59 thoughts on “Not a shocker”

  1. Wow, ya know, in light of the things that were said about him, and now this decision, I don’t quite know what to think of Mazzone? Is he a product of Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz, is he a great pitching coach with some personality flaws, or is he a darn good pitching coach who just inherited a terrible staff in Baltimore?

  2. In Baltimore, Leo certainly inherited some bad pitchers & had some bad luck.

    When I think of Mazzone’s Braves tenure, I don’t think of the Big 3; I think of people like John Burkett & Jaret Wright.

    Perhaps the Albie Lopez’s of the world are irredeemable, but Mazzone succeeded in a big way in Atlanta. I can never take that away from him.

  3. And Erik Bedard had some kind of year up there. Jeremy Guthrie had a great year too. So it’s not like all he did was fail — but he couldn’t fix Daniel Cabrera and he couldn’t work enough miracles.

    The Mets didn’t fire Rick Peterson for being unable to fix Victor Zambrano. I don’t think the Orioles helped their ballclub with this decision, but Leo was right that after Perlozzo was fired, his days were probably numbered. I really hope we can bring him back.

  4. Maddux won a Cy Young award before joining the Braves. Smoltz has pitched brilliantly for the Braves since Leo has left. Leo was certainly a very good pitching coach, but he had very good material to work with during his tenure with the Braves. There’s no real reason to drop Roger and re-hire Leo at this point.

  5. The reason to drop Roger–irrespective of whether he is replaced by Leo or someone else–is that in McDowell’s two seasons none of the Braves’ pitchers seems to have improved under his guidance. Under Leo, if the Braves got a pitcher from another club, he almost always had better numbers after he got to Atlanta (and, often, got worse after he left). Is that still gthe case? If not, then the pitching coach may be ineffective.

  6. Stan Kasten and Pat Corrales are with the Nats… will Leo soon follow? (current pitching coach Randy St. Claire)

    Or perhaps a move to KC? (current pitching coach Bob McClure)

  7. @9,

    That is the thing that people fail to understand about JC’s research on “The Mazzone effect”. JC only included pitchers who had been with Mazzone for 2 years and had at least 2 years with other club(s) before or after the Mazzone stint. Therefore, Glavine and Smoltz did not show up in the data set (Maddux could have from “before”).

    Certainly Braves scouting and front office may have deserved the praise (they knew how to predict comebacks better?), but it wasn’t a fluke of having good pitchers already on staff.

  8. I agree that Leo had the good fortune of having great pitchers and he also was abrasive with some pitchers. I still think he is an incredible pitching coach and he would be a major upgrade over McDowell.

    I think his success lies in his down and away philosophy and a good conditioning program. It also may take a while for his philosophy to spread throughout the organization.

  9. pitching coaches are as good as their pitchers. Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux would make me a good pitching coach. Who was the last GREAT pitching coach to get fired? Apparently, Mazzone isnt all that? Or maybe he is

  10. “Under Leo, if the Braves got a pitcher from another club, he almost always had better numbers after he got to Atlanta (and, often, got worse after he left). Is that still gthe case? If not, then the pitching coach may be ineffective.”

    Dan Kolb didnt, Kyle Davies didnt, Chris Reitsma got worse, many others. Some people get better some get worse.

  11. JB,

    It’s in The Baseball Economist. I bought that last night, but I felt guilty about it for a while, because I knew I could get it $10 cheaper on Amazon. Oh well.

  12. I’m not sure how Kyle Davies can be included in the list – good or bad. For whatever reason, Mazzone seemed to have a greater impact on starting pitchers than relief pitchers, IMO.

  13. A lot of it is the environment. Many coaches can’t replicate their success in a different environment (eg., Jimmy Johnson in Miami). And some coaches just aren’t a fit for all teams. Leo is a great pitching coach. But he didn’t have much time in Baltimore. In Atlanta, he was fortunate not only to inherit good pitchers but pitchers on the cusp of success. In Baltimore, he didn’t have that luxury. Plus, it’s a lousy organization generally and I think that plays a role. Put Leo in a good organization and give him some time and I’m sure he will produce results. But it’s just not reasonable to expect to duplicate the Braves staffs of the 90s. That was a once in a lifetime thing. He seemed to have quite a bit of success with several of the starters in Baltimore; the problem was the relief core was minor league quality. I don’t think Leo did all that bad a job but you can’t make chicken out of chicken salad. Plus, in his heyday people acted as if Leo was the only good pitching coach in baseball, which obviously isn’t true.

  14. I would guess his “low and away” philosophy works wonders because, well, hitters usually can’t drive pitches that are low and away, right?

  15. Just to clarify, Leo left because of money, correct? Half a million for a pitching coach is pretty high.

  16. “Low and away” doesn’t work like it did in the ’90s because baseball now enforces the rulebook strike zone instead of the Eric Gregg strike zone.

  17. td@17 hit an important point. Most of what Leo was doing in 1991 was follwoing an organizational pitching philosophy (already established by Johnny Sain). Take mediocre arms and make them above average by working low and away and not walking people. Thus, HR rates and walk rates dropped. Thus, runs given up dropped.

    Late in Leo’s tenure, people at the top started to see the need for power arms to advance in the post season. I think the old system didn’t know what to do with the Capellan’s, etc. Then, they didn’t do as well with the other guys anymore either. It (the SAin Mazzone system) was already running off the rails as Leo left.

    The pitching genius who has no discernible role in MLB is Dr. Mike Marshall. I think a down and out National League club with little pitching (Nationals?) could really vault a long way with 12 or so 2 to 3 inning pitchers pitching every 2 to 3 days. And, if Marshall is right on injuries, they wouldn’t be paying a bunch of guys on the DL 10 to 20 million a year like most clubs are. Thus, leaving more money for hitters.

  18. I agree with Ron that Questec and the attempt to enforce the rule book on the outside corner hinder the Sain Mazzone system. However, I think it still can work pretty well.

  19. Mazzone said that he was leaving because he wanted to join his childhood buddy Sam Perlozzo on the Orioles. Perlozzo was named manager, Leo was best man at Sam’s wedding, and Leo was ready to move on. The money was better, but I see no reason to disbelieve that friendship wasn’t the major factor.

  20. I am with AAR 110%. He left to join childhood buddy, Sam Perlozzo. The money was only a minor factor – Perlozzo was the big reason.

    I have maintained (along with Mac) for years that teams should employ 3 pitching coaches and 3 hitting coaches – look at football – you have a Defensive Coordinator, and working for him, a Defensive Line coach, a Defensive backs coach, etc.

    Part of it is that people have different specialities, different personalities that work with different players. Mazzone is not necessarily better or worse than Roger, but while Leo’s style and philosophy may work with some pitchers (like Glavine), McDowell’s a better fit with others.

    In reality, I would love to see Leo back as the chief pitching coach, with say a McDowell and another younger coach working under him. I think you can get more out of a staff like that.

    However, in the system we have that’s unlikely to change, I wouuld lean towards bringing Leo back, personally.

  21. I just looked up where we ranked in the league in ERA, and I was shocked to see that we were THIRD.

    Looks like that month of September really pulled us up, because I remember us being middle of the pack for most of the season.

  22. We were 3rd in Runs Scored as well.

    This team should have made the playoffs this year, but we knew that already. Too many one run and extra innings losses.

  23. regarding the chicken or the egg with mazzone and the great staffs through the 90’s — doesn’t joe torre get all kinds of credit for leading the most expensive/talented teams ever to victories (and similar arguments could be made for cox)? even a high performance machine needs to be well oiled.

  24. Alex R – I’m with you and I would love for us to have 3 pitching coaches. The problem is that I just don’t see Mazzone and McDowell working together unless McDowell is demoted and Mazzone is the head pitching coach. I’m afraid that won’t happen.

  25. I also like the idea of 3 pitching coaches. You could go one power, one finesse and one bullpen. Alternately, maybe throw in a mechanical specialist, or a psych guy. Working out the ego thing would be the hard part, for sure.

  26. I can only get the Bos/Cle wipeout since my TBS station is now PeachtreeTv. And yes, I live one hour from Atlanta and have 60 channels on local cable. Just shameful.

  27. people like to jump on the Mazzone bandwagon and they want him back. I think Roger did a great job this year in comparison to his first. Look at the turn around in Hudson, Moylan, Acosta’s #’s were better than they were in AAA, Yates was better this year until Bobby ran him out there for 40 straight games. People say that pitchers havent improved, I somewhat disagree. Being ranked 6th in MLB ERA is nothing to complain about esp. with our #4-#5 starter problems this year

    2006 Season – 4.60ERA 1.46WHIP

    2007 Season – 4.10ERA 1.36WHIP

    yes we have had better pitchers this year, mainly the pen, but thats a drastic improvement under McDowell

  28. The D-Backs are managed well, have a killer bullpen, and are much, much better than the Angels, but they just can’t hit. They’re sort of like the Angels of the NL.

  29. * By “much, much better than the Angels,” I mean the Angels with an injured lil’ Sarge and a cycloptic Garret Anderson, who actually used Reggie Willits as a #5 hitter, and who may actually have been the worst offensive team I’ve ever seen, including the Washington Nationals.

  30. Now that was an odd play. Can’t blame Drew for trying, though. I still remember that play when we scored two runs while David Cone was arguing with the ump over a play at first.

  31. So who’s the better pitching coach? That’s the guy we want.

    I moaned about one run and extra-inning losses as much as anybody. I’m a bit ashamed, but I’m a fan, which means I have unreasonable expectations of fallible human beings (players).
    Pointing at close losses has the stain of questioning things like “character” and “clutch ability.”

    I’d rather look at games where the Braves were buried early and talk about talent. Is it an exagerration to say the team was in trouble every time the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation came around? If so, how could any one pitching coach beat that?

    The only thing I can expect from a pitching coach is that he can help the players do their jobs: Get people out.

    If Roger did that last year, I say you keep him. If not, let’s get someone who can.

  32. look at the numbers posted in #35, you can see a drastic improvement. A pitching coach cant stop the manager from sending out the same guy every night and killing his arm (yates). Our pitching as a whole was alot better than the previous year. Roger needs to get some credit for that right?

    Mac, where are the SEC predictions for today

  33. To be honest, I have no idea if McDowell is a good pitching coach or not. I don’t think he’s great, and Mazzone was at one time. I know pitchers have a lot to do with the PC’s success, or lack thereof, but Mazzone had a proven system that worked year in and year out. It’s not clear to me what kind of system McDowell has, but it may be a very good one.

  34. how can one determine who is a great pitching coach and who isnt a great pitching coach. Mazzone was great because he had Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux for all those years. Were they great because of his system, prob. not, did it help them develop, maybe so.

  35. Interesting. Wonder if any Braves or former Braves will be listed.

    When are these names going to be released to the public anyways?

  36. At this point, I think I want to find out. I mean, what if (God forbid) Chipper or Andruw Jones was on the list or something?

  37. Dan,

    Sometime by the end of the year after the World Series. MLB doesn’t want it released during the World Series, and rightfully so.

    It could possibly mess around with some free agents this winter.

  38. Well, in one sense, yes. On the other hand, he’s closer to retiring than either Chipper or Andruw, so he’d be hurting himself in the long term.

  39. Well, let the witch hunt commence.

    Do we get to burn people at the stake, or just dump them in freezing cold water until they confess?

  40. Dustin,

    Crushing them under boulders works just as well. Besides, EUROPEANS burned at the stake. I think hanging is more civilized. ;P

  41. I really don’t believe there is anyway Smoltz or Chipper Jones are on that list.

    My fear of who could be on it though: Andruw Jones, Marcus Giles and/or Javy Lopez.

  42. OK seriously.

    We’ll have to wait and see who’s on there, cuz if it’s people like Sheffield or some guy like Kolb or Riestma I could really give a crap less.

    But my baseball world would fall apart if Smoltz or Chipper or Druw was on there.

    If they do, you can count on me lamenting with a few bottles of red wine and a case of beer and a carton of cigarettes, with Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So” on repeat until I run out of booze or pass out, whichever comes first. This will probably happen either until Opening Day or until my wife files divorce papers.

    But seriously, it’d be pretty bad, and tragically sad.

  43. It wouldn’t really surprise me if Marcus Giles was found to be taking steriods. It’s a little suspicious when your power starts trending down and you’re only in your 20s.

  44. Javy’s 2003 season always seemed suspicious to me. I’m not saying…I’m just saying.

    I really loved watching that team play though.

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