Fredi Gonzalez

I don’t normally profile the manager, but normally the manager has been the same guy every year. Hence, the new guy:

Fredi Gonzalez was born in Cuba in 1964, but grew up in Miami. He was a 16th-round draft pick of the Yankees in 1984, a catcher; he played six seasons, mostly in A-ball, and had a career .199 batting average, which convinced him that he should probably try some other career track. He fell in with a bad crowd (the University of Tennessee) where he served as an assistant coach for a couple of years, then took a job as the manager of Mike Veeck’s independent league Miami Miracle.

With the Marlins organization starting up in 1992, he took a job as the manager of their team in the New York-Penn League. He moved up the system, to the California League in 1993 (winning the league championship), the Florida State League in 1994, the Eastern League in 1997, and finally the International League in 1998. He moved up to the majors as a coach for the next three seasons.

The Braves hired him to manage Richmond in 2002. The next season, he succeeded Ned Yost as Braves third base coach, a stepping stone to a major league managing job. After four seasons, the Marlins brought him back as major league manager.

He didn’t get off to a good start, going 71-91 in 2007, but the next year the Marlins finished third, going 84-77. They improved by three games in 2009 and finished second. But the front office or ownership evidently saw a lack of progress, and fired him in midseason of last year with a 34-36 record. The Braves never really considered anyone else to succeed Bobby Cox.

You probably shouldn’t expect much of a tactical change from the new manager. Taking 2009 stats, since it’s his last full season… His Marlins bunted an average amount, or at least were successful an average amount (NL average was 71, they had 70 sacrifice hits; the Braves bunted 95 times). He issued far too many intentional walks, 60 times, tied for second in the league. (The Braves bunted 59 times.) Gonzalez used a high number of relievers with the Marlins, more (530) in 2009 than anyone in the league. Some of that may be an issue of what players he had; the Marlins had young starting pitching (of six pitchers who started 16 or more games, none was older than 26) and that tends to pressure the bullpen. He used a very set lineup; only Charlie Manuel (who didn’t have to worry a whole lot about playing matchups) used fewer lineup combinations in 2009. He mostly used his bench tactically, to pinch-run and pinch-hit (which he did an average amount) and as defensive substitions (which he did a lot).

It’s important not to confuse the effects of available talent with managerial preferences. Therefore, the Marlins’ notably poor middle infield defense (Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez must have played over 700 games together, surely the most by such a poor double-play combo in the last eighty years) is simply because that’s the team he was given. Giving Emilio Bonifacio 106 starts in 2009 may not have been his idea either… but Fredi must take the blame for 53 of those being in the leadoff spot and 42 in the two-hole. A fondness for fast guys who can’t hit may be in evidence there. That isn’t really a problem with the current Braves, as Wren has jettisoned the Gwinnett County Track Club of AAA lifer hitters that had built up in 2009.

123 thoughts on “Fredi Gonzalez”

  1. Not really sure how to check this, but has Fredi historically been a 12 man pitching staff guy? Given the proximity of the AAA club, seems like the tactical advantage of a 6th bench hitter more than outweighs having a 7th reliever.

  2. Mac, how did Fredi get from Cuba to the USA? I’ve never heard that story?


  3. It’s not dramatic or anything.

    Being bilingual an advantage for Fredi Gonzalez |

    In 1966, Gonzalez’s parents flew to the United States aboard one of the many “Freedom Flights” from Cuba. Ten years later, as part of a huge Bicentennial ceremony at the Orange Bowl, they became U.S. citizens, which conferred citizenship upon their children. They blended into the American culture, but Spanish remained the dominant language in their home.

    I do wonder how he would have handled Yunel Escobar differently.

  4. Why can I not find a box score for the B game? I need to see Beachy and Minors lines!
    In a related question: Why isn’t Rod Lopez starting the B-Game?

  5. You guys see the total score +/- was 128.5. When the game “ended” they were at 128.

  6. The foul is one thing. I can see how with people in the way and different angles you could not see the foul. The out of bounds thing is crazy, though. There’s almost two seconds left when he steps out.

  7. There was also an iffy non-call of a shooting foul with 9 seconds left and a definite non-call on a rebound foul with 5 seconds left, both of which went against Rutgers.

  8. Salazar suffered multiple facial fractures and will need to undergo further tests to better determine the extent of damage done. The foul ball hit the left side of his face, near his eye, knocking him unconscious before he fell down four stairs to land face-first on the dugout floor. (Via Peanut)

    Holy crap. Dugouts need to be completely protected by a screen, as well as the crowd down by first and third base.

  9. I can’t tell you how much I hate regional video restrictions.

    Best wishes for a speedy and full recovery for Salazar.

  10. Having nearly been killed by a line drive when I was young (they told my folks I wasn’t going to make it), I’ve always been troubled by the lack of pro-active safety measures for players and fans.

    Dugouts are Priority One for me. It’s insane that a simple screen could potentially save someone’s life and yet many dugouts remain unprotected at all levels of play.

    Also, there’s a very dangerous area on the immediate right and left of the backstop screens at Turner Field. I was there with my youth team for the Tech / UGA game and a foul tip missed a kid’s head by inches. Could have been a tragedy.

  11. I obsess about the hazards of going to the ballpark. Yes to more screening, including dugouts.

  12. Jed Lowrie for Johnny Venters. Who wins this trade?

    Venters is a stud, but Lowrie is a switch hitter who put up some legit numbers last year. SS is a need too.

  13. @20, they have Iglesias in their head as the 2012 ss. They will move Lowrie at some point. Not saying Venters is what they’d take, but Lowrie will not be long for Boston.

  14. I’d be loathe to trade Venters. Until and unless Kimbrel proves he can handle the closer role, I like JV for insurance.

  15. @21
    If one of our SS prospects doesn’t develop into the “SS of the future” then I could easily see us matching up with Boston in the offseason. Or, if AAG completely blows, it could be earlier than that. However, it doesnt look like Boston has any real needs for pitching in the rotation for a few years and no need for bullpen help until 2012.

  16. @23, sure, I don’t see Atlanta making a move at SS right now. They are far too hardheaded about AAG at the moment. But from a Sox POV, I would think given the Papelbon situation, Venter’s low cost and excellent stats, and an in-house option for today and tomorrow at SS, why wouldn’t they do a deal now, if (big if) the return for Lowrie is deemed acceptable?

  17. They aren’t “hardheaded” about AAG at all. They aren’t in love with him, but they had no other options this offseason. Picking up his option year was by far the best thing they could do, with nothing like a major league shortstop in the minors. After this season they’re probably going to look for another short-term solution, because otherwise we’re looking at Pastornicky versus Diory.

  18. @23

    I disagree. I was reading this and Jonah Keri makes the point that while their bullpen is deep, the depth is all right handed. An impact lefty reliever is probably one of the few “needs” Boston has.

    With Louth’s redux to “Pittsburgh Nate” gaining at least a little plausibility, AAG blowing/getting hurt has moved to the top of my list of concerns with the Braves.

  19. Well, if I’m selling Venters, I’m saying that we’re talking about a young, healthy Billy Wagner and expect to be compensated accordingly.

  20. @25, well, we differ on this to a degree. I do think they are in love with him, to some extent, certainly to the point that no serious thought was given to improving the position.

  21. As much as I’d like to, I just can’t muster outrage at Bruce Pearl or Jim Tressel.

    Yes, I understand the issue is lying to the NCAA and not cooking nefarious hot dogs or getting a really ugly tattoo, but I just feel like the NCAA would garner a lot more respect if they just focused on the major issues and leaned out the book of infractions.

    Kinda like when Moses returned and said “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is I talked Him down to 10. The bad news is adultery’s still in there.”

    A little Lenten humor. I’ll be here all week.

  22. Why is no one talking about how much trouble Ohio State could be in?

    Yes, Pearl lied to the NCAA in a formal investigation interview and that’s a more riveting headline, but Ohio State should be scared about what punishment their program is going to face. They played ineligible players all year and in their investigation continued to play them in a bowl game and punished them for next season.

    The may have to forefit every games from last season, which would give put themat 0-9 against the SEC in bowl games.

    Pearl committed a secondary violation (at the time), so the program’s punishment probably won’t be that severe. Tressell failed to communicate to his bosses and his compliance office failed to monitor playing ineligible players. If he did tell the AD’s office they were fine and eligable, then that might be the dreaded lack of institutional control.

  23. I think he was picked up off waivers. But yes, he still doesn’t appear to be much.

  24. 3rd is probably not the best position for Mather. He sports an .894 fielding percentage in the minors at 3rd base, and that’s through 340 chances.

    I posted this before, but my Card’s fan buddy said Mather has a reputation of being a lefty smasher. There’s been nothing to support this theory this year.

    Mark Lemke is talking about “rubber hookers”. I’m not sure that’s radio appropriate.

  25. So whose playing SS for Atlanta next year?

    Rollins, Hardy, Reyes, & Scutaro seem like the only FA’s that would be an upgrade over AAG (even though they all have their flaws).

  26. @42, I agree with this, which is why I think they are in love with AAG. Something as creative as trading for Lowrie who may not even start this year Boston, and is blocked for next, probably wouldn’t occur or be quickly shot down the FO. Heck, I could see Boston trading for Reyes on a rental if they decide they need more firepower, and moving Lowrie either in the deal, or for something else shiny. Lowrie was offered to SD in the Gonzalez deal earlier this offseason as well.

  27. The Red Sox generally know what they’re doing. If they’re offering Lowrie around, the first question anyone should have is, “What’s wrong with him?”

  28. I am heading down to three games starting tomorrow. Anyone around for tomorrow’s game in Tampa or the weekend’s games in Orlando? Go Bravos!

  29. The dude just can’t stay healthy. Love Lowrie’s game, but there’s a reason they signed Marco Scutaro and Jose Iglesias.

  30. Scutaro is actually a year and a half older than AAG.

    They always liked Lowrie, but it took him a long time to be healthy enough to produce at the major league level. He had a great year last year, though, so they wouldn’t just give him away. The time to pry him away would have been after 2009.

  31. @40 . . . I have more questions about why he pitched in 1999 and 2000! Can’t believe more people didn’t comment about your post.

  32. Wonder if the Marlins would part with Osvaldo Martinez with Hanley Ramirez entrenched at SS (if they want to keep him at SS). Flipping through the BA prospect handbook, he’s one of like three prospects that has a chance to be ready by 2012, will be able to stick at SS in MLB, and won’t be a complete offensive zero. Doesn’t seem like there will be any other legit SS prospects potentially available unless you’re an Eduardo Escobar fan.

  33. @49, I never scored well enough on Dig Dug or Zaxxon to snag a #1 score, but, somewhere, I’m sure there’s a Whirlwind with my initials still up top.

  34. DOB said Arodys hit 101 on the radar gun Tuesday. It’s really fun being a Braves fan right now :)

  35. 40 — My guess is that someone 5’10 and 167 lb just didn’t have the frame to hit for power against MLB pitching.

  36. So, who are the favorites right now to win the backup CF and backup SS jobs? I think Young is solidifying one spot.

    If the Braves are saying the Diory is a better defensive SS than Lucas, than Lucas must be pretty bad there defensively. I hope that’s not true as he hits much better.

  37. Ryan at #40, what power? Lemke slugged .388 in the minors, and that’s including an anomalous 127 games at Single-A in 1987, when he slugged an uncharacteristic .485. Outside of that 127-game outburst, he slugged .368 in the minors. Not too surprising that he slugged .324 in the majors.

  38. @60
    1986- .455slg 18hr
    1987- .472slg 20hr
    1988- .422slg 16hr

    that’s good pop for 3 straight years. sure, from 17 years old to 19 years old there wasnt much there, but ages 20-22, he had pop, then went back to nothing.

  39. .422 isn’t really good pop. Basically, he only ever slugged in single-A, and that was only after he repeated the level. He couldn’t hit a lick in Single-A in 1984 or 1985. He hit well in Single-A in 1986, but they kept him there the next year, which tells you something about their confidence in his production; he hit even better there in 1987, and they finally promoted him to AA, where his slugging fell once more.

    Also worth remembering: 1986 in the Sally League and 1987 in the Carolina League were a good time to be a hitter. Teams were scoring more than 5 runs a game in both leagues. The average slugging in the 1987 Carolina League was .390.

  40. @59, depressingly, I would be willing to bet that the bench will consist of Ross, Hinske, Hernandez, Mather, and one of Lucas/Young/Conrad.

  41. Lemke led each of those three teams in HR (he was hitting HRs at about the same rate as Justice in ’86) without being unduly old for the levels, which says to me he was onto something for a while there. Maybe he found a power stroke on fastballs down the middle, then stopped seeing them.

  42. Remember the context. The NL slugging percentage in 1988 was .363. Only 19 qualified players in the entire league slugged better than .422, and only one second baseman.

    Ron Gant.

    The only real infielder to slug better than .422 in the NL that year was Barry Larkin. Dale Murphy slugged .421, second on the Braves. Ryne Sandberg slugged .419. And that was the worst of Lemke’s three years. Yeah, they were hitting well in the minors, but .390 isn’t that great, considering that most games had a DH.

  43. @62, I don’t know if that matters much in isolation. @65 mentioned overall context, but I would specifically look at the differences in context where Lemke was hitting each of those years. If the slugging contexts of where he was during his ’85 and ’89 seasons were dramatically lower than the slugging contexts of his intervening years, then it’s probably nothing. If, however, the slugging contexts are roughly the same, regardless of their actual value, then you’re looking at a power fluctuation. He could have gone from awful power to bad power or from bad power to okay power. Either way, @40 was just noticing that there was a multi-year boost in his numbers. Context only matters if it’s different between the years we’re comparing.

  44. Okay, let’s have numbers

    Slugging pct:

    1985 Sally
    Lemke: .242
    League: .352

    1986 Sally
    Lemke: .455
    League: .363

    1987 Carolina
    Lemke: .485
    League .390

    1988 Southern
    Lemke: .422
    League: .351

    1989 International
    Lemke: .375
    League: .368

    It’s pretty clear that he was 120%-125% of league slugging for a three year stretch, but not before or afterward. @40 has a point.

  45. I have never seen a team that looks a good as Tennessee does for huge chunks of a game, only to watch them let teams back in a game, then panic and have to claw it out in the final minutes. Tennessee should have 13-14 conference wins, but they chocked away two games to Florida, one to Kentucky, one to Bama, one to Miss St and one to UGA.

  46. Joey and Mac, thanks for the additional context. I mean, it is amazing to see that Lemke hit 50 homers in a three-year span, considering how punchless he was at the plate in the majors.

    Good find, Ryan. Sorry I sounded so dubious.

  47. UT didn’t choke against UGA — UGA blew a double-digit lead in the second half in the game they won, but they never trailed, so UT never had a chance to choke it away. And the over-the-back putback by Williams in the other game would have fit right in with the Rutgers game….

  48. Tennessee should have won both of those games, they played terrible, but then showed up, only to play terrible again. Not trying to take anything away from Bama or UGA, but they shouldn’t have had big leads in either of those games. I thought in both of those games, Tennessee gave up on lose balls and really let them push them around.

    I just felt like those were game Tennessee should have won.

  49. Is Todd Redmond still in the organization? He hasn’t pitched this spring, at least in major league camp. He was a decent Triple A starter for Gwinnett, though I don’t see him as major league material.

  50. Hey, if you any of you folks are the praying type, there are plenty of people in Japan right now that could use it. This place just got rocked.

  51. I’m okay. That’s the biggest earthquake I’ve ever experienced. It almost knocked me off my feet but there doesn’t seem to be any structural damage around here. I didn’t realize for a while how far away we were from the epicenter. There are reports of tsunamis ten meters high in some places.

  52. Let’s see if this works…

    This should be a feed from NHK with video coverage. They’re still showing footage of massive tsunamis as I type this.

  53. @79 That’s just myopic. The other team is trying, too.

    Be safe, billy-jay, you and yours. I hear those aftershocks are as big as most quakes themselves.

  54. The first aftershock was 7.1. That one scared the hell out of me, too. I’m just glad I don’t live near the coast.

  55. Actually, I should say that I really do appreciate the thoughts & prayers, but my family & I are safe and have a roof over our heads. There are a lot of people that don’t. I’d feel better if you directed prayers in their direction.

    Thanks. I hope that doesn’t sound ungrateful.

  56. Would biggest problems in Japan be clean water and electrical power? They have lots of resources in undamaged areas to deal with rebuilding other intrastructures.

  57. Heyward looks a bit heavier this year. Billy-jay, I’m glad to hear you and your family are ok. You’re one of my favorite posters and I’ll be praying for the people of Japan.

  58. Son of a. Marshall is good. I regret Larry Drew II leaving because it doesn’t appear that Roy Williams would have ever discovered Marshall otherwise…

  59. more side notes: Assman sucks and there are too many douchebags on the Yankees to even count.

  60. Lucas, playing first, turns the uncoventional step on first, throw to 2nd double play. Range factor aside, Lucas has looked good all over the infield.

  61. I would hope he’s bigger – he’s what 21 1/2? That kid is still growing. And I for one, can hardly wait – what he is going to do to a baseball for the next decade is gonna be something to see. ZiPS has him down for .281/393/.490, but I could easily see him beating the BA and Slg numbers.

  62. UGA can hang onto this lead, right?

    Well, Roy did give Marshall the starting gig while Drew was still there.

    Also, Roy has known about Marshall for a very long time. He went to Roy’s summer camp when he was younger.

    But, according to my hardcore Heels fan/friends, the lengths that Roy went to defend Drew 2 was pretty odd.

  63. What I like about Matt Young is that he gives quality at-bats almost every PA. He just worked a 3-2 count then sent a dribbler between 1st and 2nd to score a run.

  64. #113- Wow, did you see that timeout mistake? That didn’t help UGA any.

    You’re right about Marshall, I should be more factual when I take potshots at UNC. I didn’t know he had such a long history with Roy though. Much as it pains me to admit, might have to give credit to Roy for both doing the right thing and starting Marshall yet trying to stand up for one of his players- admittedly not one who necessarily merited it…

  65. Auburn scored an amazing, unpredecented 77 in the Fulmer Cup for this, bringing their total to 80. Barring someone getting arrested for mass murder (I’d guess Clemson) they’ve got this one in the bag. Hey, remember, Alabama won the MNC two years after Jimmy “Scarface” Johns won them the FC.

  66. Just read that . What a goddamned shame. And an ARMED HOME INVASION to boot. See you raging f###tards in 10 years.

  67. I have this thing I call a “Shaq Moment.” It’s when something happens in sports that I am dead certain I could have gotten off my couch and done better. (Shaq Moment, as in I could shoot FTs better than the Diesel.)

    Congrats, Mark Fox, the newest example of a Shaq Moment. Would I have refused to burn a timeout while my dipsh*t 2 guard flailed around on our penultimate possession only to burn one with 0.8 seconds right before my PG does what any one does with 0.8 seconds left? No. No I would not have.

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