Cubs fire Rudy Jaramillo

CHICAGO -- The first of what could be some significant changes over the next seven weeks went down Tuesday when the Chicago Cubs fired hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo.

Minor league hitting coordinator James Rowson, 35, was named interim hitting coach. He joined the Cubs organization in the offseason after spending the past six seasons in the New York Yankees organization, including the last four as their minor league hitting coordinator.

With the trade deadline approaching at the end of July, Jaramillo might not be the only one to be leaving the Cubs. Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Bryan LaHair and Alfonso Soriano have all been mentioned in trade talk.

"You're constantly balancing and juggling different balls, but it's true that once the draft is over with there seems more of a focus on the trade market across baseball, so there are more phone calls being made now than there were 10 days ago, for example," Cubs president Theo Epstein said. "We're in a position where any opportunities to get better and any opportunities to improve our future are something that we have to take seriously.

"I don't like to talk about it publicly, but the reality of the game is trades are made in June and July. If we didn't fully investigate and execute ones that made sense we've been doing a disservice to the organization."

The Cubs started to show some life offensively this past weekend at Minnesota, but they still remained 15th in the 16-team National League in on-base percentage at .304 at the start of play Tuesday. They were 14th in runs scored at 222 and 10th in batting average at .247.

Despite some low expectations this season, the Cubs have still underachieved, and the offense and the bullpen are two of the main culprits.

The Cubs had been desperate to get multiple players on track offensively at the same time. LaHair was the main run producer early in the season but was getting little help from his teammates. Soriano has been producing of late but despite his dazzling offensive show since May 15, the team is just 5-20.

Jaramillo, 61, was in his third season as the Cubs hitting coach and was in his 18th consecutive season as a hitting coach on the major league level. He was in the final year of a contract that paid him $800,000 this season. The three-year, $2.42 million contract he signed before the 2010 season was believed to make him the highest-paid hitting coach in baseball at the time.

He was the Texas Rangers' hitting coach for 15 consecutive seasons. Under Jaramillo, the Rangers led the American League in batting average three times and were in the top five in OPS 10 times.

The Cubs' struggles on offense this season have come essentially with two hitting coaches on the staff. Manager Dale Sveum, who was the Milwaukee Brewers' hitting coach the previous three seasons, had been working with Cubs' hitters this season along with Jaramillo.

Rowson spent three seasons in the Seattle Mariners' organization as a player and one season in the Yankees' organization. He has spent the last 11 seasons as a professional hitting coach or coordinator and also had four seasons as a hitting coach in the Los Angeles Angels' system.

Information from ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine was used in this report.