Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Rudy Jaramillo to sign with the Cubs

ESPN is reporting that the Cubs are close to signing hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo to a deal.  He will be replacing Von Joshua and Gerald Perry as the Cubs hitting coach. 

As smart, sophisticated, kick-ass Cub fans, we all have to realize how little this might mean.  Jaramillo has had a lot of success serving as the hitting coach for the Rangers (since 1994) and Astros (from 1990 to 1993), but the question is this: was he successful at turning guys like Bagwell, Biggio, Gonzalez, Rodriguez, Teixeria, and Young into super-stars, or was he fortunate to have those guys around to make him look good?  Let's not forget that Sammy Sosa became a stud when he started listening to Jeff Pentland, who would segue his success with Steroid Sammy into two jobs with hopeless, mediocre offenses in Kansas City and then Seattle.

One interesting thing to note was that, from stories early in the year, Milton Bradley reportedly missed his old hitting coach from the Rangers (Jaramillo) who he connected to back when he had his spectacular '08 season.  Does this mean there is even a small chance of reconciliation with Jim and Milton?  Probably not.  But we can look at Bradley's production in the '08 season as an example of how Jaramillo just might know what the hell he's doing.

Either way, before we remember that the Cubs '09 offense was swinging from crapville for most of the year, we should try not to forget that the '08 team -- which consisted of many of the same key players -- was a force of nature.  Therefore, regardless of Jamarillo's actual talent, and even regardless of Hendry's success at upgrading the team in the winter, I will be expecting some bounce-back. 

I still think that hitting coaches are important, despite how some Cub fans would argue that they do nothing to impact the multi-millionaires they coach.  Chances are that a hitting coach can't turn a bad hitter into a good one, but he might be able to take a good hitter with bad habits and get him focused and directed.  Besides, much like pitching there are mechanics to good hitting.  Jaramillo's direct impact on the team should stem from his ability to fix an errant batting stance and to close a swing with big holes in it.  We can't underestimate the value of that, much as we shouldn't oversell it, either.

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