Great podcast. I would agree with leaving Heyward where he is but he needs to hit in front of Freeman. But in Freeman’s defense he may not have gotten a hit Saturday but he had a couple of great at bats. And I’d rather have Diaz over Constanza.
Good sign: The offense if finally hitting. Outside looking in, if Im an opposing team and I see names like Bourn, Prado, Chipper, McCann, Uggla, Heyward and Freeman, I’m worried. Imagine adding Andrus or Escobar to the lineup.
Bad sign: Pastornicky has not been hitting well lately and I question his range on a couple of groundballs that got past him this week that he should have gotten to. JJ also needs to get it together. Although, I was happy to see his velocity up. His command still lacks.
Seriously if you look at Durbin’s career numbers and the fact he keeps getting Major League jobs, you come to the conclusion that he is the luckiest pitcher in history. He the Lane Kiffin of the majors.
Will is cracking me up. Great show guys! I’m most encouraged by the starters pitching deeper in games. Question: would it be stupid to use Medlen for more than an inning when he pitches? It seems a waste for him to warm up, pitch an inning and then sit.
….we passed through another “petrochemical park” about 20 minutes later…
needless to say it was a long drive to the hotel.
so sad but true that I come across as drunk even when sober… permanent damage, apparently. apologies, Steve, I know you like to maintain a family-friendly site….
(Have you met my family?…i blame them)
just finished listening… good show..
Fair on Heyward. you promote success, push a good thing. move Heyward up, let him step up. Freeman needs the work. Constanza has hit over .300 lifetime (according to some poster on DOB). “Why the Constanza Hate?” or some post like that…just saying.
I like what Walker said about the offense…..if they just live up to 80-90% of their potential and nobody has major slumps…awesome offensive lineup all the way thru.
are there any good signs that Gonzalez is better? or is the team carrying him?
DOB just posted a staggering stat: Chad Durbin has allowed a HR in 7 consecutive appearances, dating back to his final 4 games with Cleveland last year (he gave up SIX home runs in those four games). Actually, I guess that’s not too staggering.
He reminds me a bit of Jo-Jo Reyes, a guy that NEVER had a scoreless appearance for the Braves. That’s right — in 41 games (37 starts, 194 IP), he gave up at least one run every single time. It wasn’t until May 20 last season — his 9th start with Toronto — that he didn’t allow a run.
If they were to replace Diaz on the bench, why assume it would be Constanza?
If they drop a right handed batter from the bench, wouldn’t they want to replace him with right hander from the minors?
Durango isn’t batting as high as Parraz (.292/.358/.375 vs. .317/.391/.415), but Durango is a switch hitter… I think I would take one of them to replace Diaz, if they decided to, vs. adding another bench lefty to replace a bench righty…
Durango has a line of .282/.349/.333 against RHP and .333/.400/.556 against LHP albiet only 9 ABs (39 ABs against RHP).
Parraz has a line of .281/.361/.375 against RHP and .444/.500/.556 against LHP for the same number of 9 ABs.
You heard it here first – I agree with Curt & Steve. Poor Matty. This gets me no time served toward my restraining order, however. Curt – I’m worse than you, with no plans to get to The Ted before July 4th!! WTF?
Oh, tonight’s score update I’m looking at just hurts. Durned Mets.
#21 — yeah, I saw that in the postgame comments. And this guy is the manager of a major league baseball team.
My thoughts on Heyward’s spot in the lineup: I’m torn about it, even though I’ve posted several times on here that Fredi needs to hit him higher. Curt, you made the point that it’s not a good idea to mess with a guy while he’s doing well, and maybe hitting lower in the lineup is where Heyward is most comfortable. That’s a good point, and I’d hate to see Heyward move up to the 2 or 3 spot and hit .200 while there.
As I was thinking about it, I also think it’s a good idea to have a hot hitter behind guys in the middle of the order so that that hot hitter can drive them in. Then I looked at Heyward’s stats this season. Out of his 37 plate appearances, only 13 have come with any runners on base. That’s only about a third of the time. McCann and Uggla aren’t really doing enough to get on base much, and Freeman’s definitely struggling to do much of anything.
Furthermore, batting Heyward 7th means that Pastornicky/Wilson is behind him. When he’s 6th, the 7-hole hitters have been Francisco, Ross, and Hinske. So there’s not much protection for Heyward, and there’s no reason why, if he does keep hitting well, opposing pitchers won’t pitch around him to get to our weak 8 and 9 hitters.
So, my concern with leaving Heyward in the lower third of the lineup is that we’ve got a dangerous hitter who doesn’t have the chance to do any damage. And, the way this lineup’s poor team OBP (Chipper and Heyward are the only regular guys with OBPs above .330), I think it makes more sense to have Heyward (.444 OBP) getting on base to give Mac, Ugg, Freeman, and Chipper RBI opportunities as opposed to Heyward driving them in…especially when those guys aren’t getting on.
Curt – no season tickets this year. They broke my heart last season. Only plans are, as mentioned, July 4th – and the husband and his Delta crew have gotten a suite for a Dodgers game on August 18th. I’m sure I’ll head out some time before those, though. I need to see if “my” usher Alan is still there!
@14 – Disagree on Wright. With the exception of last year when he was injured, I’d certainly call Wright elite. He may not be an all-time great like Chipper, but Longoria is probably the only third baseman in the league I’d rather have than Wright.
I don’t think Diaz is getting dropped anyways, at least not for a long time. So, its sort of a moot point would would replace him. So he only has two hits, but he has only had 17 PA’s. I will be awhile before we can really decide if Diaz has anything left to give.
Just because the number of good 3rd basemen are scarce does not mean a pretty good player is elite. It might make him more valuable but not elite. Remember playing in NY pumps alot of athletes up and makes them overrated . Imagine if Chipper played his whole career with the Yankees. I doubt he would ever just get a 1 minute segment on Sportscenter if he announced his retirement.
#22 – I wouldn’t want to completely discount the possibility that guys are comfortable in certain spots in the order but I don’t know how much it actually comes in to play. It think it gets overstated.
These guys are major leaguers. Baseball is such a repetitive game and these guys have been playing almost every day at a fairly high level, against other professionals, since they were 18-22 years old. When a guy is at the plate, I seriously doubt that he’s thinking, “oh, I’m in the second spot in the order today so I’m really feeling the pressure much more so than usual.” Maybe I’m just being naive.
I guess where it could come in to play more is if a guy gets dropped in the order and he reads it as a slight or presses. But I even have my doubts that that is a huge factor. I just suspect that most guys who make it to the major league level are extremely professional, in the highest sense of the word. They may not like being pushed down in the order but I suspect that guys who make it to the majors have extreme focus, in addition to talent and personality, to overcome what they might perceive as a slight, in addition to overcoming lots of other factors which impacts on performance we sometimes overstate.
@26 – On top of being top 3 in the MLB at his position (which I think qualifies a player as elite), Wright is an elite player overall. I think you’re not giving him credit because his last three season have not looked as nice statistically. That’s happened for two reasons:
1) in both 2009 and 2011 Wright struggled with head and back injuries, limiting his effectiveness for long stretches, and
2) in 2009 the Mets moved to the cavernous Citi Field. His numbers over this three year period have been noticeably, but not drastically, better on the road, particularly his power numbers. In this case, NYC worked against him. The Mets moved the fences in this year, and I’d be willing to bet that as long as Wright stays healthy, he will have a monster season.
A few numbers to back this up. Wright was top 10 in offensive WAR in 2005, 2007, 2008. He was #5 in the league in WAR in 2007 when he was only 25. In 2008 he was just outside the top 10. Despite his numbers being diluted by 3 seasons at Citi and a few years of injury, he still has a career 135 OPS+ and a career OPS of .890. In comparison, Vlad Guerrero has a career OPS+ of 140. Chipper of 141. All of this looks elite to me, especially for a guy who probably has 5-7 more years of productive baseball ahead of him.
Former MLBer (and one-time Brave) Jim Bouton on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” this past weekend. He’s promoting his book Ball Four now out on e-book. Some great quotes: “What doesn’t excite me about the game [today] is the stepping out of the batter’s box. What are you stepping out of the batter’s box for? After every pitch, the guy’s gotta step out of the box, fix his glove…all that. If they eliminated velcro it would knock 20 minutes off of every game.” “AND I don’t like guys hitting home runs and raising their arms up like they just discovered a cure for cancer. In our day, you hit a home run, you ran around the bases, you went in the dugout and you shut up. You know why? Because it’s just a home run. It’s not a religious experience.” The host asked, “Did you ever hit one?” Reply: “I never hit a home run.” (some thought) “All right, so maybe I would’ve raised my hands.”
I hate the flat bills, and they’re not going away. I help coach a middle school team, and all our kids wear the flat bills. They love it. I think we’re all just gonna have to get used to it. And FYI, I’m not getting lumped in with you “old folks”.
That said, Meds was on it last night. Just a bulldog on the attack.
Really enjoyed the show guys, and I love this winning baseball stuff. Time to win the series. Go Braves!
Steve @36, all the in-depth studies suggest you want your best hitters hitting 1st, 2nd and 4th, with the best sluggers hitting lower and the better on-base guys hitting higher.
I would prefer McCann 4th and Heyward 2nd or even leadoff, although 2nd is probably ideal.
And the idea behind not putting your very best hitters 3rd is that they will on average come to the plate with fewer runners on than the 4th or 5th hitters.
I think it’s good to have a decent slugger in the two whole because a slugger can advance the leadoff man without the manager feeling like he has to use up an out and bunt the leadoff guy over, if the leadoff guy is on base.
I think by far the biggest mistake managers make regarding a lineup is putting a weak hitter, who may be a contact hitter and a good bunter but who can’t hit, in the number two spot.
Why not put a traditional number three hitter in the two spot instead? That way you aren’t wasting an out and using the number two hitter to advance the leadoff man one base in order to get him in scoring position for the 3-5 hitters. I’d rather just have the leadoff man on first and the 3-5-type hitters trying to drive him immediately following the leadoff man, than have an out on the board and the leadoff hitter on second.
We’re lucky this year because the only options for Fredi there are Prado and Heyward and maybe Chipper. None of those players are bad options; unlike Alex Gonzalez or McClouth.
Steve, regarding Heyward being the leading slugger, I’m not sure that’s his true talent level. When all is said and done this season, I think he’ll be up there but I think he’s more of a decent slugger with great on-base skills.
I like this lineup because it puts our speed at the front of the order with good RBI guys hitting behind them. I like Prado at the bottom of the order because it keeps our 7-8-9 from becoming a complete black hole and turns over the order quicker, imo. Having speed at 1 and 2 puts more pressure on opposing pitchers and defenses. Jason looks like he’s picked up a thing or two from Bourn, and both have elite speed.
Nate @ 49, the research into batting order suggest that speed is better utilized in front of high-contact singles hitters rather than in front of your best power hitters. The idea is even an average runner is going to advance and possibly score on extra-base hits and homeruns.
Speed is nice, but the top of the order should be all about on-base ability. Plus your good all-around hitters should hit near the top so they are getting the most plate appearances.
Great win today — aside from JJ’s continued struggles, we’re on a roll. I am pumped for the Arizona series, for several reasons:
- The offense is going strong, especially Heyward and now Freeman is busting out of his slump
- We don’t have to pitch JJ against them
- We’re catching them at a good time — Chris Young is on the DL, and Justin Upton is hurt (not sure if he’s on the DL yet). So this seems like a good time to face them in their house of horrors.
I would hope for the optomized lineup tomorrow. But this is more realistic and should be the lineup that has the snakes begging for mercy. Fredi has no choice now but to bat Heyward in the top of the lineup. He gets on base too much.
Kidding (sort of). His numbers aren’t great, but at least he isn’t striking out a lot or making too many errors. And he’s had a couple of clutch hits for us so far this year, including the two-run double that broke open the game on Tuesday night.
66: I like that Heyward has had a good couple of games in the top of the order. At the same time, I’m trying to not get too excited yet — 2 games is too small of a sample. He did have 3 Ks yesterday. Typically, I’d say that you can throw out yesterday’s game since it was against a knuckleballer, but everybody else seemed to be doing just fine against him. I think I need to see more of him in the top of the lineup, but I’m glad he’s up there.
Good point, Bubdylan. Even if it’s closer than I think between those two, Simmons very likely needs more seasoning in the minors offensively. While I think Pastornicky has little to gain and little to prove with more minor league time.
Don’t look now but Braves are playing seriously good baseball. I challenge even the likes of Curt to find something to complain about. Besides Uggla’s error cause ya know, he could pummel you with his pinkie.
If you mean because Curt’s pessimistic, I have to claim originality for my own pessimism. It’s the first Spring I’ve ever entertained such dismal hopes for the Braves. I thought we’d get very bad years from Hanson, JJ, Pastornicky, Chipper, and the manager, possibly Prado and Hudson, too. Also thought a general funk and bad team chemistry would abound. I’ve been mostly wrong. Still expect the pitching to fade some, but the team’s got more potential than I gave them credit for.
Another OPP field hit for Heyward. I wonder if anyone’s keeping track of our hitters going the other way. The new hitting coach seems like the real deal. The plate approaches are night and day from last year. Reminds me of the Red Sox when they put together their hitting philosophy a few years ago. The Rays, too.
Offense….yes. 7-0 braves. Heyward and freeman and Mcann are on fire.
Bub – I had a similar thing happen last summer. I was on a business trip and I had a terrible gut pain right around my kidney. I was so uncomfortable sitting in a plane, could barely walk. Went through a bunch of tests, including an ultrasound. They found nothing. It stopped and I thought I must have passed a kidney stone. But the test results said no, it was not a kidney stone. It came back once more and then just went away. The last doctor said it was probably infection in the lining of the small intestines. Can happen from food, from almost anything. It hasn’t happened at all since then.
Steve, Curt, did you guys see Anne’s tweet about ABT meeting up the night they retire Smoltz’s number? Not sure if we could get tickets but it’s a good thought. I was just curious since I didn’t see a reply and ya know…you guys are so good about responding to tweets.
Hey Leah. The Smoltz retirement night is a definite maybe for me. I would be there without question except it’s one of my boys’ birthday weekend (one who has no interest in going to a game) and I’ll have family in town, etc. etc. So, I won’t know for until it gets closer to the game.
Also, give us another chance on Twitter. We monitor it much more closely than in the past. It’s really not a bad way to communicate with us.
I don’t know if this is average, a few, or a lot, but out of Cahill’s 94 pitches tonight, he had only 13 that were called for strikes. Seems like the Braves are going up there being very smart about their pitch selection.
This week has been incredible. Watching our offense reminds me of how the Phillies have been over the last couple of years, and how their hitters would never give away at-bats. Everything’s clicking, and we’re doing so good that we’re not even giving Fredi the option of putting on the hit-and-run!
In non-Braves news, I went and saw “Cabin In the Woods” today. If you’re a horror movie fan, I think you’ll appreciate this one a lot.
#128, first paragraph, I’m with you. The approach is almost more exciting than seeing all the runs. The marks of a smart offense, to me, are patience and going opposite field. They’re a clinic on both right now.
Leah, drove my sister to B-ham to catch the Artist in a great theater. Loved it. Will get it on Blu-ray the day it hits the shelves. Maybe a bit too heavy on the Singin’ in the Rain rip-off dept at the end, but I forgive it completely. A wonderful movie experience.
Speaking of Blu-ray, if any of you have made that jump, Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol is a must-have. Leah, Brad Bird from Iron Giant, Ratatouille, and the Incredibles directed it.
MI is on the movie night list. Just loved The Artist!
Curt, I believe June 8th. Or maybe the 6th but I think the 8th. If only there was some sort of electronic data base we could turn to and find out. Bugger.
1) Humber’s perfecto. Well done, kid!
2) I’ve always hated the Yankees and always will. But after being down 9-0 in the 7th inning against Boston today, they made a HUGE comeback and won 15-9. Wow.
3) I don’t ever want to wish injury on any professional athletes, but I don’t really mind Cliff Lee going to the DL with a left oblique strain. Hopefully that will have lasting effects on his pitching throughout the season.
If anybody’s at the game tonight, could y’all go down and let the fans behind home plate know that they’re supposed to wave all night long to friends sitting throughout the stadium? Apparently they didn’t get that memo.
Excellent win. Nice to see Hanson making some adjustments after a hairy first couple of innings. I was worried that our luck would run out and Ventbrel would blow a save, but they pitched with authority.
I can’t wait to listen to tomorrow night’s podcast!
I have a question for Bobby V, how do you leave a reliever in long enough to give up 5 ER and not record a single out? Fredi didn’t get away with stuff like that in Miami, so you better believe it ain’t gonna pass in Boston where people actually watch the games.
Yeah, I don’t agree with Heyward getting benched. Let ‘im play, Fredi!
About Humber’s perfect game from yesterday: does the Seattle stadium not have the check-swing cameras? You know what I mean — the one directly perpendicular to a right-handed batter? I find it maddening that, in all of the highlights, there’s not a true shot showing whether or he checked his swing or whether he swung.
I know I’m late to this party, just seeing the lineup… The Jason benching makes zero sense to me. How at all (and certainly after the last couple of weeks), Fredi is treating Jason like a platoon option is just beyond me.