Fredi Gonzalez’s coaching staff is officially filled out as of today, with the Braves announcing that Larry Parrish has been brought on to fill the hitting coach role. Parrish, 56, spent time in the big leagues for the Expos and Rangers with a brief stint in Boston to end his MLB playing career. In that time, he compiled a batting average of .263, slugging percentage of .439, 256 HRs and 992 RBI.
Parrish has little big league experience at the coaching level, serving as bench coach and then manager for the Tigers from 1997-1999. He remained onboard with Detroit for another couple of years as a scout before heading to Toledo in 2003 to manage the AAA Mud Hens in the International League. He led Toledo to league championships in both 2005 and 2006.
Parrish will replace Terry Pendleton, who switched roles from hitting coach to first base coach and infield instructor when Fredi Gonzalez replaced Bobby Cox as manager at the end of the 2010 season for the Braves.
Tags: Hitting Coach, Larry Parrish
Posted in Coaching | 1 Comment »
Immediately following Bobby Cox’s farewell press conference today as manager, the Braves announced Fredi Gonzalez as their new manager.
Fredi Gonzalez was most recently manager of the Florida Marlins until being fired halfway through the season this year. In the past months, he’s turned down several managerial interview opportunities. Gonzalez is no stranger to the way the Braves run their ballclub as a former third base coach for the Braves under Bobby Cox.
Joining Gonzalez on the new coaching staff are Brian Snitker (third base) and Roger McDowell (pitching). Terry Pendleton will stay on the staff as first base coach. Eddie Perez (bullpen) will be returning as well. Carlos Tosca (who was with Fredi in Florida) will be the bench coach. Chino Cadahia and Glenn Hubbard have not been offered jobs within the organization. The organization continues to interview candidates for hitting coach.
While it’s sad that the season is over and tough to not think about Cox on the bench next year, I’m glad that Fredi has the gig. He understands the way the Braves’ organization is operated and what makes Atlanta different. He’s not afraid to call out players who aren’t working as hard as they need to be and though he’s not the perfect in-game strategician, nobody is going to be out of reach of the naysayers.
Bobby’s legacy will always be in tact in Atlanta. He has been around seemingly forever and is certainly all I know of Atlanta Braves managers. Fredi has absolutely historically massive shoes to fill, without a doubt. While never the best at in-game strategy, Bobby was beyond loyal to his players. His positive approach and fatherly advice endeared him to his players and to Braves fans across the country. We’ll never forget Bobby’s contribution to his players, the organization, the city of Atlanta, the game of baseball, and to each of our lives. And hell folks, let’s not remember that he’s still around as a consultant for the next five years.
That said: I, for one, welcome our new Fredi overlord.
Tags: Bobby Cox, Fredi Gonzalez
Posted in Coaching | 1 Comment »
This year, the Braves are in first place despite getting as close to no offensive production from their shortstop and center field positions. Their right fielder, while productive for the first two months, has been a weak spot since the beginning June when Jason Heyward first injured his thumb. To top it off, the right-handed portion of their left field platoon has been injured for a majority of the season. Most teams would be buried if two talents like Nate McLouth and Yunel Escobar flopped in the first half, but not a Bobby Cox team.
With the Braves being hurt by injuries and poor play at many different positions, it is surprising that this offense can still be as potent as it is. The key components to keeping the offense productive have been Omar Infante, Eric Hinske, Brooks Conrad, David Ross, and to an extent, Melky Cabrera.
Hinske has moved into the left-handed role in the left field platoon, and although he has slumped lately, has produced well. The flexibility of both Infante and Cabrera has also helped in covering up the problems the Braves have faced in the outfield.
Cabrera’s best suited for a fourth outfielder and not every day play. Since being removed every day play in left field against righties and in center field against lefties, Cabrera has seen his production increase. After having an awful May, Cabrera has been at least league average in on base abilities since, which is all you can really ask for from a fourth outfielder.
Infante has played everywhere in the field and his play so far this month has made up for Heyward’s absence from the top of the lineup. Infante has had either two hits or two RBI in each of the Braves wins this month.
Last night, both shined in the victory and even went back-to-back to give the Braves the lead. As surprising as that is, it isn’t surprising that the Braves bench has been key in the first half of the season.
In the past, Cox has gotten Lonnie Smith, Brian Hunter, Deion Sanders, Charlie O’Brien, Tony Graffanino, Gerald Williams, Eddie Perez, Randall Simon, Wes Helms, Matt Franco, Julio Franco, Mark DeRosa, Eli Marrero, Wilson Betemit, Charles Thomas, and Ryan Langerhans to all provide offensive value from the bench during the Braves run of 14 straight division titles. Those players never had much more production after, if any, in other places aside from DeRosa and, to a marginal extent, Tony Graffanino. These players weren’t the reasons for the Braves success, but their production gave them a great boost, for sure.
The ability to have flexible players who can fill in and produce when called upon gives a team the ability to adapt when poor play or injuries do occur. Baseball is a random sport, some players have off years when they are expected to perform well and the reasons vary from player to player. This has happened this season and it has happened in the past. While the 90′s Braves avoided the injury bug for the most part, there were cases when players were called upon and they performed even better than expected.
One thing Bobby Cox has always been able to do is get the most out of his fringe starters and bench players. I’ve stated this on numerous occasions in the past and even before this season. Eric Hinske, Matt Diaz, Ross, Infante, Cabrera, and Conrad make for a very productive group that are far from black holes when put into the lineup. Each has a niche whether it is plate patience, defensive flexibility, power, or the ability to hit a pitcher with a certain handedness well.
While it is easy to criticize some of Bobby Cox’s in-game management decisions and bullpen decisions, as I most definitely have done, he puts his backups in positions to succeed. Infante’s career OPS+ is 87, but with the Braves it is right at 100 over 773 plate appearances. In 234 plate appearances over the past two seasons, David Ross has an OPS+ of 124 and has 21 extra base hits. Matt Diaz was nothing until he came to the Braves, and now he has a 111 OPS+ over 1368 PA’s.
The bench management is the most overlooked part of Bobby Cox’s game. The Braves won because of pitching in the 90′s, but what they also got were great performances from unexpected players. Cox knows how to utilize them the correct way and get more out them than any other manager. When looking back on Bobby’s career, there is probably nothing he did better than manage his bench players and fringe starters. Regardless of who he had on the bench, he made sure that they were ready to play and ready to produce, which has helped get the Braves to October in the past and certainly looks like it will help them get there once again this year.
Tags: Bench, Bobby Cox, Offense
Posted in Coaching, General | 1 Comment »
It was easy for people to hate on Terry Pendleton back at the end of April or the beginning of May. The Braves were not producing. We sucked. I mean, I wrote an article saying “There’s always next year” and AJC writers talked of how bad the Glaus acquisition was. Everyone everywhere wrote about how it was all TP’s fault. Which was fine and made sense. In April.
But then the team turned around. We have the highest on-base-percentage in the National League. Glaus is raking, Prado is leading the league in hitting, Heyward was mashing until his thumb got in the way. Chipper is hitting .385 over the last 11 games (stat taken before last night’s game). Yunel provided a clutch hit against Strasburg (oh, and hit .299 in June). McCann hit .276 in May/Jone. Hinske has been a bright spot among bright spots off the bench. In May and June, Melky Cabrera has hit (I begrudgingly admit) .293.
And yet some people I know (even on this site) still continue to hate on Terry Pendleton.
Now, I don’t agree with the folks that say TP should be the next coach of the Atlanta Braves. I think he’s an option but not necessarily THE option. Then again, he’s been a fairly low key coach for the Braves, and that’s what we’ve always had. What has TP done to deserve the haters? This is one of the most potent offenses in the NL and everyone is contributing in some manner.
Doesn’t Terry Pendleton deserve some of the credit for this? Do we still just want to blast him for anything that goes wrong?
Maybe we were wrong back at the beginning of the season. Maybe we just got our slumping month out of the way at the beginning of the season before starting to tune it up for the long haul – we were damn good in spring training and we’re damn good now. Maybe Terry Pendleton isn’t that bad as far as coaches go.
When was the last time we were this balanced? We have a damn good rotation, a damn good offense, a solid bullpen with a dominant closer, and a legendary manager pulling out all the stops in a season that really does feel special.
Tags: Terry Pendleton
Posted in Coaching | 2 Comments »