Derek Lowe. Courtesy Mitch Stringer Icon/SMI

Things They Should Have Said Today March 31, 2011

Hello again everyone! I’m happy to report that I’m back and blogging today from Sumter, SC. The last few days have been very hectic, between my other job and family stuff. The whirlwind landed me here for a few days as we celebrate my Father-In-Law’s birthday. He’s a great guy and we even got to watch the game together today as the Braves played flawless baseball on their way to a 2-0 win over the Nationals in Wahington, DC. Sweet!

As some of you may remember, I promised to try out a new feature when the season started. In essence, the concept is to highlight things that went unnoticed by the announcers but might prove to be important or interesting as the season grinds along. If it catches on, I’m sure it’ll evolve as we go, and if it doesn’t I’ll let it slip away quietly (you know, without mention :) ). With that being said, here we go with my first attempt!

Fredi Gonzales is his own man.

Fredi was careful in spring training to not rock the boat too much as he took over for the legendary Bobby Cox. As most of you know, there isn’t a great blueprint for success when succedding a legend. Truth is, most people fail. So, when Fredi didn’t change things up too much with spring training routines, welcomed Bobby’s input into things, and generally made the transition seamless, few people could criticize him too much. It was the way he handled the end of camp that both pleased and to a certain degree surprised me. Unlike Bobby, Fredi announced his roster before breaking camp, a subtle but important stamp of ownership. More significantly, no longer were the final decisions made mostly out of loyalty (or maybe just respect) for veterans. Instead of taking the easy route and keeping Proctor and Mather on the roster, he took players he thought had more talent, today, in Young and Martinez. In taking the unheralded Young, a foot shorter and unheard of by most fans before camp, he showed that he’s not afraid to take a risk. The same could be said for eating a portion of Proctor’s salary while simultaneously setting himself up for tons of criticism if the “proven” Proctor suddenly gets his groove back. Make no mistake, this is Fredi’s team. If he didn’t rock the boat, it’s because he didn’t think it needed rocking, not because he was afraid of rocking it.

Nitpicking Derek Lowe

In a startling observation, Derek Lowe looked really good today. He was a little inefficient, throwing over 100 pitches in 5 2/3 innings. But that’s not unexpected this early in the season. Here’s the thing that concerns me just a little: much was made of Lowe rediscovering his slider last September, with his resurrection being attributed largely to the slider. Today, though, he threw several frisbees that hoped to be sliders when they grew up. While you can get away with that sometimes against the Nationals, especially on a cold day in DC, I wouldn’t recommend trying it against the Phillies. If he can work on the slider on the side, great. If not, I’d be really careful when I threw it and to whom it was thrown. Otherwise, I’d stick to the sinker, which was moving late and moving a lot.

Eric O’Flaherty

Eric got his first action today and, like the rest of the bullpen, pitched well. There were two things about Eric that made an impression on me today: The first was that his velocity is still not back to what it was before he stuggled with his respiratory illnesses last year. My recollection was that he threw easy gas in the 93-94 range. Today it looked like 91 was tops, and that was with maximum effort. Perhaps my memory is faulty, but if not this could be important. That extra 2 -3 MPH can be very helpful in setting up your other pitches. But you don’t want your pitchers to use maximum effort, as this leads to maximum injury risk. In any case, let’s just hope that he picks up his velocity the same way that Moylan seems to do every year. The second thing that I saw was that Fredi was unafraid to leave him in the game to face right handed batters. If Fredi was sending a message, I got it: Eric is not a situational lefty. I think that’s a good thing. The bad thing, though, is that Sherrill will be our only “LOOGY”. That’s scary.

I saw other things that weren’t metioned, but I’ll save some for tomorrow. Think defense. And let me know what you think, both about content and concept! Thanks!

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Bobby Cox Braves Derek Lowe Eric O'flaherty Frank Wren Fredi Gonzalez George Sherrill Peter Moylan Scott Proctor

  • Dane from Indy

    You know, I asked this at CAC as well, and was really excited to ask it here until you mentioned it in your last line. I’m excited to hear everyone’s opinion on how our D played. Sure it’s one game, and zero errors is a nice thing to see, but how did they really play? It’s more hypothetical than anything, as you appear to be addresing it tomorrow.

    The number of balls vs. strikes that Lowe threw did concern me. I’ll write this one off but will pay close attention.

    In other news, I just saw on MLB TV that Francoeur homered today, haha.

  • Bob Horton

    Hi Dane,

    I won’t spoil tomorrow’s post, given the ultra-rare (think Halley’s Comet) Friday off day, but I thought the defense played very well. Heck, they almost had a swagger on defense!


  • Fred Owens

    I thought the game was played very cleanly. We all know Nate is short of an arm but Juan Pierre made a good living and won rings like that. Freddie was sharp at first, AGon turned two or three sparklers at short, Uggla and Chipper played well too and BMac threw out a runner. Altogether the defense was fine today, not that they were challenged after BMac threw out Werth.
    Maybe I was watching a different feed on MLB (Chip and Joe) but I recall Eric busting Pudge at 84 on the hands and getting a weak ground ball to Freddie.
    I thought Lowe was ok for an early outing in less than optimal weather. Getting a slide piece to slide when the ball is cold is a good trick. I like Peter’s inning and the movement of the change up too.
    I hope Nate doesn’t internalize his day. he needs a hit or two Saturday.

  • Fred Owens

    err make that 94 ninety four not 84 fingers can’t count

  • GaDawg

    I didn’t get to see the game (had to work), but did follow on Gametracker. *Aside here – MLB has really upgraded Gametracker; I recommend for those like me stuck in an office for day games.*

    Another subtle difference I noticed – when Chipper got the single in the ninth I fully expected Hicks to pinch run for him. I’m sure he would have if Bobby were here (if Hicks would’ve even made the big league team). But with it still a close game I guess Fredi wanted to keep CJ in there in case they went to extras. Personally, I would’ve subbed Hicks – hoping to save wear and tear on CJ as much as possible. But I can see some logic in either decision.

    Lowe pitched like I expect him to pitch – doubt he’ll ever be dominant, will throw a lot of pitches and allow some runners. But as long he keeps us in the games; I can’t complain about a 37 (38?) year old pitcher. Hopefully Hanson will turn in some dominating performaces this year.

  • Fred Owens

    Chipper ran well on his double and on the scoring hit by McCann too. As a whole however, after the first couple of innings they really didn’t hurt Livan at all. The difference was RISP – we were 1 for 3 and they were 0-6. Livan was very efficient 77 pitches 51 strikes while Lowe was not 105-59. Admittedly Livan got a few calls Lowe didn’t but Lowe will s Bob pointed out, need to be sharper a when we play the Phillies and Fish.

  • Bob Horton

    Fred and ‘Dawg,

    I thought Chipper was running as well as he did Pre-injury. And I agree that Bobby would have lifted him. I thought Bobby often pulled guys too early, and he got bitten for it fairly often, IMO.

    If Eric O hit 94, I didn’t see it. I hope he did! And I hope he gets that easy gas back.

    As a precursor to my next post, I’ll also say that FF had a couple of RFI’s in the game, to coin a stat ’cause it feels right!