The Rays Tank: Another Coach Becomes the Fall Guy

February 23, 2012; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs batting coach Rudy Jaramillo (7) watches during spring training at Fitch Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Yesterday, the Cubs dismissed their well-respected hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo who was in the in the final year of a three-year deal that paid him $800K a season. Jaramillo began his career with the Houston Astros in 1990 working with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggo as their pro careers began to take off and then moved up the interstate to the the Texas Rangers where he remained for 14 seasons with many successful hitters. Jaramillo is known for coaching an aggressive style at the plate rather than the "selective aggressiveness" that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer seem to prefer. The dismissal seemed to be foreshadowed by Reed Johnson a few days ago:

"He has put his heart and soul into this team the last few years," outfielder Reed Johnson said. "He takes a lot of pride in hitting, and he wants his guys to be successful, and guys feel that in return. Obviously when we're not swinging the bats well we know that would reflect on him. And we know that's not the case. "We need to get the job done as players, and obviously give him some credit for that. I know I've done that in the past as well. When I'm swinging the bat well, I feel like it's a combination of my work and his work. I think everyone in here feels the same."

Jaramillo's dismissal marks the second time a hitting coach has been let go in 2012 with the Angels' Mickey Hatcher taking the fall for his team's early struggles this season that had absolutely nothing to do with their best player not hitting and their best talent sitting in Triple-A while lesser players blocked his way.

This is not meant as an indictment of Derek Shelton and the inconsistent offense coming off a night in which they made Chris Young look like Cy Young. Rather, it is meant to point out that the Braves employ a dual hitting instructor approach as both Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher work with hitters and as Mark Bowman of MLB.com puts it, the complementary styles of the two instructors benefits the Braves.

"We've got two really smart guys who know mechanics and approach," Braves veteran utility man Eric Hinske said. "They kind of feed off each other and work well together. It's just two eyes and two people available. That's a pretty big deal. "I'd say Fletch is a touch more of a talker. He wants to communicate with you and use a lot more words to do it. That's good. They both have good strengths, and they work well together. It's going to benefit us, no doubt."

Braves catcher Brian McCann has already gained a sense that having two voices and sets of eyes could be more beneficial to a wider range of players, who might not have understood the manner in which the other hitting coach was trying to relay a message. "Everybody is different up here," McCann said. "Everybody is ready to hit a pitch different than the next guy. So you want somebody who can help you, not just teaching everybody the same way to hit as the next guy. There are a million different ways to be successful up here at this level."

Under Shelton's tutelage, some hitters have shown progress such as Matt Joyce and most recently, Ben Zobrist gave Shelton credit for working with him before the series in Miami. Jaramillo has to deserve some credit for the success Bryan LaHair has had against righties this season, the continued success of Starlin Castro, and helping Alfonso Soriano look relevant again. Perhaps a combination of Shelton and Jaramillo's instruction would help the Rays. After all, Atlanta has the 12th best team wOBA in baseball right now.

Other news:

  • Juan Pierre could potentially get to 3000 career hits. That would put him in the Hall of Fame, no doubt.
  • Tango looks at whether you should steal in front of a high-walk hitter.
  • Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez speak to FanGraphs. At least one of these guys will be on the mound in the series in the nation's capital later this month. Let's hope it isn't both of them as Stephen Strasburg is already on schedule to pitch in that series.
  • The Rays have scored 262 runs this season and are currently tied for second in the AL East. The National have scored 234 runs and are current four games up in the NL East. The immediate reaction would be to write it off as the easier league because of the lack of a DH, but the Nationals also lead all of baseball in runs allowed at 196 as they have allowed 20 less runs than any other team in baseball.
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