Last week the AJC’s Dave O’Brien sat down with Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez at baseball’s Winter Meetings. Although the Braves made very little noise there, Gonzalez’s comments hint that the team is seeking more offense. However, because he, like most managers, often speaks in cryptic language, I have translated his answers to O’Brien’s (DOB) questions about the offense, Heyward, and other select topics.
DOB: When you look at the way your roster shapes up, what would you like to see happen before the start of Spring Training?
FG: I think if the season starts right now, you feel pretty good about your roster. You really do…But with Christmas coming around the corner and you want to add another piece, it will be a big bat.
Translation: Our offense was so bad last year that I am going to start speaking in second person. If Santa Claus is real and listening right now, I WANT A POWER HITTING CORNER OUTFIELDER FOR CHRISTMAS.
DOB: Can you get that big bat you want without trading Jurrjens and/or Prado?
FG: I’m not looking to trade any of them. I’m just saying another bat would be nice. Somehow.
Translation: Good heavens, no (wink)! I would never consider trading one of my players, because those are my guys (another wink followed by elbow nudge and intense stare).
DOB: Chipper is the only old guy in the lineup. Does his situation add to the importance of Prado, given his role as Chipper’s backup at third base, in addition to playing left field?
FG: Yeah (talks about Chipper not playing as much)…Prado is a big piece for us. And Jurrjens in the rotation. I think sitting here, you hate to say you won’t trade anybody. We’re in position where we would trade somebody if it makes our team better.
Translation: Okay, so you know how I just said I don‘t want to trade one of my players? Well I lied. We can’t trade Prado, because Chipper may die any minute now. That leaves us with one choice. Do you think the Marlins will do Jurrjens for Mike Stanton?
DOB: You plan to go into the season with (Heyward) as your right fielder, playing every day?
FG: Yeah, I think so. Obviously we’ll see how spring training works out and all that kind of stuff, but I’m always the guy who says you’ve got to give people an opportunity.
Translation: I am utterly hopeless when it comes to evaluating talent. Rather than give our franchise’s most valuable asset every opportunity in the world to succeed, I am going to keep the door open for playing Jose Constanza over him. Even though Heyward produced one of the greatest seasons ever by a twenty year old, that career minor leaguer looks like he is really playing hard. Last year I rode his “hot hand” all the way to a .303/.339/.385 line. Not that I know that. All I know is that the kid plays hard and hit .300!
DOB: Any chance that Andruw Jones or Rafael Furcal, couple of ex-Braves, could be back?
FG: We haven’t spoken about those guys. Those are two ex-Braves and two good players, but we haven’t gotten to that point of speaking to those guys yet.
Translation: No. Those guys used to be good players, but they are pretty mediocre now. We probably won’t sign Jones and definitely won’t touch Furcal after what happened a couple of years ago.
DOB: Are you comfortable with Tyler Pastornicky, going with an inexperienced guy, you trust the player development staff and Frank (Wren) that he’s ready?
FG: Yeah (talks about getting a veteran backup)…I really like the kid’s makeup. He’s a baseball player and grew up around baseball. He’s got ability and can steal you some bases. Let’s give him an opportunity.
Translation: Hell no. We need someone else. The only positive thing I can say about him is that he plays baseball and, like 99.9% of all big leaguers, played baseball growing up. Oh, and he has some speed apparently so what the hell. I guess he can’t be worse than Alex Gonzalez.
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