New coach has different pitch | ajc.com
The character assassination of Leo Mazzone continues. Frankly, the Braves almost deserve to have a bad year for the way they’re acting. You can praise Roger McDowell without savaging his predecessor’s character.
Mike Remlinger is a bit more tempered. I love Mike Remlinger.
“Especially with the younger guys, Leo could be a little bit gruff,” Remlinger said. “If he didn’t get it the way he wanted, he would let you know about it.
“Even he and I butted heads a couple of times. But the next day, he didn’t hold things against you and it was time to get back to work. He helped me tremendously.
“I lot of guys don’t want to hear the truth. Sometimes you need to hear, ‘You’re not very good right now.’ Sometimes you have to face that reality and get things fixed.”
Mac, usually, I agree with your assessments. However, I think you’ve completely misread at least this article. There’s absolutely no character assassination going on here.
Certainly things that Thomson and Hudson have said in past reports toe the line (and, in my opinion, crossed the line), but I don’t see any of what Ramirez, Boyer, or Davies said as even close to character assassination. They admit to Leo’s intimidating presence, and they admit that they were at times intimidated. They also admit that Leo’s philosophy works.
Am I missing something?
Besides, think about the teachers you’ve had since you were a kid. Weren’t some of the best ones the strictest and experts at “tough love?”
Maybe it’s me, but comparisons to Bobby Knight come under the heading of “character assassination”, unless you think routine physical and verbal abuse and a sense of self-entitlement are good things.
Well, the media is obviously trying to make a big story out of comparing Leo with McDowell. I am seeing the young pitchers are trying their best not to say anything bad about Leo. It is actually the veteran pitchers like Hudson, Thomson, and Remlinger who are more out-spoken on this topic.
However, I agree with Mac. Comparing Leo to Bobby Knight is definitely a bad idea. I like Davies’ response a lot better.
I will make a prediction, that sounds pretty pessimistic, but it’s not. Unless McDowell adopts a hybrid approach that uses both his philosophy and Mazzone’s philosophy, I believe that the Braves “dynasty” is over.
I believe that most other organizations pitch to a batter’s weakness and this is fine, but frankly I think Mazzone’s philosophy (not his demeanor or possibly berating players) is better and it has proven itself over the last several years. As Mac pointed out earlier, with McDowell’s approach there will be more homers and much more room for error. If McDowell can develop a strategy of down and away if in doubt, but also consider weaknesses more than Mazzone, we may have a winner, but that’s the only way IMO. If McD doesn’t do this, it won’t matter how much the players like him. The pitching decline will occur over a period of a few years.
(Maybe not this year, because as others have pointed out, guys like Hudson and Smoltz don’t need a pitching coach).
On the bright side, if McD develops a “hybrid” philosophy, the Braves may do much better in the playoffs. People can talk all they want about Cox being a poor post-season manager, but I believe a major reason for the Braves lack of post-season success has to do with Mazzone’s philosophy. It seems that the good hitters learn not to try to pull the down and away pitch, and by the end of the year, the good teams are better at this in general. I think the Braves post-season ERA compared to the regular season bears this out.
I can understand some players being critical of the way Mazzone dealt with them, but the bottom line is that if they totally lose his philosphy, the Braves pitching will go back to average or below average. I hope McDowell, the pitchers and management understand this.
I must have missed (or forgot) the Bobby Knight comparison. Who said it?
Ha, amazing how clicking on a link will answer your own question.
I heard that John Smoltz and Greg maddux were really the pitching coaches all along.
Are they having Camp Leo in Baltimore?
Camp Leo is probably in Ft. Lauderdale. He will definitely miss the facilities at Disney.
Yeah, I really don’t see any of this as “character assassination.” That’s reaching a little bit. I actually think it’s kind of cool how every pitcher on the staff seems to be rallying behind McDowell, even if it comes by way of jabbing at Leo a little bit. I think we might be surprised how well some of these guys will pitch now that they are in a different environment. I am really not that surprised at these comments because we have all read things in the past talking about how Leo was much more highly regarded by people OUTSIDE of the organization than those on the inside. I agree that the results speak for themselves, but I think guys are just now feeling comfortable expressing some of the things they didn’t like about him. All in all, I think McDowell is going to do great.
Ok, let me be careful here. I have a close family friend that works higher up in the Braves organization. And I am not going to betray his confidence or anything. But let me say this, the company line on Mazzone is deep. Even to me, who this guy knows he can trust not to say anything or reveal anything, all he talks about is how Mazzone is a self promoter and doesn’t deserve his reputation. He said alot of things that I agree with(Mazzone requests ready made and fully devoloped pitchers, does not like to devolop pitchers himself) but even in private, very smart people in the organization badmouth Mazzone. They even go far as to say the only reason he stayed around is because his reputation was too high, that it would be bad PR. They say that they wanted to fire him for years.
And even though I trust this man, maybe with my life, I don’t believe it.
On the other hand, anyone who thinks that losing Mazzone will crumple the dynasty, get the fuck real. I could be the pitching coach and this team would win. The front office is brilliant at assembling a good major league team, and Bobby Cox is brilliant at not letting distractions happen. That’s the reason for the success of this team over sucha long period. As long as we have a competent manager(which there seems to be few sadly, and competent has nothing to do with Bobby’s in game tactics which I disagree with a ton) and a brilliant GM(hey, look at that, Oakland and the Braves have the same organization strategy, even if they won’t admit it) we will be fine.
Oh, and even though John wants Dayton Moore to be his next GM, he has no say in the matter. I vote that we pay a premium and get Shapiro.
More shots from sneak sniper extraordinaire, Mark Bowman.
the pitchers truly seem to look forward to the chance to work with a personable coach who has firsthand knowledge of the everyday ups and downs a big league pitcher encounters.
Based on what he’s done in Milwaukee the past few years, I’m of the belief that Greg’s brother, Mike, is the currently the game’s best pitching coach.
Shapiro has done a great job in Cleveland, but I like the idea of not only keeping it in the family, but also JS personally grooming his replacement. Kinda like UNC Basketball meets Men In Black 🙂
The thing I find most interesting about Leo is how everyone says he treats all pitchers the same. I’ve read a lot about Leo, including his autobiography, and one of the things that is stressed is how he treats pitchers differently personally and physically. The one constant is that if you suck he will tell you suck, which is why Horacio isn’t so fond.
The thing is, almost every pitcher he coached has good things to say about him. And even the ones who had bad things to say normally change their minds as they mature, like Marquis, Byrd, and Remlinger. Young guys have been told their whole lives how great they are. Leo is the first dose of reality, which they need, and it’s normally not taken well. But, he clearly IS good with young pitchers. See Glavine, Avery, Smoltz, Millwood, Wholers, Rocker, etc. I have a friend of a friend who has pitched within the Braves org. and for another MLB team. He used to dislike Leo, until he met his new pitching coach. All of the sudden, the benefits of Leo became clear. Ask any call-up on the Braves about Leo, and they will tell you he coached them. On most teams, the coach doesn’t even bother with rooks. The fact that the guys know he’s got a foul mouth is testament to the fact that he’s actully coaching them. Also, Leo has a system for working with young players that involves “ganging up” as he calls it. It invovlves Leo saying, “throw your curve more,” and a veteran to drop by later to say the same thing.
Leo is also not liked by many in the minors because they talk up how good their prospects are, and then they flame out in the majors. There is bound to be conflict when this happens. There’s a reason the hiring was external. This is where the negative vibes are coming from.
I suspect that the Braves pitching will not collapse this year without Leo. His system will still be in place, and I suspect it may suffer some. I also expect Baltimore to improve. The problem for the Bravves is that th bullpen doesn’t look so hot. So, I look to see McDowell get blamed for things that he’s not responsible for. As HoRam and Sosa implode, McDowell’s going to get a lot of blame for something that is not his fault.
Some of you need to check a little history. It should properly be called the “Sain – Mazzone” school of pitching. If there is any other pitching coach who demonstratively should be in HOF it is Johnny Sain (Spahn and Sain and pray for rain on 1948 Boston Braves). Robe Neyer did work on this about a year ago and by a wide margin Sain is number one, except for that pesky ornery Leo guy. Yes, Mike Maddux may be the next front runner, but don’t say it today.
IF McDowell adopts Sain – Mazzone and uses a few of his own dashes, he will be extraordinarily successful. If he doesn’t retain Sain – Mazzone, it may be a rough year for Braves fans.
I, for one, am able to ignore the comments about Leo’s reputation because of his track record. I think JC’s study pretty well established that coming to the Braves and working with Leo had an effect. And not just a minor effect, a substantial effect that led to the Braves leading the national league in ERA most years of his tenure. Its an incredible feat and I really could care less if he is or was respected more outside of the organization. He’s an awesome coach and he’ll be missed.
As for the Bobby Knight comparison, from my perspective I see a lot of people in sports and in the media who are willing to forgive (or gloss over) his obvious abusive nature. Those same people think that “tough love” or being an abusive jerk to get someone to play better is equivocal with actual love and caring about the individual (rather than just being an abusive jerk that wants to win basketball games). I don’t think the intention of the comparison was to insinuate that Leo was an abusive jerk but that he was into “tough love”. I think it has to do a lot with what you read into the comparison. Bobby Knight as Rorschach/Litmus.
Some good points made here, but I also think “character assassination” is a bit much. I’m also not sure, Mac, why it was necessary to suggest that the Braves deserve to have a bad year; you can’t be serious. Is it because some of the guys on that team didn’t feel like being yelled and cursed at some days, and appreciate working with a calmer presence? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. These guys aren’t politicians and don’t have spin doctors telling them what to say, so it’s possible that some guys–the younger ones especially–simply haven’t been as tactful they could be re: Leo.
Horacio sucked last year, and his other seasons haven’t been that great either. Not trying to absolve him of accountability, but if all I had to show for my major league career under the “world’s greatest pitching coach” so far was three underachieving years and about 200 MF bombs screamed at me, I wouldn’t be all that forthcoming with praise for him either.
Nobody is going to come out and bash Leo, but successful or not, it appears as if some of the guys just like being around their new boss/teacher more. That’s always good for some confidence and motivation to perform, whether you’re a pitcher or a grocery store clerk. Somebody pointed out that Roger might get roasted if/when guys don’t perform, which I think is completely unfair and disgraceful–and could also very well happen. Leo ain’t comin’ back, and we could have a damn good pitching coach in his place. So it would be nice as BRAVES FANS, if we gave the guy a chance to succeed before we crumple our own hopes of 15 straight divisions.
Super long winded, and I’m sorry for that. Just wanted to get those thoughts out there on a Friday morning.
When you have a guy who has served the organization well for fifteen years, and your response to him leaving is to orchestrate a campaign to denigrate him (as is clearly happening) it does not speak well of you.
On another message board someone said that the Braves should be treating this as Leo’s retirement party. You give him a gold watch and thank him for his twenty-plus years of service. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk up the new guy, but show a little respect if not gratitude.
Instead, the Braves have reacted like a jealous boyfriend whose girlfriend has broken up with him, badmouthing Leo to anyone who will listen and talking about how they never needed him and will be better without him. It’s not their finest hour.
I’ll still be rooting for them because my loyalty to the Braves transcends my loyalty to individuals, but I’m not proud of their comments.
I see it like this. Leo is great and his contrabutions to the orgainization should never be overlooked. But he did struggle with younger pitchers development. For every young pitcher the Braves developed, there was a vet stiing beside him on the bench (Maddux with Marquis, Glavine with HR (who wasn’t as good after Glavine left), Smoltz with Davies. And you can argue Liebrant with Glavine, Smoltz, Avery.) The bullpen has been shakey over the last few years and I think that Leo messed up Dan Kolb by trying to get him to become more of a strikeout guy. I think the orgainization has done well with bringing in verterns who are baseball savy to mix with the young guys (like Terry Pendleton, Pena, Bream, so on) Every young player is almost assigned a vet to follow around and emulate. I think Leo learned a lot about pitching from Maddux, and his loss in the clubhouse I think has been greater than Leo’s will be.
Like ships passing in the night, Glavine’s last year with the Braves was 02, HoRam first year was 03.
I tend to think that it is the media who shaped the questions in a way that they directed the Braves pitchers to give bad answers. For example, a reporter can ask HoRo, “Do you think Leo’s style is old school? And do you think Leo’s style can be compared to someone’s like Bobby Knight?”
HoRo’s response, “You could compare him to Bobby Knight,” the Braves left-hander said. “Leo is definitely old school. He gets in your face and doesn’t care what words he uses.”
Personally, I don’t take the players comments that seriously because the readers like us don’t know what questions were asked before the answers.
Sorry, I got HR and Moss switched around in my head
Some commentary on Leo has been uncharacteristically biting, and probably a bit surprising to us. But it could be that some guys just didn’t respect him either.
That leads to the point about Maddux and Glavine’s influences with the staff. Maybe after they left, Leo lost a bit on his fastball (pun intended) and newer guys were left wondering what the fuss was about.
As I said before, if this is true, those guys really should have done a better job showing some tact. Some comments have come off as disrespectful.
i agree with kc. if i was a betting man, i would say that the questioning had a lot to do with the way the players were responding.
Smitty, yes, the Kolb experience failed. However, Kolb sucks. Nobody can turn shit to gold. Kolb found success with the Brewers because pitching for the Brewers is less stressful than pitching for the Braves. Besides, how can any pitcher get any hitters out with only fastballs? Where was his slider? I seriously doubt Leo would tell Kolb to stop throwing his sliders.
I bet he told him to “Get ahead with that great fastball of yours (95-96mph)and try to throw it past them. We want your strikeouts rate to go up. After you get ahead, thorw the slidder.”
I think Kolb tryed to throw it past people and started over throwing and missing the zone all toghether, leading to all the walks. Then with two runners on from walks, he would give up a rocket up the middle and two runs would come home.
Not that this was Kolb’s only problem, but I think Leo hurt him more that helped him. Just a thought.
Soriano got $10 million in arb today! And he lost!
I’m not quite sure why the Natspos traded for Soriano. At 10mil he is still double what he should be for the numbers he puts up.
I also see that the Nats have offered Sosa a major league contract…. Will they never learn?
Maybe they will trade for Kolb
This just in: Nats trade Ryan Zimmerman for Dan Kolb.
Hmm, I’m trying to make a post, and it keeps coming back saying it was denied for questionable content.
And yet, I can’t find any bad content in it.
I’d say it was kolb’s name, but that goes through fine.
It’s possible that you’ve got a letter combination that the system doesn’t like. I would look, but the blacklist log never responds.
words like p0ker, viagr0, bet
I think that the braves should trade Adam Laroche and Kelly Johnson for Price Fielder.
What about that trade?
Price = Prince
Tow reasons why it won’t work big O
1) They wll not give up Prince
2) We should never trade with Brewers again (see Ray King and Dan Kolb)
At the least, we should never trade for any more Brewer fat guys.
Might as well go ahead and send Fielder to St. Louis for Pujols when that goes through.
Any indidcation in Thorman’s minor league numbers that he might steal the 1B job from LaRoche?
I covered that in the “Other Infield Possibilities” entry. Thorman is likely a better hitter than LaRoche, but he isn’t going to take the job because he has a reputation as a poor glove and the Braves still seem convinced that LaRoche is a good player. Add in that Thorman will miss the early part of spring training playing for Team Canada, and he’s unlikely to even get a look.
I’m not quite sure why the Natspos traded for Soriano.
He helped Jim Bowden win his fantasy league in 2003.
The thing about Leo is that for every Kolb he “messes up”, there’s a Jaret Wright who has an absurdly good year with the Braves, sandwiched between years of poor play. Now, we can either give Leo credit for both of these things or we can credit other sources within the Braves organization, but the bottom line is that the Braves have had substantial success with these “rehab” projects like Wright and not much success at all in the past 10 years with their highly-touted pitching prospects. Marquis, Chen, and HoRam are a few recent examples of this. With the exception of Millwood, the Braves haven’t developed a decent starter in 10 years. This is really all we can hope to change with the change to McDowell.
I’ll just add that I really don’t see these comments as an organizational conspiracy to discredit the man. From everything I hear, the organization isn’t exactly bitter that he’s leaving, and losing Mazzone is a HUGE story for Atlanta. He seemed to be just as much a part of the dynasty as Cox and Schurholtz, so I don’t think it’s surprising that reporters are bombarding these players with questions. Nothing I’ve heard has been worse than “He was a jerk but you can’t argue with results”, so I don’t buy the notion that there is a Mazzone defamation campaign in full swing. I mean, they could really say a lot worse if they wanted to, no?
Well, the count down has started… how long will it be before Horacio Ramirez is traded? I think it might be inevitable now. He had the worst comment to make about Leo, but someone ought to have reminded him that the rest of the organization still loves Mazzone. Bobby Cox probably won’t be happy with HoRam.
As far as that down and away philosophy goes, I think most people here are forgetting that’s not Leo’s philosophy. That’s an organization-wide philosophy that is stressed at every level of the Braves’ farm system–at least that’s what I’d gathered over the years. This philosophy ain’t going away, I don’t think. It’s so deeply embedded. I’m really confident in McDowell to take a lot of what Leo emphasized and add it to his pitching knowledge. He sounds like a really versatile guy. He’s right that one approach doesn’t work for everyone, so we may even see some different kinds of pitchers flourish. I’m hopeful but not so sure he’ll be a good pitching coach.
Yeah, THAT’S why Horacio’s gonna be traded. Actually, he’s not gonna be traded. But if he was, it wouldn’t be for his comments about Leo.