By George Ofman
It’s been said hitting is contagious. Over at Clark and Addison it’s been said, hiring hitting coaches is just as contagious. Here we go again. The Cubs, desperate to find a reason why their bats didn’t meet the balls as often as it did a year ago, are about to employ its’ 3rd hitting coach since mid June, only this guy is a celebrated guru. Players who have been under his tutelage swear buy him which is certainly a better option than having a player swear at one. (See Milton Bradley versus Von Joshua). He’s admired and greatly respected. He’s widely considered one of the best in the game.
And he has his own instructional video!
What more can a Cubs fan ask for other than a World Series title.. .and the hasty departure of said Bradley. Why even “Milton the Martyr” played under this guy in 2008 and produced the American league’s highest on base percentage. Ladies and gentlemen, a warm round of applause for…
Now that he’s signed a contract, The Cubs’ worries are over. They will once again rise to the top of the hitting charts which is where they were in 2008. But Jaramillo was in Texas then. Gerald Perry was here. This would raise the question why Perry was fired last June but if you’re Jim Hendry, you spent the off season over reacting to a second straight playoff wipe-out, by trading Mark DeRosa so he could sign Bradley while also picking up Kevin Gregg and signing Aaron Miles. But I digress.
“Rudy Jaramillo is widely regarded as the premiere hitting instructor in the game,” said Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry. “The addition of Rudy to our franchise is a strong statement from our new owners, the Ricketts family, and we thank them for allowing us to move quickly to fill this important role with the best in the business.” Rudy’s expertise will cost approximately $800,000 a year for the next three years.
Since 2001, the Rangers have been in the top ten in home runs 8 times including leading the majors 4 times. And in the last 9 years have been in the top ten in runs. Let’s also note Ameriquest field (nee the ballpark at Arlington) has been man’s best friend with a bat. The Rangers finished 1st in runs and batting average in 2008, 3rd in on base percentage and 6th in homers. The Cubs finished 1st in the National league in runs and OBP, 2nd in batting average and hits and 5th in homers. And they actually were 8th in stolen bases with 87. Last season, they swiped a meager 56 and finished dead last, in the majors! They also were 10th in runs and OBP, 12th in batting average and 13th in hits.
I swear Gerald Perry became an idiot in mid June.
Perry brought the Cubs in 2008 to a place they hadn’t been to in recent memory; fewer strikeouts, more walks, a much higher on base percentage and 97 wins. He gets credit, too. Instead, Hendry replaced him Von Joshua who had worn out his welcome with the White sox in 2001. Jaramillo is expected to be the answer to the Cubs hitting woes of 2009. Now, before you get the wrong idea, just because Bradley produced a .436 OBP under Jaramillo in 2008, don’t expect cancer man to return. Then again, Hendry is still the general manager so anything is possible.
Listen to what several big time major league hitters have said about Jaramillo.
“Any success I’ve had in the big leagues can be attributed directly to Rudy. He’s the best there is.” So said Michael Young whose RBI total has decreased each of the last 4 years, though his OPS rose from 741 to 892 last season.
Mark Teixeira claimed, “Rudy is the best. I can’t imagine a season without him.” He has. Teixeira produced 3 monster years under Jaramillo and just completed 2 monster years playing for the Angels, Braves and Yankees. Imagine that.
“He’s a hall of fame hitting coach” noted the noted Steroid liar Alex Rodriguez who produced some pretty eye popping numbers during his three years in Texas, the three in which he was munching on PEDs. And then there is this from a former student. “He’s very good and smart”. Said Alfonso Soriano. And does he certainly need someone good and smart! Jaramillo joined the Rangers in 1995. A year later they became a hitting juggernaut. It should be mentioned the Ballpark at Arlington opened the year before and it’s been a hitting paradise since.
This is not to suggest Jaramillo isn’t a top flight hitting coach who can’t revive the Cubs bats.
But Dusty Baker was THE big name who was supposed to lead the Cubs to a World Series title.
And Lou Piniella was an even bigger name who was expected to do what Baker didn’t.
Good luck Rudy, you’ll need it.