(This is a rewrite of an earlier blog. Last updated at 5:45 p.m.)
New Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez apparently agreed with Braves fans who felt the team needed a new hitting coach. He just didn’t agree with them that Terry Pendleton should be removed altogether.
This morning’s blog on whether Pendleton and pitching coach Roger McDowell should be kept by Bobby Cox’s replacement stirred a lot of emotions. After over 3,000 votes, McDowell was an overwhelming popular choice to be kept as pitching coach (91 percent were in favor), but Pendleton didn’t experience the same popularity. Over 40 percent of respondents wanted him fired, 36 percent wanted him removed as pitching coach but kept on the team in another role and 24 percent voted to keep him in the same capacity.
The middle group won. Gonzalez did not name a new hitting coach Wednesday at his hastily called introductory press conference — which originally was scheduled for Thursday — but he did announce these changes:
♦ Pendleton will be removed as hitting coach but will be retained as first base and infield coach. General manager Frank Wren said: “It was time for a new voice [on hitting]. Terry’s really excited about having more influence in the game.”
♦ McDowell (pitching coach), Eddie Perez (bullpen coach) and Brian Snitker (third base coach) will be retained.
♦ First base coach Glenn Hubbard and bench coach Chino Cadahia will not be kept. Carlos Tosca, who was with Gonzalez in Florida, becomes the new bench coach.
All in all, the Pendleton move probably was a nice compromise, although I still believe he took way too much heat for the Braves’ hitting problems. Immediately after word leaked that the Braves were going to hire Gonzalez, speculation about Pendleton and McDowell started. Pendleton was a lightning rod every time a player went into a slump or the team struggled offensively. But he never received any credit for the success stories (Martin Prado, Brian McCann, Omar Infante, Jason Heyward, etc.).
Also, most seemed to forget this roster wasn’t exactly stacked with offensive talent.
McDowell has been terrific. Any criticism of him seems to stem from the blind loyalists to former pitching coach Leo Mazzone. The Braves have finished third in the majors in team earned run average in each of the last two seasons. Why replace him?
Gonzalez could’ve kept the entire staff but that never seemed likely. Managers in baseball, like head coaches in football, generally like to bring in some of their own people. A head football coach almost always brings in his own offensive line coach and his own coordinators. That possibly was mitigated somewhat because Gonzalez used to coach with the Braves but changes nonetheless seemed inevitable.
The only other question was whether Pendleton, who may have managing aspirations, wanted out when he didn’t get the top job. But he has long expressed a desire to remain living in Atlanta and obviously wanted to stayed in the organization. It’s also worth noting that he and Gonzalez are friends (as are Gonzalez and McDowell).
There’s your update. I’ll leave the two polls open if y0u still want to vote but at this stage I wouldn’t expect a change in percentages.
So what are your thoughts on the coaching changes?