Rudy Jamarillo: The Cubs' most important acquisition?
Rudy Jamarillo is different than others. He has the reputation as the "best hitting coach in baseball." You can even go online and buy his "5 Simple Steps Hitting Video". Not so for Gerald Perry or Von Joshua (although Von Joshua did have the "Fuzz Machine").
The Cubs weren't able to go sign away their hitting problems this year. They've got to depend on the guys they have to hit better next year. That's a whole lotta weight gonna be on Jamarillo's shoulders, so I think he deserves a bigger title than just the "hitting coach".
This being Chicago, that means something government-like. With an official seal.
How's about "Commissioner of the Office of Hitting Skills Renewal Management"?
Here's what Commissioner Jamarillo has to do:
First, he's got to deal with the media and be in charge of Hitting Skills Public Relations.
Why was signing Marlon Byrd so great? Ask Rudy: "He's made alot of adjustments. Every year, he got better. I'm real excited about him coming over there. He brings lots of energy and leadership. He wants to win."
Marlon being a successful Rudy disciple is also good PR. And in fact Marlon can help Rudy "get my system out a little quicker and faster" because "Marlon is a good teacher."
Which is good, because the next thing Rudy has to do is get the Cubs to hit.
Geovany Soto hit .285 with 23 homers and 86 RBIs in 2008. Last year he was injured a little, wasted all that time with the WBC, and hit a sophomore slumping .218 with 11 dingers and 47 RBIs.
Alfonso Soriano was a terror with the bat early last season, then something went bad with the legs and that Fonzie thing where he carries the team on his shoulders by being a one man wrecking crew never really happened later on. In 8 more games than he played in '08, Alfonso hit 9 less homers, 20 less RBIs, and his average sunk to a .241 career low (not counting his 22 game Yankee season in 2000).
Worse, he looked like a joke swinging at the breaking balls in the dirt that were closer to first base than the plate.
Then there's Kosuke Fukudome and the headless tornado swing.
Ryan Theriot's gotta be one of the best students on the team, but that hasn't really worked out so well. He was doing fine with the Gerald Perry thing, then Aramis goes down, Von Joshua comes up. Shows Ryan the "Fuzz Machine" and then Lou asks him to maybe hit a couple more homers. It switched Ryan up. Numbers go like this: 2008 he hit .307 with 73 walks and 58 strikeouts, 2009 he hit .284 with 51 walks and 93 strikeouts. Now, he did go from 1 homer to 7, and 38 RBIs to 54, but I think we want to see Ryan be the guy crossing the plate when somebody else knocks him in.
Anyway, Rudy's got to settle him down.
Fontenot was a train wreck, and you could say didn't take advantage of perhaps his only chance to be a starter in the Bigs.
So that's alot of fixing to do, Commissioner Jamarillo, and it makes you the most important acquisition the Cubs got, at least so far, during this Hot Stove season.
May your System be correct, the Office of Hitting Skills Renewal Management be a success, and may the Baseball Gods be with you.