I understand the lineup looks aesthetically good to have Heyward hitting 7th. However baseball wisdom says that you stack your best hitters at the top of the lineup. You aren’t supposed to even out your lineup with the purposes of putting lesser hitters at the top. Prado is doing well, but we all know what the stats are going to be like at the end of the year. Heck Heyward’s OPS is 50 points higher than Prado’s right now.Bottom line is either Chipper of Heyward need to be hitting 2nd.
Fredi has had the luxury of a big offense, to go along with innings eater like Livan and a great arm like Medlen. So he has no choice but to have better bullpen usage. Last year he had horrible pitchers like Linebrink and Proctor. Not to mention Sherrill was only a situational lefty. An he has gotten extremely lucky. 8 times out of 10 the Cardinals score on Livan in that extra innings game. He refuses to use Kimbrel if it is not a save situation. And in high leverage situations, the choice of Durbin still bothers me. He has handled Chipper well but lets not get out of hand. He is a horrible manager.
I really like Pastornicky. I love hitters that make contact. Oddly enough for McCann, he is making alot of contact, yet the balls aren’t finding any holes. His BABIP must be really low. He’s been really unlucky.
I really want to resign Bourn. He’s been a beast. However with Boras as his agent, I doubt we do. I say the Braves offer no more than 13 million/year for 5 years.
Looking forward to the Rays series and getting McCann and Minor going. Go Braves.
Spreading out the strength of your line-up has been proven faulty about a zillion times. You bunch it up at the top. Scoring in sudden bursts is the most effective way to win games. Sorry I don’t have the links to the articles, but they’re there I promise. It was discussed a lot during the Phillies’ big offensive reign a few years ago, but even before that I’d seen it hashed out a bunch. It’s universally agreed. Once again, though, it’s Fredi versus the Universe.
Great week for the Bravos, though. And really, there’s a limit to the damage even the dumbest manager can do, especially to an offense-first ballteam. However, if this clown gets some kind of manager award this year, I’m going to have a fit.
Chipper’s great where he is…he hits into too many DP’s to be in 3rd. Also, it does make the line-up look deeper cause he can get on in front of Heyward and Heyward can knock him in. Also, Minor will improve. He actually pitched much better against St Louis than his line looks. His pitches were generally where McCann wanted them. He just needs to learn where to be careful not to miss at, especially when he pitches inside. Also, McCann was setting up late against St Louis so as not to telegraph location to hitters. I don’t know if they felt St Louis was relaying the location to the hitters or not, but it’s a little more difficult to hit his target if it is setting up late. Fortunately, that problem seems less relevant when Hudson is pitching b/c his pitches run so much and he seems to hit his target by feel (I noticed Huddy doesn’t stay focused on the catcher during his wind up). Fredi is doing okay (IMO), but look to see if we become a little more “streaky” than when Bobby was managing. Bobby usually had many series wins, but swept teams only when the whole team regulars & reserves were playing well. B-Mac looks either hurt or just VERY out of rhythm. If he’s not hurt, he’ll be back to Ol’ Mac, if he’s hurt, then his problems may continue long-term. BTW, Gattis is a BEAST. I’ve been following him since he went to Lynchburg. The Scouts aren’t impressed, but if we lived & died only by scouts, LA Angels would be in first and Puhols would be batting .300. I think Gattis could provide value if he continues to hit in AA.
i remember DOB saying last year that several baseball people around the league saw Fredi Gonzalez as a good manager who had a bad year in 2011. I think he is doing a little bit better, in several areas.
dont forget, this guy won a Manager of the Year award.
Miami will be tougher than we think. Also, with all their struggles Philadelphia is better than we think. Don’t expect Halladay to continue to lose and when they get Cliff Lee back, I expect they will gain more momentum than they do even when they get Utley & Howard back. They will get a charge when they (Utley & Howard) return more due to walks than their bats, but there is less of a gap than appears; that being said, I am ecstatic that they are this far behind and at the bottom of the division now…we’ll need that boost come the “dog days of summer.” National’s pitching still looks very good and the series between them and us will be exciting…but don’t expect any blow outs. Also, Tampa’s pitching is phenomenal. Atlanta has obviously a better line up, but good pitching beats good hitting 9 times out of 10; that’s why they are atop their division against their Offensive Giant counterparts. How long they can go w/o Longoria is a bit in question.
I agree Fredi is doing a better job. This season he seems to merely be making the same kinds of mistakes that all managers (except Joe Maddon) make. Last season, he went beyond the typical mistakes of just managing by dumb conventions.
The Braves’ usual 1-7 hitters are all pretty similar in terms of overall quality. The way each hitter gets there may be different, but the production or potential production is all pretty similar. And even Pastornicky is no slouch at 8th. That’s a huge reason why batting order hasn’t mattered all that much and probably won’t this season.
Bub and Walker, your criticism of the lineup suggests there is a weakness high in the order. i dont think thats the case. i dont think fredi can make a big mistake with this lineup. although i like heyward or chipper hitting 2nd, you could argue that they are both hitting with enough power, that thier skills are better used lower in the lineup where more runners will potentially be on base.
prado is on base-ing better than heyward, and about the same as chipper, but without their power production. so he isnt a bad option hitting 2nd where he can help bourn set the table for the big dawgs.
again, this is not like fredi batting alex gonzalez 2nd last year (which was inexplicable), the argument can be made that he has all the pieces where they belong.
You are right. But We all know Heyward and Chipper will end up having a better obp, ops at the end of the year than Prado. But as long as we are winning, none of it matters. But if we have an extended losing streak, it will.
walker “But We all know Heyward and Chipper will end up having a better obp, ops at the end of the year than Prado.”
youre probably right, but its hardly a given.
“as long as we are winning, none of it matters. But if we have an extended losing streak, it will.”
if we have some sort of extended losing streak, chances are chipper and heyward are not hitting, so moving them up in the lineup might not affect much. no, i think the lineup is fine just like it is, with most every player getting their particular strengths maximized, and alternating lefty, righty.
I see a Tweet over on the sidebar about SI’s power rankings: “@homeboyupstairs Cards jump to 1st in SI power ranking after sweep at home by Braves (who drop to 5th)”
In fairness to SI, they are trying something different this year with their power rankings. It’s based on underlying performance metrics, not just gut feel or even in-depth projections for the rest of the season or anything like that.
So since we’ve still only seen a sample of about a month-and-a-half, the underlying performance of certain teams could be deceiving and cause them to rank higher or lower than their true talent and where their talent will likely take them.
I pretty much think all power rankings are lame because most sites don’t define what they mean by “power rankings.” This early it’s just kind of ridiculous. There is just not enough of a sample to drastically change one’s mind from preseason predictions or projections. Are you weighing the past month-and-a-half more than talent? Are you looking at projections? Are you look at underlying performance? Too much ambiguity to power rankings. At least SI’s power rankings are clear in terms of how they are actually ranking teams.
I agree that there is a mountain of proof/stats about how you should structure your lineup. There are two things that I would counter with:
- Your argument assumes that there are huge differences in the capabilities of the folks in our lineup, which I would argue is not true (of others have mentioned here.) Maybe Heyward has a higher OPS, but I think Prado is more reliable on a day to day basis and is a better situational hitter. (not more clutch necessarily, but more able to produce consistently in a variety of situations).
- secondly, the stats don’t take into effect that we have an “aging” third baseman who is not playing every day (by a long shot), you have a number 7 phenom who is still just as likely to strike out 5 times in a game as he is to hit a game winner. I don’t think moving him to the 2-hole would change any of that. I hate to be a hater, but despite his two clutch hits against the Cards (which don’t happen if he is in the 2 hole, btw), he has looked not so phenomenal as of late.
Let’s be honest – is Fredi all of the sudden Jim Leyland? No. But if we are going to ding Fredi for all the times the players don’t come through in certain situations, we have to give him a little credit when they do come through. You can’t say that the best offense and one of the best records in all of baseball is happening in spite of Fredi.
SI power rankings are very useful because it gives us an idea which teams have a noticeably better or noticeably worse record than their underlying performance, i.e., which teams are likely to turn things around going forward. And wouldn’t you know it, the Phillies are high on the list of teams with a worse record than their underlying performance.
However, I do think you can say, at least to some degree, that the Braves have one of the best teams in spite of Fredi, simply because I don’t think even the best or worst managers can make all that much of a difference.
That said, as I’ve mentioned, I think Fredi has clearly improved and is now merely making the same mistakes as almost all other managers, not those mistakes plus others.
Also, I’m not sure that if Heyward is better than Prado, even if he’s more likely to have some 0-for-5 games (i.e., is more streaky), the Braves wouldn’t still be better off with Heyward higher in the order. The potential for big games probably makes up for the possibility that Heyward is more likely to have some 0-fers.
All that said, I do think there is something to comfort level of players at certain spots and, I think more importantly, mixing up right-handed and left-handed hitters.
I think this is very different from last season when Schafer led off quite a few times and Alex Gonzalez and Nate McLouth hit second. Even if the lineup is not perfectly optimal, we are not seeing the signs that Fredi merely values speed or “veteran presence” or something at the top of the order, like we saw last season. Maybe that has more to do with the front office drilling it in to Fredi. But if that’s the case, give Fredi credit for listening and getting out of the way of himself.
Lets be clear. The Braves are not playing well because of Fredi Gonzalez. They are playing well because they are talented. I have not watched one game this year where Fredi made a game winning decision. I have seen him make plenty of losing decisions.
Walker (in the spirit of healthy debate), isn’t every decision (game winning or game losing) a Fredi decision? Again, I am not advocating that he is a Hall of Famer or anything, but until I get those naked pictures back from him, I feel like I should stick up for him just a little. I also think that a lot of us are carrying the “Fredi is an Idiot” Hammer and everything is starting to look like a nail.
Just having talent does not ensure playing well. Someone has to organize and inspire.
I do think they’re playing well in spite of Fredi Gonzalez. Absolutely. But I also thought Prado was a utility player, Chipper had hit his last homerun, and Venters would be in Dr. Andrews’ office by now. But my conviction is what it is, for better or worse. I think Fredi’s an awful manager and however well the Braves play, they’d be a bit (not much) better with a decent manager.
Good show, guys. It’s hard for me to get past the whole epic collapse thing when it comes to Fredi. If he gets the blame for that then I will give him credit for the way the team is playing. I like his mindset of focusing on this season and not worrying about last year. I think that’s working for everyone on the Braves right now.
However, more credit has to go to Larry Walker and Scott Fletcher and whoever made the decision to add video scouting. The team has an approach at the plate, and it’s working/awesome.
I think credit has to go to the organization for axing LP even though Fredi wanted the whole gang back for a reunion tour in 2012. Remember when Fredi said everyone would be back (coaching staff) right after last season? Good call, Fredi.
lol, Leah, not sure if you’re being serious, but I’m wrong so often it isn’t funny. For instance, Bailey just proved Dusty to be okay, I guess. And even if Durbin ALMOST got knocked to Kingdom Come … he didn’t. Quite.
“Just having talent does not ensure playing well. Someone has to organize and inspire.”
ham @21, sorry I’m late to the party in continuing the Fredi discussion from earlier.
I don’t think it’s a matter of whether or not Fredi organizes and inspires (and makes good tactical moves). It’s a matter of how much better Fredi does these things compared to other managers. I think most managers who reach the majors and have any kind of career there are good at organizing and inspiring and are decent tactically, up to a certain level.
I believe Fredi was worse than most managers last season. This season, while I don’t think he’s really any better than the vast majority of big league managers, I don’t think he’s any worse either.
Now, instead of being a manager that probably cost his team relative to the typical manager, I think he’s basically just another manager. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s nice when you’re manager isn’t a story and he just kind of fades into the background as another piece of the team.
Now tactically, I honestly don’t think there are very many managers who set themselves apart. Most managers manage based on backassward conventions (managing to the save rule, wasting the number two spot in the order on a weak contact hitter and things of that sort). Some are worse than others (Jim Tracy comes to mind) while some are better (Joe Maddon is the most obvious progressive-minded manager). But most are going to stick to the convictions and traditions that aren’t going to set them apart. I think Fredi is in this class this year, while he was more in the Jim Tracy class last year.
Curt, I didn’t think they looked bad. They went deep into counts for the most part. Uggla had a similar ten-pitch at bat to Heyward’s game-winner, just didn’t end the same. Delgado looked pretty good. The Uggla/Pastornicky mix-up was goofy, but I thought they played a good game for the most part and just lost it. Venters’ bad night was most of the story.
“The idea of Fredi Gonzalez organizing and inspiring is hilarious.”
I really do hate to be a Fredi proponent, but does no credit go to him for the can do attitude and heads held high we see in the club this year after the historic collapse? I get that this comparison is kind of cheating, but look at what Boston’s doing after their epic collapse. Very different results so far between the two teams.
Fredi does share Bobby Cox’s temperament which is a far cry from Bobby Valentine. However, coming into the season I knew the Redsox were not as talented as the Rays and Yankees. The Blue Jays are also better. They had no LF or SS coming into the season and their rotation was iffy. I guess my point is that the Red Sox aren’t as good as the Braves.
I will give Fredi credit for letting his team play a little more this year and not injecting his stupidity as much. I’m sorry I just don’t like the guy. Shoot me.
I credit Fredi for improving. He hasn’t inserted crap at the top of the order, no bases-loaded squeeze attempts, etc.
I’m not sure how much better he is at organizing and inspiring than other managers. I would guess most guys even considered for major league jobs are pretty good at organizing and can be fairly inspirational.
One caveat to my last post. I suspect Bobby Cox stood out as a manager who did better than most when it came to inspiring. Has there ever been a manager in baseball who gave off more of an air to the players of “we’re in this together”? The man wore metal spikes even when he got up there in age, was constantly cheering his players on and of course wasn’t afraid to get tossed if his players felt they had been wronged.
I don’t know if Fredi will ever be that kind of guy. But I think tactically he looks to be moving closer to Bobby than he was last season, which is not a bad thing.
Bobby was one of the greatest. He is a example of a manager making the difference in his team especially when we made the playoffs in 2010. We won the Wild Card by 1 game.When he made that decision to bat Prado and Heyward at the top, we took off. Managing a team that won 14 straight division titles with so many moving parts is a amazing accomplishment. Like I always said, If Lonnie Smith was actually paying attention to the game he would have had 2 WS championships.
Great show once again, guys. I know that last night’s game sucked, but all Monday games have sucked this season.
As I was listening to the show yesterday afternoon, I came up with my own “good sign” for the week — actually, it’s for the season. It’s the health of this team. The team that’s on the field now is the same team that was on the field on Opening Day, with the good exception of Chipper’s presence in the lineup now.
Look around our division, and that’s something the other teams are lacking. Phillies and Washington are beat up, and now the Dodgers are without Kemp for a while. Do we think that this team would be where it is if we lost one or more of McCann (like Nats’ Ramos), Heyward (Werth), Kimbrel (Storen), Freeman (like Phils’ Howard) or Uggla (Utley)? I’m glad that we don’t have to face that — current, hopefully non-serious eye problems with Freeman notwithstanding.
And on this note: I think the games over the next 2-3 months are especially important, given that the other legit teams in our division are hurt. I’d much rather have a comfortable lead when those injured players come back than have their returns be the added boost that gets them over the hump.
132, thanks. It really is amazing how well they’re doing against dominant pitching. Of course, there have been pitchers who have done the opposite (Capuano, Bedard, Samarjdiza, etc), but who wants to look at THAT list?!?!?
And in my original post, I obviously meant Cueto, not Cueyo.
#141, great question. Jair Francoise Jurrjens pitches for the G Braves tonight and Minor for The Braves. In 3 games at AAA JJ is 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA, but he’s still giving up too many hits. He gave up 8 hits to the Toledo Mudhens in his last start.
I would think Medlen stays in the ‘pen. He’s been arguably our most consistent reliever.
Don’t understand giving star players as many days off as Fredi likes, but whatever. It’s not like a day off from an 8 hour job. It’s 3 hours, in which a player has to run 90 feet from 3 to 10 times, and run and catch a half dozen fly balls or grounders. Plus warm ups, etc.
See, I was just getting myself psyched up to believe the combination of good talent on the Braves team and Fredi’s calming down of his COMPLETELY STUPID $%&*^ CHOICES OF $*&@# BASEBALL $*&&+@! INCOMPETENT %$@CLOWN FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDDDDDGGGGGING #@%$ MANAGERIAL $#@%BUTT $#%MORONIDIOCY #@$% … were too much to really cost the team any games. What was I thinking? He’s going to cost us games. I guess I can just hope it’s not too many games. Like, you know, last year.
Sigh, what hurts about a tragedy is always what the possibilities were without the fatal flaw.
*pokes out both eyes with two Heyward bobbleheads*
Says you. My money is on Pasto going 0 for 3 before being ejected for punching his own manager in the face and screaming “CUZ I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH PROBLEMS ALREADY LOBBING THE BALL TO THE GHOST MAN ON SECOND, NOW I GOTTA LEAD OFF, MR. MAYBE-SIMMONS-SHOULD-START!!!”
#196, hard debate between two freak athletes. I give the edge to Stanton because he has more power and is more durable. Plus, Stanton’s improved a lot at the plate since he’s been in the league, no reason to think he won’t continue his improvement. He’s a better defensive outfielder than Heyward, too. I don’t think you could go wrong with either, but I would take Freddie over both.
Nate @198, I think Heyward will end up being the more complete hitter while Stanton will clearly have the power edge, no doubt about it. Also, Heyward looks like the more complete player.
It’s tough to go with Freddie. I don’t think he’ll have the offensive value of either Heyward or Stanton plus the whole positional scarcity thing. Firstbasemen have to hit a ton to be one of the top players. But, not to knock the guy. He’s going to be plenty valuable and steady for a long time.
#214, 203, it seems to me that Jason has the most growing to do at the plate, and if they move him to CF next year, there’s another adjustment he has to make. I think you guys are right that he has a high ceiling, but I really don’t see how it’s that much higher than Freddie’s or Giancarlo Stanton. Both of those guys have made faster adjustments to MLB than Heyward, imo. Again, this is just my opinion. All 3 are really good, young players, I just don’t see the big difference you guys see is all. I would have never said this a year ago, but I don’t think you can ignore what Freeman is doing and what Jason did last year.
Shaun, what’s your opinion on resigning Bourn? Is he worth what he will cost?
Thanks for the response on the Heyward/Freeman stuff. I’m not a big stats guy, so I like hearing that point of view on baseball. I actually looked into some of Heyward’s defensive stuff last night and was surprised at how great of an outfielder he is statistically. Do any of the defensive stats take into account how many throwing errors Freeman saves with his glove?
One last thing on Freddie, I think we’ll see an increase in his power numbers as he gets stronger. I read somewhere that he just started lifting this past offseason. He said he started out benching 160, which is kind of pathetic for a guy his size, but was up in the 260s after Winter.
Nate @219, I’m honestly not that big a stats guy either, believe it or not. I’m more of an evidence guy, if that makes sense. Stats are just the best place to get the evidence in baseball because it’s impossible to watch every play of every player, and you need that for comparison. Even if you watch every play of every player on your favorite team, it still doesn’t give you enough info because you aren’t comparing them to other players and getting a sense of how good he is relative to the competition.
That’s not to say watching isn’t extremely important. Obviously you can’t get a sense of a guy’s tools just from stats.
I don’t know that any stats do a great job measuring how good Freeman is at receiving throws. I read something, I believe on FanGraphs, before Freeman came to the majors that the best scooping firstbasemen do not save a huge number of runs relative to the worst. I think Freeman is good at it, no doubt, but I’m not sure that the impact is significant relative to other firstbasemen. I think most guys capable of playing a solid firstbase in the majors do a pretty good job receiving throws. Some are no doubt better than others but I’m just not sure it’s possible to make a huge impact in that way.
I think Freddie’s range is probably mediocre, maybe worse. But I don’t think he’s a bad firstbaseman. And he’s going to have offensive value, even for a firstbaseman.
Geez, sounds like I’m bashing Freeman but that’s not my intention. Just trying to give as honest assessment as I can based on the info I’m seeing. He’s a fine player. I just think Heyward has all the tools and skills to be a superstar or something close to it. The future is bright with those two in the lineup.
I think Freddie will gain more power, as you say. And his hit tool is just fine. It looks like he may struggle with plate discipline, but probably not enough to make him less than a very good player. I think that is just what will push Heyward over him as both players develop.
Oh, and I think what we’re seeing now is Bourn’s upside offensively. I can’t see him being much better than this at any point during his next contract. He may be worth a significant offer because I still think he can be solid with the bat for a few more years and he’ll be a very good defender and baserunner for a while longer. It seems people are finally starting to take notice that he’s something close to an elite defensive player. He’s not Andruw in his prime but he’s the best we’ve seen since Andruw.
It will probably depend on the Braves’ other options and whether Bourn is wanting to really break the bank. I could see he and the Braves meeting halfway or I could see some team going crazy and offering him a huge deal.
I think I gotcha now. I definitely don’t really watch anyone but the Braves and who they are playing that game. When I lived in TB I used to watch the Rays a lot because they’re an easy bunch to root for, but I don’t really see many other teams play that frequently. Plus with 1B, most of the best players are in the AL now, anyway, so we Braves fans don’t really get to see them play much. Freddie’s offensive game reminds me a lot of Evan Longoria. Both guys could hit .300, but they’re more likely to hit in the .280 range with high 20s low 30s in HR, and between 80-100 RBI. Not exactly the same type of offensive player as a Fielder, Howard, Adrien Gonzalez, or even Pujols when he is hitting. So, Freddie’s not really an elite player at his own position.
As far as Jason goes, my hope is that one day it just starts clicking and we see Matt Kemp like production. He definitely has the tools to play at that level. Freddie doesn’t really have the tools to reach the level of the elite 1B. He can be very good, like you said, but probably never elite level talent at that position.
I hope we resign Bourn. When we traded for him it felt like we had finally found the missing piece to our offense. Then Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher made it all work.
@227 Pretty good. Walked a couple, struck out one, two 1-3 outs so fielded well. Thanks for asking! Can see video of strikeout on my wall since, ya know, we’re friends and all. He almost took the kids head off. I guess he was crowding the plate a little.
I was gone all day and missed today’s game, but I just watched replays of where Pena got hit by the ball. I think that we got lucky, but I also think that, if it didn’t hit him, Uggla would’ve been close enough to have gotten it and thrown him out.
Great series, and a good week all around — 4-3, not bad. I’ll take that any week.