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Braves Hire Fredi Gonzalez, Announce Coaching Staff
Written by Joe Lucia on .
Big news that broke last night and was made official that I'm just getting on...
Well, as I mentioned, the news broke last night that Fredi Gonzalez was going to be named the new manager of the Braves. After Bobby Cox's farewell press conference today, there was a press conference to introduce Gonzalez. He was the only one interviewed for the job. He was the Braves main target after Cox announced he would retire, and the team got their man.
Fan reaction to the move has been spotty. Some fans despise the move. Some fans love it. Some fans, like myself, fall somewhere in the middle and want to see what he does with the Braves before making a decision. Fact of the matter is...Gonzalez doesn't have a huge major league track record. 3 and a half seasons in the majors, managing the low payroll Marlins. Not really a huge name in the league, but someone familiar with the Braves organization and a lot of its players.
One of the major knocks perpetrated onto Gonzalez by the fans is that he tends to overmanage like Bobby did, with the bunts and intentional walks and constant pitching changes. Let's take a quick look at that.
2007: Marlins 72 (5th), Braves 55 (14th)
2008: Marlins 49 (16th), Braves 69 (6th)
2009: Marlins 70 (7th), Braves 95 (2nd)
2010 (cut off at the All-Star Break, around when Gonzalez was fired): Marlins 32 (12th), Braves 46 (2nd)
So looking at that, its clear that Gonzalez is no more of a bunt happy manager than Cox was, with the exception of his first season. Why is this a major talking point? I'm not really sure. It is what it is. People love to latch on to something and never let go because they think they're right and don't like to confirm facts.
2007: Marlins 35 (4th), Braves 46 (1st)
2008: Marlins 37 (4th), Braves 45 (1st)
2009: Marlins 31 (5th), Braves 32 (3rd)
2010 (cut off at All-Star Break): Marlins 20 (15th), Braves 30 (2nd)
While Fredi's Marlins teams ranked near the top of the league in his first 3 years on the job, Bobby's Braves teams WERE the top of the league. So it looks like we're 0/2 in "Fredi Gonzalez is an insane overmanager" marks on the checklist. How about pitching changes? This one sucks to do, because if I just look at "relief pitcher innings", that really doesn't tell me how many times new pitchers game into the game. So how about "relief pitching appearances"? Sounds good to me. No rankings on this one because I'm doing it manually as opposed to doing it with sortable stats.
Relief pitching appearances
2007: Marlins 560, Braves 528
2008: Marlins 510, Braves 545
2009: Marlins 530, Braves 488
2010 (cut off at All-Star Break): Marlins 246, Braves 249
So what do we have here...a dead even half season, 30 changes in each side's favor, and a big season in Bobby's favor. Data overall is inconclusive, but aside from his first year, Fredi was pretty consistent. That seems to be the common theme throughout this look at the data: Fredi playing around in his first season with the overmanaging, and then turning into a pretty average looking manager in the 2 and a half after that. He's not a horrid overmanager like people are assuming he is. These are the people that watch 19 Marlins games a year and think they know every one of a manager's tendencies based on that small sample size. CHILL OUT PEOPLE.
Now, the coaching staff. Brian Snitker, Roger McDowell, and Eddie Perez retain their current positions on the staff. Terry Pendleton has thankfully been reassigned to become the team's new first base coach. I think moving Pendleton is a huge move for this team, because the offense was just putting together some horrible at bats over the past couple of years. Pendleton completely ruined Kelly Johnson's approach, and I think the Braves were a little terrified that he'd do the same thing to Jason Heyward. Thankfully, he won't have a chance to do that anymore. Chino Cadahia and Glenn Hubbard were relieved of their duties with the organization. Sad to lose them both, because they both seemed like good baseball men. Maybe without Hubbard at first, the team will be a little more aggressive on the bases. Interesting to see what happens there. Replacing Cadahia as bench coach is former Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca. He's got a career record of 191-191, managing one full and 2 half seasons with the Jays. It will be nice to have another experienced baseball man on the bench in case Fredi gets ejected. The position of hitting coach is still open. No candidates names have surfaced as of yet.
Going to get cranking on AFL coverage in the next couple of days, along with a new little series called HINDSIGHT, taking a look at some moves the Braves have made since the end of last season, and taking a look at how they look now...in hindsight. See what I did there? Great. The march to 2011 has officially begun.