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Fredi Gonzalez won’t say why he pitched to Hunter Pence

Sep 29, 2011, 11:00 AM EDT

Hunter Pence

Sorry if I’m dwelling here, but you’d dwell too if this was your team.

Of all of the stuff that happened in last night’s Braves-Phillies game, perhaps the most inexplicable was Fredi Gonzalez’s decision to pitch to Hunter Pence with two out and a runner on third in the 13th inning.  Behind Pence — who has been hot and is dangerous — was Michael Martinez, who has been neither. In a game in which it seemed pretty clear that one run would make all the difference it seemed strange to assume that Fredi Gonzalez was afraid to load the bases. Indeed, creating the force out everywhere made a lot of sense even if you ignored the clear falloff from Pence to Martinez.

Or maybe it was a matchup thing? Let’s have righty Scott Linebrink face righty Hunter Pence rather than the switch-hitting Martinez? I wouldn’t agree with such an assessment — the quality difference between Pence and Martinez more than accounts for the platoon matchup in my mind — but I suppose that’s a reason.

So what did Fredi Gonzalez have to say about it last night?  According to Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: nothing.  When the question was asked, Gonzalez ended the interview.

No word if he asked why he turned Craig Kimbrel‘s arm into potato salad all year, but I suppose he has his reasons for that too.

  1. El Bravo - Sep 29, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    In other news. Potato salad is now on my lunch menu.

    • El Bravo - Sep 29, 2011 at 11:03 AM

      I have no idea why that’s two separate sentences. Blame this on my discombobulation.

    • Utley's Hair - Sep 29, 2011 at 11:56 AM


      • El Bravo - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:24 PM

        you damn right, UH. heyward can suck it.

      • Utley's Hair - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:31 PM

        He’s been doing that a lot recently, hasn’t he? Maybe chalk that up to sophomore slump?

  2. delawarephilliesfan - Sep 29, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    The important thing to remember is that Chipper Jones is not afraid of the Phillies

  3. Bill - Sep 29, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    “Such a hue and cry – whose fault? Everybody blamed by somebody else. Only the [overused relievers] left stiff and stark on the [playing] field escape.”

  4. Old Gator - Sep 29, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    And how many years of Fat Fredi’s decerebrated blundering did we endure in Macondo? And how many times did sports press bloggers and sloggers assert that Fredi was some kind of wizard, “getting the most out of his young team” when all the onfield evidence militated against such an effusive interpretation – and for the reality that his teams were actually underperforming because of all his comparable brain flatus?

    Craig, I hate to say I told you so but…well, let me rescind that, it won’t fool any of our regulars anyway. I can’t tell you how delighted I am to point out that I warned you this would happen. That sound you hear is not the tappers of your wife’s Jaguar going unlubricated overhead in the garage; it’s me, patting myself on the back.

    • paperlions - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:27 PM

      Hmmmm….that description of perception and reality reminds me of one other long-time over-manager

  5. Gamera the Brave - Sep 29, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Remind me never to play Scrabble with you…

    • Old Gator - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:43 PM

      I only play Ouija Scrabble, and you’re not dead enough to play yet anyway. Of course, we have yet to determine if kaiju eiga is permissible in the English language version, so that would put you at a distinct disadvantage even if you were dead.

      And while we’re at it, how about replacing those two old ramjets up your cloaca with dilithium crystals? Ramjets are so-o-o-o-o-o-o 1960s.

      • Gamera the Brave - Sep 29, 2011 at 2:44 PM

        I hadn’t thought of the Ouija angle – frankly just getting past the task of moving the 1″ tiles around with 6-foot claws takes all my energy.

      • Gamera the Brave - Sep 29, 2011 at 2:47 PM

        Oh, and I am sticking with the ramjets, thank you very much – but have already upgraded to Bussard Ramjets, which work better when traveling to anti-Earths to fight Gyaos.

      • Old Gator - Sep 29, 2011 at 3:27 PM

        Fair enough. Now all you need is better voice recognition software to improve your supporting cast’s lip-synching.

      • Gamera the Brave - Sep 29, 2011 at 5:04 PM

        I see – you have – seen – Gamera v. Gyaos, Sandy Frank version.
        At least it was saved somewhat by being skewered on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

      • Old Gator - Sep 29, 2011 at 8:53 PM

        I’m a beeg fan of the kaiju. Wouldn’t have had a childhood without ’em. On my wall hangs a plaque with the mistranslation of the discussion from the semi-original Godzilla (ie, the American version with Raymond Burr spliced in) between Ogata and Serizawa about the pros and cons of revealing the existence of the oxygen destroyer (which to my way of thinking makes Serizawa the discoverer of antioxidants):

        “You have your fear, which might become reality, and you have Godzilla, which is reality.”

        That’s all the philosophy I’ve ever needed.

  6. phatnate - Sep 29, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    Fredi is a terrible in-game manager. He frequently get out managed. The only reason the Braves were even the race was the overuse of 3 relievers. 3 Braves relief pitchers we in the top 7 of all MLB players for appearances. They all showed signs of getting tired in September.

  7. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 29, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    Do you prefer mashed?

    One quote from Craig: No word if he asked why he turned Craig Kimbrel‘s arm into potato salad all year

    Other quotes from Craig:
    Sept 9 ATH: Phillies 3, Braves 2: And the sweep. Ross Gload with the pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth to win it. And of course it came off the Braves’, what, fourth? Fifth best reliever? Because you can’t use your closer in a tie game on the road? GRRRRRR.

    July 25 ATH: Braves lost it because Fredi Gonzalez has a pathological aversion to using his best reliever in a tie game on the road.

    July 21 ATH: Rockies 3, Braves 2: Carlos Gonzalez with the walkoff RBI single off Eric O’Flaherty. Why was Eric O’Flaherty, the Braves third best reliever, pitching with runners on in the ninth inning instead of one of the Braves’ All-Star relievers? Because the damn book says you (a) use your setup man in the eighth inning, so yep, Johnny Venters had to be in there in the eighth; and (b) you never use your closer in a tie game on the road because then the gods up on Olympus will release the friggin’ Kraken and innocent women and children will be killed. Or at least that’s what Fredi Gonzalez’ book says, because that’s the way he manages.

    • Bill - Sep 29, 2011 at 11:53 AM

      Because its impossible to simultaneously overuse and misuse your best relief pitchers. It’s definitely either/or.

    • oikosjeremy - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:24 PM

      Ok, but you also have to look at all the times when Gonzalez used Kimbrel and Venters in low-leverage situations (say, up 2 or 3 runs in the 9th).

      It actually is possible for you to simultaneously overuse a guy, and not use him in situations in which you should’ve used him.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:35 PM

        So, up 2 runs in the 9th you wanted to see more Scott Proctor? I’m not saying Fredi was right or wrong for using the guys the way he did. It does seem though that there are lots of people ready to say he was wrong no matter how he used them.

      • Bill - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:55 PM

        False dilemma, friend. The choice was not merely “Kimbrel or Proctor” all season long.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 29, 2011 at 2:17 PM

        Fredi was being criticized for using his third- and fourth- best relievers in high leverage situations in the quotes above. We could split hairs on the rankings, but it seems fairly obvious that he would catch hell for any bullpen decision that didn’t work out, and for his general practice if it DID work out.

    • delawarephilliesfan - Sep 29, 2011 at 1:26 PM

      Very, very valid point.

  8. Jonny 5 - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    “Because I’m a F&*$ing idiot” Would be uncivilized.

  9. CJ - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    “Fredi Gonzalez won’t say why he pitched to Hunter Pence”, mostly because he doesn’t know the answer either.


  10. philly56 - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    Really, Craig? Atlanta hadn’t done much of anything since Uggla’s HR early in the ballgame and with those dejected and miserable looking faces in the Braves dugout, it was only a matter of time before the Phillies took the lead and won the game.

    • Utley's Hair - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:20 PM

      In all honesty, Bourn should’ve scored on that homer—he was safe at third. Yet another bad call by an umpire. (I hope TBI doesn’t read this…:( )

      • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:25 PM

        Yeah, but then maybe Hamels pitches to Uggla differently. Poor decisions and poor defense cost the Braves the game. Besides that was a close play. Shouldn’t steal 3rd with nobody out unless you can make it standing….or at least clearly make it.

      • Utley's Hair - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:51 PM

        Understood, but based on the events as they unfolded, the Braves would’ve been up by another run, and maybe we’re talking about extra wear and tear on the Cards and Braves, as well as a potential snakes infestation in an area hotel.

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:57 PM

        I dispute that. Replays clearly showed he bounced off the bag. He arrived safely but then bopped off of it and Polanco was basically hugging him the whole time with his glove. He was out cause he couldn’t control his momentum.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:57 PM

        True. I just think the Braves really blew it. They had 4 innings of Schwimmer, DeFratus, and Herndon and could not score a single run. Heyward turned an Ibanez single into a double by losing it in the lights which allowed the booted Ruiz grounder to score a run. Then pitching to Pence.

      • jeffro33 - Sep 29, 2011 at 3:19 PM

        Bourn did come up off the bag.

        I think the more plausible question would be- why were they holding Utley on first, creating that big hole in the first place? Freeman would have clearly been able to field that ball in any regular spot…

    • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:22 PM

      Disagree. If you get through that part of the order, chances are you get through the bottom half as well. That leaves the Braves a couple innings to touch up Herndon. I actually thought the decision to pitch to Pence cost them the game. I don’t think there is a good reason as to why he pitched to him. Maybe he simply forgot that Howard was out of the game. That seems incredibly unlikely but is as plausible as any other explanation that I can think of.

      • NickT - Sep 29, 2011 at 2:15 PM

        An intentional walk to load the bases when you have two outs and runners on first and third is likely not sound strategy, even with Martinez coming up. I’d like to see somebody from BP or The Book run the numbers on that one.

        Linebrink even managed to break Pence’s bat, so I think this one just needs to be chalked up to bad luck for the Braves.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 29, 2011 at 2:45 PM

        Michael Martinez has a OBP of .278 left handed. Hunter Pence has a BA of .313 against RH. Furthermore, who would you rather face with the season on the line…Pence or Martinez?

      • NickT - Sep 29, 2011 at 3:19 PM

        There is no doubt Pence is better than Martinez (whose minor league totals aren’t special either), and I’d rather face Martinez with nobody on than Pence with nobody on, but I’m not sure if I’d rather face Martinez with the bases loaded than Pence with runners on first and third. If Martinez lucked into a hit, then the Phillies would have been up by two, which is significantly worse for the Braves than the Phillies being up by one.

        Here is some data from Tom Tango’s site:

        Scroll down to the situation where it’s the top of the 9th, the score is “0” (i.e., the score is tied), and there are two outs. The home team has a 0.491 probability of winning when there are runners on first and third, and the home team has a 0.458 probability of winning with the bases loaded.

        Obviously this doesn’t take into account Pence vs. Martinez, so that doesn’t tell the whole story, but historically you have a significantly better chance of winning if you don’t load the bases. As I said in my first comment, I’d like to see the numbers when considering the match-up. I’m guessing it winds up being a wash.

  11. hank10 - Sep 29, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    Seems that Fredi is a graduate of the ‘How not to answer legit questions – Post Game’ seminar presented by Andy Reid. Times yours.

    • foreverchipper10 - Sep 29, 2011 at 2:26 PM

      You leave me no choice but to now out myself as not only a Braves fan…..but an Eagles fan as well. Woe is my sports life. (See also Philadelphia Flyers and Sacramento Kings)

  12. nyyankeedave - Sep 29, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    And if the Titantic wasn’t going so fast….

  13. plmathfoto - Sep 29, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    Maybe he didn’t want Pence to walk 4 times in the same game?

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