Manny Ramirez went 0-for-4 in Triple-A player/coach debut

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Manny Ramirez made his debut as a Triple-A player/coach for the Cubs last night, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts while playing left field and batting sixth in Iowa’s lineup.

After the game Ramirez told Cody Ulm of MLB.com:

It feels great just to be here … and to help the young guys just telling them my experiences and the things that I’ve went through. It’s a blessing just to be here.

Here’s video of Ramirez’s first Triple-A at-bat, in which he reached on an error:

Cubs president Theo Epstein has said repeatedly that Ramirez was signed strictly to help mentor the Cubs’ prospects in Iowa, namely slugging, high-upside infielders Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, so even if he actually plays well there at age 42 a return to the big leagues isn’t going to happen in Chicago.

In fact, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago the plan is for Ramirez to play “sparingly” at Triple-A and, if for some reason another MLB team wanted to sign him and call him up to the big leagues, the Cubs would gladly let him go.

Rob Manfred blames Bryce Harper for going unsigned

Bryce Harper
Mark Brown/Getty Images
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Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.

No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.

Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:

Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.

Manfred didn’t stop there, however.

An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?