Manny Ramirez not a mistake for Cubs

By Sean Neumann

The Chicago Cubs hired former MLB superstar Manny Ramirez to be a player-coach for the Triple A Iowa Cubs this past weekend and despite the gut reaction, it wasn’t a mistake.

It was a shocking move for the Cubs to risk distraction for performance, but the latter doesn’t lie. He was at times controversial, with his career span of “Manny Moments” which came to a climax in 2011 with Tampa Bay. 

Ramirez retired quickly in early April after joining the team that season, which was then found to be the result of testing positive for performance enhancing drugs and was slapped with a 100-game suspension (if he was ever to return to the MLB) on his way out.

But despite all the drama that has come with Ramirez, his talent on the field is enough to overshadow his issues off it. Ramirez is a wildly talented baseball player and one of the best to play during his generation. He’s a 12-time All-Star, has 555 home runs, has been in MVP talks in 11 of his 19 seasons in the league, has a .312 career batting average and had 2,574 hits — tied for 86th all-time and 118 more than former Iowa Cubs manager and Cub-great Ryne Sandberg. And at 36-years-old, Ramirez was still able to slap the Cubs around in the 2008 NLDS, blasting two home runs and batting an even .500.

More importantly, Ramirez is a veteran. He’s being brought on to help young prospects develop into successful major-league hitters — perhaps this can help players like Brett Jackson, who dropped nearly .100 in his batting average going from the minors to the majors — finally develop a big-league swing.

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Iowa manager Marty Pevey told The Des Moines Register Monday morning that he was excited for Ramirez to join the team, and he should be. Another helping hand in the Cubs’ minor-league system won’t hurt their chances at turning over some of the best prospects in the league, such as the club’s 2011 and 2013 first-round draft picks, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant.

No one is ignoring the past — especially not the Cubs’ president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who won two World Series with Ramirez in 2004 and 2007 and recognized Sunday that “Manny has made real mistakes in the past” in an official statement on the team. 

But with a franchise built around forgetting the past, the Cubs can’t afford to dwell on another’s and pass up an opportunity to develop a World Series-caliber team. Manny may not be the answer, but he’s a step in the right direction.

Sean is a senior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter