General

Keeping score on the Cubs’ latest moves

manny-CST-060514-1.jpgFrom the Saturday, June 7, edition of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …

The WISCH LIST

By Dave Wischnowsky

It’s been a big week for the Chicago Cubs.

They had the draft. They actually pulled off a walk-off wins over the Mets and Marlins. And they continued to play against their backdrop of distractions and general nonsense, of which I of course have thoughts. And here they are.

Manny be what?

What exactly is Manny Ramirez?

We know he’s now an Iowa Cub and a so-called “player-coach” for the organization’s Triple-A affiliate. But what does that even mean?

Last week, when announcing the surprise signing of the tainted 42-year-old slugger, Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “While Manny is not and will not be a fit on the Cubs’ major league roster, we do think at this stage of his life he’s a nice fit as a mentor for some of the young talented hitters we have in the organization. Manny will coach full-time and play part-time in a limited role that does not take at-bats away from our prospects.”

The Cubs, however, then shipped Manny off to extended spring training in Arizona this week to work on his own swing even though his supposed purpose is to help Cubs prospects with theirs. I’m not thrilled to see Ramirez, his PED past and his daffy reputation brought into the fold as the guy to mentor the Cubs’ young talent, but if Epstein truly believes that Manny can be Coach Manny, then he needs to treat him as a coach.

Not as a player.

Epstein, however, hasn’t discounted the idea of flipping Ramirez for a prospect down the stretch if a team is interested. That’s a muddled message for both Ramirez and the Cubs. And if Manny is focusing on Manny in Iowa, I strongly question how much he’ll be focused on coaching.

Enter Kris Bryant

Heading into Thursday’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, the Cubs were batting .231 as a team, had scored two runs or fewer in more than a third of their games and had thousands of fans dressing up as empty seats at Wrigley Field.

I know, because I sat next to a bunch of them on Wednesday night.

In order to jumpstart the team’s offense – and fans’ interest – I advocated on Tuesday in my column at CBSChicago.com for the Cubs to call up their No. 1 pick from last year’s draft, third baseman Kris Bryant.

As of mid-week, Bryant was leading the Class AA Southern League in a remarkable nine offensive categories, including the Triple Crown statistics of home runs, batting average and RBI. A polished 22-year-old college product, he’s no less prepared than Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, who were called up by the Cubs at age 22 and 20, respectively.
Unable to provide wins, the Cubs continue to promise their fans the future. I think it’s time to actually see some of it in the form of Bryant, although Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said this week that the team isn’t plan on calling him up anytime soon.

Regarding that decision, I wish the Cubs would hit redial.

Get what you pay for

On Monday, a lawyer for Wrigleyville’s rooftop owners accused Cubs owner Tom Ricketts of having “buyer’s remorse” and said that’s no good reason for the team to break a long-term revenue-sharing deal.

I agree. When Ricketts purchased the Cubs, he knew the team’s contract with the rooftops existed but now wants to be able to wriggle out of it because … well, just because. Ricketts instead should pony up and buy his way out of the deal – and not for cheap.

Because, after all, you get what you pay for. That includes when you buy the Cubs.