Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010
By Patrick Mooney
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.