This I didn't see coming.
#Cubs today signed Manny Ramirez to be a player-coach at Triple-A Iowa. Statements from Theo Epstein & Manny Ramirez: http://t.co/tbEXJMXgn2— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 25, 2014
Ramirez is going to Mesa where the 41-year-old (he turns 42 in five days) will get back into playing shape. Ramirez says his ultimate goal is to get back to the major leagues, but he says that is in "God's hands." Theo Epstein, for his part, says that Ramirez "is not and will not be a fit on the Chicago Cubs major league roster." While he will be taking at-bats with the Iowa Cubs, his job is to work with the young hitters on the team. And I'm just guessing here, but by "young hitters," I think Theo Epstein means mostly "Javier Baez."
Epstein is, of course, familiar with Ramirez from his days in Boston and while he acknowledges his mistakes, says that he was a hard worker who knows a lot about hitting. (There's no question he knows a lot about hitting. The "hard-working" part seems to come and go.)
In this article by Ken Rosenthal, Ramirez admits his mistakes with PED and says he's a changed man who could be a positive influence like Jason Giambi (another admitted PED user) is in Cleveland.
I'm sure this is going to be a controversial move, but the Cubs braintrust knows Ramirez and his influence on the clubhouse. Epstein wouldn't give him access to Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Christian Villanueva and the other hitters in Des Moines if he didn't think the influence would be positive. I'm sure all of us would like Javy Baez to hit more like Manny Ramirez.
Obviously this is going to be a controversial move, but of course, there's very little risk here unless you think Ramirez could mess up Baez's head for good. Ramirez isn't going to play for the Chicago Cubs and if the coaching doesn't work out, he can be cut at any time. He's an attendance draw for Iowa, so that's good. This is real outside-the-box thinking on the part of the Cubs. Whether it's a little too outside the box will be revealed in time.