Saturday, June 23, 2012

4 comments Rick Telander is Not Taking the Rudy Jaramillo Firing Well, Seems Confused about the Idea of Rebuilding

The Chicago Cubs, the one MLB team who have the potential to gain more annoying bandwagon fans than even the Red Sox have if/when they win a World Series, are rebuilding. The players know that, the Cubs fans know that, I know that, and the Cubs front office knows that. Rick Telander missed the memo. He is not taking the firing of Rudy Jaramillo very well. He takes the firing of Jaramillo as a sign the Cubs rebuilding process isn't going well. It seems Telander believes the rebuilding process should be over by now. It seems Telander thinks you rebuild in one offseason and then start winning pennants immediately. Theo Epstein said the firing of Jaramillo was about sending a message. Well, Rick Telander got the message and he hates the message that in order to rebuild there will be some turnover among the players and coaches.

Now we’re talking.

Remember the press release the Cubs sent out saying the firing of Jaramillo will fix all of their problems? You don't? That's probably because they didn't send out a press release saying firing Rudy Jaramillo would fix all of their problems. It's just one step in the process.

Fire the hitting coach!

He was in the last year of his contract, so perhaps the Cubs had no intentions of keeping him around after this year and wanted to try out someone else for the job. Firing the hitting coach is often a cheap scapegoat tactic teams use in order to explain why the lineup is hitting poorly. Other times it shows an organization wants a change in philosophy or approach to hitting on the major league level. In the case of Jaramillo, he is a holdover from the Jim Hendry era and was in the last year of his contract. The Cubs weren't hitting well and if he wasn't coming back, then why not see if James Rowson (the Cubs new hitting coach) is cut out for the job? He gets a three month tryout. If he doesn't work out, the Cubs can find another hitting coach who more closely fits the personality and approach they are looking their hitters to take at the plate.

The Cubs did just that, and you have to figure Rudy Jaramillo was personally responsible for 50 or so of the Cubs’ losses this season.

That's exactly what this move means! Rudy Jaramillo is directly to blame for all 40 losses. Anytime a coach gets fired it means he is the biggest and only problem in the organization. Rick Telander seems to have it all figure out doesn't he?

What’s that?

The bottom-feeding Cubs have only lost 40 games?

Well, whaddaya know.

So clearly having Rudy Jaramillo on staff as the hitting coach was working wonders for the Cubs since they have lost 40 games already.

The Cubs were 27th in runs, 21st in batting average, 27th in OBP, 23rd in slugging percentage, 27th in walks, and 15th in strikeouts.

The Cubs were 19th in runs, 13th in batting average, 20th in OBP, 15th in slugging percentage, 29th in walks, and 10th in strikeouts.

Mostly, this is the fault of the players, but these low numbers are also an indication that Jaramillo did not have the Cubs batters performing at a high level over the past year and a half. The Cubs wanted to go in a different direction. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially since the Cubs are currently so bad. I wouldn't understand the firing of Jaramillo if the Cubs hitting was a bright spot on the team.

Whatever, the Rudy-less Cubs should now go on a hitting and pitching and base-stealing and run-producing and towel-snapping tear that will rocket them into —dare we say it? — 28th place.

Regardless, the Cubs wanted a change in hitting philosophy to go along with the other changes the organization has made. Theo Epstein probably wanted to know if he should bring in his own guy after this season or Rowson could do the job. Jaramillo didn't have much to work with, but any person in his/her right mind knows Jaramillo isn't being scapegoated.

With the great news that the Cubs just signed 20-year-old Cuban power-hitting outfielder Jorge Soler — and he might be ready for the big leagues in two or three years — why shouldn’t we all be dancing and singing about the World Series?

How dare the Cubs make a rebuilding plan that takes more than three months! Why do they insist on signing players that aren't ready to play in the majors immediately and seem to want to develop young players? Why can't the Cubs make more brilliant signings like that stud outfielder Kosuke Fukudome was? Now that was a brilliant signing that didn't rely on "potential" or cause the organization to bother with that pesky idea of developing players. The road to success in baseball is paved with quick fixes. Who needs player development anyway?

If the Cubs were your doctor, and you were suffering from, oh, let’s say, hemorrhoids, Theo Epstein (MD) would have just removed a wart from your neck and promised you some Preparation H in 2014.

Or if the Cubs were your doctor and you were suffering from cancer, the doctor would prescribe a treatment that would at first weaken you, but would hopefully take care of the cancer over the long-term.

Maybe Jaramillo, whose reputation was among the best in baseball, was too old.

Or he simply wasn't helping the Cubs hitters hit the baseball better.

Clearly, he wasn’t making the Cubs — who are 10th or worse in the 16-team National League in on-base percentage, runs scored and batting average — into hitters.

Clearly, his inability to help the Cubs batters hit the baseball better is a reason not to freak out about Jaramillo's departure as the Cubs hitting coach.

Maybe he just forgot all those details he knew when he was with the Texas Rangers for 15 years and had them leading the American League in batting average three times.

So Jaramillo gets credited for the performance of the Rangers batters during much of the Steroid Era (Palmeiro, A-Rod, Juan Gonzalez), many of whom were proven steroid users, but he shouldn't take the blame for the Cubs bad hitting? If his team hits well, it is because of Jaramillo and his influence, but if they hit poorly it is because the players on his team are poor hitters?

Maybe it’s the weak-hitting Cubs pitchers. Maybe it was all done with smoke — and ’roids — with the Rangers.

That's quite possible the great hitting those Rangers showed was because the Rangers had quite a few proven steroid users on some of those Rudy Jamarillo-coached teams. It's also quite possible Jaramillo helped these guys become better hitters when he was with the Rangers. It could also be a combination of both. Mostly, Jaramillo's record with the Rangers in the past is irrelevant because he was the hitting coach for the Cubs in the present and the Cubs hitters weren't hitting well.

Except, boy, this smells like a red herring to me. Or maybe it’s a sacrificial goat. Possibly it’s a stinky sleeping potion.

When a team is rebuilding, tough decisions like this have to be made. It isn't much of a rebuilding process if there isn't turnover among the coaches and players. If the coaches, players, and farm system were worth a shit there wouldn't be a need to rebuild the team.

Because if Cubs fans are supposed to simply sit back and doze while owner Tom Ricketts and architect Epstein and all the boy geniuses who are supposed to turn Wrigley Field into Boston Midwest do their thing a few years ‘‘down the road,’’ then why even field a team now?

This is a moronic statement. You field a team now because there is no other way to know which players and coaches need to stay around "down the road." That is, unless Rick Telander knows of a way to evaluate baseball players and coaches without the benefit of seeing their performance during baseball games. These players aren't computers you know, they are actually have to go out there and perform on the field. You can't only use computers to judge the players you Sabermetrician asshole!

I realize Rick Telander is being sarcastic when he makes this statement, but if he doesn't understand how a team may have to take a step back when rebuilding in order to get where the team wants/needs to be then he probably shouldn't be covering sports anymore. Cubs fans aren't supposed to sit back and doze while the team is rebuilding. They are supposed to cheer for the Cubs and enjoy the progress the team makes.

The payroll is going down, the talent is going down further and a team that was predicted to be bad is worse than anyone knew.

The Cubs weren't very good when the payroll was high. So it is a sign of progress the payroll is going down. That mean the expensive, underachieving players are coming off the payroll and roster. A high payroll isn't always a good thing, especially when that team hasn't performed at a high level for the past few years. A declining payroll can be seen as the road to success for a team like the Cubs.

In what other business could you get away with this?

Cutting payroll in order to make room for lower or equally paid, higher performing talent? I would say in pretty much every other business you could get away with this, especially in sports. Teams will often cut payroll in an effort to make financial and roster room for younger and better players.

How would you like to be Dale Sveum?

Obviously, he’s not a great manager,

And why do I have a feeling Rick Telander would object if Sveum, the "not great manager," got fired by the Cubs? Rick Telander thinks the Cubs need to rebuild without actually making any significant changes to the team.

The Cubs are on pace to be not just pitiful, but the worst ever. No Cubs team has ever lost 104 games in a season. This version is on pace to lose 108.

Yep, the Cubs are terrible this year. Little known fact: A team's record starts over at beginning of each season. If the rebuilding plan is strong then the Cubs should start seeing results in the next 1-2 years. That seems like 6-18 more months than Telander wants to wait to see results. Maybe the whole plan sucks. We won't know for another year or so. Firing Rudy Jaramillo may not make a difference at all, but having him as the hitting coach certainly wasn't preventing the Cubs from losing games.

Is this what Mrs. Sveum had in mind for Dale when she birthed him 48 years ago in California, watching him become an All-America high school quarterback, then a respected major-leaguer?


What does this have to do with anything?

You can really have fun as a boss when you tell your customers that, sure, the steak is rotten and the wine tastes like radiator fluid and the silverware is plastic-ware because it’s gonna get better. Keep paying full price, folks, because once we get the cockroaches and tapeworms out of here, you’ll be amazed!

This is how rebuilding works. Things are shitty and then things (hopefully) eventually get better. Theo Epstein chose not to rebuild on the fly, so he tried to tear it all down before rebuilding again.

Would you put up with this nonsense if Epstein and Co. were anybody else?

He has a history of success. This is like asking if I would put up with an NBA player putting up 30 shots in a game if he wasn't Kevin Durant. Epstein isn't the best General Manager in baseball, but he has a history of achieving success. Give him a chance to do it, and if he fails, laugh in his face. Just give him longer than 60 games to see results.

Then there’s this, dark as it may be: If the Cubs can descend to the bottom without fans revolting, then imagine the genius of the execs who make the Cubs good after ruining them.

This is how the Cubs are choosing to rebuild. They are cutting costs, and yes, cutting talent in order to achieve a long-term goal of putting together a consistently winning team. NFL teams do this all the time. They cut expensive players in order to gain more cap room, draft well and sign the correct free agents. I know the process is painful in baseball because the season is so long, but why is this a bad thing? Epstein sees ruining the Cubs in the short-term as improving them in the long-term.

The Cubs might win 30 more games next year than this.

If the Cubs win 40 games this year then 70 wins next year could be seen as progress. Why would this be a bad thing?

And you know what, just-promoted interim hitting coach James Rowson, 35, might be the answer to it all.

You pay your money, and you gotta believe.

Last question: Right?

Well, we know one thing...Rudy Jaramillo wasn't the answer as the hitting coach. I don't think Rick Telander gets the idea of rebuilding. Sure, the Cubs are doing the extreme edition of rebuilding. It may work or it may not work. It takes more than six months to know for sure. Have patience and quit freaking out when the Cubs make the changes necessary to put a winning team on the field.


rich said...

Because if Cubs fans are supposed to simply sit back and doze while owner Tom Ricketts and architect Epstein and all the boy geniuses who are supposed to turn Wrigley Field into Boston Midwest do their thing a few years ‘‘down the road,’’ then why even field a team now?

This is fucking absurd - if you're team isn't going to win a championship, you shouldn't even bother fielding a team?

What happened to the days where suffering through 10 years of crappy play was the right of passage you went through to celebrate the actual championship?

Even more so, how the fuck can you expect your players to get better if you don't field a team?

How do you know who to keep and who to trade?

How do you figure out what someone is worth if you decide they aren't going to be a part of your rebuilding effort?

In what other business could you get away with this?

Fucking all of them. If a company has 20 employees and it costs 150M and it's a crap product, you fire those employees and hire 20 more at entry level contracts.

Why the hell do you think so many people go get MBAs?

Engineering is notorious for this shit. You go work at a company for about 5 years and your company will basically tell you to get out.

Why? Because after 5 years of experience, you're really expensive to keep around and you're actually not doing much more than an entry level person would be doing anyway.

Why would any company pay 150M to produce a crappy product with no hope of it getting better when they can pay 100M for an equally crappy product, but potentially improve the product every year.

It's almost comical that Cubs fans actually deluded themselves into thinking that just having Epstein in the front office was going to cause the team to compete immediately.

You can really have fun as a boss when you tell your customers that, sure, the steak is rotten and the wine tastes like radiator fluid and the silverware is plastic-ware because it’s gonna get better.

This isn't something that just started this year, the Cubs lost 91 games last year and 87 the year before.

Now that there's an actual rebuilding plan... the losing is a problem?

Then there’s this, dark as it may be: If the Cubs can descend to the bottom without fans revolting

I'm sorry, but why would the fans revolt? Teams are good for a while and then typically fall off as their team ages. It's not rocket science.

Hell, even the Yankees sucked ass for a couple years in the late 80s, early 90s.

It shows that the fans are actually cognizant and appreciative of the fact the organization is trying to get better.

And you know what, just-promoted interim hitting coach James Rowson, 35, might be the answer to it all.

Okay, the guys' 35... If you're rebuilding, why not also bring in coaches who will work with them every step of the way rather than a guy who is now 61 years old.

And here's the awesome thing - Jaramillo was the hitting coach since 2010 and the Cubs have gotten significantly worse offensively.

Even with the old roster (that Telander is implicitly defending), they scored 50 runs less in 2011 than they did in 2010.

The fact that Maramillo left Texas and Texas became an offensive juggernaut with two WS appearances tells me that maybe, just maybe, the level of talent Jamarillo had in Texas had to do with the fact that the Rangers hit well.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I think Telander is exaggerating about not fielding at team at all, but the idea of developing a good team through the farm system and smart moves over a 3-4 year period isn't a bad one. Doing the opposite of that is how a team gets a high payroll with underproducing players.

I can't believe Cubs fans would believe they would get better after one year. Epstein needs a few years and then if he sucks and the team isn't going anywhere, go in a different direction. Epstein isn't a magician. He is trying to reduce the payroll so the Cubs can start over with cheaper players and build a winning team. You could get away with cutting costs and hiring cheaper labor in pretty much every industry as long as productivity is high.

I think Rick Telander is just scared the Sun-Times will fire him b/c he is more expensive and higher a person just out of school to do what he does. Therefore he sees older, more expensive labor as better than starting over to cut costs. Cutting costs through cheaper labor isn't something he likes to see for his own well-being.

Is the illusion of progress really more important to Telander than growing pains which could lead to actual progress? Apparently.

I didn't even make mention of how Texas has thrived without Jaramillo as the hitting coach. It's almost like the hitters are the ones who make the real difference in how many runs a team scores.

jacktotherack said...

Telander is terrible. I'm sure there are some Cub fans who expected Epstein to work miracles and turn this team around immediately, but they're dipshits who I wish weren't associated with the fan base. Most reasonable people know that the Cubs are looking at 2015, maybe 2014 if you want to be optimistic, before they are close to contending again.

All Telander is doing with a piece like this is poking the stupid fans with a stick in order to get a rise out of people and get some page views. If he really is that obtuse and can't possibly grasp the concept of how long rebuilding the Cubs after Henbdry's disasterous tenure might take he should be fired immediately. Hell he probably should be fired anyway because he blows.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, if there were Cubs fans who thought it would turn around in one year. I like the way they are rebuilding the team, but it is going to take a few years. It seems as if they are trying to rebuild the farm system and that takes a few years. It may not work, but it also could end up being a better move than how they were running the team previously.

All he cares about is pageviews. The firing of a hitting coach may not matter too much, especially since he was in the last year of his contract. I think Telander is just poking the fans with a stick here. He can't really have such unrealistic expectations for how long the rebuilding will take.