The Cubs announced this last evening, but I hope you’ll forgive the delay, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to give it full attention until this morning. I also knew it was going to be a little awkward to discuss, so I wanted to make sure I had the time to get it right.
Rather than being optioned to AAA Iowa, as he was this weekend, the Chicago Cubs have instead opted to place Neil Ramirez on the big league disabled list with triceps soreness. Given that a player in Ramirez’s situation would not have accrued big league service time while at Iowa (and would have had a lower pay rate), and given that the stated reason for the demotion was to “rest” him, you can understand why there were a few cocked eyebrows at the time. The explanation, however, seemed pretty reasonable: by demoting rather than DL’ing, Ramirez could be back in 10 days rather than 15, and the Cubs were merely trying to be proactive about protecting an important pitcher’s health (and they needed an extra arm in the bullpen).
Well, whether it was because of a push from the union or because of further health evaluation, the Cubs are changing course. Ramirez now goes to the big league DL, back-dated to his last appearance on July 25.
Jed Hoyer told Patrick Mooney that the change in plans was not based on blowback from the union, though he did concede that there were conversations.
“We’ve tried our hardest to be careful with him, as far as getting up and down, being used back-to-back days,” Hoyer told Mooney. “In the end, he was sore the day after, and the right thing to do is put him on the DL. He’s going to be fine.”
Ok. Are my eyebrows now more cocked than they were initially? I’ve gotta admit, they are. I still don’t impute any ill-intent here, but at least now there isn’t any kind of unfair outcome for Ramirez – beyond the fact that he’ll have to sit out an extra five days.
Hoyer went on to speak about the Cubs’ plan for their young relievers, and some of the limitations under which they’re being used. It’s a good and informative read. Once again, I don’t think there was an bad intent here. The Cubs simply want to protect their important young arms. The specific mechanism used here aside, this is a good thing.
As for Ramirez’s injury, it doesn’t sound like it’s too serious. The irony here is that if you believe the Cubs were just trying to placate the union, then you’re a lot less worried about Ramirez’s arm. If, on the other hand, you believe that the Cubs made this move because of Ramirez’s soreness, you’re a little more worried about Ramirez’s arm, because any pitcher arm stuff makes you nervous.
Pick your poison, I guess.