Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nelson Cruz, Rudy Jaramillo

Update: Nelson Cruz hits 3 run homer today in Yankee Stadium. The funniest thing about this video is watching the reaction of Nelson Cruz' family in the stands - especially his sister. She is so enthusiastic that she shames the men around her into celebrating more vociferously. If you listen closely, I swear you can hear her extended screaming on the game broadcast. Her voice carries all the way to the microphones (in the announcers' booth?).


Nice article on Nelson Cruz:

("I don't know if I should be embarrassed of this or proud of this," Daniels said, "but in consecutive spring trainings we passed Marlon Byrd and Nellie Cruz through waivers the first week of April.")

One moment, please...

April 17, 2010

Jon Daniels
General Manager
Texas Rangers Baseball Club

100 Ballpark Way
Arlington, Texas

Dear Mr. Daniels,

I can be of assistance:


Greg Cotharn
The End Zone blog
Fort Worth, Texas

End Moment

Once Cruz got to Triple-A Oklahoma [in 2008], he made an adjustment to his hitting. With input from director of player development Scott Servais, minor-league hitting coordinator Mike Boulanger and Oklahoma manager Bobby Jones, Cruz "opened up" his stance -- moving his left (front) foot toward third base to allow him a more direct look at the pitch.

In 2008: Servais, Boulanger, and Bobby Jones helped Cruz after Rudy Jaramillo failed to help Cruz.

In 2009: Boulanger and Bobby Jones helped Chris Davis after Rudy Jaramillo failed to help Chris Davis.

How good, really, is Rudy Jaramillo? The Rangers offense in 2009 was one of the least disciplined offenses I've ever seen. They were abysmal; abominable; unprofessional; an embarrassment. The pitching and defense made the 2009 season respectable. The offense played like losers.

My impression (from outside the field, dugout, clubhouse, and batting cage) is that Jaramillo, via drills and repetition, helps players gain confidence in their muscle memory, and thus helps players gain confidence in their ability to execute. However, Jaramillo doesn't emphasize the mental aspect with as much effectiveness: doesn't emphasize selectivity as much as is needed; doesn't emphasize going to the opposite field as much as is needed.

Jaramillo, in 2009, was surely hampered by having a young and headstrong team. Many major leaguers learn to be selective year by year: they develop over time; are more selective in mid career and in late career.

Still, even considering the youth of the lineup, 2009 was an offensive disaster. Hamilton mentally melted down, becoming possibly the worst hacker ever. Kinsler regressed. Blalock - finally healthy, and handed a real chance to resuscitate his career - instead hacked his career to pieces. Blalock currently labors in Durham. Andruw Jones was ready to do anything, i.e. to take any steps and to do any off the field work, to revive his career. Didn't happen. Davis slumped and was not helped by Jaramillo. Saltalamacchia - a hitter of some talent and potential - was a horrid hacker who belonged in a slow pitch softball beer league. Teagarden, for whom selectivity represents his only hope of success, hacked like a desperate Dominican. In short auditions: Craig Gentry desperately hacked; Joaquin Arias hacked as he always has, yet as he must not if he is to have a notable major league career. You'd think that Jaramillo - who speaks fluent Spanish, and who has a respected reputation - would have a decent chance to get through to a Joaquin Arias. Yet, no.

Back to 2008 in OKC:

"[Cruz] was hitting home runs every game," Teagarden said.

Except this was in Triple-A.
In 103 games for Oklahoma that year, Cruz hit .342 with 37 homers, 99 RBI, 24 stolen bases and a .695 slugging percentage.

All the while, Teagarden thought to himself, "God, this is crazy this guy is not in the big leagues."

In one 10-game span, Cruz hit 11 homers.

"He was one of the best baseball players I've ever seen, " said Teagarden, a teammate then and now. "I never saw the slumping Nelson Cruz. I always saw the big guy who ran well and had a lot of power and hit home runs and had a lot of energy.


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