***Maybe you noticed that Jeff Francoeur is back in Texas, where he spent some time—on his own—after the ’07 season, taking his hitting woes to the then-Ranger’s hitting coach. The coach, Rudy Jaramillo, had developed quite a following for his skills with suffering hitters. That was then. Later, Jaramillo switched to the Cubs, and shortly thereafter, the Cubs released him. And the Braves traded Francoeur to the Mets, who traded him to the Rangers, and thus, Jeff finds himself in a World Series. I can’t tell you where Rudy Jaramillo finds himself.
***Speaking of hitting coaches, a year or so ago, standing by the batting cage at Turner Field one day, I asked Chipper Jones, “In your opinion, who is the best hitting coach around?” He pondered for a long moment, then said, “Don Baylor.” Baylor, you may recall, had been with the Braves for one season (1999), before moving on to the Cubs.
***Remember Chuck James? The little lefthander from Mableton? Chuck was an 11-game winner two seasons in a row with the Braves, quiet and understated. Then he missed the ’09 season, one of those surgical victims, and faded from view. The Nationals signed him, obviously due to Stan Kasten’s presence there, and he spent the past season in the Nationals farm system, and that’s as far as I can take you on Chuck’s pitching career.
***The Braves had a bumper crop of rookies in 2005, 18 of them, to be exact. Only Brian McCann is still on hand. You know where Jeff Francoeur is. Ryan Langerhans is with Seattle. But one who got away, and could have been the solution to the vexing situation at second base last season was Kelly Johnson. He was signed by the Arizona D-Backs and checked in with a glittering season. He hit 26 home runs, drove in 71 runs leading off, and could have solved one of the Braves’ outfield problems as well— of which they had a few.
***Bruce Bochy, now involved in the World Series, as you might have been aware, is the only major league manager born in France. In a place called Landes de Bussac, in fact—and while his name might indicate some French background, actually he was the son of a U.S. Army officer stationed there. As a major league catcher, Bochy had a lifetime batting average of .239, and not given ‘to speed, he stole one (1) base in his playing career—and that, in his eighth season at San Diego.