Washington 8, Atlanta 6

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Braves at Nationals

Dan Kolb has moved beyond the “bad pitcher” phase to the “if you kill him, all you need is one Braves fan on the jury” phase. Bobby, inexplicably, not only used him to start the eighth with a 6-3 lead but didn’t get him out until it was second and third, one out, and 6-5. Gryboski came in to give up the inherited runs, plus one who reached on an intentional walk. Then one of the good relievers — Foster, in this case — was used to get out of it after all the damage was done. It’s probably Andruw’s fault.

My only theory is that Bobby is in some sort of battle of wills with Schuerholz. “You got me this pile of crap, I’m going to use him. Get rid of him or I’ll keep using him.” But anyone should be able to get three outs without giving up three runs. Heck, a batting practice pitcher might.

What made it worse was that the Braves had just rallied with four runs in the top of the inning, capped by Estrada’s pinch-hit single that thanks to an error scored three runs. You get four, then they get five, and you can’t even blame the defense.

Betemit was 2-3 with a walk and scored twice. How do you take him out of the lineup? At least, how do you explain it to him? Langerhans, getting the start for Johnson, was also 2-3 with a walk, scoring once. He’s up to .221, which doesn’t sound like much except that he was in the .190 range just a few days ago. Chipper is in a terrible slump and has fallen below .300, but let’s face it, the offense is not the problem.

Decent seven innings from Ramirez, who continues to walk the fine line, allowing a homer, walking two, and striking out only one. That won’t get it done most of the time. But he can still get through an inning with a three-run lead most of the time.

Now three against the Pirates, starting with Hudson against Kip Wells, the whole series on Turner South. The whole rest of the division won. I’m sick. Alex will be by in the morning to curse at you.

112 thoughts on “Washington 8, Atlanta 6”

  1. No, no…Alex is still awake. He’s too angry.

    DAN KOLB SUCKS.

    DAN KOLB MUST DIE.

    THIS IS MORE THEN JUST BAD LUCK.

    DAN KOLB A CLOSER? WHAT A LIE!

    I felt like making a bad rhyme.

    What rhymes with pistol whipped?

    I may start buying into the MAC theory about Bobby’s TEST OF WILLS with John Schuerholz.

    By the way, Jorge Vazquez & Seth Griesinger continue to collect DUST in the farm, JOHN.

    goodbye FAT F*CK KOLB.

    goodbye RAMON COLON-CLEANING.

    You both should burn in hell and go ruin the Devil Rays road games you a**holes.

    I am going to bed. I am ILL.

  2. Oh, I just thought of another one… “Using Foster in that situation is like closing the barn door after the cows have all gone. And Kolb ate the cows.”

  3. Dear Bobby,

    Kevin Gryboski is useful for preventing HRs, that’s it. He has no special skill in inducing double plays. In fact, he is more likely to allow hits than most pitchers, because groundball pitchers give up more hits than flyball pitchers. He also doesn’t strike guys out. Do not bring him in, and certainly don’t load the bases, with a one-run lead.

    Sincerely,

    JC

  4. I just can’t fathom Bobby’s reasoning. A guy is demoted from closing, so you bring him in with a 3 run lead in the 8th instead. And then they leave him in after the leadoff walk. Un-f**king_believeable.

    Maybe you’re right that it’s a battle of wills.

  5. Even if it is a test of wills, have the braves ever in their history eaten a contract the size of Kolb’s ?

  6. Until this game I was willing to give Kolb the benefit of the doubt; that he was closing on a higher profile, winning club where games matter, and that he would find his groove and be ok by the All-Star Break. But this game was just abominable. I contend that this doesn’t just hurt us for one game, I mean, how demoralizing is it for the rest of the team, especially the starters. For God’s sake, Smoltz would have two more wins if it wasn’t for this guy. I’m gonna go hate Kolb privately in my room for the rest of the night.

  7. ####### ####### dan kolBB!

    Ugh. I am speechless. This is just depressing at this point. Why? Why? Why did foster not come in until the game was already over?! He has NOT ALLOWED A RUN THIS SEASON!!!!

  8. Think Chipper, Smoltz, Estrada, and HR are beating the crap out of kolb with a water cooler right now?

  9. “And then they leave him in after the leadoff walk. Un-f**king_believeable.”

    That’s what I don’t understand. I get bringing him in; (as nerve wracking as it is) we haven’t had any comfortable leads to give to him, and the rest of the pen is getting quite a workout lately with all the short starts. But why, in GOD’S name, WHY keep him in after the he walks the first batter, lets Carroll on with a FC, and then allows the run off Guillen’s single? That seems like an obvious road map to the typical Kolbous outing. He didn’t even mask it with a misleading K.
    You must be right about the “Testing JS” theory Mac. Either that, or Bobby is a Masochist.

  10. The post game show on the radio is great. The Lemmer doesn’t undersatnd why Bobby left kolb in so long.

  11. I think Bobby was just giving Kolb a chance away from Turner Field to work on his woes. Make no mistake, Kolb will be made redundant soon enough, but the size of his contract means you have to try him out even more than you might want to before you let him go. I mean, how long did we let Tom Martin pitch before we ate his contract?

  12. “P.S. Rafy must be sweating bullets.”

    Let him sweat. Maybe it’ll work some of the alcohol out of his blood before he drives home.

    Smitty, tell me how you feel about pants?

  13. The Braves more or less ate Wohlers’ contract in 1998 even though it had two years to run and he was to be paid $4,125,000 that year and $5,200,000 the next. They kept him on the roster but DLed him with “inability to pitch”, which is clearly what Kolb suffers from. They dumped him on the Reds during 1999 but paid most or all of his contract.

  14. That is a good precedent and probable indicator of what’ll happen, Mac. It’s good to be reminded that we aren’t afraid of eating a one, when we really have to.

  15. The braves had a *tad* bit more spending money in those days though, and an understanding owner to explain the loss to, not the worthless AOL ####’s who control the purses now.

  16. I’d take a late 90’s era Wholers over a current Dan Kolb any day. At least the former was the picther on the mound when they won the friggin World Series.

  17. rb, I thought about that too. Things are different now, structurally. But, if Kolb hurts the team to such a degree that Braves fans are booing every time he is in the game, even in DC, AND he loses the games, it is time for that guy to go, one way or another. It is good business, ultimately, for them to let this guy go. The question is, how long will the bleeding go on before they do something about it?

  18. No one warming up when they bring him in (that should be a given by now) and they show Cox in the dugout over and over shaking his head! Like he can’t even fathom what the hell was going on out there! Do you think Mazzone ever even says, “Hey Bobby, maybe we should take him out?”???!?!?! This is like freakin’ groundhog day! The same thing over and over and over and over……..

  19. I am never the one to criticize the braves moves, but there is some really bad coaching going on right now. this is getting to be absurd.

  20. I think that Time Warner understands sunk costs, though. They might not pay for a big-ticket import, but $250K or whatever for a rookie, with Kolb told to go check himself into the Ex-Closers Home, no big deal.

  21. Yeah, that’s about what I was thinking. To the bean counters, Kolb is just product and his launch has completely failed. Suck it up and go with the new R&D. I just hope that they can save something in Reitsma’s arm for the end of the year.

  22. Even if it is a test of wills, have the braves ever in their history eaten a contract the size of Kolb’s ?

    Albie Lopez signed for $4M in 2002 and didn’t pitch in a meaningful game after May (although he was nowhere near as bad as Kolb when he did pitch). Kolb is making $3.4M this year. I see mopup duty in his future.

  23. I would take Tom Martin over kolb

    Of all possible condemnations, this is the most damning.

  24. A couple positives are that the Braves scored their runs with two outs and, in several cases, when the batter (Estrada, et al) had two strikes on him. Very clutch in that regard.

    KolBB. They have to put him down. I mean, this has to be the last straw. He’s blown four saves, and here it is only the first week of June? Before KolBB came in to pitch the eighth, Joe said that he had allowed something like twelve of the first twenty-three batters he had faced, and I forget how many of them got free passes. The Braves have to eat his contract to (a) keep the clubhouse stable and to (b) keep poor Winston out of harm’s way.

  25. You know if they do trade Raffy for some relievers or minor leagues it would be a lot easier to eat KolBB’s contract with Furcal’s gone.

  26. The last point was a good one about Furcal’s contract being dealt, would indeed allow them to finally RELIEVE US FROM KOLB.

    Tom Martin over Kolb…I actually have to agree with that one from the standpoint of Martin was never expected to CLOSE. He got hammered every time out but not consistently in every important situation like Kolb.

  27. On a point Mac & I argued briefly after Kolb ruined last night’s game, over the phone:

    Mac, while agreeing with me how awful Kolb & Roman Colon truly are, didn’t feel Bobby had as much choice as I thought he did in using these pieces of garbage in 3 of the last 4 games (Is it just irony that the one game we win did not involve appearances by Colon or Kolb?)

    I disagree with this…while there’s no question in my mind that we essentially have 3 very good relievers most to all of the time (Sosa, Reitsma, Foster) and one other reliever who’s been solid most of the time (Bernero), we are then left with 3 other relievers who should all be taken out and savagely beaten to death (Colon, Kolb & Gryboski).

    Now Gryboski still has OFFICIALLY a low ERA but can anyone honestly say that guy goes out there and actually does a good job? Ground ball pitcher? Yeah, when the Nats finished their rally off us last night, Gryboski gave up a ground ball that rolled to the outfield wall–but it was a GROUND BALL, BOBBY.

    That being said, I realize we can’t beat the 4 good relievers (or 3 1/2) to death…I get that…and we haven’t been involved in too many 10-1 games, win or lose, for us to finally have a situation to use Kolb or Colon instead of Foster or Reistma per say.

    However, in each of the 3 games that we lost against the Nationals, Bobby used some of his REAL relievers after using Colon & Kolb…but the damage had been DONE. That’s my point.

    If (and Mac agrees with this) you START the inning with Foster or Sosa, then the game remains 3-2 or 6-3 and you are on your way to further increasing your NL East lead. Instead, we are back in a tie with the freaking Marlins and the rest of the division knocking on the door, salivating at the next Kolb or Colon appearance.

    While Mac’s “Test of wills” theory is getting a lot of play and has some merit, I don’t want to believe Bobby would knowingly THROW GAMES to prove his point to JS…but that’s what it feels like. We had a legitimate chance to sweep the Nationals and we lose 3 of 4…that says something to me and it also speaks to a problem I have with Cox and not just Kolb/Colon.

    And if one more person says to me it’s a marathon not a sprint, I am going to bludgeon you people to death. Most managers, call me crazy, go with the good relievers in close game situations when they are battling for the division lead. But that’s MOST managers.

  28. More on Cox’s f*cking stubborness.

    I am going to take you people back to 1992 anf the World Series with the Blue Jays.

    Mac knows at least once or twice a year I bring this back up.

    Bobby in back to back games at the Skydome, had Mike Stanton out there pitching a perfect 8th inning.

    Now, in the 1st game, he brings out “Father Time” Jeff Reardon, and of course, as well remember, REARDON BLOWS it…he KOLBS IT.

    So, after little Bobby Cox touched the hot grill, do you think he learned his lesson? Oh no. Here comes the same situation one game later…perfect 8th from Stanton, then we get REARDON AGAIN. And we got KOLB’D.

    The bottom line is people can say till they are blue in the face what a great manager COX is…but this is Leo’s team and I am convinced we win the 1991 and 1992 World Series with a different manager. Some will argue that Cox gets us there but I don’t want to forever be known as the team that loses every October.

    And has anyone else noticed the trend? The first few years we were just losing in the World Series; the next few years we were losing in the NLCS a lot; now we just lose in the 1st round.

    This year? With Kolb & Colon out there? Furcal hitting .230? Andruw’s gut wrenching ability to strikeout or foul out to the catcher every time he has runners on? Brian Jordan’s refusal to retire? We are likely to miss the post season altogether and you can point to sheer bad management from the TOP DOWN.

  29. And yet, with all of their weaknesses, the Braves are still in 1st place. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

    Leo and Bobby have managed to cobble together excellent bullpens at very little cost over the years, which has actually been a big part of the Braves’ success. Just a few years ago, they had one of the best bullpens in *history,* and yet I continually hear that they have no clue who to pitch or how to manage a pen.

    Suuure. Kolb was throwing well on the side, it wasn’t exactly a high-pressure situation (or it shouldn’t have been), and he blew it. It happens. The Braves will adjust. Maybe not as fast as many would like, but they will adjust.

    As the late, great George Michael once said, you gotta have faith.

  30. Brian Jordan, Furcal and Kolb please be a real brave and do us a favor…go to the Twins for Joe Nathan. Amen

  31. I knew this morning their would alot of hating going on. Like everyone else last night pissed me off too. If JS doesn’t realize that we need bullpen help after last night’s fiasco then he needs to be fired. How many games have we lost know due to Kolb’s inaccuracies.

  32. Hey Mac, thanks for giving me credit for the Bobby and John S theory I posted on May 18 (San Diego 3, Atlanta 2).

    Mac
    “My only theory is that Bobby is in some sort of battle of wills with Schuerholz. “You got me this pile of crap, I’m going to use him.”

    Rip on May 18
    “It appears Bobby and Leo want to teach Kolb a lesson by allowing him to crap his own bed. Maybe there is something going on where they want to show the world and John S that Kolb sucks and the scout who made the recommendation is a bum, too.”

    I agree because no one in their right mind would not pull Kolb after he commits his first BB. I am so glad I did not see the game last night.

  33. My theory is this . . .

    Scheurholtz is dictating the overall youth movement, essentially telling Bobby to play Langerhans, Johnson, and Betemit.

    Cox, deprived of his “veteran moxy” he loves so much strikes back in the vein of “Well, John, you think you’re so great with all these minor league position players, let me just show you what you also came up with.” and he subsequently flushes a won game down the toilet. Thinking of it that way, I would actually rather have Mondesi and Reitsma, than Johnson, Betemit, and Kolb. Ugh.

    Then again, we are missing the most parsimonious solution here. Cox might actually like Kolb, both personally and in terms of his ability. Cox is not a classic stats guy, so he may be convincing himself he “sees something” behind all the suckitude of the guys results.

    Alternatively, maybe Leo keeps thinking he’s “finally figured the guy out”. What an achievment that would be for Leo. I can see him thinking “Man, if I can get that suck-ball Kolb turned around, I can basically engrave my own plaque at Cooperstown.”

    Still, I don’t feel sorry for Kolb, but last night I did get this sinking feeling that someone should go out there and just put him out of his misery. It doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person to lack the ability to get major league hitters out – 99.9999 percent of us fall into that same category.

  34. This is Bobby Cox, and you do have to take the good with the bad. I’m not saying “quit griping about it” because it is as frustrating as all hell, and I’ve been bitching like crazy and don’t intend to stop. I’m just noting that this is how Cox works. He is not having a test of wills with Johnny S., although that is a tempting conspiracy theory. He feels like the best way to bring a guy out of it is to keep putting him out there. Personally, I believe that Kolb is simply not a good pitcher. But if Cox feels like he is going to need Kolb in the future, then he will keep going to him hoping he works out his problems. He doesn’t know what else to do. And as long as Kolb is on the team I’m not completely sure he has a better way to handle it without sending Reitsma out until his arm falls off or going to Bernero until he remembers that he can’t pitch… although I think I’d be willing to risk that at this point. Do I think the place to do that is in a game where the difference is less than, say, eight runs? No, I don’t. But how long is he going to wait for the 10-1 game? We haven’t had one of those in a while, and our starting pitching is generally too good to have us down 10-1, and our offense is generally not potent enough to have us up 10-1. So, eventually, Cox was going to use Kolb in a situation like this. And, if he’s still there, eventually he will do it again.

    The “he’s somebody I need, and I’m going to use him” approach is the same one Bobby Cox has used forever. He is not going to let someone rot in the bullpen… although the thought of Kolb and Gryboski rotting somewhere is kinda appealing.

    I’m not trying to absolve Cox of responsibility. I’m just saying that Schuerholz should know that this is the way his manager works by now. He’s seen it as much as you and I have. If you give Cox someone, he will use him. Having confidence in his guys is his great stength as a manager, but it can also be his undoing. If you feel like that guy has no shot at being useful (Kolb is obvious, and I suppose Gryboski is debatable… but only slightly), then you’ve got to get the guy out of there. The GM has done a poor job so far of acquiring (and, in this case, disposing of) resources. His manager has used the resources available to him in the only manner that you should expect of him.

  35. While I can comprehend the “If he falls off the horse, put him back on until he can ride” theory, I don’t understand why Bobby didn’t have someone warming up when the eighth started. Why wait so long to go to Plan B? I don’t think you’re showing up your pitcher too bad by doing that, and it’s not as though KolBB hadn’t been given the benefit of a doubt. KolBB should have been pulled after he walked the first batter. Yes, Reitsma and the others are tired, but that doesn’t mean KolBB should be allowed to self-destruct and take the Braves down with him.

  36. I’m not defending it, I’m just saying that it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. And that it is the GM’s responsibility to understand this and manage the available players appropriately. Now this does take time. You don’t just wake up one morning and dump a guy with that kind of contract. There are all kinds of things that could be going on that we don’t know about. The guy has shown some effectiveness in the past, so first you try to tade him… unlikely, but you have to give it a shot. When that doesn’t work, you put him on waivers and hope someone claims him. Again, not likely, but you have to give it a shot. All this takes time, and we can only hope that the process has begun.

  37. I’m 100% sure that Mac’s theory of JS vs. Bobby is true. That would explain A) Why Kolb came into the 8th, and B) Why he was left in the game even after it became clear that Cox could no longer endure it.

    They needed to determine whether it was the Closer(tm) role and its supposed pressure that was making Kolb choke, or whether the problem was that he was now closing for a 1st place team. Both of those myths were debunked last night.

    Cox obviously has control to yank a pitcher, and if he’s carrying on like that in the dugout, then he’s not leaving the guy in because he wants to. He’s doing it either because he’s forced to, or because he needs to drive a point home.

    Please JS, don’t make us watch this anymore. Please corporate suits, can’t you see that having Kolb in your summer lineup really chases away business?

  38. So you really think that Bobby Cox is intentionally blowing games? I’m not going to buy into that because then I could not be a fan of this team. And that’s just not someplace I want to go.

  39. I don’t buy that conspiracy theory either. Bobby would never poison the well like that.

  40. I bet this was the conversation on the bench in the top of the 8th.

    Kelly Johnson: “Wow, what a come back! This is great! We are going to win, nothing can stop us now!”

    Bobby (thinking): “Hmmmm, maybe he is right, this would give kolb some confidence.” “Leo, get kolby up.”

    Leo:”Uhhhh, Bobby, we only have a 3 run lead.”

  41. I think Klob came in simply because it was a relatively benign situation – not no pressure, but minimal pressure. Apparently he threw very well during his side session as Leo was working with him on a few things. Klob also just came off two good (albeit no-pressure) outings against the Phils where he struck out three and only walked one.

    The Braves have a lot of money committed to Klob, and they’re doing all they can to get him back on track. It’s just not working. And I’m not sure why. His stuff doesn’t even look that bad, and he’s actually striking out hitters this year (unlike 2004). To me, his complete and utter lack of control/hitability is a bit of a mystery.

  42. So, KOLB threw well on the side–YIPPEE!!! If we base things on that thinking, then Andruw Jones & Raul Mondesi should be leading the National League right now in batting average and homers based on their stellar spring training performances!

    Oh, but wait, Mondesi is now out of Baseball and Andruw is in typical mid season form, killing rallies and hitting .255? But how can that BE? They were killing Double AA pitchers in the Spring?! It makes no sense!

  43. With regards to BOBBY, it’s not that anyone believes he’s throwing games ala Pete Rose style, because he stuck $100 on the Nats last night (though I probably should have called a bookie!) but because of the “test of wills” thing…ITS THE ONLY REASONABLE EXPLANATION.

    However, Keith Lockhart was allowed to have a Major League job for 4 years in Atlanta so the way Bobby thinks is a complete mystery to me.

    And someone earlier made a plea to the EVIL SUITS AT TIME WARNER (and they are evil, folks) about Kolb…you know, if you think about it, the majority of the RATINGS for TBS games comes from BRAVES FANS. If Kolb is still allowed to breathe oxyegen and show up on TBS, then aren’t the suits essentially driving AWAY their loyal viewers?

    If it can reasonably be shown that Dan Kolb’s fat, pathetic ASS is lowering ratings, then the SUITS have an obligation to make Schuerholz FIRE Kolb.

  44. Because of their record and place in the division, JS and Cox felt they could afford to try to force some value out of Kolb, Colon, etc. I think if the Marlins had several games on us, Kolb is not out there and perhaps a deal is already made. I think this most recent series should be the breaking point, as the rest of the division has now effectively caught up with us. We’ve got a pretty decent team, and with a strengthened bullpen (I was going to say that would be no easy feat, but pretty much anything would “strengthen” this bullpen) we should win a much higher percentage of the games ahead.

  45. AOL/Time Warner is a business, and a pretty successful one, too. It did not get this way by accepting shoddy employee performance and continuously putting out sub-par products. On this theory, they should be willing to take the hit of releasing Kolb on the hope that the money the team makes from winning more games in his absence (more ticket sales, concessions, playoff stuff, I don’t know) will offset $3.3 million. That’s in an ideal world, and it might happen. The rest of me says AOL doesn’t care about baseball and they view viruses (the computer kind AND Kolb) as endemic anyway and you just kind of have to deal with them. I say send Kolb to Richmond. He can get his confidence back (if that really is the problem, he may just flat-out suck, but something was working last year) against lesser hitters (most of them). That Nick Green trade is looking good right now. Sosa has been fine and we have enough solid infield backups as it is.

    TBS’s programming already sucks and this is making it much worse. I’ve been reduced to taping games and then watching them only if we win to get my spirits back up. If anybody wants a tape of last night’s game to watch/burn/beat Kolb with, you’re welcome to it. Offense was not the problem. 6 runs should be enough to win. This game left me absolutely stunned. I think it hits an all-time low for the season of most horrible loss. Maybe Milton Bradley was worse, but this one really did it. I thought we got rid of this cancer, then he comes back! The use of the bullpen has been inexplicable. This may possibly be a reason for why the team looks so dead right now. I mean, what’s the point in battling if your manager brings in cr.appy pitchers that give it all back?

    Please don’t leave Kolb in DC. We have enough violence as it is.

  46. I’ve been looking for Winston. Does anybody know his whereabouts? I’m becoming concerned.

  47. I don’t disagree with giving Klobb work to try to get out of his funk. I do have a great problem with keeping him in until the Nats were an eyelash away from tying it up – and did thanks to Gryboski. The problem is that the Braves have Klobb and Colon that need to work out of their funk. Having 1/3 of their bullpen screwed up completely and another that is below average at best will kill you everytime – especially when your starting pitching isn’t taking you very deep and has injuries.

    It’s possible to use a reliever in such a way that he doesn’t screw up the team too bad and still works out some of his problems. However, when you have another pitcher who can’t pitch a lick and Gryboski, this is an impossible situation. Colon has got to be sent to the minors or released now!

    Call up Vasquez and have Greisinger waiting in the wings. Those two guys alone could turn the pen from one of the worst in the league to slightly above average. I would like to see them trade Furcal and get a good reliever so either Gryboski or Bernero (if he continues to flounder) could be sent to pasture, but they don’t even need to do that to vastly improve their team and give Cox a chance to prove or disprove (most likely) the Klobb experiment.

  48. Jenny- Great Blog.

    I agree…overall, watching the Braves right now is truly depressing and disheartening. and yes, as Jenny said…”Cox’s use of the bullpen lately has been inexplicable”

  49. That’s gotta be the nail in the coffin for KOLB. If we must keep KOLB he should be demoted from bullpen to groundscrew atleast he will be able to run off that beer belly. But then again he may screw that up.

  50. I’d like to point out that Greg Harris (a right handed reliever) once got through an inning pitching lefthanded without giving up a run.

    Maybe Klobber should try pitching lefthanded?

  51. Leo Mazzone was working with Kolb on some things, thought he looked good in the side session, and probably felt he could translate it to games. And during his last two appearances, Kolb did look better. I’m really not sure why I’m supposed to scoff at Leo and Bobby considering their track record. But, hey, this is the internet…

  52. Maybe Kolb should be taken out and savagely beaten.

    Remember the hilarious movie “Office Space” when Peter, Michael Bolton & Sameer take the fax machine outside and destroy it with Baseball bats like a ‘gang beatdown’?

    That’s the image I have running through my head…me, Mac and our fellow Braves fan Cary in the middle of Turner Field with baseball bats beating the crap out of Dan Kolb.

  53. Not sure if this has been posted yet but, bravesnews sent me this e-mail:

    http://www.bravesnews.com/rumorc2.php

    BravesNews has confirmed that Braves superscout Jim Fregosi was at the
    Tuesday and Wednesday Twins/Indians games. It was originally thought
    he was scouting Twins OF Jacque Jones. However, it was not offense he
    was scouting, instead he was taking a look at Indians closer Bob
    Wickman. Wickman on the year has a 3.32 ERA with 14 saves.

    Also on the closer front, former Reds CL Danny Graves is now on the
    open market and has reportedly narrowed his list of suitors to four teams,
    including the Braves.

    Stay tuned as the Braves attempt to fine tune the bullpen.

  54. Oh yes, Danny Graves & Bob Wickman–our problems are solved! bwa ha ha ha ah ha ha ha!!!!!!!!

  55. Interesting news, Adam, but I’m not sure Graves or Wickman is the answer.

    Wickman this year — 14 SV (2 blown), 19 IP, 17 H, 8 BB, 9 K, 3.32 ERA; 4.26 K/9 and .243 Avg. against ($2.75M salary; free agent after this year)

    Graves this year — 10 SV (2 blown), 18.1 IP, 30 H, 12 BB, 8 K, 7.36 ERA; 3.93 K/9 and .357 Avg. against

    Kolb this year — 11 SV (3 blown), 21 IP, 26 H, 19 BB, 19 K, 7.29 ERA; 8.14 K/9 and .302 Avg. against

    Graves has been worse than Kolb (albeit in a better hitter’s park) and Wickman isn’t exactly setting the world on fire. I guess I’d take my chances that Leo could turn at least one around.

    By the way, Octavio Dotel is now off the market as well. He’ll have reconstructive elbow surgery and could miss two years.

    This situation reminds me of 2001, when Rocker kept getting lit up and, all of a sudden, the Braves pulled the trigger on the deal that brought in Steves Reed and Karsay (June 22, 2001, was the date). Both left at the end of the year as free agents, but both were great in Atlanta.

  56. Creg,

    Great reminder on the Karsay-Reed thing from 2001.

    We are in that kind of situation again where we need at least 2 new arms in the pen.

    Whether that be through trade or from Richmond/Mississippi, is up to JS.

    Personally, the best case scenario might be to give Wickman a try with Leo (who knows?) if it doesn’t cost much and call up Jorge Vazquez already…this kid is a stud and the Braves future closer.

    Once the Braves give Jorge a shot, the Marrerro-Vazquez deal will OFFICIALLY become a steal for the Braves.

    Once we get 2 new pitchers in there, buh-bye Kolb to waivers and though I am fine with cutting Roman Colon, at least senbding him down to Richmond.

    As for Gryboski, I would personally get rid of his fat a– also but if we could at least dump Kolb & Colon, that’s HUGE and be enough to take the increasing pressure on Reitsma, Foster & Sosa. Look, I will take what I can get!

  57. Brian Jordan has a worse isolated slugging percentage than every Braves player with more than 15 at bats except for Hudson and Smoltz. That includes Hampton and Horacio.

  58. This situation reminds me of 2001, when Rocker kept getting lit up

    Rocker wasn’t exactly getting lit up. He was walking a fairly fine line all season, true, but lit up? Not really. Here’s his game log for 2001 as a Brave:

    http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/Krockj0010042001.htm

    He’d allowed runs in two of his past four outings, but before that he’d had 10 scoreless outings in a row. Arbitrary endpoint alert – after a rough stretch in early-mid May, he’d pitched 14.1 innings over 14 games, allowing only 6 hits and 7 walks and striking out 15 and allowing 1 home run. The Braves apprently recognized that his trade value was as high as it would get and they pulled the trigger.

  59. Actually, Alex, I think it would be better if we let the players beat Kolb. They’re the ones who have been most directly affected by his complete suckitude.

    Why are we looking at a washed-up closer (either Wickman or Graves, take your pick)? Closers cannot have ERAs of 3.3. Not good ones, anyway, and Wickman is just too old. I wish we’d get a young pitcher and stop relying on Leo’s magic so much. These reclamation projects are like putting a new transmission in a crappy car, it runs fine but you’re never sure when something might give. And I thought what the Reds did to Danny Graves was really, really rotten, but like Wickman, he’d be a reclamation project. So even though I feel bad for him, I think we should take a pass. I’m just tired of all this uncertainty in the closer spot. I want someone good and I want it NOW!

    I think dumping Kolb, Gryboski, and Colon would be fabulous, but where would we dump them and what would we replace them with? We have a deep farm system, but throwing 3 kids into the bullpen and expecting them to actually perform from the very beginning is asking for trouble. And we can’t take all those financial hits at once.

    I’m at a total loss, as the rest of you are, but the bad news is, I think the Braves are, too.

  60. The problem with silly stats like Isolated Slugging Percentage is they can’t measure Jordan’s clutchness and leadership.

    At least that’s what Terrence Moore told me.

    Is Grissom available?

  61. Step away from the AJC and jump right into the tox shower. You needed to get every trace Terrence off of you before some of it seeps in!

  62. Colin, you’re right, I should have looked up Rocker’s 2001 numbers. The trade was more about getting rid of the Rocker “distraction” — Jordan and Chipper and the others were having to answer questions about him every time the team went to a new city — than about the way Rocker was pitching. Will you at least allow that Kolb is the least-popular Brave since Rocker? :)

    By the way, any update on Hampton? If he has to miss more time, does that mean Sosa or Bernero goes into the rotation?

    Personally, I think Reitsma’s the answer, with Bernero and Foster setting up (never thought I’d say that). Of course, the last time I said Reitsma should be the closer, he gave up a grand slam to Milton Bradley …

    My biggest problem with all of this, though, is that since the bullpen is the most obvious problem, the Braves and many Braves observers (present company excepted) are beginning to treat it like it’s the only problem. Like getting a closer will make up for other glaring weaknesses, including:

    (1) Forty percent of the rotation is gimpy (and Horacio’s become exceedingly unreliable).

    (2) Though Furcal is running wild, he’s still not getting on base enough.

    (3) There are still major holes in the middle of the order. Jordan can’t hit any more and Estrada doesn’t have enough power.

    The Braves will probably fix the closer problem and then figure they’re good enough. Then they’ll get to the playoffs, Thomson or Hampton will get hurt again and the team won’t hit enough. Stop me if you’ve heard this before …

  63. Will you at least allow that Kolb is the least-popular Brave since Rocker? :)

    Among Braves fans, I’m not sure Rocker was ever this unpopular!

  64. I said this on another post, but I am going to say it again–why bring in Gryboski just to intentionally walk the first batter he faces? It always gets a pitcher out of rhythm by throwing BALLS and now that runner belongs to the new guy instead of belonging to the bum that started the mess in the first place. Hell, anyone can intentionally walk a guy. I don’t know why Bobby didn’t just let KolBB intentionally walk the guy and then yank his butt. Just my .02 worth.

  65. As Jenny points out, dumping all 3 pitiful relievers now would be too much of a stretch. Colon should be dumped or sent to Richmond today for Vasquez and the others should be replaced when replacements are ready (either via trade or development on the farm).

    It should be noted that a 3+ ERA for a reliever at this time of the year can be deceiving. One bad outing like Smoltz had the last few years can skew things pretty badly – especially when you’re talking about 20 to 30 innings. I’m not saying that Wickman is the answer, but the statement that closers can’t have a 3.3 ERA is a much too general statement. In Klobb’s case, his ERA is skewed because he had one or two decent outings. He is really pitching worse than his 7.29 ERA.

  66. I wish JS and Cox would stop thinking in the narrow way of solving this by finding (and over-paying for) a “proven Closer”. What really frosts me is that the evidnce that Kolb was only okay last year was in all of the numbers anyone who wanted to look could see, and they chose to ignore it because he was an “all-star closer” ignoring the facts that (i) he was in Milwaukee and someone has to make the all-star team, and (ii) his second half of the season was just awful.

    You can bet Theo Epstein or John podesta wouldn’t go over-pay for Mr. “All-star closer”.

  67. You have the new reliever issue the intentional walk so that if the other manager brings in a lefty pinch-hitter you can counter with your LOOGY. Otherwise Gryboski, who can’t get lefties out, might have to pitch to some lefty thumper.

    The Braves did dump three relievers at one time once, in 1997, when they brought up Ligtenberg and a couple of others (Mike Cather, I think, and maybe Chad Fox was the other) to replace half of an ineffective bullpen. Wohlers was part of that mess as well.

  68. I think you CAN make wholesale pen changes of 3 guys at once because the Braves pride themselves on keeping 7 relievers so that still leaves 4 guys. It’s not as drastic as say a normal team with 5 or 6 relievers.

    Second, Kolb is definitely worse and more un-popular with Braves fans. He lost his last few defenders with his “walking someone doesn’t both me” crap and I am someone who is less forgiving then other Braves fans so I was off his train from what I saw in Spring Training–I knew there was a problem then.

    But to the person who said earlier that the Braves will throw a bit of money at an old closer and say “problems fixed” you’re absolutely right. That’s what they do; we are the anti ‘Moneyball’ team in a lot of way (too many guys in the lineup who won’t take a goddamned pitch) yet, somehow, we are still in it…the division right now is entirely mediocre.

    Getting Bob Wickman maybe better then Kolb but not that much. I agree…here’s an area where spending a LOT more money doesn’t make sense unless we are getting Billy Wagner or Brad Lidge. I would be willing to deal Furcal to Houston straight up for Lidge but I don’t think Houston is that dumb.

    Since we are unlikely getting Lidge, then its time to gtive Vazquez & Greisinger a chance. They have good numbers, cost next to nothing, and then we may get Kolb’s salary to add a bat to the outfield? Wouldn’t you rather give Vazquez a chance who’s probably betetr then Wickman and pick up a Shannon Stewart or Bobby Kielty?

    Call me crazy but that sounds like better options!

  69. Off-topic, but did anyone see this ludicrously stupid statement made by Bud Selig: “There’s no doubt that we need to find ways to do better in these situations,” Selig said. “But if all four umpires get together, all four shouldn’t miss it. Somebody should get it right.” This was in a Sporting News article about the possibility of instant replay in baseball which mentioned (duh) the Jordan phantom home run. Guess what, Bud? They got it right, they conferred per your rules, then they got it wrong! Yeah, they “should get it right,” but they don’t! Bud just likes human error because he’s so good at it.

  70. Arghh! Moneyball does not mean OBP. All it meant was it was undervalued at the time.

  71. No Snellville, you are wrong…part of the success of MONEYBALL and the Oakland A’s is finding patient hitters who get on base.

    Arrggg YOURSELF.

  72. I agree with you on giving Vasquez and Greisinger a shot and getting a decent o/f bat, but I don’t see Cox and JS doing it that way. I believe they may eventually swallow their pride and dump Klobb (even if they have to eat his salary), but I don’t see that happening soon – All-Star break at the earliest(unless he keeps on giving up 4 runs per inning – heck I wouldn’t mind losing a few more games b/c of Klobb if that’s what it takes to get him off the team. Actually I would, but you know what I mean.)

    I’ll be happy with one step in the right direction – send Colon packing! I also think Cox still likes Gryboski, so I don’t see him leaving b/f the end of the year.

    To be honest, Bernero may be worse than KG anyway. He started off well, but lately he has pitched much closer to what his career stats would suggest. Mazzone has worked wonders in the past, but I’m still not convinced that his coaching can make up for a career of ineptness.

  73. I think what Bernero has going for him though right now is that Kolb, Colon & yes, Gryboski are all worse pitchers. Clearly, Bernero has shown some potential here and I am willing to give him more time. He’s had enough good outings that he’s earned another month before we re-evaluate.

    I agree with what you said about crapowski–he’s another BOBBY guy (I just love the Bobby-guy thing…it means extended lives for garbage like Lockhart) so I think we are stuck with Kevin the whole year unless he goes all KOLB on us. (watch out, Winston!)

    I do think Kolb & Colon have now worn out their welcomes beyond a point of reason and that those 2 are gone in the next week even…I am convinced. Those 2 slackers cost us all 3 games here in DC. Kolb & Colon have been incredibly ineffective all year. Nuff is enough.

  74. I hope you’re right a/b both Klobb and Colon, but I don’t see it happening in Klobb’s case.

  75. Here’s some suggestions:
    1) Look into Brad Lidge. Houston is failing and if they start dumping salary see what it would take to get him. See if they take a Furcal, Laroche, Macay Mcbride( or some young pitcher they like besides Davies package). Chipper could be moved to first, Andy Marte gets 3rd and Kolb gets dumped.
    2) Find a cheap young arm, I especially like the Pirates Mike Gonzalez who’s now closing games for them with a salary of $330,000.
    3)Finally don’t mortgage the future. Marte,Davies,Johnson,Francouer and Betemit I believe are the future. You can’t trade any of them. Furcal will be gone next year. Don’t trade Betemit and let Furcal walk. That would be a waste.
    You know who would be a great closer with a dominating fastball-JOSE CAPELLAN. Johnny S this trade like the Klesko deal for Veras and Sanders was one of your worst.

  76. I don’t hear much about Thorman at 1b in Richmond when I hear about top prospects. Last time I checked he was having a pretty darn good year. Could he either put up numbers close to Laroche or be used in a trade? Is he just an above average farm hand (ala Mike Hessman) and nothing more?

  77. First, I agree about moving Chipper to first…clearly, drastic action needs to be taken with the bullpen and the sagging offense and getting Andy Marte’s bat in there since the Braves won’t pay for an Aubrey Huff or Mike Sweeney, is the way to go.

    Second, if there’s a way to GET Brad Lidge, do it…I don’t look at any of this roster as untouchable and I am more then happy to ship off LaRoche & Furcal. Hopefully people have heard of the phrase, “addition by subtraction”.

    Third, I agree that Marte & Francour, along with Kelly Johnson & Betemit are part of a bright future for the Braves–don’t foul it up. LaRoche & Furcal are not part of the future.

  78. You know there are times that I would like to take Bobby and strangle him for some of the moves he makes during a game. But, then I stop and think, he has won 10 straight division championships despite these decisions. But last night was unbelievable. When Kolb came in, I thought, we have a 3 run lead, if he walks the 1st guy like he usually does, Bobby will jerk him. Of course, everyone knows he did not do that and actually let him pitch to 3 more batters and give up 3 hits. Then he made an even worse decison by putting in “Suckowski”. In a critical situation, he puts in the worst 2 relievers that we have. These guys should only pitch if we have a 10 run lead or we are completely out of a game. Why didn’t we use Foster, Sosa, Bennero or hell, a drunk guy out of the stands instead of these losers. These so called pitchers have given away at least 7 or 8 games that we should have won. Even with our dismal offense, we would have a good lead on the divsion. Maybe, Bobby just wants to prove a point to the offence. That they are going to have to score at least 7 runs a game to win. Surely, John S. will put a stop to this and at least get rid of Kolb somehow.

  79. You know, right now, the BREWERS are laughing at us. Thanks KOLB, YOU FAT A–.

  80. Don Sutton’s idea of building a bull pen is the best one around. Start form your closer and work back. If Booby and Leo would step back and look at the pen, no one has a defined roll right now. I think sending kolb to AAA for a while could be the best plan. That way he can work out what ever is wrong and when he implodes, who cares. The margin of error is better suited to kolb on the farm.

  81. As Jenny points out, dumping all 3 pitiful relievers now would be too much of a stretch

    Actually, it’s entirely possible, and the Braves have done it before.

    Back in 1997 the pen was struggling. So around July 13 of that year the team dumped Brad Clontz, Joe Borowski and Paul Byrd and called up Kevin Millwood, Mike Cather and Chad Fox. Neither Borowski nor Clontz were doing remotely as bad as Colon and Kolb, and neither Fox nor Cather represented any particular talent demanding to be called up.

  82. The main point is that this was before AOL ownership. Also, I don’t think Clontz, Borowski, or Byrd had anything near the contract of Klobb and the tenure of Gryboski at that time. I would be happy to see all three shipped out, but realistically I don’t see it right now – 1 likely, 2 maybe.

  83. Ok, Bernero has given up earned runs in 7 of 22 outings this season.

    Sosa has given up earned runs in 7 of 19 outings.

    Not to mention that in at least two of those Bernero outings, he should have been out of the inning w/o any runs scored.

    Mazzone and Cox proved earlier this season that, when used properly, he’s good. But that’s the key, I guess.. used properly.

  84. Hey, Smitty, did you mean to write “Booby” or was that a Freudian slip? I think “Booby Kooks” would be a great name for the bullpen crew right now.

  85. We are up to 97 comments all related to hating DAN FAT KLOBB.

    So, is he FRANKENSTEIN and are we the ANGRY MOB WITH PITCHFORKS?

  86. td – I fail to see what AOL has to do with it. They’re on the hook for Kolb’s salary either way. They can either pay him to suck, or pay him to go away. The former of these stands a greater chance of reducing revenue than the latter.

    I, in fact, don’t mind seeing Kolb stay, as long as he goes to teh Albie Lopez role.

  87. Smitty, I agree 100%. You have to find the closer first then work backwards. Use Furcal as bait to get one. If Fregosi was in Minnesota , I like Joe Nathan for Furcal. I just hope they solve the problem with a proven young closer(Nathan, Lidge,etc) and not prolong it with a rent a closer. We all know (aside from Alejandro Pena) how well that usually works out. see Jeff Reardon.

  88. if there is one thing AOL shold understand, it is a sunk cost. Dan Kolb is a sunk cost; he has to be paid, no matter what. The only question now is whethere you drag down the rest of the season just because you made a bad trade to get him. if everyone would understand, that even as an “all-star” he wasn’t all that great, this would be easier here. Even if he returns to his best form, he is probably the 3rd best guy in the pen.

  89. 100 posts! Wow.

    The walk pissed me off. The force play was a weak grounder that was about 5 feet from being a 5-4-3 DP, the grounder into RF would have been the end of the night as far as I was concerned, even though that was right at the non-double-play-depth 2B position.

    Assuming he isn’t the type to bitch and moan after a demotion, I’d keep Kolb around. But he’d be used in 5-6-7 innings where the score was plus or minus at least 5 until he shows he can throw strikes.

    … But Bobby & Leo have a looooong track record of building great pens and getting excellent performance from a lot of types of pitchers. They are entitled to a huge slice of credit for 14 years and I’ll defer to the specifics about pitcher use more often than not.

  90. If they were looking at the Cleveland bullpen, that’s not likely to be a good thing. Wickman is the new Reardon. I used to think Cleveland was smart until they waived a good 4th outfielder (Ryan Ludwick) to activate Juan Gonzales, which was a dumb move even before Gonzo ripped his hamstring off the bone after one AB – funny how nothing like that ever happened before drug testing… I’m just sayin’

    Anyway, back to my point… maybe Cleveland isn’t smart enough to prefer Riske over Wickman. But then again, maybe Atlanta isn’t either. The best guy in that ‘pen is Betancourt. But he has the dreaded “can’t close” label, so I’m sure JS isn’t looking at him. Howry, like Bernero, simply hasn’t yet remembered that he can’t pitch (although I must admit to having him on my fantasy team since we count holds and he’s getting some). And I think I already said that Wickman is the new Reardon. You heard it here… uh… probably 12th ;-)

  91. Remember when Mike Stanton was the closer for a little while? Remember when Mike Catheter got some saves? Remember when that guy whose name I can’t remember was “saving” games for the Braves just a few years ago? Robert and Johnny used to not be so (ugh) conventional. Maybe sending Smoltz to the bullpen was the worst thing that could have happened to this organization. I know we’ve had major bullpen issues in the past, and bamadan has a point about deferring to these guys, but it’s hard not to think that something in the mindset of Braves management has change vis a vi the “closer” role (wow, I think that’s the first time I’ve used “vis a vi” in my life. See, this Kolb mess has wide-ranging implications. None of which are good).

  92. The Schuerholz/Cox Braves have (as far as I can remember) never traded a position player of quality — a regular or top prospect — to get a reliever. They have, in fact, tended not to trade for relievers at all, but when they have it’s always been for other pitchers with marginal players thrown in. Some of that reflects that the strength of the organization has been in pitching prospects, but not all of it. If they were to trade for Wickman — I don’t endorse that by any means — it would probably be for a pitching prospect. I think it’s more likely that they would go to a poor team and offer some of the guys they have no room for but are running out of time on for an experienced reliever who doesn’t have the Scarlet C. I don’t think they will add the salary of a save guy.

  93. murph was traded before schuerholz gm/cox coaching era, and by the way mac this is the most comments I have ever seen for one individual post, YAY KOLB!

  94. That would be Jeff Parrett. But, the point was “quality player”. Murph had stunk for the previous two years.

  95. Hey, easy on Murph. I don’t care if you’re right or not, no need to go there. In my book Murph can do no wrong. If I wanna read filth I’ll pick up a Hustler.

    Sorry.

  96. I’m just glad that Schuerholz doesn’t push a panic button. Yes, we lost 3 games of the last 4 – each of which was a winnable game (and could have/should have been won). And we’re getting shut out tonight. And Chipper keeps coming up lame & our shortstop (the one with the DUIs in his record) has been streakier than the dude in those Nike commercials (you know at the soccer game – that was nike, right?). There was good news somewhere here, wasn’t there.
    Oh yeah – we’re still in 1st place (or tied, or tonight a game out, but still), and Bobby & JS & Leo have all been around the block. They’ll bail the water out of the ship & get her steadied (and pitch the dead weight overboard). They’re not perfect, but the Braves will make a run again & (again) be the team to beat in the East.
    I guess my point is that, as a team, they’ve been in much worse spots than this at this point in the season. Not saying changes can’t or shouldn’t be made. Just trying to point out that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
    Of course (to borrow a phrase) whether the light is daylight or an oncoming train, I guess we’ll see…
    And I can’t believe the number of comments on this post – YEEEEEHAAWWWWWW!!!

  97. Usually, I hate when the games are on Turner South. Since someone has apparently decided that Nasvhille is in the midwest, I don’t get to see them (and to think I moved all the way from Seattle, and all I get out of the deal is one extra game a week practically ruined by Tom Paciorek). But at this point, I’m trying to treat it as a bit of a break. Maybe it’ll be a Rip Van Winkle weekend for me… I’ll wake up Monday morning and the Braves will be scoring runs consistently and holding late leads… maybe? OK, it’s not gonna happen, but a guy can dream… can’t he?

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