Hip Hip Hooray – we can finally put the Cubs hitting coach story behind us. The Cubs have agreed to terms with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. The deal is for 3 years and $2.42 million, which will make Jaramillo the 2nd highest paid hitting coach in the major leagues behind the St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach Dave Duncan. Look out NL Central opponents – we can have a hitting coach gladiator war every time the Cubs and Cards play each other in 2010.
Jaramillo was the Texas Rangers hitting coach for 15 years. He helped develop some great Rangers hitters during his tenure, and even worked with Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley while the 2 were Rangers players. Cubs GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella hope that bringing someone in from the outside with a different perspective of the Cubs players will help the Cubs offense regain its 2008 form rather than its 2009 form. In 2008, the Cubs led the National League with 855 runs scored (2nd only to the Rangers in all of MLB). But in 2009, the Cubs scored only 784 runs, good for only 10th best in the NL. Not good – sure injuries and poor production from certain players – Bradley, Soriano, Geovany Soto, Mike Fontenot – were the primary reasons, but the lack of clutch hits and hits with runners in scoring position (just a .241 batting average – 2nd worst in all of MLB) is a huge concern going forward. Hopefully Jaramillo can work out the kinks.
Jaramillo has a simple philosophy. “I pride myself in situational hitting… It’s not like I’m trying to reinvent the swing.” He puts an emphasis on finding a good rhythm, staying square on the ball, shifting weight and focusing on the arm release point of each pitcher. Jaramillo knows there are physical and mental aspects of hitting and he will work with each player to make sure that they are prepared to go up there focused and ready during each at-bat.
It can’t get much worse than it was in 2009. If the Cubs do start piling on the runs in 2009, Jaramillo is going to look like a genius. Most likely, it won’t really be his credit to take in the long run. The Cubs probably aren’t as good as they were in 2008 nor as bad as they were in 2009. Somewhere in between should have the Cubs – and Cubs fans – smiling in 2010…