After playing for the Cubs Triple-A affiliate as a player-coach, longtime slugger Manny Ramirez has been hired as the new Chicago Cubs Hitting Instructor. As a player-coach for the Iowa Cubs in 2014, Ramirez proved to be everything the Cubs needed: a veteran leader, a mentor to the young & inexperienced players, and a clutch bat off the bench in key situations. Ramirez, after a disastrous 2011 season with the Tampa Bay Rays and a short period of time in China, returned to baseball and hit .222/.273/.375 with 3 homeruns in just 24 games. For a 42-year-old who has been inconsistent for the last 5 years, Manny accepted his leadership role with a smile on his face, and his season totals did not define his total worth to the team. Deadspin reported in December, “Ramirez, speaking on the phone to Epstein, broke down every player on the Iowa roster, giving detailed, sophisticated assessments of not only their skills but their personalities.” Epstein, who also added Kevin Youkilis to be a part of the Scouting and Player Development Department, is bringing back the boys from Beantown to create a new winning atmosphere in Chicago.
Manny Ramirez started his career in a Cleveland Indians uniform on September 2, 1993. The next day, Ramirez slugged his first two professional homeruns, beginning a long and prosperous career that would see him finish with 550 total career homers. In 1994, he won the AL Rookie of the Year batting .269 with 17 round-trippers and 60 RBI. In 1996, Ramirez and fellow slugger Jim Thome led the Indians to the World Series, but unfortunately fell to the Florida Marlins in seven games. Ramirez would continue his dominance, mashing at least 35 homeruns and 100+ RBI in every season for his remaining Cleveland career.
Boston was calling his name, and after a long offseason of high contract demands, Manny Ramirez signed with the Red Sox for 8-years $160 million dollars. He was worshipped in Boston, and he was known for his zany and unpredictable antics that earned him the slogan, “Manny Being Manny”. In 2004, Manny led the American League with 43 homeruns, a .613 slugging percentage, OPS of 1.009, and finished second in errors for a left-fielder with seven. Fun fact: Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, another Boston legend, became the first pair of AL Teammates to hit 40 bombs, 100 RBI, and a .300 batting average since Yankee legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1931. Also in that record-setting season, Manny was named the MVP of the first World Series Championship in Boston since 1918. In short, Ramirez was extremely successful in Boston, and carried his success to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008. His nickname changed from “Manny Being Manny” to “Mannywood” because of his eccentric personality that seemed to embrace Hollywood’s finest. On the Dodgers, Manny smashed 37 homers and 121 RBI’s, seemingly performing at a superior level no matter the team.
His downfall began shortly after testing positive for a banned medication, violating MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program on May 7, 2009. As he collected milestones like passing Mickey Mantle on the all-time homerun list, or collecting his 2,500 career hit, he was also racking up injuries and suspensions. He tried to comeback on a minor-league deal with the Oakland Athletics in 2012, but never made it back up to the Bigs. Ramirez, tired of unsuccessful comebacks, took his talents to China to play for the EDA Rhinos. He slugged .352 with 8 homeruns and 43 RBI’s, but left because of the distrance from his family. Manny Ramirez’s playing career was nearing to the finish line after a failed stint with the Texas Rangers Triple-A affiliate, but latched on as a player-coach for the Chicago Cubs Triple-A team, the Iowa Cubs. Manny Ramirez, a worthy talent for the Hall of Fame, had his career tarnished because of his drug suspensions. As he failed to latch onto teams, he learned how to lead, set a good example, and mentor younger players to further progress his redemption as both a player and a coach.
Manny Ramirez, an eccentric, wild, uncontrollable slugger with a personality made for movies, has matured into a reliable coach for younger players rising up through the farm system. He will provide extensive first-hand baseball knowledge, mentoring young sluggers like Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Javier Baez to reach their full potential. A promotion from player-coach, working as a hitting consultant likely means that Manny’s playing career is over. But at age 42, who knows what baseball holds for him next, possibly a future hitting coach position? With a heavy-hitting lineup of Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis in the front office, Theo Epstien will have no shortage of veteran mentors with plenty of baseball knowledge to help develop his young Cubbies into future superstars.