Cincinnati 3, Atlanta 2 – MLB – MLB RECAP

Bleah. The Braves took a 2-0 lead in the third Marcus Giles’ homer, then apparently decided that was enough and didn’t get another hit until Andruw had an infield single with two out in the ninth. Meanwhile, the desiccated corpse of Barry Larkin had a two-run single for the Reds in the fifth (after they scored a run in the fourth) to give them the lead, and eventually the win.

John Thomson started out looking like he was going to repeat his last start, cruising through the third. But his control wasn’t quite as sharp, and he wasn’t getting the strikeouts he did last time either. Still, it was good enough to keep the Braves in the game.

JD Drew did return to the lineup, walking twice. Rafael Furcal had a single and scored in front of Marcus’ homer… Batting averages of tonight’s Braves starting lineup after the game: .158, .385, .172, .245, .176, .111, .262, .196, .000. So what I guess I’m saying is they missed Chipper.

30 thoughts on “Cincinnati 3, Atlanta 2”

  1. Yucky. Thomson looked pretty good, I thought. So it goes; he was basically one pitch to Larkin, one play from winning the game — or if Andruw hadn’t slid on the grass, and picked up and threw home, maybe that second run doesn’t score.

    But that was an “anemic offense”. Someone alert Harold Reynolds.

  2. Is anybody else tiring of Derosa at third? He is hitting around .200 and doesn’t play particularly good defense, as evidenced by the crucial bobble that put the winning run on second. I know it is early, but would Betemit be that much of a drop off? At least the team would know if he can play at the major league level or not. With Marte coming soon, it might be Betemit’s best chance.

  3. I like DeRosa, but I wish we had some more pop at that position. Trying Betemit is not a bad idea, but I say shop around. I think we could get Jeff Cirilo. Maybe Morgan Ensberg, but I doubt it.

  4. I like Derosa as a utility guy, just not as an everyday 3rd baseman. I agree with you as far as needing more pop as well, and I like the Cirillo idea since they might be able to get him cheap.

  5. Right now, Betemit can’t even play at a high minor league level. Jeff Cirilo? Now I’m just going to be sick.

    Certainly, DeRosa isn’t the best defense third baseman in the league — and it doesn’t help that Castilla probably was last year — but he deserves every chance to become a regular position player. The Braves’ announcing team has made numerous references to the fact that DeRosa is still tense, like he is still trying to win a spot on the roster; something I feel is left over from his missed opportunity last year and the fact that Marte is climbing the ladder fast.

    I think he gets until the All Star break, at least, before changes are considered.

  6. I think you need to wait to see wait Marte does. Bobby and company have a history of moving A+ prospects rapidly to the major leagues (Andruw, Furcal, Chipper-though the knee slowed him down) and Marte is definitely an A+ prospect. He may well be the third baseman by July.

  7. As much as I want DeRosa to succeed and its early and all of that, he aint a major league 3rd baseman. What about Branyan? Betemit isn’t even any good at AAA. Cirillo is hurt and if he plays he sucks and has a high salary. Marte is going to have to have an astounding year at Greenville to be called up. Stay tuned he could either be Andruw or George Lombard.

  8. I don’t get why we don’t put Chipper back at 3rd (when he comes off the almost-DL) and shop for a leftfielder with some pop, which is a much easier commodity to find than a 3rd baseman.

    It would also save some wear and tear on that hamstring.

  9. I totally agree Angus. Chipper is a bit of a defensive liability in left, plus I have a feeling that his hamstring may linger all season, especially if he will aggravate it by chasing down fly balls. He isn’t any worse at third than Derosa and the outfielder would be much easier to get. Now AOL just has to be convinced to pay for an outfielder.

  10. Not when IF Andy Marte is ready. Chickens before eggs are hatched. The Braves have an outstanding record of having their great prospects make the bigs, but they also have had some busts in the near past. A lot of what is being written about Andy was written about Wilson Betetemit. Chipper to 3rd makes sense. Thats why it won’t happen. If Marte becomes the player he is projected to be then Chipper to 1st looks good since from what I’ve seen Adam LaRoche looks a little overmatched.

  11. I’ve never really understood why people expected any meaningful power from DeRosa at 3B this year – he has only 14 HR in 666 major league AB and is 29 years old. He’s clearly a decent utility player, and is a better hitter than his current numbers, but should not be a starting 3B for a team with aspirations of contention.

    I’m almost wondering – if DeRosa can’t substantially outhit Jesse Garcia – and assuming there’s no way chipper returns to 3B – then should they play Garcia at SS and Furcal at 3B just to get a defensive improvement until they can trade for someone?

    As for Jeff cirillo – ugh. He now has a string of 4 years with an OPS+ below league average.

  12. Or why not just keep Furcal at SS and put Garcia at 3B? What would be the advantage of having Fukey at 3B other than he was recruited to play that position last winter for a team that was already in the playoffs?

    There seems to be a lot of emphasis on Derosa’s struggles. If he was hitting it would all be a moot point. The fact is, right now no one besides Giles is hitting! I hope that just means that everyone is about to get hot at once, but they may have to toil away for a while as they try to find that spark that gets everybody hitting.

    Here’s a thought: bring back McGriff! I’m sure he’d love a chance to crack 500 in a Braves uniform. At worst LaRoche has tons of options left. We can send him down for experience while the McGriff experiment hashes itself out. I’m just kidding, of course. But it makes great fodder for the boards. Way too early though for those kinds of drastic measures.

  13. I don’t expect home runs from DeRosa. I’d be thrilled if he had an OBP of .360 and hit a lot of doubles, but nothing in his resume suggests he can do it. The thing about Chipper is that a left fielder that can hit is more easily acquired than an infielder that can hit. But Boyd is correct. There hasn’t been enough season to determine if anything drastic needs to be done.

  14. I think Jack Cust would be an interesting gamble. But there is virtually no chance he plays for the Braves. Cox and Shuerholz have shown a marked rejection of the Three True Outcomes type player. Strikeouts are anathema to the Braves Brass idea of a good hitter. A guy who makes consistent contact is more valuable, to them, than one who makes less frequent contact, but walks alot and hits for power. Russ Branyan is a more athletic – and more proven – version of Cust. And he doesn’t get a sniff in ATL.

  15. Cust was so available that he was designated for assignment, passed through waivers, and nobody claimed him. Not even the A’s, Blue Jays, or Dodgers. Plus I don’t see how he would help the Braves. Like Dan says, they already have Branyan, who can do pretty much everything Cust can and also stay upright.

  16. Anyone know a good source for up-to-date 2004 minor league stats? I’d like to see how Betemit is doing. The Baseball Cube has his stats through 2003. He’s struggled since being promoted to AAA, but I thought I’d heard that he picked it up quite a bit in the second half of last year after a nagging injury healed. I’d like to see if he has built on that. Thanks in advance.

  17. Scoring runs will be a problem for the Braves all season.
    If you look at the Braves lineup it would make sense to me to drop Giles into the 3 slot and move Derosa (or Laroche) into the 2 spot. Giles has hit with more power than most in the lineup. With the others batting second Cox could hit and run with Furcal on base. Let Giles swing with some people in scoring position.

  18. Move DeRosa into the #2 hole! Great googlie moodlie Mike, do you want to put an anvil in Furcal’s back pocket too? Make Andruw play centerfield wearing shower flipflops? Have Smoltz pitch lefthanded?

    By moving a guy from 8th to 2nd in the order, you give him ~ 100 more ABs. Those ABs come from Chipper, Andruw, Giles, etc. all of whom are better players.

    Then add to it putting a man at the #2 hole who has his strengths, but getting on base just isn’t one of them … well lets just say its not the optimal strategy. The idea of a DeRosa-like player batting second is that the leadoff man will reach, steal second, be moved over by hitting behind him, and then scored on a sac fly. First of all, the leadoff man actually leads off an inning less often than he comes up with outs already. Secondly, Furcal might steal 40 bases, giving an opportunity to advance the runner to 3rd about 1 time per 4 games. Thirdly, Furcal will even reach 1st ~36 to 38 percent of the time; the majority of time, the #2 hitter needs to just get on in front of the boppers.

    Ugh. Assuming we just ride along waiting for Godot and/or Marte, then just stick Derosa as far down the lineup as possible and be willing to get Branyan or Hessman some playing time and hope to catch lightning in a bottle. If we aren’t keying on Marte, then, by golly, we’ve got to fill that 3B hole, because DeRosa, while a personal favorite player, just isn’t championship caliber.

  19. Or why not just keep Furcal at SS and put Garcia at 3B? What would be the advantage of having Fukey at 3B other than he was recruited to play that position last winter for a team that was already in the playoffs?

    Well, it’s looked to my eye that Garcia is a better defensive SS than Furcal.

    There seems to be a lot of emphasis on Derosa’s struggles. If he was hitting it would all be a moot point. The fact is, right now no one besides Giles is hitting

    True, but most of those not hitting have some track record of success in the majors. DeRosa’s is a track record that’s hard to read – a steady decline in OBP over a three year span from .350 to .339 to .316; part of this highlights that a fair bit of his OBP has been a function of often batting 8th – 9 of his 42 career BB have been intentional; that leaves 33 unintentional BB in the 721 remaining PA; that’s not so different from the noted Garcia rate of 5 in 130 MLB PA.

    If DeRosa had the glove, then it’d be okay; but he doesn’t have much of a 3B glove.

    But all that said, I think even if Garcia in the lineup is a huge step up in defense, he’ll suck at the plate. So you either have mediocre bat/weak glove with DeRo, or good glove/bad bat with garcia. Probably little difference overall.

  20. However, putting the first base platoon in the 2-spot has some merit. Julio gets on base okay but doesn’t have much power. LaRoche is supposed to be a Mark Grace-type hitter, though he doesn’t look it so far.

  21. His glove is one of the reasons I like Cirillo. Also, he was consistently superb while in the National League. But the main reason is that I couldn’t think of any other 3rd basemen that we could acquire for a reasonable price. If anyone else thinks of a better idea please share it. We definitely need to improve at 3rd.

  22. I agree that Jesse Garcia has been rock solid at SS as he’s filled in, but I don’t think he has the range that Furcal demonstrates. Furcal will naturally make more errors than most shortstops because he gets to more balls than most shortstops. Overall I think he plugs up the hole on the left side better than Garcia.

    I also think that Derosa’s hitting is symptomatic of being in a punchless offense. We saw this happen in ’93 when the bats just went silent in the first half and everyone in the lineup pressed to try and make up for it. We really need to see more out of J.D. and Furcal at the plate before we can criticize the new regulars

    I joked about Fred McGriff, but it often just takes a clutch hit or two in key situations to make everyone feel that they can hit. Or we could just set the pressbox on fire and see if that helps.

  23. But the main reason is that I couldn’t think of any other 3rd basemen that we could acquire for a reasonable price. If anyone else thinks of a better idea please share it. We definitely need to improve at 3rd.

    I liked the Ensberg idea, because he’s still cheap and seems unappreciated by Jimy Williams, but the Astros aren’t in position to deal frontline talent.

    Scanning the rosters, I looked for 3Bs who are potentially obtainable and potentially startable. Of course, my own biases come into play (e.g. I just moved from Seattle, and if I never see Cirillo’s pouting mug again it will be too soon), but here is one man’s list:

    Name Age Career AB OPS
    Melvin Mora 32 1832 764
    Carlos Guillen 28 1712 722
    Vinny Castilla 36 5517 810
    Keith Ginter 28 471 797
    Wes Helms 28 963 742
    Shea Hillenbrand 28 1658 753

    Helms and Castilla would be retreads–not that this disqualifies them, but it’s just unlikely that the Braves would reacquire them. Mora’s availability is probably dependent on team performance, as is Hillenbrand’s.

    Which leaves Carlos Guillen and Keith Ginter. Guillen is a starter for what should become a bad team. You might think his stats are depressed by Safeco, but his home/road OPS is identical. I think he’d be a pleasure to watch defensively, and is probably as close to equal offensively as you can get to DeRosa.

    To me, Ginter is the obvious prize. He’s old to be a prospect, but hasn’t been given a full shot. He’s hit well in the chances he’s had, and the Brewers already have Helms to play third. Just an idea, but maybe the Brewers would jump at Ginter-for-Betemit.

  24. FWIW, Ginter hit his 3rd homer today, signed a 2 year extension this offseason for decent bucks, and is for all intents and purposes sticking around the Brew Crew until their rooks displace him in a season or two.

    I think it’s unfair to compare Marte and Betemit. Marte has had two consecutive seasons of high power (especially park-adjusted last year) and high OBP as one of the younger players at his level. Betemit had one half season of .355 BA which, though extremely young for his level, did not include much power or plate discipline. Marte has a much better track record to this point than Wilson did two years ago, despite Wilson’s success at AA.

  25. With DeRo you get what you pay for. He makes 725K this year. The median salary for MLB 3Bs who played at least 10 games last year was 750K. His ZR is slightly below average but within a SD. His offense is about average as well. That sounds about right. Given the current roster, DeRo is going to be the guy on third. Right now, he is performing at the level the Braves expected him to.

  26. Too bad they felt the need to unload Wes Helms so they could play Vinny. Had they kept Wes, they’d have saved the Vinny money the last two years and have a passable (certainly not _good_) 3B today.

  27. Helms’s carrer OPS is about 20 points higher and his 2003 ZR was about .05 than DeRo, so he is slighty better. However, Helms is making $2.25 million versus DeRo’s $725K, so he is much more expensive.

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