Cubs

Whoever's manager, Jaramillo sees future with Cubs

Whoever's manager, Jaramillo sees future with Cubs

Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010
11:20 PM
By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

SAN DIEGO Rudy Jaramillo spent 15 years doing the same job in his native Texas, where hes lived almost his entire life. He once interviewed with the New York Mets when they were looking for a manager, but will always be viewed as a hitting coach, perhaps the best of his generation.

Jaramillo, a man whose entire philosophy is based on routine, left his comfort zone to move to Chicago. He turned 60 last week, and has worked with three different managers during his first season with the Cubs, something no one would have predicted when he left the Rangers last October.

No matter who manages the Cubs in 2011, Jaramillo expects to be there watching Marlon Byrd in the batting cage, analyzing Alfonso Sorianos swing and monitoring the development of second-year players Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin.

I dont worry about those things, Jaramillo said. Thats their decision. I signed here for three years and I plan on coming back no matter whos here. And if it doesnt (work out), then I know I can find a job somewhere else. I dont even think about that.

I came here to be a Cub. I love being a Cub. No doubt its a challenge I want to do something for this organization that has never been done before.

General manager Jim Hendry has said that he wont discuss next years coaching staff until the manager is in place. But this isnt like college basketball, where the new head coach can bring on three or four of his own hand-picked assistants.

Jaramillo is under contract through 2012 and has a reputation that grew while working with Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and Alex Rodriguez in Texas, where his hitters won 17 Silver Slugger awards.

He reaches every guy in a different way, Cubs infielder Jeff Baker said. Hes got his core beliefs (and) system, (but) the thing that makes it special is hes able (to) make it personalized for every player.

Hes got no ego. Hes approachable. He knows when to leave you alone. Sometimes he lets you hit your way out of stuff. Sometimes hell come and say, Hey, look at this. (Its) only been a year a lot of guys are starting to connect with him. (Its) only going to get better.

The Cubs hyped the Jaramillo deal as if they actually signed a new No. 4 hitter for their lineup. During spring training, reporters were already trying to gauge the Jaramillo effect after the teams first exhibition game in Arizona.

Ask me in September, Derrek Lee said that afternoon. Its just too early. I dont think he can even say hes got everything hes taught us soaked in already. It takes time. Hes going to keep preaching his message and you take what works for you.

That was just Lee reminding the media to not get ahead of itself and not evidence of some rift Jaramillo had with veterans in the clubhouse.

But by the final week of the season, the Cubs have revealed themselves to be at best an average team offensively. They began Tuesday with these rankings in the National League: sixth in batting average (.258); tied for ninth in home runs (146); 10th in runs scored (669); and 12th in on-base percentage (.320).

I got to win their trust and make them believe in what Im teaching, Jaramillo said. As a team, were playing well (in September). Everybodys pitching in and thats what you want but we got to do it when it counts.

Jaramillo makes direct eye contact with you when he talks, and he speaks with great confidence. But he couldnt prevent Lee from being traded to the Atlanta Braves or keep Aramis Ramirez healthy for an entire season. He says he needs to do a better job in 2011.

We got a lot of work to do, Jaramillo said, but Im here to get it done. Good things will happen.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

Carmen DeFalco (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Bernfield join Kap on the panel. Anthony Rizzo returns to the Cubs after an emotional weekend home while Tom Ricketts expects another World Series parade. Plus Hall of Famer Andre Dawson joins Kap to talk about his Cubs reunion and how the current crop unsigned free agents compares to his experiences with collusion. 

Cubs' World Series expectations are no surprise, but they show how radical transformation from Lovable Losers has been

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USA TODAY

Cubs' World Series expectations are no surprise, but they show how radical transformation from Lovable Losers has been

MESA, Ariz. — Tom Ricketts sure doesn’t sound like the guy who met his wife in the bleachers during the century-long tenure of the Lovable Losers.

“Everyone knows that this is a team that has the capability to win the World Series, and everyone will be disappointed if we don’t live up to that capability.”

Yeah, the Cubs have been among baseball’s best teams for three seasons now. That curse-smashing World Series win in 2016 was the high point of a three-year stretch of winning that’s seen three straight trips to the National League Championship Series and a combined 310 wins between the regular season and postseason.

But it’s still got to come as a strange sound to those who remember the Cubs as the longtime butt of so many baseball jokes. This team has one expectation, to win the World Series. The players have said it for a week leading up to Monday’s first full-squad workout. The front office said it when it introduced big-time free-agent signing Yu Darvish a week ago. And the chairman said it Monday.

“We very much expect to win,” Ricketts said. “We have the ability to win. Our division got a lot tougher, and the playoff opponents that we faced last year are likely to be there waiting for us again.

“I think at this point with this team, obviously that’s our goal. I won’t say a season’s a failure because you don’t win the World Series, but it is our goal.”

The confidence is not lacking. But more importantly, success drives expectations. And if the Cubs are going to be one of the best teams in baseball, they better keep winning, or they’ll fail to meet those expectations, expectations that can sometimes spin a little bit out of control.

During last year’s follow-up campaign to 2016’s championship run, a rocky start to the season that had the Cubs out of first place at the All-Star break was enough to make some fans feel like the sky was falling — as if one year without a World Series win would be unacceptable to a fan base that had just gone 108 without one.

After a grueling NLDS against the Washington Nationals, the Cubs looked well overmatched in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and that sparked plenty of outside criticism, as well as plenty of offseason activity to upgrade the club in the midst of baseball’s never-ending arms race.

“I think people forget we’ve won more games over the last three years than any other team. We’ve won more playoff games than any other team the last three years. And we’ve been to the NLCS three years in a row,” Ricketts said. “I think fans understand that this is a team that if we stay healthy and play up to our capability can be in that position, be in the World Series. I don’t blame them. We should have high expectations, we have a great team.”

On paper, there are plenty of reasons for high expectations. Certainly the team’s stated goals don’t seem outlandish or anything but expected. The addition of Darvish to a rotation that already boasted Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana makes the Cubs’ starting staff the best in the NL, maybe the best in the game. There were additions to the bullpen, and the team’s fleet of young star position players went untouched despite fears it might be broken up to acquire pitching.

“I think this is, on paper, the strongest rotation that we’ve ever had,” Ricketts said. “I think that being able to bring in a player of (Darvish’s) caliber reminds everyone that we’re intending to win our division and go all the way.

“We’ve kept a good core of players together for several years, and this year I think our offseason moves have really set us up to be one of the best teams in baseball.

“Just coming out of our team meeting, the vibe feels a lot like two years ago. Everybody’s in a really good place. I think everyone’s really hungry and really wants to get this season off to a great start and make this a memorable year.”

There should be no surprise that the team and its players and its executives and its owners feel the way they do. The Cubs are now expected winners, even if that’s still yet to sink in for the longtime fans and observers of the team they once called the Lovable Losers.