News and Views: Waddell, Dudley and Braves’ holy gloves

Don Waddell once was a promising prospect, as well as a promising GM. But 10 years later...

Don Waddell's final days as a player. Note the focus.

Welcome back to News and Views, the exciting new craze in the blogosphere that asks the question: Is there anything we can post at about 11 a.m. because there seem to be lot of people goofing around at work on the Internet who clearly have nothing else to do? Or something like that.

♦ NEWS: The Thrashers hire Rick Dudley as some kind of assistant under Don Waddell. (An official announcement will come later today.)

♦ WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Because it’s all clear now to Thrashers’ ownership. After nine mostly crummy seasons, the biggest problem was Don Waddell just needed a better assistant!

♦ VIEWS: I think I just articulated my view. But OK, a few more thoughts.

This should be an improvement. How much remains to be seen.

This is what I know about Dudley. He did some nice things in his three stops as an NHL general manager (Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Florida). His work with the Lightning planted the seeds for their Stanley Cup team. Most recently, he was an assistant in Chicago.

But Dudley’s also a close friend of Waddell, going way back. Waddell has a habit of hiring pals. Pals aren’t threatening. So this really isn’t about a franchise starting over, even if Dudley eventually ends up with the GM’s job and Waddell gets kicked upstairs, which is conceivable. (I don’t see another reason why Dudley would leave an assistant’s job in Chicago for an assistant’s job in Atlanta, except maybe the weather.) But if nothing else, Dudley is a legitimate hockey voice in a room that sorely needs one.

How close are Waddell and Dudley? Dudley was a coach and GM for a minor-league team in Flint when he needed a defenseman late one season. He persuaded Waddell to come out of retirement. (Waddell had gone into the porta-potty business, which you won’t find in his media guide bio). Waddell ended up staying on as coach and GM. That became his entry into hockey management.

Waddell (GM) later hired Dudley as coach for an IHL team in San Diego. The two later were rivals in the same league (Waddell with Orlando; Dudley with Detroit). Dudley also briefly was an unofficial consultant with the Thrashers after he was fired by Tampa Bay in 2002. I don’t think he got paid much, if at all. He might want to get used to that here when he deals with the payroll.

Bobby Cox and Chipper Jones aren't arguing about the team's defense. I just liked the photo.

Bobby Cox and Chipper Jones were upset when an umpire mocked their defense. Kidding.

♦ NEWS: Braves commit two more errors! (only one official)

♦ WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Because as long as this continues, they’ll stink.

♦ VIEWS: They have 42 errors after Jair Jurrjens’ botch of a slow grounder Sunday in Boston. Even worse might’ve been a play that officially went as a hit – a pop-up that fell between Yunel Escobar and Chipper Jones in the fourth. Neither called for it. What is this, a Marx Brothers movie?

Both miscues led to runs. And, oh look: The Braves lost by one, 6-5.

The team’s cumulative fielding percentage (.984) ranks 19th in the majors and 10th in the National League.

I have a theory as to why the Braves seem to be getting worse on defense: osmosis.

If you look at fielding statistics in the major leagues, the National League East is by far the worst fielding division in baseball. Washington (64) has the most errors in the majors. Florida (56) is fourth. New York (45) is ninth. The Braves are tied for 12th (42).

Only Philadelphia, which has the second fewest errors in the majors at 27, seems to have a clue with the glove. By the way, Philadelphia won the World Series last year.

39 comments Add your comment

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

June 22nd, 2009
11:12 am

Jeff, there’s a typo in your blurb about Waddell. I think Dudley left Chicago for an assistant’s job in Atlanta, not Chicago.

me

June 22nd, 2009
11:22 am

Also, I don’t think the mets have 67 errors, double check.

Bryan G.

June 22nd, 2009
11:24 am

I have a better idea as to why the Braves are making errors: Aside from the corner infield spots and centerfield, their defense freaking sucks. Diaz and Anderson in left can make any routine out look highlight-worthy and Kelly Johnson is a second baseman like my mom is a skydiver.

Larry

June 22nd, 2009
11:25 am

And, of course, another AJC writer hasn’t the courage to call out the manager of the Atlanta Braves who repeatedly stays with the hacks (Francoeur, Johnson and Diaz) in game winning situations, whose team can’t hit or field, and who just simply look like a ship sailing in no particular direction.

Check out the Manager for the Red Sox. His team has situational hitters, walks more than most, strikes out the least, has the utmost respect of his players and fans, and play every moment with passion ande enthusiasm.

I know. The players, the goober fans, and these AJC girly men writers like old Bobby!

Whew!

Jeff Schultz

June 22nd, 2009
11:32 am

Brian G: yeah, I think that’s clear.

Larry: why is it people like you constantly confuse a difference of opinion with a lack of “courage”?

Ms. Chandler, Me: problems fixed, thanks.

Dr. Freud

June 22nd, 2009
11:44 am

Jeffrey,

Do you have nothing better to than pick on Don Waddell…. AGAIN……?

You are now WAY beyond the proverbial “broken record” analogy, despite this being a visual medium.

Please seek therapy.

JSS

June 22nd, 2009
11:54 am

What’s that swirl, swirl, swirl sound? Another Jeff Schultz tirade, 4 for 4 in bad writing since our three days of peaceful silence…

And it is a “lack of courage…” Oh don’t delete Big Mike and leave up Grinch; your bias continues to show… Dr. Freud has it right…

alsim

June 22nd, 2009
11:58 am

I am so glad that Bobby Cox used both Gonzalez and Soriano in blow-out wins Thursday and Friday so that Bennett would be fresh for the close games.

braveshoo

June 22nd, 2009
12:00 pm

The Braves do need to play with a lot more intensity and concentration. They did much better yesterday after Bobby and Chipper got thrown out the game. And Chipper had to do it-Bobby only responded. Yes-we still lost,but no more errors and a lot more intensity. We need to steal more; hit and run; bunt with a man on third and less than 2 outs-this keeps you on your toes and your mind in the game. I dont believe its the players-I think its the coaches. Get rid of TP and get the guy from Texas and see how much better we hit; get a bench coach that actually makes the decisions about when we steal.etc; let Bobby handle the pitching changes and the umps; and get a pitching coaches to get the pitchers to back the opposing hitters off the plate-hit one every once in a while. Bob Gibson did, and they do it to Escobar. Lets play a little harder and tougher, and quit worryingabout changing players!

STL Falcon

June 22nd, 2009
12:02 pm

Is there really nothing new about the Falcons, a team with hope, to discuss and write about?

Where was AJC’s story on the Nicholas family trials last year – boy oh boy did ESPN scoop you guys on that one.

Is there anything you guys write about that doesn’t begin with a tv or internet search anymore?

12345

June 22nd, 2009
12:02 pm

Loved the Waddell shot, he looks like he’s returning from a three day dope blitz… And does THAT say Sprits on the uniform ? Oh Brother !!!!!

Good artical Jeff, despite the comments of those kind who know nothing !

wawel78

June 22nd, 2009
12:15 pm

Come on Jeff. didn’t you laugh a little with the girly man comment?

Bangkapi Ajarn

June 22nd, 2009
12:16 pm

I have never been able to get into Hockey, BUT– from what I have seen in my apathy, is that the ownership drama seems tome to have minimized effort, intensity, and passion directed towards hockey. It seems an afterthought, but as I said that is just an impression. The hiring of a buddy to help with a lackluster franchise only reinforces this feeling to me.

Regarding the Braves, am I the only one that sees a lack of focus on the field, a lack of concern with mediocrity, since JS retired? Team speed has deteriorated, the farm system is not the shining jewel it once was, pitching (performance, not hype) is middle of the pack with a thin bullpen, and offense seems to have given up on station to station hustle in favor of hopes of a string of doubles. I have always tried to follow the braves worldwide, but now, when they DO manage to make a national game, it is hard to make it all te way thru without falling asleep!!!

So, Jeff, I agree with your comments and add one of my own – what do you think of a change in the front office? Perhaps an injection from a successful org that has a keen eye for talent and developing same (Texas for example now, or Boston for another example). Perhaps a radical actions such as this would be needed to provide the jolt necessary to propel the braves from a more-or less 500 team (now AND in the foreseeable future).

Larry

June 22nd, 2009
12:19 pm

Jeff,

Because either you lack courage, or you’re just plain incompetent, and neither are acceptable to fans like me who understand this a business. And, when the company (the Braves) are not commanding the effort by its personnel (the players) to perform for its customers (season ticket holders, like me) I expect a compensated sports writer to discuss the reasons and potential solutions.

So, even though we may have a difference of opinion, I do have the expectation–reasonable, in my opinion–that AJC writers have the courage and resolve to report facts, suggest alternatives, and openly debate such alternatives, even it it means challenging the manager’s decisions, strategy, or style of baseball. Otherwise, what is your value, to crack stupid jokes or provide us silly song lyrics like your weak sister, DOB?

I don’t know if it is some type of corporate relationship between the AJC and the Braves, a “gentleman’s agreement, or just your’s and DOB’s utter unwillingness to challenge anything about Bobby Cox, but it is either this or you want to continue to maintain privileges to the club house buffet! I know this, you guys were all over Jim Mora and Bobby Petrino with vigor (warranted) and yet you want even challenge an obviously questionable decision by Bobby Cox and for this I consider you a spineless coward! You don’t have to be as blatant and disrespectful to Bobby as I am to you here but at least do not be so obvious with your utter lack of journalistic balance and honesty.

Larry

bull-gator

June 22nd, 2009
12:32 pm

They are not mentally in the game. Some serious a$$ needs to be kicked at this point. They play like a rag tag bunch of poorly coached little leaguers…no discipline at the plate, in the field or on the bench. Time for a change somewhere and I don’t mean the obama kind of change I mean a positive change.

Art Vandelay

June 22nd, 2009
12:43 pm

Gee, Larry, last I checked, the Red Sox had a budget that was roughly $40 million higher than the Braves’. That does tend to make it easier to fill holes in the lineup and invest in situational hitters, no? But you’d rather take out your frustrations on Jeff because he has an opinion that differs from yours, and the Internet gives you all the anonymity you need to be a total pr!ck to someone you’ve never met. Fact is, Bobby Cox has precious few options. What do you suggest he do about the Francoeur situation? Do you really think we have someone who’s currently on the roster who can do a better job in the long run? I’m anxious to hear who you’d replace him with. Maybe Gregor Blanco and his .091 average? And what about Kelly Johnson? You want to tell me who we have in the organization that would be a better option at 2B right now?

Fact is, the only reason you’re annoyed with the Braves’ struggles the past few years is that they set the bar so high during the previous 14, ALL under Bobby Cox’s stewardship. The last time we won the division, we did it with a ton of rookies and a roster that had no business even being above .500, much less a division winner. No manager gets 100% of his decisions right, but when someone has made good decisions as many times as Cox has, he has earned the right to keep managing his way.

Fact is, the only coward in this scenario is you. You’re full of pi$$ and vinegar, yet completely devoid of any alternative ideas that would actually contribute to the conversation. You’d rather act like a 6th grader and call Jeff names for positing a theory that our defense, not just our bats, needs significant improvement.

I eagerly await your proposal for remedying the Braves’ present situation. And “fire Bobby Cox” isn’t a proposal, unless you’re prepared to submit a list of managerial candidates who you KNOW would do a better job. Otherwise, you’re just another whiny fan jealous of another team’s success who advocates shaking things up simply for the sake of shaking them up. We had it good for a long time here, and we’re still only a few players and a two-week hot streak away from being back on top of the NL East.

And, as a “customer,” you have every right to switch your allegiances to another “company,” like the Red Sox. Feel free to jump on their bandwagon, because that’s clearly more your style. You won’t be missed.

Ted Striker

June 22nd, 2009
12:48 pm

The guy at 12:19 p.m. believes in conspiracy theories. And gets agitated for no discernible reason. And thinks sportswriters owe him a thrice daily treatise For/Against whatever Mr. 12:19 p.m. Likes/Hates.

Me, I don’t figure sportswriters owe me anything except their opinions. (I do, however accept gifts of beer/wine/hard liquor if they spot me out in a bar somewhere)

Mike Lum

June 22nd, 2009
12:49 pm

Agreed, Art. Larry, perhaps you could suggest who Cox SHOULD play, instead of just saying to not play Diaz, Anderson, Frenchy, and K Johnson. And be sure to stay within budget!

Herschel Talker

June 22nd, 2009
1:05 pm

OK, Jeff, while you’re on the subject, what do you think about our “brilliant” skipper?

midnite

June 22nd, 2009
1:05 pm

Hey, Larry at 12:19 you sound like a first class horses a$$. What do you expect DOB, Shultz, and Bradley to do personal attacks on players and management? Would that make you feel more important? Now get back to that deep fryer, the drive thru line is backing up.

Larry

June 22nd, 2009
1:11 pm

Art,

It is Internet goobers like you who irk me more than girly man sportswriters, as you too can only exemplify courage with a keyboard by calling one vulgar names to compensate for intellectual and anatomical shortcomings.

To give Bobby Cox credit for 14 division titles and simultaneously not mention the fact that despite being afforded the finest talent in the land for more than 14 seasons by the GM and Braves’ scouting and minor league development perfectly exemplifies why you are indeed such a mindless, spineless goober. Did you happen to notice, Fart, that out of those 14 division titles over the likes of the expansion Marlins, the Expos (Capitals) the Phillies and the Mets all those years that we watched our opponent celebrate the last game of the postseason 13 of those 14 opportunities?

And as for the payroll, Fart, if you’ll check you’ll see that the Braves were among those leaders all those years and are still among the top 1/3 in baseball payroll today. And, Fart, just note the performances of Tampa, Florida and Colorado–low payroll teams–the past few years under competent managers.

My solutions, Fart? Here goes:

1. Fire Bobby Cox 5 years ago!
2. Anyway possible get rid of three hackers: Francoeur, Johnson and Diaz.
3. Put Prado at 2nd.
4. Put Infante in Right Field.

Batting order:
1. Infante
2. Escobar
3. McClouth
4. Jones
5. McCann
6. Anderson
7. Kotchman
8. Prado

Go get Ned Yost to put some fire in this team as a manager because we missed on the opportunity to get Joe Girardi when he was available because of the sentimental goobers like you, Fart, who, because of your double digit IQ like to gaze with admiration while Bobby Cox mines his nose and calls our cute little league nicknames to grown men.

Supes

June 22nd, 2009
1:13 pm

Jeff,

I’m giving you about a month to write the blog/article on Frank Wren’s failure to address the OF situation. The NL East is here for the taking, if he doesn’t make another trade for a RF Braves will end up on the short end once again.

Anderson is coming around a bit, so we can tolerate him and Diaz platooning in LF, but RF remains the black hole in the lineup.

While we are at it…2B isn’t going to get any better until Prado starts playing there a lot or Infante returns by the end of July.

Lack of production out of RF and 2B are going to cost the Braves a chance at the NL East.

Fren is to blame. He assembled this flawed roster and put his money on KJ (not being so hot and cold) and on Jeff (rebounding from the horrible 2008…which has continued right on to 2009)

Larry

June 22nd, 2009
1:21 pm

Jeff,

Just reading though some of your reader’s comments here perhaps I over estimated the intellect of your supporters and followers. It looks like these are the guys we see on TV with no shirts, bulging guts, faded tattoos of old girlfriend’s 9 (or male cousins) misspelled first names, impenetrable body odor and insurmountable ugliness. Please forgive me for raining on the party of their idols, Bobby Cox and the Banjo player in “deliverance.”

Guys, next time I see you at the Braves game I’ll walk up from my Hank Aaron seats and buy you a PBR, 4 double cheese burgers, and some pork rinds (”meat skins”).

Pago Flyer

June 22nd, 2009
1:31 pm

Our friend Hank is damanding more blacks in baseball…gee, he didn’t mention basketball and football!? Sad…

sameold

June 22nd, 2009
1:36 pm

the comments section for ajc articles blows…what a waste of time

JSS

June 22nd, 2009
2:04 pm

It’s not about RACE, it is about hypocrisy and unrealistic standards. I’d rather a RACIST, A MISOGYNIST, or a NARCISSIST stand in the courtyard and show who they are… But don’t put the steak on the fire and then go take a nap… And you said one thing right, you know how I feel about you… I’d trust Goebbels to tell me the sky was blue before you…You’re nothing but double standards, suddenly you don’t realize it… And you know I ain’t scared of you in any form or manner… When does your vacation start?

Leslie Chow

June 22nd, 2009
2:14 pm

Ohhhh Jeffy!!! You sooooooo CRAZY! Haha, I like you story about Chippa Jones. You soooo funny. HAHA

The Grinch

June 22nd, 2009
2:19 pm

Aslim, amen to your 11:58. Bobby is an excellent clubhouse presence and handles his players on a personal level as well as anyone in baseball. But he could use an “assistant” to make bullpen moves.

The broken record of “fire Billy and Woody” worked for one of them so far (and hopefully the other will soon follow). Hopefully if enough people listen to it it’ll work for Waddell too. The Thrasher fanbase is as loyal and loud as any in this town and it’s a shame the team will probably wind up in another city. Ownership’s a big part of it, but Don’s the only major component that can be fixed unless/until someone else buys the team.

Hillbilly Deluxe

June 22nd, 2009
2:29 pm

My comment is sort of off topic but you can stretch and relate it to the picture of Chipper, etc. In the last 20 years or so there has been a growing tendency of some umpires to bait players. I didn’t watch yesterday’s game but from the clips I saw it appeared that was the case here. It happens to all teams in both leagues. The first time I remember seeing it was in an 80’s Astro’s game. Everything in the game appeared normal and all of sudden umpire Jerry Crawford jumps out from behind the plate and gets in the face of Astro catcher Harry Spilman (who is in his crouch) and starts yelling at him. Now, true, Harry may have been saying something to him but he was facing the pitcher and in his crouch, so if he was saying anything he was doing it in the time honored tradition of not showing the umpire up. This was an NBC game and Tony Kubek ( a helll of a shortstop for you youngsters) pointed out how Crawford was out of line and it was totally uncalled for. In the years since then, things have just gone further downhill. How many games have you seen the last few years where an umpire walks out toward the mound, rips off his mask and starts barking at the pitcher? The really good old umpires, Doug Harvey, etc., you never knew they were there. They kept order without intruding on the game. Maybe if Rip Van Selig ever wakes up he can do soemthing about this.

Darren Elliot

June 22nd, 2009
3:49 pm

MatthewH

June 22nd, 2009
3:55 pm

Larry,
In your response to Art at 1:11 you referred to the team that once was the Expos as the Capitals. They are the Nationals. If you don’t know this simple baseball fact, how can we take your other observations seriously?
Oh and by the way-pretty clever changing Art’s name to Fart-what are you 12?

NC Braves Fan

June 22nd, 2009
4:08 pm

Jeff – did a quick check on the error stats and found that 33 of the 42 errors by the Braves came from just four positions – P, SS, 3B and LF. And out of those 33, 22 are from 3B and SS alone!

Of the remaining five positions, six errors were committed by 2B, two by the C, one at first and none in center and RF.

I guess you would expect a higher number of errors on the left side of the diamond in general, but this is really bad stuff.

Larry

June 22nd, 2009
4:23 pm

Matthew,

Okay, you got me man, I called the Nationals the Capitals! Wow! Seriously, is that the best you got?

You’re just another internet goober who likes to smell Art’s Farts! Let me guess, you support Bobby Cox, right?

Whew!

JSS

June 22nd, 2009
4:36 pm

Brian is one the nicest guy is the business, Known him since the Old “Mr. Show” days. Jeff Schultz could only dream of being so respected… Now I know he’s going to delete this since he’ll declare it “name calling;” but Benny the Beaver, dead ringer. http://www.myspace.com/beavs1fan Check out the mood designation, fits Jeff to the tee…

Ted Striker

June 22nd, 2009
4:43 pm

Mr 1:21 p.m. — I’m sorry. I don’t have time to play with you. Bigger fish to fry.

The other Al Kaline

June 22nd, 2009
8:39 pm

The race discussions will get even more interesting when the Thrashers draft a black player with the 4th overall pick in Friday night’s NHL draft.

Only problem-he’s an African-Canadian, not an African-American. Will Gary Sheffield still respect him?

Ogie Oglethorpe

June 22nd, 2009
8:45 pm

Bangkapi Ajarn, please don’t talk about the Thrashers. It is clear that you do not know what the heck you are talking about.

This is a “buddy” that has helped build a championship team.
As a player, there were few in his time more competitive.

Stick to whatever sport you know, like pouring slurpees.

Ogie Oglethorpe

June 22nd, 2009
10:33 pm

Ajarn, sorry about the last comment

Brendan

June 23rd, 2009
1:17 pm

I’m happy with the Dudley hire. But, let me be blunt, “How much ‘control and power’ will Dudley really have?” If the answer is, “plenty,” then I’m ever happier. But if all that happens is … Dudley gets OUTSHOUTED at the draft table over the selection at #4, #34, #45, #95, #124, #154, #176, and #184, then why bring him here? I’d prefer that the organization just go ahead and make Dudley the new GM, and let Waddell’s new job be … trying to convince the Spirit to ENABLE the new job, with a bigger budget, to do his job. If Waddell would do that, I’d applaud. And if Dudley turned this franchise around, via sound decision-making, in an era of salary cap, then I’d applaud him, as well.