April 08, 2012

Show #178: Nightmare Start for the Braves

The significance of the sweep.  Should Fredi go?  And Good Signs/Bad Signs of the week.

 

 

219 Responses to “Show #178: Nightmare Start for the Braves”

  1. 1
    ham Says:

    Hate to say it, but it wasn’t our happiest show.

  2. 2
    Bubdylan Says:

    I’m with you on it making no sense for Bourn-Prado-McCann-Uggla to create so little. I also remember when fangraphs did their write up a couple years ago on wasted WAR, showing which teams were getting the least value out of the individual players with good talent. Leading the list: Fredi Gonzales’s Marlins.

    The very best case scenario for this team is to get swept by the Astros and fire Fredi.

    Good show.

    1-5 record this week, to bring us to a sterling 1-8 on the season.

  3. 3
    Nate Says:

    Maybe Hanley was onto something? He sure as hell got Fredi out of Miami. The bad players like Wes Helms wanted him to stay because they actually got a lot of playing time when Fredi was around. Regardless, Fredi has taken a post Cox team that was young and talented and turned them into the walking dead. This team is a reflection of Fredi Gonzalez.

    The hitting should be much better. I wouldn’t trade our 1-5 in the lineup for any other NL team’s 1-5. Our 7-9 is in bad shape, but we should still be scoring more runs.

    3-3 this week.

  4. 4
    Shaun Says:

    Joe Girardi is a good manager? He did intentionally walk the bases loaded to get to Carlos Pena. I don’t care who is pitching, intentionally walking the bases loaded is almost never a very good idea. Well, maybe with two outs and the pitcher due up. But it’s not a good idea to do so in order to get to a guy who can hit the ball out of park. You give your pitcher no margin for error.

    So before we think we have it much worse than many other teams, try watching some other managers, perhaps most other managers.

  5. 5
    Steve Says:

    And that’s the really crazy thing, Nate. And I’d call it 1 – 6 once Chipper returns. Formidable as hell. And yet, this crazy underperforming start.

    Also crazy (sad) that we can’t include Heyward in the “wouldn’t trade them for any other lineup” group. Hopefully that changes soon.

  6. 6
    Steve Says:

    Shaun (#4) – other managers aside, do you think Fredi is doing a good job? Do you want him at the helm (not being belligerent, just really asking)?

  7. 7
    ham Says:

    Shaun – I was really referring more to Leyland than Girardi, but to be fair, Girardi has won a WS. And I echo Steve’s question – is Fredi doing well? If so, what is he doing well? And I mean that sincerely.

  8. 8
    Shaun Says:

    Oh, no way, Steve and Ham. There are a lot of bad managers and Fredi is one of them. Don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean I’m arguing that the Braves should keep on trucking with Fredi at the helm.

    As Ham pointed out, a team like the Braves can’t afford to go the traditional route with a manager. They need to squeeze out every possible win from the roster given that they aren’t going to blow teams away in the free agent market and didn’t outspend other teams in the draft (when the CBA allowed them to).

    I wish the Braves had done something bold and hired a manager that thinks completely out of the box, someone like a Joe Maddon. (I realize he’s not available.) But there has to be some non-traditional, sabermetrically-inclined (for lack of a better description) managers out there that teams haven’t tapped in to.

    As for Girardi, as with most managers, the GM and the players deserve most of the credit for the World Series win.

  9. 9
    Shaun Says:

    I guess the only thing I would add is that I still think the Braves could overcome their manager enough to win 90 games. I think they have the players, the GM and the organizational depth to do that. Plus, when most other managers are incompetent, it helps even things out a little.

    Again, that doesn’t mean I’m okay with the manager they have. I certainly don’t want to give that impression.

  10. 10
    Walker Says:

    Actually Heyward was the only one this series getting walks and extra base hits so I would say when Chipper comes back there is no reason 1-7 should be tearing up the National League.

    Also I don’t want to bring up an old topic like TP again, but when was the last time a hitting coach led his team to the highest OBP in the league an got fired. This the classic “be careful what you wish for”.

  11. 11
    Steve Says:

    #10 – I agree with Heyward to a point. He had some nice at bats (the 2 walks on Saturday and the hits, of course), but he also had some ugly, 2011-like at bats, too. Particularly on opening day. So, the jury is still out for me on Heyward.

  12. 12
    George Says:

    The Braves have talent. They should be okay, even good..but I must express, they are constantly making poor management decisions. There is only so much impact a manager can make, but he is making every poor decision. We cannot expect to win a game over a team with the same level of talent. Fredi stacked the line-up with left-handed hitters against left-handed pitchers. No one is going to agree with me, but I feel he should have played David Ross in lieu of McCann against Niese. He has no Continuity with his management. Over the course of a season he will overuse McCann like this. Bobby Cox would ignore criticism and continue his philosophy and eventually over the long haul it works out. Fredi doesn’t do this. As long as anyone is playing well he is going to continue playing them until they slump. That is a poor way to manage.

  13. 13
    George Says:

    Right now, I’d prefer Terry Pendleton as a manager, Jim Fregosi, even better.

  14. 14
    George Says:

    I think you will be somewhat surprised at their improvement on offense over the next few months. I think Greg Walker is doing okay and will do okay, but it will take time…maybe a couple of months, but he is a good communicator and I think that will be okay; but I really do feel we do need a new manager, even though it might alienate us from Bobby Cox, knowing his friendship with Fredi.

  15. 15
    George Says:

    I feel Minor will pick things up.

  16. 16
    Leah Says:

    When nobody’s hitting Prado presses. He tries to bail everybody out. Tries to make something happen. Now, Curt, GO SIT IN THE CORNER!

  17. 17
    Shaun Says:

    I’m still at a loss as to why they made a change at hitting coach prior to last season. You look at the offense when Pendleton was the hitting coach and there was nothing to indicate the Braves needed a change.

    The Phillies, Rockies and Cardinals are the only three NL teams that scored more runs than the Braves during Pendleton’s tenure as hitting coach, 2002-2010.

  18. 18
    Walker Says:

    @17
    Very wierd indeed. It was one of those make a change just to do it moves.

  19. 19
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    Nightmare start?
    Worst case scenario start?

    No, sorry, wcss would have been to be no hit in each game and have each of our starting pitchers get hurt.

    We faced their starter 1-2-3, a freaky (knuckle baller) in the middle that each had pretty good games against us. Mets hitters started off hot and the Braves were pressing (maybe trying to get off to a good start after last year)???

    Red Sox started 0-6, up to 1-7 then up to 2-10 and it took a 7-20 finish to keep them out of the playoffs… if this year’s wild card rules were in place last year, they still would have made the playoffs… I also noticed that no one was talking about the “no team starting 0-6 has ever made the playoffs” on September 1st of last year…

    How about waiting for a little more than 19 thousandths (.0185) of the seaon’s games before we doom the season?

  20. 20
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    As for Frank “not doing anything”, what did you want him to do?

    Any deal for a OF he could have made (that didn’t include Prado) puts Prado on the bench most games (assuming Chipper playing – which was the plan at the time) – unless you play Prado at SS (which is his worst IF position defensively and would probably hurt his hitting – so you hurt your defense and offense).

    The only other deal would have been for SS and what contending team (can’t see a non-contender wanting to “pay” for JJ) is going to give up a good hitting SS?

    Trading JJ before you know what you are going to have in Huddy is dangerous.

    That being said, do you think they “shop” JJ in later in May or early June if Huddy returns and pitches well?

  21. 21
    Steve Says:

    #19: I don’t think any of us said that the season was over or that there was no chance of a turnaround. That said, yes, yes and yes on nightmare start. How else would describe 1 – 14 with RISP, hitting for almost no average, no stolen bases, errors in the field, no SP going more than 5, all against one of the concensus worst teams in baseball? And, really, the main reason I describe the sweep in that fashion is because of how nothing looked different from September. From a fan psyche and (I have to guess) team psyche perspective, the season started about as poorly as it could have.

  22. 22
    Steve Says:

    #20: Yes on JJ.

  23. 23
    Bubdylan Says:

    “No, sorry, wcss would have been to be no hit in each game and have each of our starting pitchers get hurt.”

    Actually, the wcss would have been if the team plane crashed into a nuclear reactor, prompting Russia to accidentall blow up the whole earth. But in real world terms, getting swept by the friggering Mets is close enough.

    And truly, many signs were worse than the surface results, including JJ’s pitching. And the manager could not have performed worse. It’s not this 19 thousandths of the season that worries us; it’s this plus the way it looked plus Spring Training plus last season plus general observations about our personnel.

  24. 24
    Steve Says:

    #17: I don’t have any numbers in front of me, but the last couple of seasons with TP the bats would go crazy quiet (despite the overall Runs numbers). There were calls from the fanbase for those last couple of years based on really terrible offensive stretches. This was not some random move for the sake of a move. There were game to game results that warranted it at the time.

    Anyone remember more details?

  25. 25
    ham Says:

    MarkinM- Just to reiterate – I know it is early. Way too early. But (as Bub and Steve also pointed out), this feels like a stretch that goes back way longer than just this past weekend. And after a historic collapse, a quiet and non-shakeup off-season (granted with limited opportunities for big moves), and a less than stellar ST, there was a lot of hope put on this weekend for some sort of catharsis which did not come through (to say the least). If we have a winning week, will we be singing a different song? Yes. Are we overreacting to one series? Yes, probably. Can you blame us? I say no.

  26. 26
    Shaun Says:

    Right, Steve. Seemed more like a PR move than a decision based on any sort of evidence, because the results were quite good under TP. Or perhaps the team just didn’t feel it was worth dealing with the distraction of the vocal fans calling for TP to go.

    All teams are going to have up and down stretches. I’m not sure if there is anything to indicate that the Braves offense was more up and down under Pendleton than was any other team’s offense. If a team is scoring runs, and is consistently among the league leaders, there’s probably no need to change hitting coaches.

    If a team consistently contends but is streaky, I think it would be unreasonable to fire the GM, manager and revamp the front office because of the game-to-game results. The nature of baseball is that it can be a streaky game.

  27. 27
    Bubdylan Says:

    Ozzie Guillen … *facepalm*

    Okay, so there’s one manager in MLB I wouldn’t trade Fredi for.

  28. 28
    Walker Says:

    Every offense even the 1927 Yanks have cold streaks during 162 games. It is the Front office’s responsibility to look at the overall end results.

  29. 29
    Shaun Says:

    To take it a step further, you wouldn’t get rid of a .333 hitter because he didn’t go 1-for-every-3 AB’s, would you?

    As long as he was a .333 hitter over a large sample and there was plenty of reason to believe that was his true talent level (he wasn’t getting a lot of seeing-eye singles or something), it wouldn’t matter so much whether he had some 0-for-8 stretches.

  30. 30
    Shaun Says:

    Okay, one more piece of evidence about TP.

    Braves ranked tied for third in the NL in number of games scoring 4 runs or more in Pendleton’s tenure. The Phillies and Rockies did it in more games and the Cardinals tied with the Braves.

    The Braves were fourth in the number of games they scored 5 runs or more, ranked behind just those same three teams.

    Oh, and the Phillies were obviously a great offensive team, but both the Phillies and Rockies played half their games in extreme hitter-friendly parks. The Cardinals played half their games in a park that slightly favored hitters up until 2005 (though they were a great offensive club in those years, too).

  31. 31
    Curt Says:

    I’m not even sure we overreacted. The Braves could have put a lot of their questions aside by coming out and playing well. Dispel some of the doubts that have permeated the club over the past 4 months. They did none of that. Instead, they left us with the sense that they haven’t overcome any of their problems, and heightened the belief that there needed to be some changes. We pointed out over and over again that we were reacting to this one series. But it was awful. No real way to sugarcoat it. Let’s hope they move on and beat up on the Astros, just like this did this spring. But, as many people have pointed out, this is more than just one bad series to start 2012. This is a theme.

  32. 32
    Shaun Says:

    Good to see the Braves resting Heyward at Game #4 of the season. They are really dedicated to his development against lefties and his overall development.

  33. 33
    ChristopherInVa Says:

    TP for president!

  34. 34
    Shaun Says:

    DOB Tweet: “#Braves manager FG said just wanted to get Francisco in lineup today vs LH before Chipper returns, to see what can do. Diaz good #s vs. Happ”

    How about we see what the player with the tools and skills of a superstar can do against lefties? I think that would give the Braves a better chance to win.

    If the Braves honestly don’t think Heyward is ready to hit lefties in the majors, at his age, he should be in the minors.

  35. 35
    Bubdylan Says:

    So, I’m guessing I’m the only sick ba**ard actually rooting for an Astros sweep on the off chance it gets Fredi gone with enough season left to turn it around?

    Admittedly, it would take more than the mere losses, but if Chipper or McCann got into it with the guy, oooh… that could do it.

    C’mon, Jones, if there was ever a time to flap those lips of yours recklessly…

  36. 36
    Bubdylan Says:

    (and that’s Chipper Jones, not Mrs. Reverend :) )

  37. 37
    Bubdylan Says:

    Shaun, I’m with you. We can’t determine what Fracisco “can do” in one stinking game anyway, especially not with the added pressure of telling the guy this is his stage tonight. What a dope, seriously.

  38. 38
    Shaun Says:

    Bourn’s career AVG/OBP/SLG against lefties: .237.288/.314

    Heyward’s career triple-slash line against lefties: .227/.323/.365

    Oh, and Bourn is 29. Heyward is 22.

  39. 39
    Shaun Says:

    I’m a fan of Frank Wren. I think he’s made some shrewd moves and does a good job not wasting roster spots. However, why in the world doesn’t the front office step in and say, “you’re playing Heyward unless he’s tired or hurt”? At this point the situation is laughable.

  40. 40
    Anne Says:

    Steve: did Emmanuel Lewis have a little step ladder for his Suburban? Ham: I was told NOT to watch The Wire until I watch every episode of Homicide Life on the Street. I’m on Season 5 of that. Good show, but am I on a Primrose path?

  41. 41
    Curt Says:

    When do we simply move on from the platoon thing all together? Doesn’t seem like championship teams are built on moving guys inand out of the lineup every other day. Another curse left over from the Bobby Cox play book.

  42. 42
    Anne Says:

    Walking thru Kroger just now, heard Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town” which always makes me think baseball…and it made me sad. It almost made me buy a half gallon of ice cream but I was strong. Go Braves.

  43. 43
    Nate Says:

    Maybe someday we’ll get to find out what it was Jason did/said to Fredi. It makes no sense no matter how you spin it.

  44. 44
    David Says:

    Great podcast on the opening series. I don’t think y’all overreacted at all. A week or so ago, I remember reading on Mark Bowman’s blog that when the Braves debut at home after opening the season against the Mets and Astros, there’s a good chance they could be 5-1. Coming home and being 3-3, at best, is very lukewarm. And I don’t think we’re going to be coming home with a .500 record with Beachy and Delgado pitching in two of the three games.

    So what are you guys looking forward to the most about tonight’s game? Is it…
    A) Schafer having a multi-hit game along with a stolen base (or two) and scoring the go-ahead run;
    B) Beachy issuing 4 walks and 4+ runs in 4 and 1/3 innings;
    C) Fredi giving Chad Durbin an audition as a long reliever; or
    D) Happ going 6 and 2/3, giving up 5 hits, 1 run, and striking out 7.

  45. 45
    David Says:

    Steve — a thought in response to your comment that you like Atlanta not being a team that fires its manager: you have to remember that we had the same manager for 20 seasons, a guy who came in and took a perennial losing team to the top of the standings and kept them there for the next two decades. Firing the manager hasn’t been part of the Braves’ culture in a long, long time.

  46. 46
    Walker Says:

    I am so freaking tired of these dumb decisions every day with this team. The only player who was hitting extra base hits against the mets is on the bench for no reason. The future of our freaking Franchise is riding on Heyward so he needs to be in right field every single day. I give up.

  47. 47
    Anne Says:

    Go Braves!!

  48. 48
    Steve Says:

    Sooooo good to get some runs on the board. All is well. Just kidding. But only sort of.

  49. 49
    Pure Says:

    What the hell. Sloppy plays.

  50. 50
    Adam Says:

    Oh Juan…

  51. 51
    Pure Says:

    I think Steve jinxed it.

  52. 52
    David Says:

    Meant to add:

    E) They kick the ball around like a last-place little league team.

  53. 53
    Bubdylan Says:

    Glad Heyward’s sitting out so this guy can play.

  54. 54
    Bubdylan Says:

    Who chose Ezekiel 3:24 for the mock verse tweet? Bad choice. “Go shut thyself within thine house.”

  55. 55
    Walker Says:

    Chippers absence might cost us 2 wins already.

  56. 56
    Bubdylan Says:

    lol, Francisco’s fielding % on the year is .400 8)

  57. 57
    Curt Says:

    That was my tweet. How prophetic.

  58. 58
    Adam Says:

    Why did Beachy get taken out of the game? Was his pitch count high? He was pitching well.

  59. 59
    Adam Says:

    It’d be nice if we could get our starters to go at least 6 innings.

  60. 60
    Bubdylan Says:

    Livan, Livan likes his 4-seam…
    He throws a lot they sayyyy…
    Spends his days… losin’…
    While Fredi laughs and looks the other wayyyy…

    And Frankie, his team is in the tankyyy…
    Falling far behiiinnnddd,
    Hired a baboon to go failin’….
    While Chipper, Chipper slowly diiieeesss…

  61. 61
    Leah Says:

    Am just now able to turn on the game. Too many comments to read…cliff notes?

  62. 62
    Leah Says:

    Does Durbin know he’s on our team?

  63. 63
    Adam Says:

    - we were up 3-0 early
    - Juan Francisco made 3 errors in 2 plays and let the Astros tie the game
    - Beachy gave up 1 earned run, got pulled after 5 innings
    - Hernandez pitched 2 innings and gave up 2 runs
    - …and that bomb just happened

  64. 64
    Bubdylan Says:

    Cliff notes? Braves jumped off one.

  65. 65
    Walker Says:

    Fredi we were only down by 1 run. Why bring in Livan. Kimbrel can pitch the 6th too. The game is in the balance. Durbin and Livan don’t own the 5th & 6th innings. Stop with this old timey baseball thinking.

  66. 66
    Leah Says:

    Can Uggla still see? Looked questionable in that last at bat.

  67. 67
    Curt Says:

    “This Livan thing is really going to pay off”

    - Steve

  68. 68
    Bubdylan Says:

    Gonzalez makes my head spin. I can’t keep up with all the derp.

  69. 69
    Curt Says:

    Welcome to Losersville

    population: us

  70. 70
    Ham Says:

    Someone let me know when I can start to overreact to the start of the season. (joke’s on you, I already have.)

    Is it weird that I’m worried that Fredi is going to over-work Durbin? Don’t answer that.

  71. 71
    Bubdylan Says:

    So, do you guys think Wren believes Fredi is a good manager?

  72. 72
    Nate Says:

    Is this really happening?

  73. 73
    Steve Says:

    Yeah, I’m feeling a little less good about Livan.

  74. 74
    Steve Says:

    #71. Great question. The FO has got to be pissed that he sat Heyward tonight, right? I mean it was nothing short of asinine. He’s not in a platoon. He’s our freaking right fielder.

  75. 75
    Walker Says:

    I would love to go through one game without critiquing Fredi but he makes it oh so very hard.

  76. 76
    Shaun Says:

    From a Baseball Prospectus chat last August with Braves Director of Baseball Administration John Coppolella:

    stydings (NJ): “What are your thoughts on the Heyward/Constanza playing time situation?”

    John Coppolella: “I don’t think that’s my place to comment. Fredi Gonzalez and his staff have done an outstanding job and, like every Braves fan, their goal is to win as many games as possible.”

    Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but notice Coppolella did not try to rationalize the decision with “Heyward’s been hurt and it’s good to give him rest” or “Constanza is playing well and we need to get him in the lineup.” He just said he didn’t think it wasn’t his place to comment.

    I have to think the front office is looking for a way out at this point, right?

    It’s one thing to sit Heyward. But the reason Fredi gives is that it’s to basically try out Francisco? Not because he needs a day off or they want to rest him. To try out another player who is obviously inferior?

    Then down one-run late, Fredi goes with Livan? Does Medlen need two days rest? Could he not go one inning before turning it over to the Big Three? Where was Christian Martinez?

  77. 77
    Walker Says:

    He’s a horrible horrible manager that wasn’t vetted at all. There was a reason the Marlins fired him. He needs to get smart fast because throwing these games away is not cool. His job isn’t hard. Just put players in the right position. I want one game that I can just blame only the players.

  78. 78
    Walker Says:

    hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/04/10/please-fredi-stop-using-your-worst-relievers-in-close-games/

  79. 79
    Mike Says:

    You make some good points Walker, but I can’t agree when you say “His job isn’t hard.” I’ve never been an MLB manager (and I’m guessing you haven’t either) but I think it would be a pretty difficult task. It’s the kind of thing that looks easy from the armchair, but coaching comes with a lot of pressure and stress.

    But, yeah, his use of Durbin and Livan is all wrong. Plus it’s ridiculous that Constanza has 3 ABs while David Ross is yet to swing a bat. Yes, Ross is our only backup catcher, but I think it would be a good gamble to give him a shot at some of the clutch pinch-hitting opportunities.

  80. 80
    George Says:

    What is Fredi going to do if we are in a close game? He hasn’t used Venters or O’Flaherty much nor Kimbrel at all. Can we expect them to be sharp if they are used? I think Fredi has gone too much in the opposite direction to ease the critics from last year.

  81. 81
    Shaun Says:

    George, I was thinking about this last night. It seems Fredi has no sort of baseball sense to realize what to do without deferring to either tradition or criticism.

    In the majors a manager should just know how to make the best decisions simply because they are the optimal decision, in terms of winning baseball games. Forget conventional wisdom and forget criticism. Your job is to win.

  82. 82
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    Unfortunately in baseball, with the press “second guessing” possibility, I don’t know of any manager that does “manage to the save rule”.

    #80

    Even if the best situation to use your “strike out” pitcher who also happens to be your “closer” is in the 7th inning when you have a two run lead, no one out and men on first and second, managers won’t use their “closer” (i.e. best pitcher) because if the guy they might use afterward in the ninth inning blows the save, they will get questions about it and articles will be written and talk radio will blow up and…

    If there was no “save” stat, it might now be this way…

    But with it, you have to “designate a closer” and tell the media who it is, why you didn’t use them in the last “save situation”, etc….

  83. 83
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    #25

    No, can’t blame you , you have a show to do… ;)

  84. 84
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    #35

    Well, I can’t say I am rooting for a Houston sweep of us to get Fredi fired, but if they are swept by Houston, the Braves could be the first team to go 0-6 and make the playoffs…

  85. 85
    ham Says:

    M in M – either you’re a genius, you read this (http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/23416/blowing-up-baseballs-most-dangerous-stat) or both.

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

  86. 86
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    If you don’t like Wren, with our budget, maybe we should look into bringing Billy Beane to Atlanta (most likely won’t happen since he is a minority owner in Oakland)… He is used to getting by on a small payroll…

    How would you feel about having Terry Francona replace Fredi?

    Or do you think there needs to be a “Valentine effect” manager to shake the place up?

    Everybody is talking about firing Fredi, but not about replacing him…

    Let’s hear some ideas… And “anybody but Fredi” doesn’t count…

  87. 87
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    #85

    Thanks.

    Actually never read that article…

    But have gleaned such imput from multiple other discussions…

  88. 88
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    As to the “save stat”, I think the players association would fight removing it… useful in contract negoations….

    Along that line, RBI is somewhat of a joke when it comes to determining effectiveness of a player… it depends on too many other players… i.e. if there was a fundimentally sound OF w/ a good arm in the field, if there was a speedy guy vs. a slow guy at third when you hit your fly ball with less than two outs, all can contribute as to whether or not you get an RBI w/o an AB or if you just lower your batting average and hit into another double-play…

  89. 89
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    #23

    Well, if you want to go back to last year…

    The team that finished in the “Sept collapse” is the same one that started decently the first five days:
    On April 5, their record was 3-2
    Over the next five days, they won 1, lost 4 and fell to 4-6
    During the next five days, they were 1-2 putting them at 5-8
    By April 20, they were 8-11
    By May 1, their winning pct for the season was .483.

    Then, it started to improve:
    May 2 to June 1 – .607 winning pct. (.544 overall)
    June 2 to July 1 – .567 winning pct. (.552 overall)
    July 2 to Aug 1 – .652 winning pct. (.573 overall)
    Aug 2 to Sept 1 – .692 winning pct. (.596 overall)

    Then came September…

    So please excuse me if I am not “glooming and dooming” the season yet. They were better in the second half of Spring Training than they were in the first half…

    They were mediocre starting the season last year, then they picked it up after April…
    I don’t expect Uggla to have as poor a first half as he did last year…
    I am willing to give Heyward a little time…
    I don’t expect JJ and Hanson to go down again this year…
    I expect Huddy to be a little more rested late in the year since he is starting later…
    We don’t have “anchor Lowe” dragging down the rotation…
    Etc.

  90. 90
    Shaun Says:

    Yep. Don’t look at RBI for individual hitters, saves or pitcher wins. Those are the big three that are commonly used but baseball would be better off ignoring. Pitcher wins and RBI because they are greatly influenced by opportunities. Saves because pitchers often face more important situations earlier than the last inning and even mediocre major league pitchers can get three outs before a team scores 2-3 runs most of the time.

    Also, weigh OBP higher than batting average. OBP measure how often a hitter gets on versus makes an out, essentially. Batting average is just hits in at-bats (non-walk, non-sac plate appearances). Obviously measuring out avoidance is much more important.

    And look at slugging in conjunction with OBP and batting average. It does no good to treat a single or a walk the same as a double or a homerun.

    Going back to saves, there is no reason teams should save their best reliever in hopes that a save might happen if a situation calls for him to pitch earlier in the game when the game is tied and his team desperately needs to prevent a run or the game’s over.

    Just a little manifesto of the way I look at the game that will show up in my blog posts.

  91. 91
    Steve Says:

    #82 and #90 – great stuff

    I’d take Francona in a heartbeat. I’ve been saying this since last year: I don’t trust Fredi’s baseball smarts. His handling of Heyward is the perfect example. Or his use of Constanza this year (let alone last year). Or his bullpen management. Or his crazy lineups last year (Agon in the 2 hole, anyone?).

  92. 92
    Walker Says:

    All I know for a fact is that if the Braves don’t make the playoffs Fredi is gone. Bottom Line.

  93. 93
    ham Says:

    I would take Francona in half a heart beat. I think I would take TP too.

  94. 94
    Bubdylan Says:

    I’d take Francona in a quarter of a heartbeat.

    Tonight’s line up is completely logical. Not sure how that happened.

  95. 95
    Walker Says:

    I would usually agree with batting Chipper lower but with the way our lineup is we need his on base skills at the top.

  96. 96
    Bubdylan Says:

    Was just on a Phillies board, and somebody was claiming Charlie Manuel’s in-game managing was the worst in baseball. The immediate response from another Phillies poster: Do you really think he’s worse than Fredi Gonzalez?

  97. 97
    Curt Says:

    Was that Phillies poster named Dubbylan?

  98. 98
    Bubdylan Says:

    *in a pouty voice* No.

  99. 99
    Curt Says:

    Just wondering who we can bring off the disabled list to get rid of Durbin. Fish? Varvaro? Vizcaino? Moylan? Bruce Sutter?

  100. 100
    Bubdylan Says:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/fredi-gonzalezs-decision-making-is-not-helping-the-braves

  101. 101
    Adam Says:

    I would take Francona in an eighth of a heart-beat.

  102. 102
    Frigatedoc Says:

    This Houston pitcher was pretty bad last year. My money is that he looks like Cy Young against the Braves

  103. 103
    David Says:

    Can someone remind me why we were excited about having Bourn around for an entire season?

  104. 104
    David Says:

    Wow McCann just got under thAT SLIDE HOLY SMOKES CHIPPER HOME RUN

  105. 105
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    I sat there watching on TV and called that one! Welcome back Chipper!

    I had a feeling after giving up that first run, that pitcher was going to let down just a little bit or try to over throw that breaking ball…

  106. 106
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    I guess I need to keep doing that… I was just thinking it would be a good time for his first home run…

  107. 107
    Curt Says:

    #100 – in other news, the earth is not flat

  108. 108
    Adam Says:

    Is it just me or has Pastornicky been one of our better hitters this season?

  109. 109
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    Schafer added about 20 lbs in the off-season… Munchies?

  110. 110
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    #94

    “Tonight’s line up is completely logical. Not sure how that happened.”

    Now THAT was funny!

  111. 111
    Leah Says:

    Who’s this Schafer guy? Pretty sure I’ve never seen him before.

  112. 112
    David Says:

    This is an instant classic: http://i.imgur.com/eQN3m.jpg

  113. 113
    Adam Says:

    #112

    HA! That might be the best thing ever.

  114. 114
    Walker Says:

    Not sure why Medlen is pitching 2 innings. I thought for sure O’Ventbrel was in full effect.

  115. 115
    Bubdylan Says:

    #112 IS the best thing ever, lol.

  116. 116
    Walker Says:

    Hinske gets an RBI. Chipper contributes again because Constanza for sure would have been up there.

  117. 117
    Steve Says:

    108: I had that same thought tonight.

  118. 118
    Leah Says:

    Jordan’s pissing me off.

  119. 119
    Pure Says:

    OK. We can breathe now.

  120. 120
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    Kimbrell needed to make it exiting… can’t stand to come into a game and leave clean….

    Go back and look at the number of times he appeared w/o giving up a walk or hit…

    You will be amazed… or saddened… I am not sure which…

  121. 121
    Walker Says:

    Chipper’s WAR is already at 1. He was the reason we won.

  122. 122
    Bubdylan Says:

    Chipper Jones. Baseball freak. Wish I could love that guy more because I’ve never followed a better ballplayer.

  123. 123
    Nate Says:

    Just got a Braves ticket package for $40. It includes 4 free game tickets and 6 buy one get one free tickets. It’s a pretty solid deal. The seats are in the terrace level. The only stipulation is the you don’t get Saturday games or the Yankees series, but I hate the Yankees so it works well for me. I think they’re selling them all week. Jump on it.

  124. 124
    Steve Says:

    #123: Nice, Nate. Thanks.

  125. 125
    Walker Says:

    I don’t care what Wilson is hitting, Pastornicky should be playing.

  126. 126
    Anne Says:

    The Chipper stretching tweet from DOB is so sad. Promising, but sad.

  127. 127
    Pure Says:

    Where can I see the lineup?

  128. 128
    Walker Says:

    Chipper never stretches. Explains alot but I still love him.

  129. 129
    Steve Says:

    Just saw DOBs tweets about Chipper’s stretching. It is nothing but crazy.

  130. 130
    Leah Says:

    Playing all kinds of ball tonight…I like it!

  131. 131
    David Says:

    Love that Heyward and Uggla are both coming to life. Even Jack Wilson is contributing with his fundamentals. Now we need to get Freeman and Bourn going.

  132. 132
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    Yeah, I am willing to give Heyward a little time…

  133. 133
    frigatedoc Says:

    Can somebody PLEASE run for Chipper? Looks like he hurts running. I cant believe he is back so soon. I see normal people take months to return to work for what he had done.

  134. 134
    Mike Says:

    #133: I know. I was kinda glad that Uggla’s almost sure double down the 3rd base line in the top of the 9th was fielded. I didn’t want Chipper to have to run from 1st to 3rd.

  135. 135
    Steve Says:

    #134 was me

  136. 136
    Walker Says:

    Great win

    Wouldn’t it be amazing if somehow Heyward has a breakout Matt Kemp like season?

  137. 137
    Danny Says:

    112 is brilliant!

    My hope meter is now even more unexplainably high! (5ish)

  138. 138
    allgU Says:

    Princess, I had a bad feeling about Schafer even when he was a promising prospect for the good guys. Now I think he’s a punk, spelled PUKE! Just sayin’

  139. 139
    Leah Says:

    #138 has he EVER played that good? He killed us from both sides of the plate all 3 games!

  140. 140
    Nate Says:

    Great game last night. I hate all these off days at the beginning of the season.

    #139, no he didn’t. Kelly Johnson did the same thing to us when he went to the D’backs. They both fall under the Wes Helms category of hitting .220 on your team/hitting .400 against your team.

  141. 141
    Nate Says:

    I will say that both the Astros and Mets looked a lot scrappier than I thought they would. Maybe it will take a long, hot Summer to get them into the form everyone anticipated.

  142. 142
    Nate Says:

    Ham, are you watching The Killing Season 2?

  143. 143
    Ham Says:

    Nate, reluctantly and unbelievably, yes. And I am liking it.

  144. 144
    Nate Says:

    Me too. I told myself I wouldn’t watch, but I caved. It’s been better. Hopefully the writers have an idea of who the killer is going to be at this point.

  145. 145
    Adam Says:

    I am not satisfied with the current Braves game to off-day ratio.

  146. 146
    Steve Says:

    #145: Totally. On the bright side, tomorrow starts a 9 straight game stretch.

  147. 147
    David Says:

    136 – Oh, totally. Heyward can definitely have a breakout season like Kemp had last year. The only question is when it will happen. I was actually thinking about that today — that Heyward could have a Kemp-like season last year. I also just looked at Kemp’s seasons before last year, and he had a few years that were kinda middling, promising, but not up to his 2011 potential. Lots of OPSs in the .750-.850 range, which is where I think Heyward will be until he becomes the hitter he’ll fully be.

    A couple of other factors:
    1. Last year, Kemp was 26. Heyward is currently 22.
    2. Fredi Gonzalez. If he keeps undervaluing Heyward and hitting him in the 7 spot, I think that Heyward will have a Kemp-like season…for another team. For now, I have little confidence in Fredi’s ability to oversee Heyward’s production and development as The Behemoth that Heyward is meant to be.

  148. 148
    Frigatedoc Says:

    Sorry… I don’t think Heyward will be what we all want…..

    I may be crazy, but should you already have your swing down by the time you get to the show? We always here that “oh he needs to work on his swing.” I know people get better with practice but this is what these people do for a living. All day long.

    BTW…did anyone see the article about Francoeur delivering pizza to fans?

  149. 149
    Walker Says:

    @148

    He’s still only 22 years old and had one of the best OBP’s by a rookie ever. Most pros at 22 are still in AA or AAA. Show me a MLB player who doesn’t work on his swing and I’ll show you a scrub. This game is all about adjustments.

  150. 150
    Curt Says:

    #148 – doc, I saw that article. Great stuff. Despite everything, he really is a super nice guy. Very humble. Very down to earth. It seemed very typical of something he would do.

    For those of you who didn’t see it – http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/jeff-francoeur-gets-pizza-delivered-fans-bleachers-233500021.html

  151. 151
    Leah Says:

    That makes me miss Frenchy!

  152. 152
    Frigatedoc Says:

    @149

    Have you compared Chipper’s and Heyward’s numbers? Rookie year and years after that? The reason I put him in Chipper’s category is because he was WAY more hyped that Chipper was.

  153. 153
    Shaun Says:

    Frigatedoc, a pro player doesn’t get much better by continuing to face pitchers he can dominate. So Heyward would have gained little by spending more time in the minors. However, that probably would have been better than him being benched in the majors.

    Age matters. A player who has nothing left to prove in the minors but are extremely young may not have made all the necessary adjustments to be great against major league pitching. Those types of players don’t have an already honed swing. They need the challenge of major league pitching in order to hone their swing completely. The only way a hitter gets better is to play games and get reps against higher levels of pitching until they can face the highest levels of pitching and keep honing.

  154. 154
    Shaun Says:

    I don’t know if it’s true that Heyward was “way more” hyped than Chipper. Maybe, considering there are more top 100 (or top 101) prospect lists now than when Chipper was a prospect. And there are lot more niche baseball media outlets that pay more attention to minor leaguers and prospects. Also it seems we have a better understanding of what makes a legit prospect and which amateur players are likely to be impact major leaguers. It’s hard to imagine if that were the case in the early 1990′s that Chipper would have been any less hyped than Heyward.

    Chipper was a number one overall pick and dominated at every level. And he didn’t just dominate in the on-the-surface numbers (AVG/OBP/SLG). He was rather young for his levels and he posted solid numbers that indicate command of the strikezone, like BB/K. Plus he had the athleticism to play short for a vast majority of his early pro career and stole a lot of bases. He would have been hyped, had their been a Baseball Prospectus prospect list, had there been a Keith Law and a Kevin Goldstein and a Jonathan Mayo.

  155. 155
    eric Says:

    Heyward has plenty of time/room to improve and develop. No reason to think he can’t be anywhere from a productive player to a perennial All-star as long as he stays healthy. He’s been way ahead of the curve his entire career. Heyward was 20 his first full season and won’t be 23 until August this year.

    For comparison of ages for first full season, Chipper was 23 as a rookie. David Wright was 22. So was Joe Mauer. Barry Bonds got his start at 21, but didn’t start really hitting until 25. Jeter was 22. Manny Ramirez hit .269 in a half season at 22.

    You’re not going to find many guys who’ve made it the bigs at Heyward’s age. Some bumps are to be expected, especially if he’s fighting injury. Andruw Jones is one of the few I remember.

  156. 156
    Steve Says:

    Getting ready to head to the stadium. Could not be more pumped. Follow the Twitter account for stuff tonight.

  157. 157
    Jo-Bu Says:

    Some may argue that getting to the bigs at his age is sometimes more of an opportunity thing in being in the right place at the right time in having a bat that the Braves really needed since our outfield at the time wasn’t really much to write home about. I’m not taking anything away from Heyward, I’m just saying that sometimes that age and relative skill are important but most of all, the need at the big club could play a big part in why Heyward was promoted through the system so quickly.

    You’ll hear an analyst or two on MLB Network say that some of these kids coming up today just haven’t had enough time to learn how to be a professional ball player in the sense of the fundamentals. Maybe true in some cases but I think Heyward’s big knock so far is staying healthy. It certainly seemed to me from last year that he needed to learn what he can and cannot play through. The knowledge of knowing if you are banged-up versus something that could turn serious. Every one of these guys wanna play everyday and as “I think” we saw with Heyward, he wanted to get out there an contribute so badly that he feared telling anyone about an injury. You gotta learn that and as a kid of 20-21 years, you still think you are invincible.

  158. 158
    Leah Says:

    #156 Can I get a shout out?????

  159. 159
    David Says:

    Once again, Fredi does not cease to amaze (i.e., frustrate) me with his lineup construction. Freeman is hitting .231/.231/.269 with 0 BB/9 K on the year, while Heyward is hitting .316/.381/.632 with 2 BB/5 K — and FREEMAN is hitting third, while HEYWARD is hitting SEVENTH?!?!!? Thanks, Fredi.

  160. 160
    Anne Says:

    Will check score during intermission from The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess. Go Braves!!

  161. 161
    Leah Says:

    That did not just happen! Please tell me Martin did not do the naked nostril blow in the dugout. Please tell me I saw that wrong…bad lighting…anything!

  162. 162
    Leah Says:

    Anne! Matty D went deep!

  163. 163
    Walker Says:

    What a difference in the lineup when McCann is ON!

  164. 164
    Anne Says:

    Did he?? I live the score I find at intermission. Go Braves!!

  165. 165
    Anne Says:

    Who frew dat first pitch, anyway??

  166. 166
    Leah Says:

    That was fantastic!

  167. 167
    Leah Says:

    I was hoping we’d have a starter pitch through the 6th…

  168. 168
    Leah Says:

    B Mac is cracking me up…

  169. 169
    Adam Says:

    …god dammit

  170. 170
    Anonymous Says:

    Gonzales is a genius

  171. 171
    Walker Says:

    Why are we throwing balls down the middle to MLB hitters.

  172. 172
    Leah Says:

    Ski’s gonna homer…I can feel it.

  173. 173
    Leah Says:

    Good feeling’s gone.

  174. 174
    Leah Says:

    Steve just wet himself. Go Uggla!

  175. 175
    Leah Says:

    Did y’all see Blue Eyes point to the dugout after that 2 RBI single? He gave a “that’s how we do it boys!” This team has energy again!

  176. 176
    David Says:

    175 — I know! I saw that too. Last inning, right after Hinske flew out to left, they showed Heyward out at second base, and he kicked the bag in what looked like frustration and anger. Different circumstances, but still that same fire.

    Also, I just saw a stat on the bottom of MLB Network that said that tonight’s quality start for RA Dickey (vs. Philly) was his 14th consecutive QS, longest active one in the majors.

  177. 177
    Leah Says:

    Absolutely! Don’t mind a little anger/frustration…at all!

  178. 178
    Adam Says:

    I’m glad that our fans boo Ryan Braun every time he does anything.

  179. 179
    Curt Says:

    Great to see that huge crowd turn out. And great that the Braves won for them.

  180. 180
    will Says:

    Great to see some offense. More please.

    Great to have something to watch on a Saturday morning.

    I just skipped the part when the brewers went from 2 to 8.

  181. 181
    Steve Says:

    Anne: Bill Bartholomay the guy that brought the Braves to Atlanta threw out the first pitch. I get that he’s more than integral and everything, but a pretty boring choice.

  182. 182
    Steve Says:

    It was a strange game. No energy when JJ started giving up bombs, then the place went nuts as we batted around in the 5th (Bourn with 2 hits in the inning, Marteeen with 2 outs in the inning), then deflated again, then elated again in the 8th and finishing off the 9th. The place was exhausted when it was all over.

    AND – the scoreboard was a complete disaster for the first few innings. Wrong pictures, wrong names – the field level screens (with the current pitcher’s stats weren’t on at all), it was nothing short of embarrassing. I mean, I think they had this date on their calendars for a while now.

  183. 183
    will Says:

    steve- did it sell out?

  184. 184
    Leah Says:

    Haha…did y’all see Thole’s bone headed base running? Friday 13th indeed.

  185. 185
    Steve Says:

    Will: it was a sellout and they started selling standing room only tix Friday morning. That said, there were scattered empty seats around the stadium. It didn’t quite look like the sellouts in the last playoff series against the Giants.

  186. 186
    Steve Says:

    Was Chipper in the dugout last night for the game? Was he freaking out and doing big congratulations to everyone after the big hits?

  187. 187
    Anne Says:

    I read C Jones wasn’t at the park – gettin’ drained.

  188. 188
    Steve Says:

    He was there. He was part of pregame intros.

  189. 189
    Steve Says:

    Anyone have a recommendation for a reliable website (that’s not mlbtv, that is) where you can watch Braves games live?

  190. 190
    Kate Says:

    Chipper was in the trainers room getting his knee drained during the game.

  191. 191
    Walker Says:

    @Steve

    Try googling “mlb network live streaming”.

  192. 192
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    YAY! A Braves started recorded a out in the sixth inning!!!

  193. 193
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    Yay! A Braves started completed the sixth inning!!!

  194. 194
    David Says:

    PHHHHEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

  195. 195
    David Says:

    Back at .500 baby!

  196. 196
    Adam Says:

    I’m starting to think Kimbrel just likes the drama.

  197. 197
    Pure Says:

    Kimbrel had it all the way.

  198. 198
    David Says:

    Not that any of the wins so far have been “good,” but tonight’s may have been the best of the four. Last night’s was great, but it shouldn’t have gotten so close after we were up by 5 runs. Tonight, starting pitching and bullpen took care of it — even though it got really hairy at the end there.

    Fredi batting Freeman 3rd and Heyward 6th/7th continues to baffle me. I love Freeman, but Heyward is batting much better right now.

  199. 199
    Danny Says:

    I’ve decided Kimbrel needs a new song. I like Godzilla by Blue Oyster Cult.

    The home opener was exhausting but entertaining.

    Minor looks like a #2 pitcher when he is on.

  200. 200
    Walker Says:

    @198
    Yeah I agree. At first I understood it was to take pressure off of J Hey but now either Chipper or Jason needs to be hitting 3rd.

  201. 201
    Shaun Says:

    My optimal Braves lineup, according to “The Book” (a nice summary is here: http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2009/3/17/795946/optimizing-your-lineup-by) and ZiPS projections for the 2012 Braves (found here: http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/oracle/discussion/2012_zips_projections_-_atlanta_braves):

    Heyward
    Chipper
    Uggla
    McCann
    Freeman
    Bourn
    Prado
    Pastornicky

    With Chipper out:

    Prado
    Heyward
    Uggla
    McCann
    Freeman
    Bourn
    Francisco/Diaz
    Pastornicky

  202. 202
    Adam Says:

    They were just talking about how Jason has the highest average on the team. Any chance he could move up to 2 in the order? 7 is way too low to bat our current best hitter.

  203. 203
    Frigatedoc Says:

    Maybe you guys could mention this as a topic on the show….

    Should Chipper go on the 15 day DL? I think he came back too early. He already had to have his knee drained. If he screws around he could tear his quad. I have seen patients who are off weeks with the surgery he had. It was great to have him back and ignite the team, but he is better utilized HEALTHY. Meaning that he sits out, HEALS then comes back and has a great year….

    Thoughts?

  204. 204
    Walker Says:

    @202

    I hate to say it but I look at every Chipper at bat as if it was his last. At any moment he could have a season ending injury.

  205. 205
    Adam Says:

    Chipper y u so good?

  206. 206
    Nate Says:

    Ridiculous how easy that HR swing for Chipper looked. Just smooth.

  207. 207
    Leah Says:

    If he keeps hitting homers it won’t matter how his knee is. He can just Crawl around the bases!

  208. 208
    Nate Says:

    Jason Smash!

  209. 209
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    Should we have Chipper play every third game for the rest of the season?

  210. 210
    Mark in Memphis Says:

    #196

    I thought that last year… I figured it up once, I think he had something like 4 save appearances where he didn’t give up a hit or walk..

  211. 211
    Walker Says:

    I love how we are taking pitches.

  212. 212
    Leah Says:

    I love how we’re combining small ball and homers in the same game. It’s like we’re a real ball club!

  213. 213
    Leah Says:

    Bourne is in fiyah!

  214. 214
    Nate Says:

    why is this guy on the team?

  215. 215
    Adam Says:

    He’s given up a homerun in all 3 appearances. Blegh. Oh well we win :D

  216. 216
    Walker Says:

    Chad Durbin needs to be released. We can do better. Every time he pitches it’s guaranteed runs. He is not ML caliber. I mean look at his career stats. I’m sure he’s a nice guy but he’s got to go.

  217. 217
    Chris Says:

    Looking forward to the new show tonight guys, finally something good to talk about! I would of never guessed 5 in a row after losing the first 4. Now if we can just beat those darn Mets!

  218. 218
    Steve Says:

    #209: I looked it up. In 2011, Kimbrel made 79 appearances. He gave up a walk or a hit (or both) in 49 of them. Undoubtedly, the guy lives dangerously.

  219. 219
    Bubdylan Says:

    Wow, look at the Braves!

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