Ex-Brave Saltalamacchia morphs into ‘Rube Baker’

Rube Baker (Eric Bruskotter) consoles (Charlie Sheen) after he lost his girlfriend.

Rube Baker (Eric Bruskotter) consoles Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) after he lost his girlfriend.

It’s not my desire to start a debate about the Braves trade for Mark Teixeira from a few years back, even if some consider it one of the greatest disasters mankind has ever witnessed while general manager Frank Wren told me, “The Teixeira trade hasn’t impacted us at all. If you look at the players we gave up, I’m not sure it’s had any effect on the major league club.”

But Wren certainly is correct about one guy the Brave gave up: Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

OK, Jarrod. See the pitcher. Be the pitcher. OK, here goes the throw ... doh!

OK, Jarrod. See the pitcher. Be the pitcher. OK, here goes the throw ... doh!

The dude is stuck in the minors with the Oklahoma City RedHawks.

Why?

Because he can’t throw.

Back to the pitcher.

Remember the movie, “Major League II”? There was a minor-league catcher in Cleveland Indians spring training named Rube Baker, who couldn’t throw the ball back to the pitcher.  His manager, Jake Taylor, solved the problem by helping Baker clear his mind, I believe with a Playboy magazine. (Important update: Alert readers have pointed out it was actually a lingerie catalog. Accuracy is import, even in matters relating to soft-porn.)

(By the way, I highly recommend this list of Rube Baker quotes.)

Well, that’s pretty much where Saltalamacchia is at. The former Braves’ catching prospect — considered the key piece in the Teixeira deal with Texas at the time — can’t get the ball back to the pitcher. His throwing problems last year originally stemmed from a shoulder injury and eventually something diagnosed as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. He ended up having a rib removed in surgery in September.

But now, the problem isn’t physical at all. It’s in his head.

Here’s a recap from the Oklahoma City Redhawks, via minorleaguebaseball.com.

In Salty’s last game, Tuesday night at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, 12 of his throws back to the pitcher landed either short of the mound or in center field. He had five errant throws in the first inning alone.

“He’s just got to keep playing until he gets it right,” RedHawks manager Bobby Jones said. “I don’t know what else to do. It’s a shame. It’s definitely what’s keeping him here. He’s blocking the ball well and swinging the bat well. He’s just got to figure it out. It’s a shame.”

Magazine, anybody?

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133 comments Add your comment

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

May 14th, 2010
9:19 am

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

May 14th, 2010
9:22 am

playboy a little rum and a live snake and he will be an all star.
two first in two days I am going to play the lottery this weekend

Let's Go Bravos!

May 14th, 2010
9:23 am

I love the Major League movies!

chazs

May 14th, 2010
9:26 am

Remember the “nicest guy in baseball.” Murphy couldn’t throw the ball back either. He ended up a pretty good outfielder for the Braves as I recall, 2 MVP’s.

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PMC

May 14th, 2010
9:28 am

It’s a copout to say “it hasn’t effected us at all.” because if you had those 5 players you could have filled other holes by trading them.

In case you haven’t noticed the Outfield is not exactly a team strength and hasn’t been for some time.

This is my problem with Frank. I think he’s made some excellent moves and strengthened the team greatly since he’s been here, really cleaned up after Scherholtz so to speak. This front office though from the top to Frank continues to fudge everything they say publically. I get that he can’t say anything on the record really that would annoy current players on the team…. but this statement has no tact. It’s basically telling people they are crazy if they think the Texiera deal had any effect at all. If it had no effect then why are we what 5 years in with no everyday player in left? Why are we still trying to find a replacement for Andrew Jones in Center? Why don’t we have a guy ready to step in for an aging Chipper Jones and why is 1st base STILL a place that isn’t a strength for the Braves? Sure Glaus has picked it up in the last couple of weeks, but to spin his deal as any more than a stop gap waiting for Freddie Freeman to get ready is a stretch. Who else was clamoring to sign Troy Glaus coming off of injury? Who wanted Garrett Anderson to start in left everyday?

Of COURSE it effected the team because you used 5 prospects for 1 player who wasn’t able to get you anywhere and then he left. So you lost 6 players of merit whether those 5 would start here or not and you lost Mayhay too so that’s 7. You got back Casey Kotchman and he was no real answer either.

Franks problem is not that he’s incapable. It’s that his PR skills are just not that adept.

Blue

May 14th, 2010
9:31 am

Jeff; I had heard (don’t know if it is an urban legend) that this is the reason Dale Murphy was moved from catcher to outfield. Do you know if it is true?

mike

May 14th, 2010
9:31 am

Jeff,

I’m not following.. he can’t throw from home plate to the pitcher’s mound? How could that be?

Worm

May 14th, 2010
9:34 am

Jeff, I believe he could be the Braves starting 1st baseman.

Mackey Sasser

May 14th, 2010
9:34 am

Perhaps he should look me up. I’ve been there.

Worm

May 14th, 2010
9:35 am

Blue, That is a true story about Dale Murphy…Same problem

Brian

May 14th, 2010
9:44 am

Wow, that is a shame. I wouldn’t even know where to begin fixing a problem like that.

Frank Wren

May 14th, 2010
9:51 am

I am so smart. I am so smart. S-M-R-T.

MLH

May 14th, 2010
9:51 am

I believe Chuck Knoblach (sp?) of the Yankees had at problem at 2nd base as well

Jeff Schultz

May 14th, 2010
9:51 am

Blue — I’m certain his erratic arm had something to do with him being moved, yes. Not sure if that was the only reason but it was a big one.

Jeff Schultz

May 14th, 2010
9:52 am

Mike — Don’t know. I’m not a doctor. Or a psychiatrist.

Mr. Phil

May 14th, 2010
9:53 am

I thought problems like that WERE only in the movies. Wow. Can he throw out a runner at second?

ATL Fan

May 14th, 2010
9:53 am

Throw it back underhand.

SimpleDawg

May 14th, 2010
9:54 am

I remember that Dale Murphy acquired the same difficulty in throwing back to the pitcher……

Murph said that Bobby Cox decided to move him to center field to get him as far away from everyone else as possible.

Problem resolved…..and a 2 time MVP was made.

I don’t know if Salty can play center field or not, but…….

Lowcountry Bulldawg

May 14th, 2010
9:54 am

Mackey Sasser a former Met also had the same issue as a catcher and it ended up costing him his career. Salty is still my hero for bagging his High School Gym teacher. You gotta applaud him on that one at least!

Dr. Phil

May 14th, 2010
9:55 am

Wren should be a spokesman for BP or Halliburton. Salty was a great prospect at the time of the trade. His throwing problem is recent. Apparently Wren wants us to believe that he can see into the future. If he has that ability, then he would know that Kelly Johnson would bat .269 with 10 homeruns six weeks into this season and Elvis Andrus would hit .292 and play more often and better than Escobar, whose behavior is erratic to say the least.

ATL Fan

May 14th, 2010
9:55 am

I had shoulder problems and went to a side-arm, underhand motion that worked for me.

jason

May 14th, 2010
10:00 am

The next thing Frank Wren is going to tell us is that the J.D. Drew for Adam Wainwright trade didnt effect us either!!! Yeah right!!!

Lowcountry Bulldawg

May 14th, 2010
10:03 am

The Drew trade was great! Wasnt that the one where we got the great LH reliever Ray King? Wrenn’s greatest addition thus far isnt it!HAHAHAHA!

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

May 14th, 2010
10:04 am

so would this ailment be considered the Yips ?

shane

May 14th, 2010
10:05 am

The Teixeira trade hasn’t impacted us at all. If you look at the players we gave up, I’m not sure it’s had any effect on the major league club.”

Couldnt have said it better myself. Other than Andrus we really didnt give up anything.

Hasnt really had an effect on the team at all. Plus at the time we were close to making the playoffs and Tex seemed like the missing piece. Hindsight is 20/20 but at the time i loved the deal and thought it would put us back in the playoffs.

sugarfoot

May 14th, 2010
10:06 am

Wren is clearly an idiot; but, I feel bad for Salty. At one time, I thought he was going to be the Braves catcher of the future. He was great in the Braves minor league organization.

shane

May 14th, 2010
10:06 am

The next thing Frank Wren is going to tell us is that the J.D. Drew for Adam Wainwright trade didnt effect us either!!! Yeah right!!!

It was a good trade at the time. Without JD that year we dont win the division. Also Wren stole JJ from the Tigers for Edgar Renteria. You cant count the misses and not count the hits.

Hankie Aron

May 14th, 2010
10:07 am

Jeff, I remember Mackey Sasser, a decent hitting catcher for the Mets had the same problem. It’s unfortunate but hard to understand to the average fan.

Braves2010

May 14th, 2010
10:09 am

Don’t look now but Elvis Andrus has become a basestealer; something the Braves have seldom produced or obtained.

chc4

May 14th, 2010
10:12 am

Wren must think we’re stupid. Sure would be nice to have Feliz and Andrus. He picked the wrong SS to trade. And having Feliz would’ve allowed us to spend more on the offense since Wagner wouldn’t have been necessary.

Braves2010

May 14th, 2010
10:12 am

A Dodger 2nd baseman also could not make the throw to first and I think was out of basebazll soon after the problem developed though he could hit. What was that guy’s name. About 1979 or 1980.

Confused

May 14th, 2010
10:13 am

If Salty starts reciting Playboy centerfold profiles during the games, that might be worth a trip to OK City.

MatthewH

May 14th, 2010
10:15 am

I thought it was a VIctoria’s Secret catalog that was used in the movie. And while he was throwing back to the pitcher, he would recite the material and color of the items in the catalog. Am I remembering wrong?

ArkyTech

May 14th, 2010
10:15 am

Mackey Sasser!

SimpleDawg

May 14th, 2010
10:16 am

One other major leaguer with the throwing yips: Steve Sax 2nd base for the Dodgers…..he got to where he couldn’t throw it to first base.

During one of Lasorda’s profane clubhouse tirades about the team’s lack of focus, Tommy asked Sax what he was thinking as the pitcher delivered the ball…Sax replied, “I hope he doesn’t hit it to me.”

Lasorda almost has a stroke! He then asked Pedro Guerrero what he was thinking as the pitch was delivered. Pedro said, “I’m hoping he doesn’t hit it to Sax, either.”

End of meeting.

Not Don Waddell

May 14th, 2010
10:16 am

ummm, Yunel Escobar is a total headcase who would be traded in an instant if possible. However, the Braves cannot trade him now.

Elvis Andrus is arguably the best SS in baseball right now.

S.C.Smith

May 14th, 2010
10:17 am

People, Wren made none of those trades. He has only been the G.M. for two years. I can’t believe everyone talks but don’t really know.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

May 14th, 2010
10:18 am

WOW! Do I get a Kudo’s for the first Sasser reference? O wrong blog!

Also Neftali Feliz is going to be the steal for the Rangers. Closer now, but huge arm and will in the next 1-2 years move into the #1 Starter role for them.

Andrus is a jewel, but combining Andrus w/ Feliz the Rangers made out like bandits in the deal.

Jeff Schultz

May 14th, 2010
10:18 am

Hankie Aaron (and others) — You’re right about Mackey Sasser. He also was stricken by Rube Baker Syndrome.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

May 14th, 2010
10:19 am

Do I get a Kudo’s for the Sasser reference 1st? O, wrong blog!

Jeff Schultz

May 14th, 2010
10:19 am

MatthewH — Actually, I think it might’ve been Fredricks of Hollywood (as well as the Playboy discourse).

Steve Sax

May 14th, 2010
10:20 am

Braves2010- It was me…but I hung around awhile after that…just couldn’t stay off the candy.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

May 14th, 2010
10:20 am

Crap, dublicate post! Dang lost the humor on that one! Goes back to the corner and sits w/ the Duplicate post Cap on.

Braves2010

May 14th, 2010
10:20 am

Steve Sax was the guy

Macon Braves (RIP)

May 14th, 2010
10:21 am

And having Feliz would’ve allowed us to spend more on the offense since Wagner wouldn’t have been necessary.

Huh? So your answer to the closing situation would have been after letting Soriano and Gonzalez go, don’t bother looking for another veteran to close, just throw a rookie in the closer’s position? Not a very good idea.

Mitchell

May 14th, 2010
10:21 am

Sounds like he has that thing, that thing with the throwing of the ball. Can’t do it or so it sounds.

Still a bad trade if for no other reason than the fact that Teixeira sucks and is a bitch.

It’s telling that when we got him we were thought to have immediately improved our chances to not only make the playoffs but were then considered a legitimate World Series contender and when he left, we were suffering through the franchise’s worst season in 18 years.

And he was more than happy to leave. And my favorite part is that, only when he joined the Yankees did he finally decide to play a significant part in getting his team to the World Series and winning it.

Sort of like CC Sabathia. In 2007, the dude has a chance to step up and singlehandedly carry his team back to the World Series for the first time in ten years. ALCS Game 5 with the Indians, against the Sawx, with a 3-1 series lead, pitching at home… not. Red Sox win 7-1, they go on to win the World Series.

Cut to the Yankees 2009, next thing you know he’s Don f***ing Larson. World Series Champion.

I love how that works.

Teixeira sucks and can go eff himself.

MLH

May 14th, 2010
10:22 am

Braves2010,

I think his name was Steve Sax

Braves2010

May 14th, 2010
10:24 am

Thanks Steve but your name finally came to me.
What I don’t get about the Teixeira trade is why JS would want a Boras guy who seldom signs with us.
4 good prospects for a rental.
Well at least JS saved Rangers GM from getting fired.

Shankit

May 14th, 2010
10:25 am

Simple Dog
Great story about Lasorda, Guerrero & Sax.
Heard the same story one time at Pebble
from Herschiser playing with Payne STewart.
He also told another story about Lasorda catching
him and the little center fielder that used to play with
the Braves (can’t recall his name, Alzheimers has set
in.) Neither started that particular day, and Herschiser
and the center fielder were caught playing poker in
the locker room by Lasorda during the game.