Cubs make hitting adjustments, fire coach Rudy Jaramillo
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Twitter: @GDubCub June 12, 2012 1:08PM
6-16-2010---Chicago Cubs host the Oakland Athletics--Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo watches batting practice-Sun-Times photo by Tom Cruze
Updated: June 13, 2012 9:38AM
It wasn’t exactly Moneyball that cost Rudy Jaramillo his job as Cubs hitting coach.
But it was an emphasis on a hitting philosophy closer to the one made famous by the book and movie than on the mechanics-based teachings of Jaramillo that led to the firing Tuesday of the respected, veteran coach.
``It’s a nuance difference. It’s a point of emphasis,’’ said team president Theo Epstein – who said Jaramillo ``might be the best in the world at the mechanics of the swing.’’
``I think mechanics are important, but until we sort of embrace as an organization the right approach, mechanics almost have to take a back seat at times. And that was part of the motivation for the move.’’
Epstein stressed that Jaramillo, 61, wasn’t to blame for the team’s awful offensive results so far this season and said he did nothing wrong to get fired.
But three weeks after the front office met with Jaramillo and ``asked for some adjustments’’ he was replaced with minor-league hitting coordinator James Rowson, 35, who joined the organization this year after spending the last four as a minor-league coordinator for the New York Yankees.
Rowson takes over on an interim basis, Epstein said, and will be re-evaluated after the season.
``We decided that it was best that if you’re going to embrace a new message to have a new voice to go with it,’’ Esptein said of the timing. ``It’s not based on results. It’s more trying to get a new voice with a new message. We have a certain philosophy we believe in, and we have a lot of growth that awaits us as an organization and [we’re] trying to get there.’’
Jaramillo, who was in the final year of a three-year, $2.4 million deal, gained a reputation as the top hitting coach in the game in 15 years in that job with the Texas Rangers before going to Chicago.
``He didn’t do anything wrong to get fired,’’ Epstein said. ``We’re all accountable for our offensive performance. …We put the roster together. It’s probably more on us than it is on him. And I’m sure that a lot of the players feel accountable, too. …
``But you have to make tough decisions when there’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be. And we felt the importance of getting a new message in here outweighed everything else.’’
The timing could gain significance in the coming weeks as the roster changes, and becomes younger, with anticipated trades before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.
``That’s more coincidence than anything else,’’ Epstein said. ``Certainly it’ll help. James has been working with young hitters for a while now, given the jobs that he’s had. And he’s had a chance to connect with some youngsters in our farm system who may be up here at some point later in the season. So that’ll be a benefit. But that wasn’t a motivation for this now.’’
Ultimately, it’s about a see-more-pitches team-wide emphasis that’s not necessarily inconsistent with Jaramillo’s teachings – but that wasn’t as much a focal point as the new front office wanted.
``We’re really trying to get to the point where we have a game plan for our hitters emphasizing selective aggressiveness at the plate,’’ Epstein said. ``Seeing a lot of pitches and focusing on getting your pitch to hit. It’s nothing new. … I know Rudy’s a believer in that as well. …
``The goal is not to walk. But the goal is to get your pitch in your count so you can put an aggressive swing on the ball and drive it. And then walks become more of a byproduct of that.
``We’re not asking our hitters to walk. We’re asking our hitters to make sure they’re selective enough to get a good pitch to hit so they can be aggressive. Usually as a result of that, you drive the ball more, because you’re swinging at pitches you can drive, so you end up with more extra-base hits, more home runs, and you end up walking more, too, because you’re waiting for your pitch.’’