This Week in Fredi Gonzalez Think

1 of 4

Aug 12, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez (33) looks on during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Adonis Garcia started the week as the guy Fredi Gonzalez had to have in the lineup and ended jerked out of the game for a base running blunder. Those two incidents highlight Fredi Gonzalez scramble for victories while seeking to show he’s a good manager worthy of keeping his post in 2016.

A Quick look back

The Braves traded Alex Wood – amongst others – for Olivera to play third base and be a power bat behind Freddie Freeman next year.  Injury kept Olivera out of the majors until September call-ups so when he arrived it seemed logical that he would get most of the playing time at third base; he hasn’t

On Tuesday the Braves opened a three game set with the Blue Jays. The Jays started lefty Mark Buehrle whose fastball tops out about 89 and recent results haven’t been great.  After resting Olivera on Sunday the first Jays game appeared a perfect opportunity to get Olivera some at bats against a good but not overpowering pitcher with major league stuff.

Instead Gonzalez left Olivera on the bench in favor of Garcia telling Mark Bowman that while he understood the organization’s plans he didn’t feel obligated to play him.

"“I want to see [Olivera] as much as I want to see him, but I also want to put the best lineup out there to give me a chance to win ballgames,” Gonzalez said."

I’ve parsed the first part of that quote “I want to see [Olivera] as much as I want to see him…” but I still have no idea what he meant.

Gonzalez laid out his rationale  to Bowman on Tuesday.

"“When you win and produce, you get a chance to play, but I do want to get a chance to see [Olivera] play,” Gonzalez said. “So, that is the hardest thing coming in every day. And what do you tell Garcia? Do you tell Garcia he’s not part of the future? The guy has 150 at-bats and eight home runs. He’s as hot as a firecracker.”"

Gonzalez added to his rationale for the Tuesday lineup in an interview with David O’Brien

"“. . . “Swisher’s got good numbers against Buerhle, so I’m trying to get as many good bats in there as I can to try to win a ballgame.”"

It’s true that Nick Swisher historically owned Buehrle but that dominance is a few years old, since 2010 Swisher is one for eight (.125) – a double in 2013 – and on the day went hitless in with a strikeout in three PA against Buehrle.

2005 10 9 3 0 0 1 1 1 .333 .400 .333 .733
2006 3 2 1 0 0 0 1 1 .500 .667 .500 1.167
2007 7 4 2 1 0 0 2 0 .500 .667 .750 1.417
2009 6 4 2 0 0 0 2 0 .500 .667 .500 1.167
2010 3 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 .667 1.333
2011 4 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .250 .000 .250
2013 3 2 1 1 0 1 1 0 .500 .667 1.000 1.667
2014 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/19/2015.

Admittedly his performance on the day is hindsight but Swisher’s numbers were available to Gonzalez and his staff before the game.  Gonzalez decided to play Swisher based instead of Olivera based on obsolete data at best.

Gonzalez went onto justify his lineup saying that it provided the better matchups.

"“We sit and talk about it with the coaching staff, and I think the matchup with that particular day’s pitcher plays a part,” Gonzalez said. “You want [Olivera] to play and to have some success. You don’t want him to get buried.”"

I could buy that argument when facing David Price whose high velocity heater and nasty breaking pitches could give a guy still essentially in spring training mode a hard time.  Skipping Buehrle who tops out at about 90 on a good day and who struggled in recent appearances they playing him against Marco Estrada who approximates a younger right handed version of Buehrle made no sense.

Someone ask O’Brien on Twitter whether Gonzalez was playing some kind of platoon split match up.  Nope.

So on Tuesday and Wednesday he started Garcia because he liked him better than Olivera and is frantic to win games. On Thursday he started Olivera because – presumably – Garcia doesn’t hit righties well and last night he started Garcia in left because Swisher fouled a ball off his foot Thursday and has trouble walking.  Starting Garcia in left makes tons of sense and is easily explained because folks, Garcia is an outfielder.