Today the Texas Rangers announced they are parting ways with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. Jaramillo spent 15 seasons as hitting coach for the Rangers and over that span the team had four MVPs, an individual batting title, three team home run titles, three team RBI titles, and 17 silver slugger awards.
Although his contract does not officially expire until October 31st, the Chicago Cubs must have Jaramillo on their radar. After firing hitting coach Gerald Perry earlier this season, promoting Von Joshua from Triple-A Iowa, and then demoting Joshua back to Iowa at season's end, the Cubs are currently without a hitting coach.
General manager Jim Hendry has told the Chicago media that the only in-house candidate is the Cubs current minor league hitting coordinator Dave Keller. Hendry also expressed to reporters that several outside candidates will be interviewed. Now that Jaramillo will be on the open market, the Cubs must pursue him. Despite the Rangers offensive struggles this year, his track record speaks for itself.
Although some will say that the Rangers ballpark, one of the best hitters parks in baseball, contributed solely to Jaramillo's success, those naysayers are wrong. His simple five step approach to hitting helped make stars out of players that others thought of as only mildly good hitters. This list includes Mark Texeira, Ian Kinsler, and Michael Young. He also helped reinvigorate the career of Josh Hamilton. His approach contributed to the early careers of Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio when he worked in the Houston Astros organization. We also must not forget his work with Alex and Ivan Rodriguez.
Jaramillo's laid back approach surely would benefit young Cubs players and veterans alike. However another laid back hitting coach might be the opposite of what the Cubs need in the eyes of some. Both Gerald Perry and Von Joshua were ineffective this season, although Perry had solids previous seasons at the Cubs hitting helm. With the Cubs mix of veteran and young hitters, a laid back coach is just what is needed. Jaramillo would be able to quietly come in and command the respect of all the players based on his track record without alienating veterans. This would allow him to focus on the young hitters hands on while taking more of a hands off approach to the experienced hitters.
However, the Cubs may have a tough time catching Jaramillo. Jaramillo was a finalist for the Mets managerial job that went to Willie Randolph after 2004 season and this year the Houston Astros have a managerial opening and could target the lifelong Texas resident Jaramillo for that job. Despite this obstacle, the Cubs must sign Jaramillo even if it means paying him a little more than they would like. Of course the Rangers did not help any other team in terms of Jaramillo's pay scale considering the Rangers have some of the highest paid coaches in baseball.
Despite potential obstacles, the Cubs must snap up Jaramillo to solidify their coaching staff and bring the team some offensive prowess. With Larry Rothschild, Alan Trammell, and Lou Piniella, the Cubs already have one of the most honed staffs in the major leagues. The addition of Jaramillo would give the Cubs elite coaches at four coaching positions and one more piece towards achieving the ultimate goal.