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.
New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.
Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.
The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.
It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.
Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.
The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.
Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.
Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.
Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.
While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.
Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.