As has been rumored for the past several weeks, it is anticipated that the Cubs will announce the hiring of former Texas Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo to be their hitting coach for the next three years, at a reported cost of $2.42 million. That will make him the highest-paid hitting coach in the major leagues, and also make him the hitting coach for whoever the Cubs' next manager is -- because Lou Piniella has repeatedly stated that 2010 will be his last season.
Hiring a new batting coach is not the panacea to all the Cubs' problems. But Jaramillo has a reputation as one of the best in the business, and has worked with a number of outstanding hitters in his time in Texas (where he has been the hitting coach since 1995 under four different managers), including the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano. Caveat: Soriano had two of his lowest-walk seasons in his two years in Texas, which might confirm rumors that Jaramillo encourages hitters to be "aggressive".
There is one more thing that's an encouraging sign about this signing. Spending nearly $2.5 million (over three years) on a coach indicates -- to me, at least -- that new ownership, which will likely be made official in the next couple of weeks, is not going to hold back the purse strings when it comes to improving the team. And that has to be good news. I'll update this post with the official press release when it comes out.
UPDATE: From the official press release:
The Chicago Cubs today named Rudy Jaramillo as their major league hitting coach. Jaramillo replaces Von Joshua, who at the end of the 2009 season was offered the opportunity to return to his previous position as hitting coach at Triple-A Iowa.
"Rudy Jaramillo is widely regarded as the premiere hitting instructor in the game," said Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry. "The addition of Rudy to our franchise is a strong statement from our new owners, the Ricketts family, and we thank them for allowing us to move quickly to fill this important role with the best in the business."
Jaramillo, 59, joins the Cubs after serving 15 seasons as the hitting coach with Texas, where he oversaw a Rangers offense that produced 17 Silver Slugger Awards, three home run champions, three RBI titles and a batting champion. Additionally, his hitters won four of the last 15 Most Valuable Player awards.
During his tenure, Jaramillo guided the Rangers to 13-consecutive seasons in which the offense recorded more than 800 runs scored, the longest streak by any major league team since the New York Yankees accomplished the feat in 17-straight seasons from 1926-42. Additionally, the Rangers established a major league record with 376 doubles in 2008 and hit 260 home runs in 2005, the second-highest single-season home run total in major league history.