy, no matter who you are or were. Great.

    As for Sammy, do we really want him teaching Baez how to swing at balls a fotit off the plate in the dirt?

  • The Dude Abides

    Theo Epstein explained that if Ramirez “can just influence one player, make them a little bit calmer in the box, give them a little better mental approach to hitting, teach him something about how to approach the right-handed breaking ball the right way” and to be the right influence while telling players not to use PEDs “then it was worthwhile.”
    Is Theo that worried about Baez already?
    ManRam the role model…

  • Tom U

    To me, this would make just a little more sense if Ramirez had any experience playing 1B. First is the one position at Iowa that a veteran would not be taking playing time away from a prospect. Like Chris Coughlan before him and Casper Wells now, putting Manny in the lineup will take developmental time away from Matt Szczur, Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, and Logan Watkins.

    • Tony_H

      Epstein said in a statement. “Manny will coach full-time and play part-time in a limited role that does not take at-bats away from our prospects.”

      • Tom U

        How?

        • Tony_H

          Pinch hitter, occasional DH. Not likely to ever start in the field.

          • Tom U

            The PCL has only 6 AL affiliates in it, and to be a DH you would have to be playing in their park (I also believe they have concluded their season against Round Rock, the Texas affiliate).

          • Tony_H

            Exactly, he is going to be mainly a pinch hitter.

          • Tom U

            Then it makes no sense for Manny to go to EXST. He would get enough reps in daily batting practice to be sharp enough to pinch-hit.

          • Tony_H

            I don’t see what the issue with him going to EXST would be if that is where he is going first.

          • Tom U

            I don’t quite understand what you are trying to say.

          • Tony_H

            Why does it make no sense for him to go to EXST? What does it matter?

          • Tom U

            If the front office is sincere in saying that Manny will mainly coach and that any playing that he does get will not take at-bats away from prospect, then he is ready to start his job coaching and doesn’t need to prepare himself any further. He will get in any conditioning and batting practice during the daily functions of the team. He is a veteran, and can ease his way back into playing the outfield by shagging flies.

            The only reason to send Manny to EXST would be to get him ready for extended playing time, which would run counter to what the front office is publicly saying.

          • Tony_H

            You don’t think it would be to get him a bunch of AB’s in a few days by letting bat more often in EXST games? You know there is another side to every story, you don’t have to take the half empty side on all situations with the Cubs FO and minor league decisions.

          • Tom U

            Again, I do not see what purpose that would serve if Manny’s main function is to coach. Did Bill Mueller take at-bats in Arizona before becoming the the Cubs’ batting coach?

          • Tony_H

            Well, Bill Mueller wasn’t a player/coach.

            Something I have learned from my years in my line of work is sometimes you need to give people the benefit of the doubt and try to put yourself in their shoes.

            I really doubt Theo and Jed are sitting around thinking of ways to try to sneak Manny into the lineup in Iowa, by trying to disquise him as a player/coach but the real intent is to take AB’s away from prospects so that Manny can play again and stunt the growth of the prosepcts. If Manny starts playing more than once a week and getting pinch hitting chances, then they will have gone against their word.

          • Tom U

            Player/coaches in the minors are not unusual. The Cubs had Nate Maldonado an Kenny Socorro in this capacity last season (Socorro is now in the front office). When they were needed, they were simply activated. There was no sending them to Arizona to get them ready to play. That is why I consider this move unusual.

          • Tony_H

            My guess is they went through spring training first, right?

          • Tom U

            As coaches.

          • Tony_H

            So you are saying they never took batting practice or got any AB’s in any ST games, majors or minor league portions? That’s hard to believe.

          • Tom U

            Can’t say for sure whether they took part in any ST games, but Arizona Phil would have been all over that if they had.

            What they probably did is exactly what I am talking about. They took part in drills and batting practice, just to keep themselves sharp. That’s all a P/C has to do.

            And remember, this is Manny we are talking about. He can probably roll out of bed on New Year’s Day five years from now and still slap a base hit. That’s all you are looking out of from a P/C.

          • Tony_H

            It wouldn’t surprise me if he could. I just know that Theo, Jed and Manny have all the facts, unlike us, and are making the decision based on everything they know.

      • paulcatanese

        If Manny is playing part time and used as a DH also, how is that not taking at-bats away from anyone else? Will they decide when he does play or DH do you tell the player who would have hit, don’t worry about it, you aren’t a prospect anyway.

    • John_CC

      Tom, do you really believe that taking one or two starts from Jackson really matters at this point?

      • Tom U

        More concerned with Szczur, Vitters, and Watkins than Jackson. Remember, they also have Casper Wells at Iowa and have now sent Ryan Kalish down.

  • Brp921

    I think the logic, to this front office, of signing Manny Ramirez is the stated goal of him possibly helping a prospect or two, namely Baez, with a few of the nuances of hitting, but also a secondary goal of using him, if he does find the old “magic”, to boost the Cubs offense in the second half of the season. Let.just look at a few of the second half scenarios. Let’s just assume the Cubs don’t get their asking price for Samardziga. They are getting very good starting pitching in the first half and their bullpen is showing the potential to be above average. How many more games could the Cubs have won this year if they could have gotten that one clutch hit or just scored a few more runs. Our division this year has no clear hands down great team. I will believe the Brewers can run away with this division when I see them do it. I think this is just another roll of the dice by this front office. Who knows when you’ll “find the lightening”. I don’t know if this is truly their thought process, but it surely doesn’t hurt the rebuild and if it were to help vault the Cubs into the playoffs or more, they would look like geniuses.

  • John_CC

    Maybe I am off, but don’t you think it would be good for Baez to watch Manny hit from the batters box once in awhile, or from standing on first base?

    To me it just seems like being coached by a HOF hitter that also plays alongside you once in awhile would be different in a very good way.

    Maybe its just me.

    I am sure that this is being made a bigger deal of than it should be.

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