It’s hard to get excited about something as inevitable as the Braves hiring Fredi Gonzalez, but I’m more or less pleased with the choice. If he woofs it, fine, it means the team is losing and if the team is losing it’s going to have to start over anyway and then there are a whole other set of concerns. I don’t see him, however, as being a guy who will take a team of talent level X and turn them into a team that performs in an -X fashion. They may not be transcendent under Gonzalez, but he’s not going to hamstring them I don’t believe.
Here’s what a couple of other people are saying:
Mark Bradley of the AJC:
Fredi Gonzalez is a solid hire made for logical reasons — the Braves
know him and like his way of doing business. But I was hoping for
someone who wasn’t a Cox acolyte. I was hoping for someone like
Jose Oquendo, who’s the third-base coach in St. Louis and who has
apprenticed under Tony La Russa. And, apart from their love of stray
animals, Cox and La Russa have as much in common as chalk and cheese.
Bradley doesn’t identify any problems with Gonzalez. I think he’s just bored with the choice because it doesn’t give him any new angles to write about. And hey, I love Jose Oquendo too, but I just don’t think this is a team with which you go in a different direction right now.
I’m not too worried. I think the choice reflects the fact that it will
be hard to step into Bobby Cox’s shoes, and it’s clear that the front
office wants to replace Bobby with a manger familiar with Bobby’s style
and clubhouse culture. Gonzalez likely won’t have the autonomy and input
that Bobby had, but he won’t be rocking the boat of a team that played
well for the most part this year.
Bradbury also offers a couple of interesting anecdotes suggesting that Gonzalez may be a bit more sabermetrically-friendly than the current Braves regime is. Worth watching.
Finally, Peter Hjort of the Braves blog, Capital Avenue Club:
Quite simply I think this is a huge mistake. Fredi Gonzalez is not Bobby Cox. Just because he has worked with
Bobby Cox does not mean he will be as effective as Bobby Cox. He won’t . . . Expect less of the things that made us love Bobby and more of the things
that made us infuriated with him. That’s essentially what they’ve
opted for, a version of Bobby with less of his good qualities and an
exaggerated propensity for over-management.
I suppose that’s possible. At this point, though, we could take the argument in circles. It’s a team that has had the same guy in charge for over 20 years. There’s really no intellectual or emotional baseline, I don’t think, that gives us any way with which to judge what a new manager will do for the team.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.