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.

Road struggles continue for Cubs in late-game implosion against Giants

Road struggles continue for Cubs in late-game implosion against Giants

It’s no secret that the Cubs have had their fair share of struggles on the road this season. Entering Monday’s game the Giants – the first of a nine-game road trip -- the Cubs held an 18-27 road record, 21st in all of baseball.

Things took a turn for the worse in that department on Monday night.

Clinging to a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning, the Cubs called upon reliever Pedro Strop to shut down the Giants 3-4-5 hitters. Strop, who entered action with a 4.62 ERA in 29 appearances (5.40 in July), surrendered three runs on four hits – including three doubles. The end result was the Giants taking a 5-4 lead, ultimately the game’s final score.

While Strop’s outing will get the most face time due to it occurring in a high-leverage spot, the truth of the matter is that the Cubs struggled for much of Monday’s game. After taking an early 3-0 lead, they couldn’t pull away from the Giants, watching San Francisco slowly close the gap and cut the deficit to 3-2 in the fifth inning.

The Giants actually came close to tying the game at 3-3 in the seventh inning, though Steve Cishek was able to work out of a first and second, one out jam to keep the Cubs ahead. Plus, before consecutive two out singles in the eighth inning – one being an RBI from Anthony Rizzo to give the Cubs an insurance run, the Cubs offense went through a 1-for-15 drought that began with two outs in the third inning.

At the same time, Strop struggling again is quite concerning. The 34-year-old has been the team's most reliable reliever for the past five seasons, posting sub-3.00 ERAs in each campaign from 2014-18. However, he's in the midst of a forgettable month, allowing seven runs on 11 hits in 7 2/3 innings. Strop also surrendered a game-tying home run in the eighth inning Friday against the Padres, though the Cubs were able to bounce back and win. 

Between their road woes and Strop's rough July, Monday's game did nothing to alleviate concerns over two unsettling Cubs trends. If there's one positive to take away from the game, it's that the Cubs were six outs away from picking up their third road win in seven tries this month.

Moral victories count for little when a team is in a heated pennant race, though, especially since the Cardinals took down the Pirates Monday to cut the Cubs' lead in the NL Central to 1.5 games. The Cubs have to find a way to get better on the road, and they have to find a way to get Strop back on track. Fortunately for the Cubs, there's still time to do both, as Strop pointed out postgame.

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What Brewers ace Brandon Woodruff's oblique strain means for Cubs, NL Central

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USA TODAY

What Brewers ace Brandon Woodruff's oblique strain means for Cubs, NL Central

The Brewers’ pursuit of second-straight NL Central championship suffered a devastating blow on Monday, as staff ace Brandon Woodruff landed on the injured list with a left oblique strain.

Woodruff, who exited Sunday’s game against the Diamondbacks in the fourth inning, is expected to be out for about six weeks. The 26-year-old is enjoying a breakout 2019 season in which he was named an All-Star for the first time. He ranks first among Brewers starting pitchers in wins (11), strikeouts (136) and innings (117 2/3) while ranking second in ERA (3.75) among pitchers with at least 10 starts.

The timing of Woodruff’s injury is unfortunate for the Brewers, who enter Monday two games behind the Cubs for first place in the NL Central at 53-48. Most teams aren’t equipped to lose their best starting pitcher for an extended period, especially in the thick of a pennant race. This is especially true for the Brewers, whose starting pitching has struggled in 2019.

Entering Monday, the Brewers starting pitchers rank 18th in MLB with a 4.73 ERA. This is a far cry from last season, when they ranked 11th with a 3.92 ERA. So, while Woodruff’s injury complicates matters, the Brewers already had a need for starting pitching.

The Brewers have a tough decision to make. They could swing a trade (or two) to give their rotation a much-needed boost. Potentially available pitchers include Madison Bumgarner of the Giants, Mike Minor of the Rangers, Matthew Boyd of the Tigers, Zack Greinke of the Diamondbacks and Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays, among others.

Acquiring a single pitcher isn’t going to solve the team’s woes, however, which Matt Clapp from The Comeback pointed out.

As Clapp said, any trade will likely require some form of prospect capital, and teams would be unwise not to ask the Brewers for rookie phenom Keston Hiura in negotiations. Hiura, 22, is hitting .331/.387/.613 with nine home runs in 37 games, though, so it’s tough to imagine the Brewers parting with him in any deal.

Thus, the Brewers either must create an enticing enough package without Hiura or stand pat. If they were to do the latter, they risk losing ground in the NL Central standings to the Cubs and Cardinals amid a tough stretch in their schedule.

From July 15-Aug. 4, the Brewers will play 16 games out of 19 against teams with .500 or better records. Although they’re currently 5-2 in that stretch, Milwaukee went 9-17 from June 14-July 14, a stretch of 26-straight games against teams with losing records. Woodruff’s injury, therefore, comes at a point in the Brewers’ schedule where it’s make or break time.

The Cubs have come out of the All-Star break hot, going 7-2 to give themselves the slightest amount of breathing room in the NL Central standings. With how the Cubs are playing, the division could become out of reach for the Brewers if they can’t stay afloat during their current stretch – let alone until Woodruff returns. Not to mention the Cardinals, who are 7-3 since the break and sit just a half game behind the Brewers in the division standings.

Of course, the Brewers were five games back of the Cubs in the NL Central entering September last season, only to win the division in Game 163. Their current position is certainly not ideal, but the Cubs and Cardinals aren't out of the woods yet. There has been a great sense of urgency within the NL Central all season due to the compact standings. For the Brewers, that urgency certainly is higher than ever now.

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