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Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs dismissed hitting coach Rudy Jarmillo, who’d been with the team since 2010. The move was expected – at some point or another – by everyone who’s been paying attention, but that doesn’t stop folks from reacting with surprise, feigned or otherwise. Jaramillo is being called a scape goat and a fall guy by writers across the web, and, as I said yesterday, that’s just ridiculous. Jaramillo’s firing has very little to do, directly, with the Cubs’ poor offensive performance this season. It has to do with organizational turnover, a shift in philosophy, and a perceived inability of Jaramillo to be the guy to implement the necessary changes. He approaches hitting the way he always has, and it’s not the way the Cubs want to do things anymore. That’s really all this is. So I have mostly ignored the pontificating about the move.

I find the reactions of Cubs players to the be the most interesting, though, since they’re the ones who’ve been working closely with Jaramillo for a while now.

Bryan LaHair said what you tend to expect players to say. “It’s a sad day,” LaHair said. “He’s like a family member. Any time a player or a coach goes, it’s not easy.”

Alfonso Soriano, one of the hottest hitters in baseball since the start of May, was similarly sad. “I feel, every hitter here feels it’s our responsibility that he lost his job because we didn’t do the job,” Soriano said. “That’s hard when you see guys like Rudy, who like to work. He liked to work and we felt comfortable with him. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves and made the game so difficult. It’s very sad to see him go.”

Darwin Barney, who also expressed sadness, spoke about Jaramillo’s approach to the gig. “Rudy was very individualistic,” Barney said. “He worked with guys on different things. With me, it was more the mechanical side of things early and I felt I had a pretty good approach to hitting and did my homework. With other guys, he talked more approach. You’re not going to really talk to someone like Jeff Baker about his mechanics. He’s been doing this for a long time, and he knows how to hit a baseball. You probably talk to him more about the approach. He worked with guys on different things and what they thought they needed.”

Geovany Soto’s quote, which came while he was rehabbing at Iowa, was very business-like (including its inclusion of the word, “business”). “It’s really unfortunate, but it’s a business,” Soto said. “I love Rudy, but sometimes you have to change. Sometimes that’s how it goes.”

The thing that strikes me about the player reactions? None seem particularly surprised by the move. Jaramillo was reportedly told a few weeks ago that the players’ approaches needed to change, or the Cubs were going to have to go in another direction (it kind of feels like that was going to happen anyway – a very businesslike firing). Maybe the players caught wind? Or maybe they could just tell, like we could, that it was time to move on.

Manager Dale Sveum, himself a former hitting coach, offered his thoughts on the dismissal, and they, too, took a dispassionate tone.

“We all have to suffer the consequences for the results,” Sveum said. “Rudy never changed, he worked as hard as any hitting coach I’ve ever seen. Mechanically, he’s as good as anybody I’ve been around. We’re just searching for a different message, different philosophy.”

  • WaLi

    Jaramillo is being called a scape goat and a fall guy by writers across the web, and, as I said yesterday, that’s just ridiculous.

    Disagree.

    Jaramillo’s firing has very little to do, directly, with the Cubs’ poor offensive performance this season

    Agree.

    I think he has been the designated scapegoat since the beginning of the season. It isn’t like they didn’t know what they had with him going into the season. Didn’t Theo say the teams OBP hasn’t gone up in the 5 years Rudy has been here? You don’t need to start the season with Rudy to see that.

    • BD

      “Disagree.”

      Disagree.

      It is ridiculous to call him the scapegoat. They have no need for one. Nobody expected this team to compete, so what blame would they be giving him? He was given a below average roster in an environment where his philosophy is being replaced. Not a scapegoat- just a victim of circumstance.

      • WaLi

        So why wait until midseason?

        • hansman1982

          Because they wanted a bridge from the old organization to the new one.

          • MaxM1908

            Exactly. You don’t throw the players into upheaval with a complete cleaning house. They need some level of consistency from one season to the next. I wouldn’t be surprised if they told him in Spring training that he’d likely be gone by mid-season.

          • SouthernCub

            “Because they wanted a bridge from the old organization to the new one.”

            I think thats pretty weak, probably has more to do w/ his contract. I mean they were paying him a lot of $, needed to see if he was worth it to them.

        • art

          agree with BD. Midseason cause, Theo early on explained what the Cubs way was/is and Rudy as Dale said, didn’t change. Boss gives you an order , you follow it or look for another job.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      To be a scapegoat, the Cubs would have to be saying, “the team isn’t hitting this year, so we’ve got to get a new hitting coach.” That hasn’t happened. When the Angels fired their hitting coach, THAT was a scapegoat.

      • WaLi

        Why does it have to be based on hitting? Theo cited OBP:

        Jaramillo was hired in the fall of 2009 by former general manager Jim Hendry and given a three-year contract. But Epstein cited the team’s declining on-base percentage since 2008, when the Cubs led the NL in OBP.

        Sorry I said 5 years above. I guess it should be 4.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          A high OBP is the byproduct of Epstein’s preferred approach (longer at bats necessarily leads to an increase in walks).

  • Leo L

    i dont think he was a scape goat. when the head coach was a hitting coach and has a different philosophy it makes it hard. I thnk since he was getting paid anyway they decided to see if it would work.. obvoiusly didnt. I think they wanted to make a change before they start calling up guys form the minors.

  • Cubbie Blues

    (from linked article) “The approach is fine,” Jaramillo said. “Hopefully, we can get a hit with men in scoring position and it kind of rolls from there and good things happen.”

    “It’s more emphasis than anything else,” Epstein said. “Rudy might be the best in the world at the mechanics of the swing. We’re trying to get to the point where we have a game plan for our hitters, emphasizing selective aggressiveness at the plate.”

    Those two quotes definitely don’t go together. It’s fair to say they say their “correct” approach is very different.

  • gocatsgo2003

    Anyone else thinking (or maybe hoping) that Starlin’s lack of discipline and hyper-aggressive approach at the plate may have been a product of Rudy’s teachings and a young player trying to follow his hitting coach’s instructions?

    It doesn’t mesh well with the patient approach we see from LaHair and DeJesus (among others), but those are more veteran guys who have had time to form their own approach at the plate. Hopefully Starlin can tone down his aggressiveness a bit in the coming years with the influence of a different hitting coach operating under Theo’s directives.

  • mjhurdle

    “You’re not going to really talk to someone like Jeff Baker about his mechanics. He’s been doing this for a long time, and he knows how to hit a baseball.” – Darwin Barney

    hmmm, Baker definitely had me fooled then…

  • MightyBear

    It’s a difference of philosophy. I didn’t understand why they didn’t let him go at the beginning of the season. The Cubs don’t (and haven’t for a several years) walk enough or work the counts to get pitch counts up. The new regime wants that, Jaramillo doesn’t teach that. Time to part ways. Simple as that.

    • HuskerCub

      Exactly, I was surprised when they kept on the staff. Seemed almost like a money saving move.

  • Leroy K

    I said this on ESPN and I will mention it here, as someone else did. Let’s take a football team. If you have a real solid offensive coordinator who isn’t doing as well, and you bring in a head coach who used to be an OC, what’s going to happen? Most likely they will disagree as no two OC’s philosophies are the same. This is what happened with the Cubs. You have a hitting coach (Jaramillo) and you have a former hitting coach turned manager (Sveum). Obviously, I don’t think that they got along…No…it wasn’t that they didn’t get along, it was they had different approaches to how they wanted to run the organization and Theo in moving forward with the organization and “purging” the Hendry “filth” (sorry, couldn’t resist) decided to get rid of Jaramillo.

    Now look, I could be 100% wrong on this. But I really believe this was pretty close to on point.

  • EricR

    I was semi-excited when Rudy was hired, but I never saw the payoff. Hopefully that changes and youngsters like Castro can adapt to a new way.

  • Jeremy

    Hopefully, the next guys can teach Castro the benefits of a disciplined approach. He has all the talent in the world when it comes to hitting, now if he can refine his approach he can take that next step towards elite. Actually the entire team needs to refine their approach.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      But Castro might not have “all the talent in the world” when it comes to hitting.  In particular, he appears to lack good pitch recognition.  Nobody knows how to teach that.  “Disciplined” sounds well and good, but it really is a misnomer.  “Discriminating” probably is the more correct word.

      • Jeremy

        I was talking specifically his ability to make contact, which he truly has an uncanny talent. I throw pitch recognition and under the umbrella of your approach at the plate. Discriminating might be a better word yes.

        You may not know how to teach it, but I believe it is something that improves with age and experience. Truly, right now, I’m not worried about his approach since he is still very young. In 3-4 years though, if it’s still a problem then I will become concerned.

        • Drew7

          “…but I believe it is something that improves with age and experience.”

          -It’s fine to believe that, but the statistics say it doesnt happen; save a handful of hitters out of thousands, player’s BB-rates stay pretty much the same during there careers.

  • die hard

    Sveum searching for the holy grail?…LOL

  • Chef Brian

    Rudy is a well respected coach given the benefit of the doubt by the new regime. It simply didn’t work out. He wasn’t a scape goat. It was just time to get some fresh ideas.

  • MC2

    Old School Vs. New School:
    Rudy was highly respected for his adjusting of the mechanics a “Swing Doctor” so to say, that does not make him a ideal “Batting Coach”, especially in a organization where they had no common approach thru their minor league system. If Rudy can’t emphasize working the count to get a pitch/walk over changing a swing, adjusting to a pitch it is counter productive. Remember it was Dale who had Soriano change bat weights and he started hitting. Some of those guys have been in the organization for awhile and aren’t gonna adjust in half a season what they have been doing their entire career. I often wonder if someone would have had Fukedome switch bats maybe he would have done better. I think Theo and company new Rudy was good at what he did they just needed him to follow the game plan and he couldn’t do it. It’s not about money they’re gonna pay out his contract the rest of the year, it’s not about not getting along, it’s about giving someone a chance and then realizing when is best to cut ties and get who they want teaching their way. I don’t doubt Jaramillo goes to long without finding another job… …

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