COLORADO 6, ATLANTA 5

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Braves at Rockies

If you were on a boat in the middle of the ocean, and Danny Kolb and Raul Mondesi were drowning, and you could only save one of them, would you?

The Braves had rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth inning to take a 5-4 lead after a valiant outing by John Smoltz. So, one run lead, ninth inning = save situation = “Bring in the clown closer!” Kolb got the first man he faced, but then homer (to .111-hitting Dustan Mohr), single, single, intentional walk (to Helton) and Chris Reitsma was brought on to try to get out of it. He actually got a strikeout on pinch-hitter Preston Wilson, but Todd Greene singled up the middle to win it. You can’t blame Reitsma — that’s an impossible situation in this park. It’s all on Kolb, the Closer. All that can be said in his favor is that he didn’t walk anyone unintentionally and didn’t throw any wild pitches. Such a standard. I think this has to be the last straw and that Reitsma will get the next save opportunity.

As I said, John Smoltz was valiant, holding the Rockies to two runs through the first seven innings despite not having his best fastball. Bobby probably tried to get a little too much out of him, and should have lifted him after giving up a one-out double to Helton when nearing 100 pitches. He didn’t, and two hits later it was 4-2. Yes, the bullpen was worked hard in the prior two games, but you have tomorrow off and a new callup in Brooks. To John’s credit, he got out of the inning.

Ryan Langerhans had two more homers, giving him four in the past four games. His on-base is still only .294 as he isn’t walking at all — none this month so far — but he’s slugging .625. As for Mondesi, he was 0-2 with two intentional walks, walks issued I think only because of Smoltz’s back problem because John’s obviously a better hitter if healthy. His line for the season is an incredible .200/.252/.355. He hasn’t homered since April 30 or had a multi-hit game since April 24. It is obvious to me, anyway, that Bobby thinks that Langerhans is a better hitter. If not, then why hit Langerhans ahead of Mondesi?

I mentioned to Alex on the phone earlier that I don’t think keeping Mondesi in the lineup is Bobby’s call. I think that he knows that Mondesi is a drag on the lineup but that he has to play him as long as he’s on the roster. The onus here isn’t on the manager but the GM, who has to make the decision to get rid of Mondesi, and soon. When Jordan comes back (not that Jordan has been that great but at least his OBP is over .300) the Braves need to pull the trigger, even if Esix Snead or somebody like that becomes the fourth outfielder. Mondesi is too great of a cancer if he’s not playing.

Furcal and Giles were both 1-5 but had hits in the ninth-inning rally, Marcus doubling home Rafael to tie the game. Julio was the only Brave other than Langerhans with multiple hits, singling twice and driving home Marcus to take the ninth inning lead. Andruw homered to tie the game in the fourth; the Andruwometer reads .287 after briefly going over .290.

The Marlins are about a 10:1 favorite tonight against the Astros with Dontrelle Willis pitching. A win would bring them back to half a game out. The Braves are at the Dodgers for three starting Friday, all games on TBS. Hopefully I can stay up for all of Friday’s game. Horacio is listed as the starter for the first game, meaning he won’t be skipped this time.

34 thoughts on “COLORADO 6, ATLANTA 5”

  1. If only we could limit KolBB’s duties to knocking over Gatorade coolers. He seems to know exactly how to do that. Seriously, what can actually be done about him? Do we eat his contract? It’s hard to imagine anyone would trade a batboy for him.

  2. You know, before the season started, the guys at BTF were (obviously) pretty down on the Mondesi signing, saying the Braves overpaid for a guy that was only going to be replacement level. Boy do I wish now that he was replacement level.

  3. You know, before the season started, the guys at BTF were (obviously) pretty down on the Mondesi signing

    So were several of us here. Of course that got me labeled a bad fan of the team, but so be it.

    Anyway, repeating old arguments or claiming moral victory doesn’t accomplish anything. So moving forward, what do we do? Are there AAAA players who could be had to create an effective platoon? A pending FA that could be had from a KC or TB that could be had on a one year rental? Should we continue to bleed ABs while giving Marte / Francouer a chance to develop for a couple of months?

  4. Well, at least the Braves have been scoring runs with two outs for the past few games; that’s certainly encouraging.

    The whole Damn KolBB situaton is depressing. He’s not fooling anyone out there.

    Langerhans has earned a starting role with his defense and his offense, though don’t be surprised if pitchers around the NL catch on to him in a hurry and shut him down for a while like they did Charles Thomas last year.

  5. Well done article.

    I agree, the onus of movement to rectify the outfield situation rests with our GM. Puzzled. Kelly Johnson’s consistent pace at Richmond screams for reward!

    Vaya Los Bravos

  6. BTF?
    I don’t think we should try to acquire a new outfielder yet. We should try the obvious in house solution. I sure would try Johnson first before doing a trade. Plus I’m not so sure that teams are willing to part with pending free agents or arbs this early in the season.

    I’m not sure if I totally agree with the assumption that Bobby is playing Mondesi because Schuerholz told him too. Jordan is dinged up (when is he not?). But on the other hand the assumption does have some merit. Bobby has to play him until he proves to be too much of a liability. The 1 million dollar question (literally) is how long is proof enough.

    God, KolBB is worse than even my most pessimistic assumptions. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a medical examination and is ‘disabled’ soon with a ‘sore labrum’ or something mysterious.

  7. Well, Johnny, KolBB is healthy, but he isn’t fooling anyone…can we trade KolBB back to the Brewers for Turnbow and said we made a spelling mistake on the player we wanted a few months ago?! Or we said KolBB is a damage goods and get Capellan back?! I mean, if KolBB can only throw fastballs, Capellan can throw harder than him for sure.

  8. Speaking of Turnbow, Mike Maddux is one hack of a pitching coach…how on earth was he able to make KolBB an all-star pitcher? And he turns Sheets career around, now they have Turnbow coming out of nowhere saving games for them…geez…

  9. I checked ESPN’s scouting service on Kolbb today and it says he throws a four-seam, slider, and splitter. I’ve seen Kolbb pitch approximately three times on tv and each time I can only recall the four-seamer with little control. It comes in around the 92-96 range and he seems to have no idea where it’s going, ie overthrowing. can anyone confirm or deny these observations?

    putting on my sabermetricians hat I only have these two things to say.

    1. take a walk strangerhans so that all this lovely power doesn’t disappear when pitchers figure you out

    and

    2. k**lbb sucks.

  10. Thanks Spike for the site, good to have another baseball site to read regularly.

    awb, I read the same thing too, that’s why I didn’t think it was a bad trade back then. If I know the guy can only throw fastballs, I would have gone crazy back then instead of now. I have watched KolBB pitched more than five times, and he has shown me fastballs and nothing else. Please let me know if anyone of you has seen otherwise…

  11. Call me crazy, but I think Alex Sanchez wouldn’t be that bad. Yeah, yeah, he got caught on ‘roids, but so did James Jurries and we were high on before that. The guy is hitting .296/.342/.451 which isn’t too bad for a corner outfielder. He is playing over his .693 career OPS, but he is only 28. If they could teach him to a hustle a little and to not drop routine fly balls, he could be decent. Besides, Tampa Bay already has Huff, Crawford, Baldelli(when he gets healthy), our old friend Damon Hollins, and Joey Gathright in their outfield, so Sanchez is pretty expendable for them. How bad could he be compared to Mondesi and Jordan?

  12. As I’ve said before, I think he’s hurt. And a combination of lack of control and not throwing a slider or a splitter… That screams “elbow”. Kolb’s a Tommy John survivor and maybe the injury is coming back.

  13. I’d rather have that Huff guy if it’s true they are going to shop him for salary reasons. He’d cost more in talent, but generally, you get what you pay for. We’d almost certainly have to give up a top pitching prospect to pull it off though.

  14. Say – anybody have the url for that “Trade Winds” website that posted all the daily rumors? Tried googling it but no luck.

  15. Ack. Why Alex Sanchez over Kelly Johnson? Kelly Johnson is free – the only cost to using him is freeing up a spot on the 25 man (Waive Mondesi? Nooo! Just kidding)

    Seriously, though. Johnson is hitting .300 with power and an amazing 25:17 BB/K last I checked. He has got to be our next option.

  16. Bet the Brewers wished they had Kolb back. Just 6 out of 12 saves for Milwaukee. Atlanta is 10 out of 12. BTW K Johnson 2 hits one HR tonight. Hitting .328 with 7 HRs. A good sign to me is 25 BBs and 14 Ks

  17. Mac, your point is a great one. If that’s the case, I guess Bobby is using the first two months to find out if Kolb can get by with just his sinking or cut fastballs.

  18. spike, knowing Chuck LaMar, they will ask for Davies/Marte/Francoeur/McCann for Huff…no way that will happen…those four guys are the key to keep the payroll down in the future of the Braves.

  19. I suppose he might be hurt, but it’s not reflected in his velocity, which you would think would be the case. I have to say I haven’t seen his last several appearances — I turn the TV off whenever he comes in.

    But it seems to me that he’s not throwing enough splitters and sliders. All I see is those high fastballs that he can’t throw for strikes. His GB/FB ratio is way down from past years, and I remember reading that Mike Maddux had him throwing more splitters when he was having success.

    It’s possible that someone, either Kolb or Mazzone, has decided that he was unlikely to be successful with the low K rate he posted last year, and so now he’s throwing more heaters and trying to miss bats, instead of relying on hitters beating the ball into the ground. I really have no idea, this is just a guess. Far be it for me to suggest that Mazzone is actually giving someone bad advice. Still, something ain’t working. Maybe he just sucks. The simplest explanation is often the best one….

  20. When Smoltz was trying to pitch through his arm problems before he was converted to the pen, his velocity was okay, but he couldn’t throw his slider or forkball. And loss of control is often associated with elbow problems.

    If you want more strikeouts, you’d throw more splitters, not fewer.

  21. Kolb is a head case. Poor Langerhans had to run down fly balls, hit homers, run bases and then he comes to the dug out after helping in the come back and there is no water! Damn Kolb had not only blown the game langerhands worked hard to try to win, he also dumped all the water. If I had to save either Klober or Mondy, it has to be Mondy. He has a better arm.

  22. If you want more strikeouts, you’d throw more splitters, not fewer.

    Maybe, maybe not. After all, it’s not that crappy fastball that’s gotten all those groundballs for Kolb in the past. If you throw it off your fastball with 2 strikes, then yeah, it’s a strikeout pitch. But if the hitter knows it’s coming, he can probably get the bat on it. Look at Sutter:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/s/suttebr01.shtml

    You can make the case that, after his first few seasons, everyone knew the splitter was coming and had adjusted to it, thus lowering his K rate. But you can tell from the results that it was still a damned effective pitch. Until, of course, he arrived here with a ragged out arm….

  23. People are taking this out of perspective. Yes, the Braves have significant problems at the corner outfield spots and at closer, which we knew going into the season. But they are in first place and the fact is every team has some bad losses every year. Focusing on individual games is pointless in baseball because the season is so long. Obviously, if they lose the division by a game or two, everyone will focus on games like this, but every team can do that.

    That’s not to say there aren’t problems that need to be addressed. But there seems to be an assumption that Cox and Schuerholz are so wedded to Kolb and Mondesi/Jordan that they would let the season go down the drain rather than replacing. I don’t think there is any evidence that that’s going to happen. I think Langerhans will start getting more playing time (although given Mondesi’s history, it had probably better be from Jordan b/c I doubt Raul would be a happy camper on the bench). I think the logical step with respect to closer if Kolb continues to struggle is that they will move Reitsma into the closer role. But there’s not a whole hell of a lot they can do given the budget constraints and the fact that people don’t go to see the games in Atlanta–this isn’t the Yankees. I don’t think Cox and Schuerholz are above criticism–I have certainly criticized them myself–but they will make the moves necessary to correct the team to the extent that they are able to. Having Langerhans play his way into the lineup is a lot better than sticking him out there and hoping he does something. The point is there are still 128 games left. Kolb is clearly a disaster at this point, but Bobby has gotten by with worse in the past and I am sure he will do so again.

    My concern is frankly the Marlins and their pitching. The Marlins have three young power pitchers capable of dominating a game and Al Leiter, who is still more than capable. The Braves pitching is good, but if you break it down, you have an aging Smoltz, and a Hampton whose results seem to better than his numbers suggest. And while I like Hudson, he is really not a power pitcher. I fear that the Braves pitching staff puts too many balls in play and that, in the long run, the Marlins (assuming they stay healthy) have the kind of staff that can dominate in the post-season. (But I don’t know much about their bullpen.)

    I don’t think there is necessarily any grand explanation for Kolb’s problems. Part of it is probably the difference between closing for the Brewers and closing for the Braves. Part of it may simply be the nature of relief pitchers who aren’t Gagne, Smoltz, Wagner, etc.–they will have good years and bad years. When you are a middle market team like the Braves (which is what Time Warner has deemed they are now), you end up having to take flyers on guys and sometimes they don’t work out.

  24. An interesting index of Mondesi’s stock is that even the announcers seem disgusted with him, Joe and Pete were really not please the other day when he didn’t even attempt to get over to the ball that Smoltz threw past Julio and down into right field foul territory.

  25. Colin,

    That is an interesting observation. I also noticed some general favoritism towards Langerhans for his defensive work in game 2 of the Colorado series. Granted, he has been good and deserves praise, but it seemed to me they were actively lobbying for him. Let’s hope it’s a sign.

  26. I hope that Bobby Cox doesn’t refrain from benching Mondesi over concerns that he may not be “a happy camper.” I’m all for trying to keep players and prima donnas happy, but if the deciding factor over who Langerhans will replace is Mondesi’s temperamental nature, then the Braves have a serious problem. Just because Brian Jordan is a team player should not subordinate him to a cancer like Mondesi on the depth chart.

  27. I just want to say, “Damn you, Dustan Mohr!” Although I’m a Tide fan, a former player had to come back and haunt the Braves. It always seems like the announcers make a big deal about it when someone who either grew up near Atlanta and/or rooted for the Braves do well against them. I can’t count the number of times that Don Sutton belabored how Todd Greene lives in Alpharetta and he bumps into him at the local Kroger. Or how Todd Jones used to shut the Braves down and he went to Jacksonville State. Or Kevin Brown, who went to GA Tech. The list goes on. That’s it–any former fan of the Braves, former area college player, or former resident of in and around Atlanta is not allowed to play against the Braves!

  28. The Cubs are absolutely desperate for a closer. Their GM is being skewered every day on sports talk radio for his off-season failure to improve the team’s bullpen, especially his failure to pick up a closer. Corey Patterson (an Atlanta native) is also being unmercifully ripped for his lack of plate discipline and “bad attitute.” Perhaps the Braves should look into packaging Kolbb and some others for Patterson and some others (which would almost have to include LaTroy Hawkins, who is as despised at Wrigley Field as was Alfonseca in 2002–the latter of whom had a pretty servicable season for the Braves last year). It might help to remedy a number of problems for both teams.

  29. I don’t see a need on our team for a guy with a .303 career OBA. If you want a toolsy outfielder who doesn’t get on base, just promote Francouer.

  30. If Chicago hates Hawkins, wait till they get a load of KolBS. I know this may just be a case of “the grass is greener,” but I’d take Hawkins’ stuff on our team in exchange for KolBS’ CloserTM label. As far as Patterson goes, we really don’t need another outfielder…just a better use of what is already available (Langerhans, Johnson, eventually Marte once he learns LF/RF).

  31. Patterson’s probably a little better than that career OBP (he’s only 25 and was doing a little better before he got hurt) and he’s got good power. He doesn’t, however, meet the Braves’ needs more than the guys we already have (Langerhans and Johnson). The Braves would be more likely to work as a go-between for the Cubs and Yankees (who desperately need a center fielder) but there are teams (stand up, Mr. Beane) who do that better.

    Betemit was really starting to get going there when Chipper came back; his average is still low but he was hitting with power and drawing walks. Does anyone know if he’s played any outfield? Yes, I’m desperate.

  32. The funny thing is, I thought Kolb’s control was much better last outing. The problem was his pitches were flat. But other than that one pitch he left over the plate (and subsequently left the park) he looked a lot better with his location than the past. I don’t think it’s time yet to throw in the towel on Kolb, though I do think he should be moved to non-pressure situations till he gets this worked out. Reitsma is perfectly capable of closing right now.

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