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.
Last summer we posted about Rafael Palmeiro coming out of retirement to play for the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters. The reason: to play a game with his boy Patrick. In that game the elder Palmeiro went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored. His son, who is now 26, went 2-for-4 with a grand slam.
Did that serve as an audition for Patrick? Possibly, as Jon Meloi of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles just signed him to a minor league deal.
As Meloi notes, it’s certainly just an organizational depth move, as Patrick is no prospect. And it’s actually likely something of a coincidence that it’s the Orioles who signed him, as Palmeiro doesn’t have any real contacts with the Orioles baseball operations people, all of whom are different folks now than back in his day.
This may not be the last of the Palmeiros, by the way. Peter Gammons tweeted this morning that Patrick’s younger brother, Preston, is a first baseman at North Carolina State who could be drafted this june. Gammons says he has a swing “remarkably similar to dad.”
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.