Curt/Ham, who kidnapped Steve? The Steve I know will never predict a 2-and-3 week. Steve, wherever you are, I hope that you escape and return in time for next week’s podcast. Until then, I’ll say what you really would have said:
1. We’ll sweep the Pirates, and then win 2 of 3 from the Reds.
2. Kimbrel is, and should always be our closer.
As awful as last week was, we actually went 3-4 — not 2-5 as mentioned in the podcast. And if Kimbrel hadn’t deflected that ground ball by Roberts (Arizona, Wednesday), it would have been a game-ending double play instead of a blown save.
Tough week to be a Braves fan. My only optimistic thought on the injuries is that maybe we’re getting them out of the way early in the year. I hope this isn’t the beginning of a trend. It’s definitely not a good sign when older players start having trouble with backs and knees, but hopefully they can heal up and come back stronger. Chipper needs to shut it down for a few weeks. Heyward looks like he could use the same. I hate to say it, but Huddy looks like he needs to be out for a little while, too, which seems like the biggest hit to the team because we’ve been relying so heavily on pitching. McLouth’s injury is kind of like a shoulder shrug reaction for me.
I could see the Braves turning it around if Freeman and Uggla can get going. I think what you see is what you’re gonna get with Gonzo- mind blowing defense and mind numbing ABs. Uggla and Freeman can perform better, but it seems like the weeks keep going by and we’re still waiting for them to bust out. Prado and Mac can obviously perform better. There is a lot of room for improvement, so we’ll see what happens.
Why not let Venters pitch the 9th every now and then? Maybe moving Kimbrel around helps him a little bit? Who knows unless you try…
Utley is back. I wanna see what form he is and what form the Phillies are in with him before I start to worry, but they are definitely a much better team with him in true form. Give that staff 5+ runs a game and see what happens. Yikes. It’s time for the Braves to get it going.
“According to research by Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News, the Braves have produced 13 players on this year’s All-Star ballot, the most of any organization and one more than the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals. The Orioles and Giants are last with four each.”
Guys, here’s the weird thing: This team IS hitting. They are. They hit this past week, they just couldn’t score runs. This is an anomaly if I have ever seen one. They had 59 hits this past week, and went 3-4. That isn’t normal.
I think what is happening is just weird happenstance.
No biggie on the optional batting practice Saturday. They got 17 hits that day.
I really think this is just a weird thing the team is going through, made worse by a blown save and some injuries.
1. You will never hear the hitting coach say anything that will put pressure on or will cause the Braves’ hitters to press. THAT woudl be stupid, when the mental part of hitting seems to matter so much (i.e. football – run harder, hit harder = better play; basketball – run harder, hustle more = better play; baseball – try harder batting/pitching = play worse). So I consider anything that a hitting coach says to be immerterial to what he is actually DOING with regard to the team.
2. You ding Fredi for “not playing ‘small ball”, then you ding him for bunting when you think he shouldn’t.. Can’t have it both ways. Maybe because the teams has had problems scoring runs and hopes that scoring a run in the first inning (i.e. bunting a runner over) could give the team/pitcher a lift (i.e. score a run early, put pressure on the other team…).
3. I agree, they need to put Ventners in to close some, not necessarily all the time. Ventners has some of his own problems with walks, but not as much as Kimbrel. Kimbrel’s first three appearences were “clean” (no walks, no hits). Since then (as of May 19th), he had clean appearences in 4 of his last 19 (one clean appearence was to one batter). In 9 of those 19 he walked at least one batter, in 4 of those 9 it was the first batter.
4. Personally, I think Fredi/Lance needs to walk up to Dan and say “Move closer to the plate and cover the outter half. Hit line drives. I don’t care if you hit another home run, just hit line drives or walk”. I think in his move from Fla where he was a tough out in the middle of the lineup, he has come to Atlanta as “the pop in the middle of the lineup the Braves have needed for a long time/to be successful” (see note 1).
M in M #8 – my point about Fredi is that he’s not playing smart small ball. Bunting in the first inning?! Putting on a squeeze with the worst batsman on the team at the plate (Hanson). Part of Hanson’s twitter account description is about what a terrible hitter he is!!!
DAP #9. He may well continue to blow 1/4 of his saves. You think it’s been a total anomaly? I want to believe you, but why do you think that? And, c’mon, there’s a huge difference between walking guys in the 8th vs. the 9th. Namely, your team comes up again and there’s time for someone else to come in and clean up your mess.
I agree with whoever said this week could be the start of something great with all of the young guys taking over for our limping starters. Part of our problem has been the holes in the lineup from players trying to produce while 50% healthy. I am especially excited about Ramirez and Shafer, and even Minor.
Danny, it will be interesting to see what they can bring. I think it is do or die time for Schafer. I hope he can gather himself and take advantage of it. It wasn’t that long ago that he was the starter in CF for us. He was the 3rd rated guy in our system behind Heyward and Hanson. It would be great if he could live up to that potential. I can’t help but think he was humbled by the whole experience. I was just hoping his numbers in AAA would have been better.
Team batting average is .242. OBP is .310. That’s not really hitting. No starter on the team is batting over .300. Ross, Mather, and Hinske are the only players batting over .300. That’s not good. They might have had 59 hits, but 17 of those were in one game. That leaves 42 hits over 6 games which is 7 hits a game. Again, not good.
My biggest problem is that I think the Braves should be so much better than they are. The team, on paper, should be 10 games over .500. The combination of pitching (we’ve gotten), and hitting (which hopefully is coming), in addition to the defense, should be giving us a team that is right there with the Phils. Seeing as how we can go toe to toe with them in our matchups, there is no reason to think otherwise. So why isn’t that translating to a better record?
Listening to a lot of the “fair or foul” questions, I think most revolve around one thing – is this team a contender? Are we a playoff caliber team? And here is why I think we might not be:
1. Heyward is starting to look like a glass cannon, and as such cannot be counted on to lead the team’s offense. I don’t recall him having injury trouble in the minors, but he sure has them in the majors. Worse, he’s very unwilling to own up to his aches and plays (poorly) with them.
2. Chipper looks to be declining off his hot spring. Injuries are quickly taking their toll this season, and while I agree with you that he should just get the surgery and have done with it – by the time three weeks have passed, we are staring at the all star break and are we going to still be anywhere near contention for the wild card? Is he staying in because he doesn’t want to miss any of his swan song?
3. Uggla’s season is a loss, I’m afraid. I still think he will be a terrific player in the long term, but I think 2011 is a wash. If he was going to stage his usual May breakout, we would have seen signs by now.
4. The bullpen, supposedly our strong point, has fallen apart, due in no small part to the loss of Moylan (who knew?).
5. DLowe being erratic in his starts. Huddy’s back. All of a sudden, the age of our two pitching vets becomes an issue.
6. Joe and Don were talking about this on Saturday – we are in a season of pitching dominance, where games are low scoring and close. Stolen bases, once forgotten in the age of PED homers, are suddenly back in importance, and we can’t steal to save our lives.
7. If you had to pick one Brave to get a base hit in a crucial situation, and I told you it couldn’t be Prado or McCann/Ross, who would you pick and how confident would you be? I guess the upside to this is that I could make a case for anyone, seeing as they all hit approximately equally poorly.
I guess my point is this: we’re about five straws past the one that broke the camel’s back. I just don’t think the team is going to the playoffs this season. I’ve heard every week some variation on “The offense has to get going soon” yet it never does. When do we wave the white flag and start thinking about 2012?
#11 “Smart” in your opinion as “smart” is a subjective observation. I gave what I considered to be a viable scenario/reason he might bunt in the first inning (i.e. Braves having trouble scoring runs, expects a low scoring game based on the starter, etc.).
Being that he (Fredi) is MUCH closer to the team than I am, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
As for squeezing with the worst batsman on the team at the plate… putting down a bunt is something they (the pitchers) practice all the time (I personally think from recent execution it should be concentrated on more…) and a pitcher should be able to “lay one down” (for that matter, in my opinion, EVERY team member should be able to…).
For a squeeze, you just need to get it in play far enough out that the catcher can’t get it and get back to the plate. If Hanson can’t do that (I understand they won’t be 100%, but they should at least be 90%+) then he needs to spend his entire batting practice every time doing nothing else until he can. THAT failure I put at Fredi’s feet… NOT the choice to call for a squeeze…
You should have a reasonable expectation for ANYBODY on the team to perform at the plate on a squeeze…. Now if he called for it with a left hander at the plate, I would have reason to question…
The problem is not so much that Fredi is calling them bad, the real problem is that the Braves are not executing… If Hanson gets the bunt down, Fredi is a hero…
#9 I don’t know. Is it “closer pressure” that causes him to try to be too fine and he walks a man? Is it “end of game pressure” that he tries not to put “too good a pitch” up there and ends up walking someone?
Then when he has a man on base and (maybe) forgets to “pitch” and just lets his stuff work that he ends up striking out the side? Maybe in the 8th he comes in pitching that way. Maybe he figures out he can do that all the time… (I don’t know)
What happened to the guy that had his first three outings be “clean” (no walks, no hits) and then was only “clean” in 4 (inclduing a one batter save) of his next 19, 9 of which he walked a batter, 4 of which he walked the first batter? Where did he go? What changed for him?
As for Schafer, consider how long it has taken Mather to “return to form” (hopefully) after a hand/wrist injury… Hopefully, since Schafer’s injury wasn’t the result of being hit by a pitch, he might have a quicker recovery…
Just remember, the knock on him has always been that he is a bit of a “free swinger”…
Jeff, welcome. In NO way am I giving up on 2012. Way too much stuff on the team for that eulogy to be written. I just think we might end up fighting to the end of the season for the WC, when I think we should have such higher aspirations this season.
Hitting is down dramatically across the league. That is a fact. So if you can get this lineup going, with this staff, you should be better than the bulk of the teams in the league. I can’t think of a team that is noticeably better than the Braves.
#29 – Wow. Did not see the Conrad thing. Though, I’m glad that Uggla is sitting. Seems like a great idea. Crazy scared about Conrad. Glad that Schafer is in there. Agree with Curt, would have liked Mather in there over Hinske.
I was looking at the stats of the Braves all-time saves leaders. No one else comes close to Kimbrel besides Smoltz and Wags. Sure he’s no Mariano. . . . yet, but he is doing a pretty awesome job. I do love Venters, but I don’t think Kimbrel would do as well in the eighth. He is pretty sketchy with anything more than a one run lead. He needs the pressure and thrives in it.
I think you guys are missing the point with Kimbrel. Venters is better, I don’t think many people would argue that. However, we have to be able to get to the 9th inning and the braves bullpen, as it stands now, has a lot of has bens and never will bes. Venters can go multiple innings if need be and that’s why he has to be in the set-up roll. He can give you 1+ innings of great pitching in turn giving us a save opportunity where Kimbrel can bring the gas. Moving Kimbrel to set-up just adds more inconsistency to the early innings of the pen.
Argh! I missed the game! By the time I woke up at 4am the game was over. I’ll just watch the archived game later. Hey, I’m spot on so far with my prediction of sweeping the Bucs. Ugg had another bad day I see — 0/5 with 3 SOs plus an error. One of these days Hinske might get plunked if he keeps on admiring his HRs.
Jayson Stark: “One team that’s actively stepping up its search for bats: The Braves, who have been looking for a right-handed-hitting outfielder for a couple of weeks but just put two left-handed-hitting outfielders (Jason Heyward and Nate McLouth) on the disabled list. Also on the Braves’ shopping list: a utility infielder who can back up Alex Gonzalez at shortstop.”
That was not the question. The question that was posed was something to the effect of do you still have confidence in Fredi as manager?
As for a “great job”… I don’t think there is a handful of managers in all of Major League Baseball that could qualify as doing a “great job” this year.
Do I think Fredi’s in game decisions have “cost us” games? I would have to say, for the most part, “No”. If the Braves had executed on those occasians where hit-and-runs and squeezes were called, he is the hero. To say in hindsight he never should have called a play that wasn’t executed I think delves a bit into revisionist history.
As far as his decisions go:
Pitching Linebrink, I might not have brought him into some of the situations that Fredi has (also hindsight at this point), but you have to find out what you have… You can’t have a man on your staff, never pitch him and then get rid of him because he hasn’t produced. I would put him in “mop up” situations and determine if he has value.
Personally, I would have released Linebrink after spring training, which could be considered hingsight, but I would have done it at the time. However, I probably would have considered releasing Sherril after the first two weeks, where now he appears to have figured out how to be effective. I think his turn around has the Braves hoping that Linebrink might “turn” that same corner.
Another point as which I probably would have released Linebrink was when Proctor was called up. Since Linebrink was supposed to be on the team for his veteren leadership, I figured that Proctor could help fill that role and we could have kept “Moylan-lite” (Gearrin) up and given him some more experience.
#53 makes me wonder if said right handed outfielder was being pursued for starting purposes or off the bench purposes. My guess would be CF… sorry to all the McLouth lovers, but that seems to be the most logical spot for an upgrade. Uggla’s at 2nd for the next half decade and Chip’s at 3rd until he retires, which leaves Prado in LF. RF is Heyward’s until he completely breaks. I guess that leaves McLouth.
I wonder what Fredi will do if we find ourselves in a 19-inning game like the one yesterday. Will he burn a starting pitcher? Let a position player pitch? or have the last reliever stay on the mound until his arm dies?
Steve, maybe Schafer can take over in CF. He’s off to a great start. Best of luck to him with all he’s been through over the past 3 years. The guy’s got a great makeup to go through what he’s been through and still be positive. This all makes me wonder if a trade is the fix since Jordan might sure-up CF. I think everyone needs to play at their capable level to get the team rolling. THAT is the biggest issue. This team has the talent to be really, really good. I’m sure Wren has to be shaking his head at the way they’re playing right now.
Random thoughts after watching the last game:
1. Has Linebrink sufficiently redeemed himself with his past 2 appearances? I’m optimistic, but still wary.
2. Venters is just so good that you can’t help but be tempted to put him out there every time. He looked spent in that last outing. But he still got it done.
3. D-Lowe – just awful. At least he knows it. Will he get better or worse?
4. Uggla. Another 0-fer. Here’s a suggestion: wear a shirt that doesn’t choke your blood vessels.
5. I don’t like the whole dirt-shower antic for walk-offs. It’s all fun and good until somebody gets an eye infection.
Lowe had a bad outing, no doubt about it. Every team who’s starting pitcher struggles will struggle. But the Braves found a way to win. We can be down all we want, but we’re still 3 out of 4 for the week with JJ going tonight. Not a bad position to be in.
The concern about the dirt causing eye infection kind of cracks me up. I understand that it’s probably a legitimate concern but it seems like there’s more to be worried about out there.
So, my 10 year old is on a tournament baseball team this summer. A new tournament, every weekend, at different venues around GA. This weekend’s been the first one. And it is fun as hell. I’m getting as fired up (or more) at these games as I am at the Ted. Crazy fact about the league he’s in. When they go into xtra innings, each team starts their inning with a man on 2nd base. To help along the likelihood of scoring.
My bigger concern would be with Hudson jumping around with those guys when he’s missed starts recently due to back stiffness. I’ve always thought the walk-off celebrations were pretty dumb when it’s not for a playoff series win or clinching something. Those guys had more energy in that celebration than they had in most of their recent games.
By the way, no show until tomorrow (Monday) night.
Great win tonight. As the ESPN guys said, “just enough.” And it’s true. But you can’t argue with a 4 – 1 week (nice prediction, Pure). 3.5 out. Gotta stay close until the runs start coming more freely.
Just saw the headline, “McLouth encouraged by how oblique feels” And, I’ve got to admit, I’m kinda bummed about it.
I have the tiniest, very tiniest (pauses for laughter) suspicion that Fredi will let Schafer keep the job if he performs well the entire time of Nate’s recovery.
1. Fredi surprised me by slapping Jordan right into the leadoff spot like it was nothing.
2. The Braves have nothing to lose in alienating Nate. He is absolutely gone after this year.
3. Every game Jordan extends his stay in CF provides vital information for Wren concerning this upcoming offseason, when SS, CF, and possibly 3B/LF will be targets for acquisitions. If by some fluke miracle Schafer becomes a legit MLB’er via this injury call-up, that would be an unbelievable relief to the organization re: upcoming needs.
Until Jordan proves he’s still lost at this level, they have nothing to lose and a ton to gain by keeping him in the every day line up.
I think Jordan Schafer wins the CF job for financial reasons, his speed, his defensive play, and his arm and most of all his willingness to use that arm of his to thorw runners out at home plate rather than putting the ball in his back pocket for fear of making a bad throw.
I’m not sure Jordy’s power will ever return but I think he is showing us that he is a legit leadoff hitter in The Show.
BTW: This bunt single stuff we saw from Schafer… He’s been working on that down at Gwinnett. I watched a televised game a few weeks ago and he pulled it off. No, his number’s at the plate have down in Triple-A have not be great but he’s been working on what he needs to work on and he seems to be show casing the one area the big club needs: SPEED at the leadoff spot and excellent defense in CF.
Alex Gonzales for SS Gold Glove? Oh yeah, I’m there and so is everyone else who’ve watched him play this year. But here’s the bad news. This award is somewhat an unfair one, meaning that, you have to also have a few things on your side; 1) Gotta be a two-way player, so he needs to really be consistent at the plate and 2) Depends on how visible the Braves remain in the playoff conversation. I think they’ll be in it but if someone else out hits him, he may not get the vote. Gonzo has been tremendous out there at short this season — even better than what he showed us when he arrived last summer. He’s playing with such swagger and confidnece that I don’t even miss Yunel Escobar at all not to mention the team player he is in the locker room over Esco.
Another great pitching effort wasted. Fredi’s determination to have a dead weight (Uggla) in the middle of the lineup shows a serious manager flaw. Uggla’s sorry start leaves the Braves with few options since they have little offense as it is. This could seem like one of the longest contracts ever. Still can’t understand why a middle market/payroll team signed Uggla in the first place. That money was needed to hold their young talent.
#118 I totally agree with your comments on Uggla. I remember being excited about that trade and then when we gave him an extension and suddenly I didn’t feel the same way. This will be the downfall of frank wren and maybe fredi G too. I don’t see how you can possibly be optimistic with Uggla going forward. In the last week there have probably been 4 or 5 balls that Uggla has put in play where I said, “OH MAN HERE WE GO!” and every time its just another expensive, lazy, fly ball.