I'll be the first to say that I think we gave up on Blaine Boyer a bit too early. He had a good, if not great, spring training, but he couldn't find his groove when the bell rang, and Bobby Cox lost confidence in him. I was disappointed but not shocked when the Braves decided to designate him for assignment. For Boyer's part, he seems to appreciate the change of scenery:
... [Boyer] threw in the bullpen Tuesday and was encouraged about the exchange of thoughts between him and Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan.
"It's been a long time since I've had somebody say, 'Let's work on some things,'" Boyer said. "For me, that's music to my ears.
"I'm a guy that likes to get busy and start working on some things and making things better. So when I hear that --and I've heard that multiple times now --about Dunc, that just fires me up. I'm ready to put the work in and see where we can go."
Here's where we read between the lines: "It's been a long time since somebody said 'let's work on some things.'" Different pitching coaches have different styles, and we may be seeing one style winning out for a particular player versus another style.
We don't hear much about Braves' pitching coach Roger McDowell's style. From what I've observed and what I've read he's a quiet and private teacher who doesn't give too many interviews. In fact, I've seen reporters get downright angry because McDowell was dodging them -- the guy doesn't talk to the media.
That makes it hard to figure his style; whether he's a guy who comes to the player, or waits for the player to come to him. Looking back just a few days, it's hard to reconcile Boyer's statement above with these words from Cox after he was traded:
“He’s a great kid, and he’s got enough experience now to get it going,” Cox said. “Roger [McDowell, pitching coach] taught him a slide-step, to keep runners from just circling the bases on him. And Roger taught him a nice, tight slider, what he used to strike out [Florida’s] Cody Ross the other day.
“So he’s learning things, and he just needs to keep developing.”
Is this an instance where Boyer is forgetting the past, or is he trying to lavish praise upon his new pitching coach? Or am I reading way too much into his comments? Regardless, this looks like the appearance of friction between Boyer and McDowell, or at the very least displeasure between the two. And this inference of displeasure leads me to read a bit deeper into why the Braves may have been so quick to cut Boyer.
In the past the Braves have been quick to sever ties with anyone who's not toeing the comapny line. Bob Wickman, Chad Paronto, Macay McBride, they were all let go or traded in part because they were vocal about their displeasure with the status quo. Could this be early season displeasure emenating from the Braves clubhouse (or bullpen)? Tough times can cause friction. This is certainly something to keep an eye on.