- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- After firing respected hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo on Tuesday, the Chicago Cubs, led by president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, will move on to more pressing issues. The task of improving the depth of talent throughout the organization heads that list.
“It’s true that once the draft is over with their seems to be more of a focus on the trade market “ said Epstein, after announcing Jaramillo's departure. “There are more phone calls being made now across baseball then there were 10 days ago.”
It stands to reason that the next piece of business will be for Epstein to sit down with Ryan Dempster and discuss which teams the veteran starters would accept a trade to. Epstein seems to excel in communication, so it would seem logical that the Cubs and Dempster have a working partnership in this process.
“We are in a position where any opportunity to get better to improve our future is something (we) have to take seriously,” Epstein said.
As to what the Cubs are looking for, it’s a no-brainer that minor league and first year major league pitching is the focal point for the franchise’s future under the new regime.
“The reality of the game is that trades are made in June and July, and if didn’t fully investigate and execute (moves) that made sense, we would be doing a disservice to the organization.”
Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have started the process of getting younger and better by overseeing their first draft and signing Jorge Soler, a five-tool Cuban outfielder. Soler could be a building block for the Cubs when they are ready to augment player development with the signing of young free agents in 2014 and beyond.
The Cubs must still get worse before they get better as player procurement and development take place at the same time. Firing Jaramillo might look like a shift of responsibility for a poor record by a team that did not replace run-producing third baseman Aramis Ramirez, but it was the right thing to do for both sides.
Jaramillo deserves better offensive players to work with. He was promised to have input on hiring all the hitting coaches in the organization when he was brought on in 2009. With the change in leadership, that and other promises went unrealized.
New hitting coach James Rowson will take a more enthusiastic approach with the young talent that will come through the organization the next few seasons. It’s Epstein job to get better players in trades than the group Jaramillo had to work with.
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