Houston 7, Atlanta 6 (18 innings)

At a certain point, you just have to admit it wasn’t to be. Kyle Farnsworth, magnificent in the regular season, couldn’t hold a 6-1 lead, and the Braves couldn’t score for nine innings of tied baseball, losing in one of the strangest games ever played.

The Braves, for once, didn’t fall behind in the first. Hudson started and was extremely sharp, mowing the Astros down through the first four on one hit. LaRoche hit a grand slam in the third. Andruw got them a fifth run on a sac fly in the fifth. In the bottom of that inning, the Astros got a run but Hudson pitched out of a mini-jam. He got through the sixth and seventh.

The eighth inning was a disaster. Hudson gave up a hit to the leadoff man. Then the play that will be forgotten but essentially the first of the wounds that killed the Braves’ season; a grounder up the middle, fielded by Furcal, but he couldn’t get it cleanly out of his glove. He flipped to Marcus, who couldn’t tag the bag. Furcal should have thrown to first. Bobby brought in Farnsworth; I think he should have let Hudson have one more batter.

Farnsworth got a grounder to Chipper, who tagged the bag but couldn’t quite get the double play as Julio apparently came off the bag. (I don’t know. It was close.) Then Farnsworth walked the next guy, and Berkman (who kills him) hit a grand slam homer. 6-5. Another problem with bringing in Farnsworth there is that you can’t pull him to let McBride or Foster face Berkman. He got the next four men. But with two out in the ninth, Brad Ausmus hit a double that was scored a home run because the power alleys in this park are a joke. Tie game.

It went on and on. Garner overmanaged, running for Berkman. Reitsma pitched two great innings. Thomson pitched two good ones as well. Bobby probably wanted to leave him in, but had to hit for him with Orr, bases loaded two out; Orr grounded out. (McCann had struck out the batter before.) Brower went three shutout innings, getting Ensberg to hit into a double play. Out of relievers, Garner brought in Clemens. Jordan got a one-out double, but was stranded. Andruw reached on an error, but never got any further. Devine came in and was great in the seventeent. With one out in the eighteenth, he allowed a homer and the season ended.

I’ll try to have a postmortem starting tomorrow. I don’t know what the Braves can do at this point. I don’t know what the problem is.

96 thoughts on “Houston 7, Atlanta 6 (18 innings)”

  1. I could have sworn the game lasted 18 innings. Maybe I’m hallucinating.

    Priority for the offseason has to be fixing the bullpen, resigning Furcal, and maybe even adding another starting pitcher. I know we seem to have a glut, but Smoltz is getting up there in years and Ramirez is a problem.

    I’ll wait for the post-mortem tomorrow to extend my comments, but I just want to say that we had multiple opportunities to win this game, that the loss was not Joey Devine’s fault, and that he should forget it quickly. He has had a lousy introduction to the big leagues and I hope next year is happier for him.

  2. I am not sure about resigning Furcal.Also let me say that the UMP did help the stro.The DP that we should have got in B8.Or the high strike to Franco in top 16 that look for sure like was ball4.Sure the UMP did not give up the HR.But we should have never lost this game.As far as next year if we can fix our bullpen we can be even more good this year.

  3. You don’t win games stranding 17, regardless of how many innings played. The Braves left too many men on base–that’s it.

    I agree that it’s unfair to pin the loss on Devine. He did the best he could.

  4. I have to say, for all my griping about Bobby’ managing, that I can’t point to one move I really disagreed with today. He put us in position to win on multiple occasions.

    Our players just didn’t come through. This one really hurt, the baby Braves were so much fun to watch and realy made this season enjoyable. I didn’t think we would even be playing in October this year.

    I think if it gets down to it, we were an arm or two short this season.

  5. Mac,

    Great job once again in covering the season. I know it takes a lot of love, time, and hard work. I don’t comment very much during the regular season since you’re alway on top of things with great analysis and my comments would be rather glib compared to yours. You are the go-to guy! Thanks for everything. See you guys on the flip-side and I look forward to a bigger and better Braves machine next season.



  6. The problem is the bullpen. Farnsworth is fine, Reitsma has his uses (especially if he is not overused), Devine will be fine, as will McBride and Boyer (when healthy). It’s just consistency and the end of that bullpen that provide the question marks. It can be addressed, I think, but we saw where having a thin bullpen can really hurt. We need a stellar set-up guy and need to re-sign Farnsworth; if we have that set-up guy, I’m pretty sure we win this game. More later, but I’d be all for re-signing our key FAs (notably Furcal), letting the young players develop, and just filling that spot at the end of the bullpen.

  7. By the end, you knew it was gonna be a tough loss for whoever didn’t end up on top. Too bad it was us.

    Sure, it’s easy to look at the Astro’s lineup at the end of the game and say, “We lost to that?” Still, even a lineup of replacement players will score a run if you give them enough time. A hearty kudos to the bullpen guys sans Farnsworth, all of whom did a tremendous job today. Too bad it didn’t work out.

    Without thinking too hard, this is what I would do:

    Pick up Thomson’s option
    Use a three-man platoon at first and third: against righties, LaRoche starts at first, Chipper at third; against lefties, Marte starts at third, Chipper at first
    Start Jeff Francoeur in Richmond to begin the season
    Attempt to trade Johnny Estrada for something
    Re-sign Furcal for 4 years, 28-36 million if possible
    Use Ryan Langerhans as the starting right-fielder
    Trade pitching prospects for Javier Vazquez and get some money back from the D-Backs
    Use Kyle Davies as the fifth starter
    Use Kelly Johnson and maybe Marte in LF

    Resulting rotation: Smoltz, Hudson, Vazquez, Thomson, Davies

    Resulting lineup: Furcal, Giles, Chipper, Andruw, Marte/LaRoche, Langerhans, McCann, Johnson, pitcher spot

    Resulting bullpen: ????

    That’s all I can think of now. I’ll certainly post more later.

  8. This is so tough to swallow. Beat by bad umpiring (Julio clearly had his toe on the bag), Brad f’n Ausmus and an actor with Down syndrome.

    But the real problem is that we, yet again, witnessed a total chokejob by players we count on to come up big (Chipper, Giles, Farnsworth,…). The different ways they found to squander good scoring opportunities was truly amazing. I’m really at a loss of words. I don’t know what the problem is, but I know that the ‘postseason is a crapshoot’ argument is no longer cutting it for me. Other players step up in October, other teams deliver ‘October magic’; the Braves just fall into a collective coma (save for Andruw, LaRoche and a couple others). After the first two games I thought this year might be different, but those last two games felt awfully familiar.

  9. This is going to eat at the braves all winter. As much as I would like to blame Bobby for this one he didn’t lose it(this game). The Braves went pretty far with all the rookies and they will be looking much better in April then they did last year. Thanks Mac for all you have put into this site. you run it very well.

  10. They basically asked Devine to do too much before he was ready. He would not have made the roster if Boyer had not gone down at the end of the season. His pitches move, but they are up in the zone a lot. In the big leagues, that’s when you get hurt, and he got hurt (or nearly hurt) in most of his appearances. But the goat horns for this one have to hang the heaviest on Farnsworth, who let us down in his biggest appearance. No one is perfect, but to allow a two-out homer to Ausums was a killer. It is amazing the rest of the pen hung on for as long as it did. There isn’t much that Cox did that was questionable in this game, other than never giving McBride a chance to show why he was on the roster when it mattered. Even though the Astros are heavily right handed, I might have put him into the game before Devine.

  11. By the way, I just dialed in some Drive-By Truckers on the ol’ hi-fi. They always make me feel better. And good Alabama boys to boot! Give it a go!

    Take care,


  12. FWIW, I thought Cox did a fantastic managing job today, much much better than Garner did. Sometimes it doesn’t work out.

  13. I would like to take this moment to thank all of you all for a great couple of seasons of talking about baseball. Regretfully, I have decided I am through with baseball. After 14 years of getting to the gates of the promise land and only entering once, I can’t take much more. After today’s game I realized we are not ever going to win another on again. You are all great people and if you ever need something from me my e-mail is bsmith9215@yahoo.com

    Thanks again, good luck next season.

  14. This is gonna be my last comment for a while on here. It’s been a great season, guys. Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.

  15. Okay, I fixed it. I lost count and was having a really bad connection problem, and just wanted to get it posted.

    Plan for tomorrow is to have the RFB NIT final up in the morning. Then I’ll try to have the first part of the postmortem up later, time permitting.

  16. Why are people throwing in the towel now? Is there something magic about the number 14 that makes people quit? It’s not just here, I’ve been seeing it on other boards, too. Hey, I’m just as devastated as anybody else and I’ll probably be mad/upset for a week, but I’ll still follow the team this winter and be right there rooting in April. Why cash it in now? We’ve hung on this long.

  17. I also want to thank Mac for this website, by far the best Braves-oriented site around. I’ve been reading for about three years now, but I never used to look at the comments and never contributed anything. This season, something sparked me to post a comment for the first time, and after that I got hooked on reading what others had to say and contributing from time to time. It was a disappointing end, but I’ve enjoyed the season, and look forward to discussions of what happens next. Keep up the good work, Mac.

  18. I plan to hang around throughout the winter, so I’m sure I’ll be reading posts from the regulars, but first I want to thank Mac for running a great site–he’s not only one of the brightest lights around, he also has a fine sense of humor (not to mention an ear for poetry–will more of the Braves Saga be written in the off-season?).

    Thanks to all of you for sharing your knowledge of baseball; you’ve enriched my appreciation for the game immensely. It always hurts to lose, especially over the course of fourteen wonderful seasons, but somehow losing is more bearable knowing that the loss is shared equally among so many ardent fans.

  19. Thanks for the words, Mac.

    Step back, everyone, and you’ll realize this has been a damned good year. We lost Thomson and Hampton for huge stretches of time, and Hudson for a shorter one, and we survived. We blew through two closers, one wretched and one just a glorified set-up man, and we survived. We broke in 18 rookies to some degree, and gave them experience they can draw on for the next decade, and we survived. We had Raul Mondesi in the opening day lineup, for God’s sake, and we survived. Sure, it’s disappointing to end the season like that, but we ran into a very good team playing very good baseball, with a roster perfectly balanced for a five-game series. Sometimes there’s a reason that all the experts pick one team to win.

    The front office has all sorts of ways they can play this offseason, so let’s see what they come up with. With all the young kids on the roster to develop or use in trade, time is on our side for the first offseason in years.

  20. Thanks, Mac, for all your hard work on this site–I don’t post much, but I read it every day. I want to thank all of the regulars and even the infrequent posters for the comments, as well. I love the Braves and wish today could have been different. I’d watch them six more hours tomorrow if I could.

  21. The better team won, I can’t really be upset. We came into the postseason with a beatup pitching staff and that’s why we lost. The Astros may not have much offense, but with their starters and solid bullpen they are a better team. We didn’t have much of a chance against the Cardinals anyway.

    Thanks for all the work with the site, mac.

  22. For some reason an 18 inning game made the end of the season easier to swallow. This is the first year I can think of where I’m not completely torn up about the Braves losing in the Division series. Maybe it’s because I love the “Baby Braves” so much and look forward to seeing them along with the Jones’ and Smoltz next April. I’m disappointed and sad, but not mad or completely upset like I usually am. I guess I kindof figured around the 13th or so (whenever the Braves had bases loaded with one out and didn’t score) that there wasn’t much of a chance they would win. I do feel really sorry for Joey Devine, though. This year was a really tough way for him to start his career. I hope he learns from this and will become a great relief pitcher for the Braves.

    Thank you Braves for another great year. Nobody believed in April or May (and into June) that the Braves had any shot of making it into October. The consensus was to let the young guys get in there and take their blows and come out strong next year. I am still thrilled all the rookies that played for the Braves this year came up and did what they did. Unfortunately, nobody could do anything for the last nine innings this afternoon and a great season had to end. I look forward to seeing all the guys again next year.

    I’ll definitely be sticking around during the offseason and at least reading everything. Life without the Braves for me (even in the winter) is inconceivable. Thank you Mac for heading up this blog. I have really looked forward to coming here everyday and seeing what other Braves fan have to say about my favorite team!

  23. Guys and Gals, thanks for a wonderful season. It was a wild and somewhat unexpected ride to far to quick a conclusion. Frustrating as all get out, but with a sprinkling of Leo magic and continued development from the youngsters on the roster and down on the farm, 14 may be just a start. Here’s to more game winners from Francoeur and the resulting head slaps from Marcus, more diving grabs from Andruw and clutch pitching from Smoltz, more gappers from Chipper and riding heat from Sosa. And thanks to the fans for sharing the season with me.

  24. Thanks Mac for all the work you do.

    I made the mistake of…

    A) Living in Philadelphia
    B) Inviting friends over for the Eagles-Cowboys game that started at 4:15

    Fortunately, the Cowboys gave the Eagles a quick thumping that allowed me to switch channels incessantly for the next 2 and a half hours without really pissing anyone off, with the exception of me as all my friends roared at the end of the baseball game. I don’t really like the Cowboys either, so I couldn’t get much gratification out of the football game either.

    Ok, I’ve only posted like 3 or 4 times and I realize if any of you are reading this, you don’t care, but it’s somewhat therapeutic for me.

    The play that really got me as it happened was Adam LaRoche running like he was in quicksand and getting thrown out. But why was he taken out after that? He was hitting the hell out of the ball up to that point.

    What I would do for next year is get Mark DeRosa back.

  25. Great job Mac.

    As painful as this is at a level, I can’t help but be proud of these guys and thankful for the treat they gave me this year.

    I never thought this team would be in the playoffs.

    There’s tinkering to be done and I imagine we’ll see a few moves.

    Bamadan, good to see you too. Maybe the Braves need to bring in Disco Danny Ford to be the batting coach.

  26. Grst, is it really the better team won? I would say that last year, but this year the Astros are just ready to hand the series to the Braves and the Braves just kept on beating themselves. I think the most disappointing thing is not the bullpen as we have expected that all along, the biggest disappointment is that Giles and Chipper once again disappeared when the Braves needed them the most. Furcal is also added to the missing in action list this year. I don’t know, my brain is not functioning very well right now with the disappointment, and whoever blaming Devine for today’s lost is totally crazy.

    Finally, Mac, thanks for all your hard work. Too bad this year comes to a disappointing end again.

  27. I’m somewhat crestfallen as is my whole family, but the fact remains that this was the most enjoyable Braves season in years. Overachievers who played with enthusiasm, the “Baby Braves” really came thru from June on to turn on this old fan. Looking forward to next season, to MAC great job, this site is a must for me everyday, Braves need help in middle relief, don’t believe Francouer needs anymore seasoning in AAA, Langerhans and Johnson are both nice players, would like to see LaRoche step up to be full time first baseman next year. Hope Horacio gets healthy. Counting the days til opening day.

  28. Jenny,

    Nobody’s throwing in the towel. I’ve been with the Atlanta Braves since 1976. I’ve seen all the great ones play with the exception of Aaron. As well, I have memorabilia signed by Spahn. Damn, I cried when I went to Cooperstown and saw the Hank Aaron room. I don’t post much because I simply like to watch but I’ll be checking things out in the interim and will definately get more involved next season since I know a few things and love to argue. Anyway, I think Mac has a great site and as a man in the business, so to speak, I appreciate the effort.


  29. Laurence, your Astros can work on their sorry offense this winter, and we will talk again next year. Good luck with the Cardinals, the Astros will need all the luck they can get.

  30. 50# … as long as Ford isn’t the fielding instructor, I wouldn’t mind seeing him replace Pendleton. This offense needs some help. If only we could add Hisle, Wilfong, and Wynegar! :-)

  31. I would love to add Brain Giles to the lineup, but the Braves have no space or money for him…

  32. If the kids make normal second-year gains, the offense should be okay… As much as Marcus and Chipper struggled, Francoeur had big problems too. If he does anything today the Braves win.

  33. Yeah, Francoeur has his share of problem. He was rushed to the big league due to needs, but it’s very hard to ask a ROY candidate to start at AAA next season. So, we just hope he will develop his patience at the major league level, which is quite hard to do…

  34. Smoltz has taken a pay cut. It’s time to ask Chipper to take a pay cut, but I don’t think the Braves will offer him additional years of contract like what they did with Smoltz last off-season…

  35. id like to see davies start in AAA an let the older chuck james and anthony lerew make the rotaton. and what happens to sosa in the braves plans next year?

  36. Decent middle relievers can be had for pretty cheap–management needs to ignore the allure of any gaudy free agents next year (after re-signing our guys, of course), and pick up a couple of solid, reliable innings-eaters. The performance in this game notwithstanding, I remain convinced that we would have won this series with just a few guys we could confidently put in 6-7-8 inning situations.

  37. An interesting tid-bit: My buddy Mike is a big Reds fan and he makes a big deal every year about the fact that the Reds were the first professional baseball team. However, I remind him every year, to his chagrin, that the Braves are the oldest professional baseball franchise. That is, the original Reds franchise folded and was followed by another franchise which eventually adopted the Reds moniker again. The original ‘Braves’ professional franchise started in 1871 (Boston Red Stockings) but did not become a part of what is now the MLB National League until 1876, if memory serves, and has continued since (under various names, of course), unabated. I have seen some discrepancies about whether the team was called the Red Stockings or Red Caps once they joined the National League in 1876. The Braves endure! I have researched this extensively so please add comments if your research contradicts.


  38. i agree with the above lineups by Kyle i believe, except for one thing.

    You don’t start Francoeur in Richmond, the kid at least earned a starting spot next year.

    And while getting Vazquez ( spell ) would be nice. . Sosa should be a starter as well.

    My rotation ( assuming Vazquez ) Smoltz, Husdon, Vazquez, Thomson, Sosa.

  39. Wow, I have an impostor. Cool.

    James would be in the package for Vazquez, ideally. Levski and I worked it out on Primer a few weeks back. Lerew doesn’t project to be as good of a starter, and Davies has been ahead of him developmentally since the middle of last year. I’d like to see him work on perfecting two pitches and coming out of the pen.

    Sosa could battle Davies for the fifth starter spot, but I think at some point everyone realizes the emperor has no clothes and his utility as a starter dries up.

    I agree that asking Francoeur to start in AAA isn’t realistic. However, after he pushed his average up to .432 (!!) on August 9th, he finished the season hitting .239/.283/.420, with an 11/43 BB/K ratio and only 6 homers in his last 176 at bats. I wouldn’t be concerned, except that I think that line is more in line with his minor league performance than his fantastic starting numbers.

  40. That’s correct, Brian. The Braves are the oldest major league franchise. They’re one of two teams (the Cubs are the other) still in operation from the first year of the National League, but the Braves started play in the National Association. Actually, they’re sort of descended from that original Red Stockings team; George Wright was the manager of that team and then organized the Boston club.

  41. I changed the channel the instant the ball got out and have tried not to think of it since. A tough one to swallow to be sure. thanks guys for all the good reads this year, see you next year.

  42. I could see Brian Giles fitting in nicely, and I’m sure he wouldn’t ask for the big bucks.

    Him and Marcus have been talking about playing together for how many years?

  43. I heard the Braves attendance was up 8% this year. Not a lot, but that is probably worth adding 6 million to the payroll. If that happens and Furcal leaves, they collect Hampton’s insurance, and don’t pay Kolb they could resign Farnsworth and have some money left over. Biggest ? for me is what do you do with Marte?

  44. Kolb was a big reason we were in this position. Devine would still be in Mississippi if Kolb had pitched worth a rat’s ass. Then maybe we still could’ve traded for Farnsworth to set-up.

  45. If we hadn’t traded for Kolb, we would still have Jose Capellan. I wonder how he could have contributed this year.

  46. I’d like to chip in my two cents about Mac and this site- I’ve emailed him a couple of times and he always gets right back to me, which is really impressive even if he knew me, which he doesn’t. This site is incredible, and I’ll miss the game logs and running commentary. I especially appreciate the extra lengths he goes to- the Road From Bristol is the obvious example, but even Danny’s Bolg was awesome. Wish I could be more eloquent, but the best I can do is say thanks for all the effort and care. It’s definitely appreciated.

  47. One other thing- I am hoping, though it is not easy to stage such things, to get a picture of my four month old son pissing on a Houston hat while wearing his Braves onesie. Not the classiest thing to do but I need a vent for my frustration and I clearly have too much time on my hands. If I can rig it up I’ll see if I can post it. In the meantime, looking forward to the hot stove- it should be an exciting offseason, I would think!

  48. Yeah, I’d like to thank Mac for providing me a place to post my Dan Kolb snuff fiction. In fact, if this place didn’t exist, I never would have been inspired to write it in the first place.

  49. This was one of the best and most frustrating games I’ve ever seen. My heart told me the series was lost in Game 3 when Jordan hit instead of Franco or Betemit, so I watched today’s game with a sense of appreciation of what the Braves have going for them heading into 2006.
    My first thought is that Schuerholz needs to hold a “Major League” training camp for bullpen help. Basically any guy who just got out of prison or isn’t dead should be given a shot at a bullpen slot. Hold the glove out knee-high on the outside corner, and anybody who can hit it consistently 8 times out of 10 with some movement makes the squad.
    The Braves’ failure to assemble even an average bullpen staff — something that I assume can be done on the cheap — was painful to watch. If JS and Bobby can find a couple more live, consistent arms, one for the fifth toe will be a lock.
    (And bring back Furcal if it’s at all reasonable to do it.)
    This is a great site, and the first place I check when I need a Braves fix.

  50. Grst, is it really the better team won? I would say that last year, but this year the Astros are just ready to hand the series to the Braves and the Braves just kept on beating themselves.

    Yes, they are a better team, and they have been through most of the season really, when you consider how far back they were and thus how much better they had to play to get to basically the same record as we had.

  51. The free agents I’d like to see come to Atlanta the most are Brian Giles, BJ Ryan, Todd Jones, Jeff Weaver, Scott Eyre or Daryle Ward. I realize we probably can’t afford most of these guys, but I’m just sayin’.

  52. Haha–no, Jenny, I’m not “cunfesinng to bieng DANNY.” I posted a story once in a game thread in which Bobby Cox takes Danny Kolb into the forest and then leaves him there to die. Just some lighthearted family fare.

  53. I just have a few random thoughts to share. Most of them have probably been said, but that’s what this place is all about, right? Spewing random thoughts to other die-hard fans because our friends and family think we are insane?(At least in my case, anyway) Here goes…

    First, I am really proud to say I am a Braves fan. This year’s team was the epitome of hard work, determination and class. There is no organization in baseball that I would rather root for.

    I hate to admit this, but when the game went to extra innings, I had no doubt in my mind that we would lose. I really didn’t want to watch, but I couldn’t help myself. You know how sometimes you just know? Well, I just knew we would lose that game. I am probably one of many who had that feeling, but it’s just like Mac said, “At a certain point, you just have to admit it wasn’t to be.” Every single break was going to the Astros, and they are generally lucky as is, and we are very UNlucky, so for me, it was a pretty easy prediction.

    There is no park in baseball that I hate as much as Minute Maid park. Even before this game, I loathe and despise that ridiculous shoebox-in-disguise-as-a-ballpark. It’s just silly. I say this fully aware that the breaks COULD have gone our way, but I would still feel the same. Moderately-hard hit opposite field line drives should not become grand slams. Home runs should not be home runs if they WOULDN’T have been home runs 2 feet farther left, unless a foul line/pole is involved. And maybe this is stretching it, but home runs should be required to go over a wall. There is a certainty and satisfaction that comes from seeing that ball disappear as opposed to having it bounce into play while the outfielders chase it as the umpires decide if it hit a yellow line or not.

    Adding to my last point, if you are going to randomly draw “home run lines” on outfield walls, instant replay should be utilized to determine whether or not balls are actually home runs. I am not saying that any plays in today’s game would have been changed, but it’s only fair for both teams.

    If nothing else good comes from this season, at least we know (don’t we?) that the front office will assure us of a decent bullpen next year. I can’t think of a worse way to lose baseball games than to have your bullpen come in and look like NAIA pitchers. I would much rather have bad defense, poor offense, or even poor starting pitching, because at least then you don’t have victory pried from your hands at the last second.

    I know every guy in that bullpen gave 200% this season, and they obviously WANTED to pitch better than they did, but each and every one of them needs to personally apologize to Tim Hudson and all the other starters who suffered from their inconsistency.

    I remember the first couple weeks of the season seeing Tom Martin pitching and thinking, this (the bullpen) is going to be a problem. I wish I had been wrong.

    I am already so excited for next year. It’s going to be awesome to see the young guys’ improvements over the winter. I really think that if we keep most of them around, they are going to continue to change the dynamic of the clubhouse. I think the attitude of the team is in for a change, and that’s a good thing. This may have been the best thing to happen to the younger guys, because they will be so hungry to get back to the postseason and win.

    I am FAR from an expert, and most of my guesses are just that, but I have a few uneducated predictions of how the team will shake out next year:

    1. I think we will pick up Thomson’s option, and I think he will, if healthy, be a very good pitcher for us. I think he’ll end up being a bargain.

    2. I don’t think we will pay Farnsworth. For some reason, I don’t think Leo and Bobby like his demeanor and makeup, and I think he gets a lot of money from someone other than us.

    3. Unlike lots of folks, I think we end up re-signing Furcal. I believe that someone talks some sense into him by reminding him that he is already a multi-millionaire, and he will NEVER have a better situation in pro baseball than he does in Atlanta. He takes a pay cut and stays in town.

    4. I also think that we keep Estrada and LaRoche. If one is traded, I think it is Estrada. McCann is the future behind the plate, and I think everyone knows it.

    5. I think Kelly Johnson gets traded. I don’t know how, why, or for whom, but I just have a feeling he will be involved in some offseason deal.

    6. I think Tim Hudson (finally with a bullpen that preserves his leads) calms down next year and is a serious Cy Young candidate. 20 wins.

    Like I said, I have no basis for most of that stuff, just gut feeling. Well, sorry for taking so much space up, I have only recently started posting, but I have read here for a long time. I enjoy the outlet, and I look forward to reading hot stove news during the offseason. All in all, what a great season.

  54. brian giles would be an excellent addition. i see next year’s roster as being mostly dependent on whether the braves feel wilson betemit can play shortstop. if he can, and the braves somehow sign him, i think the lineup will look like this:

    m. giles
    b. giles
    c. jones
    a. jones
    j. francoeur
    a. laroche/a. marte
    b. mccann
    w. betemit

    if giles signs with atlanta i’d send johnson to richmond, though i have no idea if he has options left. langerhans becomes an excellent fourth outfielder, and there’s infield depth with orr and franco on the bench. the drawback to this is they’d probably have to start with one of the can’t hit shortstop prospects on the bench too, so trading orr for next year’s jorge sosa would be nice.

    pitching wise, the top of the rotation is set, but i think the other spots should go to thomson, sosa and davies. i don’t see the need for vasquez, to start out the season at least. i’d put james in the pen and let him strike out a ton of lefties until he either is forced into the rotation due to injury or becomes trade bait before the deadline.

    i don’t know what else i’d do with the bullpen. i probably disagree with most here in that i want no part of kyle farnsworth next year.

  55. As I have mentioned, I like Brain Giles to come. Why? Because he can beat the shit out of Marcus when his little brother does something stupid (which can happen quite often as we all know). I still love Marcus, but he is a bit too hyper (like the opposite of LaRoche). If we don’t resign Furcal, then we will have money to sign Brian Giles.

    Don’t know how the starting rotation and bullpen will figure next year. As everybody has mentioned, Smoltz, Hudson, and Thomson are probably set. The question is who will be our fourth and fifth starter? I hope the Braves will trade HoRo because he is just not good enough for us. The question is 1) whether the Braves want to put two of Davies/James/Lerew in the back end of the rotation; or 2) if we will trade for a lefthanded starter or 3) giving the starting role full time to Sosa (which may give the Braves five right-handed starters in the rotation).

    Unfortunately, with the way Bobby and Leo likes HoRo, I think HoRo will end up being the fourth starter with the trio of James/Davies/Lerew fighting for the fifth spot. I think the Braves would like to keep Sosa in the bullpen (maybe even our closer as Alex R has suggested many times?) because Sosa does not have the endurance Bobby and Leo would like to have being a starter. I actually like the future of the bullpen a lot with Boyer, McBride, and Devine. If we add Sosa to those three, the bullpen will be very good.

    So, the future of the Braves are very bright and JS has a lot of flexibility this winter. Just that the ending of this season is way too disappointing. I still think the Braves are a better team than the Astros. The Astros won because the Braves beat themselves and the short left field of their park. None of the three hrs hit by the Astros today deserve to be homers.

    Farnsworth, I like him a lot, but he may cost too much for being an unproven closer. If Dampster can get $15M for 3 yrs, I am sure Farnsworth will get more. So, thanks the stupid Cubs for driving up the market price. No wonder why they can never win like the Mets.

    I agree with Tennessee Brave that I think KJ will get traded this winter. I like the kid as a hitting prospect, but he just has no position to play. If his offense was better than he showed this year, perhaps I can live with his shortcoming in left field. However, KJ’s defense in leftfield is just terrible. Let him be someone else’s problem and see if we can get something good for him. I doubt the A’s will trade Barry Zito, but a package of HoRo, KJ, Brayan Pena, and Reitsma is quite attractive!!!

  56. Let me say in this posting a big THANK YOU for Mac and this site. All things considered, the Braves had a good year and I really enjoyed being about to follow it here. Since I spend most of the year in Singapore, I get a great deal out of both Mac’s incisive writing and the comments which follow. Let me add that the unfortunate demise of No Pepper aptly illustrates both the durability and quality of Braves Journal.

    I want to also thank everyone for the posts which also contribute to the high level of discussion which has come to define Braves Journal.

    Finally, I want to add that in many ways this site is even better during the winter months. The discussion on Braves Journal are even more important during the offseason because news and insights about the team are even harder to come by. So, keep up the good work!

  57. Hey Stephen, you are at Singapore? I am in Hong Kong, I watched the game from 1am to 7am in the morning. To see such ending after losing a night of sleep is completely heart broken…

  58. As someone posted earlier… the way this one was lost makes it somehow easier to swallow than in the past. Let’s be honest: How could we have won against the Cards anyway? The team overachieved in my view. It was a fantastic season with a frustrating and heart breaking finish. Well, we’ll be back next year.
    Thank you very much to everybody for this great forum. I am not posting many messages because most of the time, all is being said. Anyway, I will stick around during the winter (what else is there to do during wintertime in Germany?). Thanks and take care, Timo

  59. KC–Glad to know that there are more Braves fans in Asia. Anyway, no I missed it: one problem is that ESPN Singapore tends to be erratic and unless there is advance notice, one can safely assume that some sort of football will be on. That said, I am old enough to need my rest…

  60. I know it’s been said by a few, but I definitely feel obligated to mention it. Bobby managed this game perfectly as far as I can tell. And it just didn’t work out. Can’t say that for all of them, but as much as I gripe about his in game decisions I owe it to the cosmos to acknowledge that he did everything right today. It’s just too damn bad. I wish I cared about any of the other teams still in it… I’m not ready to be done. So….

    Go…. White Sox? Crap… I don’t care.

  61. If you can stand to look at it, there is an interesting article at THT charting the win probability added of the game yesterday. A couple of telling stats: Of the five Braves players whose net performance most increased the Braves’ chances of winning, 4 were pitchers (Brower, Reitsma, Thomson, and Hudson). The only offensive player in the top 5 was LaRoche. Langerhans and AJ were the only other offensive starters with a net positive contribution. As you might expect, Farnsworth and Devine were the only negative pitching contributors, but neither was the “leader” in negative contribution — it was actually McCann. Francouer and Giles were also very culpable, both worse than Devine. Here is the link if you are interested:http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/a-game-of-epic-proportions/

  62. Rufino – Good luck with your little project. Yeah, sure, it’s a little immature, but it’ll make you feel better (us too, if you can post it). And, besides, everything kids do at that age is cute, right? You might even end up framing it and putting it on the den wall :)

  63. The press and everyone else (including my co-worker, a Yankees fan) will talk about how dominant the Astros’ pitching was, but, as one Atlanta politician used to say, “that dog won’t hunt.” The Braves scored 21 runs in four games, which averages out pretty well, and I don’t think they made one error the entire division series. No, it was the Braves’ bullpen that faltered, not their bats.

  64. Very true. But I actually almost feel good about the pen next year. All these kids like McBride, Boyer and, yes, even (if not especially) Devine. Not to mention Lerew and others I’m sure I’ve forgotten. As long as they stay healthy and in the organization, that bullpen could even end up being an asset.

    I do worry about the rotation. But Thomson looks like he’s got it back together, and davies is ready. That coule make for a solid four, but needing a decent lefty to make five. Sosa will almost certainly have to be traded. We just can’t pay 3-4 million dollars for him. He had a great season, and I loved every heart-stopping, curse-inspiring moment of it. Overachieching should be acknlowedge as a meaningful accomplishment (I’m looking at you, BP!), but it shouldn’t be forgotten either. Thanks, farewell and best of luck to you, Mr. Sosa.

  65. As a follow up to my earlier post on WPA, it has some problems as a tool for evaluating performance. The timing of when events occur affects their value to a large degree (for example, McCann’s net contributions would have looked significantly better if his solo homer came after Berkman’s grand slam, instead of when the Braves already had a 4 run lead). Still, it paints an interesting picture of how a player’s performance affected the game outcome at the time the event occurred.

  66. Has anyone noticed that this entire game was a microcosm of the last two games of the 1991 World Series? I mean, the Braves are up, looking to win, but give up a home run that sends it to another game, then lose due to a hit by a relatively unknown player, eliminating them from contention.

  67. Funny how I agonized of whether I was even ready to come here this morning and now I can’t stop posting.

    But I’d like to add that I still think Estrada needs to be trade. He’s in the way and very valuable in trade… especially for a team on a budget. I think Pena should spend most of his winter vacation bunking up at the Corrales residence learning how to throw to second. And if that doesn’t work, just get a decent backup for McCann. He’s ready, and if he stays healthy and manages to avoid young catcher stagnation, he’s almost certain to be one of the best… and soon.

  68. Trade Estrada. McCann/Perez for next year. It pains me to say it. I’ve advocated Wilson, I called for a FA signing of Bill E. Hall. But, at seasons end, having been kicked in the stomach with cleats for 6 hours, I’m of the opinion we NEED to resign furcal. nut, no way he’d take the 3yr/24 million we’d offer. Not when he could become the 2nd basemen for the New York Free Agents.

    by the way, I dont know who it was, but that comment a few months ago about the yankees signing furcal, so Jeter could be the 3rd best shortstop in the infield still slays me.

  69. Well now we move on to the who’s gone/staying part of the season. I too think Estrada will be traded. He still has value and could possibly reel in a good reliver. Relief pitching is what Atlanta needs to build on period.

  70. OK, I’m sorta almost kinda ready to start looking towards next season.

    I think Estrada is gone. He is much more valuable to a team that needs a top 20 catcher than one looking for a backup. Still solid, still useful; just more valuable elsewhere.

    Seeing 50 Pound Head around, made me think of a good replacement: Matt LeCroy. LeCroy mashes left handed pitching so he could spell McCann there. He also can play 1B if needed, so if LaRoche is still the #1 1B and Franco finally acts his age, there is a little help. Plus he would be a top flight power pinch hitter, something the bench lacked recently. He isn’t a good defensive player, but throws better than Pena. And having been released by Minnesota, he ought to be cheap.

  71. Thanks for all your work this year Mac. No one has their finger on the pulse of this team as much as you – I don’t even bother checking what the AJC has to say about the team.

    That was a rough loss to take, but I take solace in the fact that despite a few aging vets, this is a young team with a bright future with many promising players on the farm. For all those who are thinking of giving up the ship, to paraphrase one of my favorite quotes relating to sports, “you can’t pick who you fall in love with” Go Braves in ’06.

  72. Certainly either Estrada or Pena will go (I also vote Estrada). LeCroy really needs to be a DH that faces only lefties, and only appear in the field in an emergency. We have plenty of organizational depth at catcher, and we have a possible logjam at 1st (see below) so I wouldn’t add him to the roster. The key position player decisions are whether or not Furcal gets re-signed (I still tend to think it won’t happen because the price will be too high), and whether or not Chipper moves to first base. Everything else hinges on those decisions.

  73. O.K. I’m all cried out!!!
    Time to move on. I knew deep down that once they tied the game in the ninth, that it may not be in the cards.
    I will be hanging around all off-season as I am very interested to see what direction the braves go this winter. There are so many intriguing ways to take this team for next year. I must say that my optimism for the future has not been higher in a long time. With all the young guys showing their mettle this year, I am confident we’ll break through in the near future.
    Can’t wait to read the post mortem…

  74. In my opinion, we should attempt to retain Jim Brower. He seemed to figure something out during his Richmond stint, and he was lights out in the playoffs, giving us innings when we needed them. I can’t believe, after his first couple of months with us, that I feel this way, but I do.

    I also think Estrada and Kelly Johnson should be dealt, and I think either Thomson (after his option is picked up) or Sosa will also be dealt. (Unfortunately, I see us hanging on to HR at least another year.) I agree that we have the makings of a solid bullpen already, we just need to get more consistency and probably add at least one veteran who knows what he’s doing.

    I think we need to make a serious push to retain Furcal, and I think we need another scary bat for the middle of our order–a Brian Giles or an Adam Dunn. Probably just wishful thinking, but I sure hope not.

  75. Am I correct in saying that Bobby and Leo’s contracts run out this winter? I’ve been hearing a lot of talk that he may go to Baltimore if Perlozzo is hired permanently because they are old friends and this is supposedly something he’s wanted to do, and NYY will pursue him aggressively in the off-season. Shouldn’t we be worried about that as well? He probably won’t go anywhere, but I don’t want to take anything for granted.

    I’ve been on the Brian Giles bandwagon for awhile now and I’m still there. I don’t want to give him more than a two year deal because Francoeur and Langerhans are the future of our outfield, but I really think Francoeur needs some time in Richmond to learn some patience. We say “Oh, it’s just the way he is” but it will catch up to him and it really hurt us this series when he swung at the first pitch and popped out all the time. He needs to settle down a little. Langerhans is ready, though. I personally think Brian will resign with San Diego unless Marcus gets on the phone and pulls a serious Whining Little Brother routine. At some point, the two of them are going to be on the same team, and probably in the not-so-distant future, since Brian is getting up there in years. Let’s hope it’s here and we don’t have to watch the first good 2B we’ve had in awhile run off to California.

    I also want to echo the thanks to Mac for running such a great site. There’s a lot of garbage on the Internet, but this is really great stuff and I love reading it.

  76. Hey, can we rename him Kyle Farnsworthless? Former Cubs didn’t do so hot for us this season, did they?

  77. You know, officially the Braves lost in 4 games this year, but it’s uncanny how they actually ended up playing the same amount of innings as they have for the past 3 years. I told one of my friends yesterday morning that if the Braves were going to end up losing game 5 then they might as well lose game 4 and save me the suspense. While I was really rooting for them to win two games, it’s funny (now, it wasn’t so funny last night) how inningwise it ended up the Braves losing game 5 but they just did it a day earlier then was scheduled just so we wouldn’t have to wonder for another day.

    I too, have a feeling KJ will be gone next year. He has become one of my favorite players, so it’ll be sad to say goodbye but I’ve had the feeling for awhile he won’t be back. Also, I’m starting to wonder about LaRoche. After he was thrown out at the plate because he was jogging around the bases, he went out and played defense for one more inning before Franco came in. Now, maybe something else happened, but if Bobby sat LaRoche because he wasn’t running his hardest, do you think LaRoche will be back next year? Maybe I’m way off here, but if Bobby has a problem with a player that can’t be but so good for that player.

    One last thing. Bobby and Leo better be back next year. I know they’re going to leave at some point, but I don’t especially want it to be anytime soon. After yesterday’s ballgame where Garner ended up with zero player left either on the bench or in the bullpen and it was Roger Clemens or bust, I realized how brilliant Bobby really is. I mean, at the end of the game 7 spots in the lineup were the same as they were when the game started. I know they guys must have gotten tired, but I liked how Bobby basically said “you’re the best team I can field—go win this game.” All the pinch hitters were for the pitcher’s spot (and Franco replaced LaRoche defensively). I think Bobby did an excellent job. Loyalty seems to be his best strength and greatest weakness, but he finally just let the rookies play yesterday, and that was good to see. I think we definitely need Leo around next year while we attempt to rebuild the bullpen. Those guys have given us 14 great years, and I don’t want it to end now.

  78. I know this is late, and I know I haven’t posted the last couple of days.

    But here is the sum of my feelings: #*&%_(#%&#(&@$@(&@%*_@%_($&_)*#$@Y*)^@^*)HSHLKENFUG#)*

    Thank you.

    Seriously, yesterday sucked, the day before sucked. We scored more than 5 runs a game. Our starters were good enough to win. As has been the case all year, the bullpen was a giant black hole that made the whole team suck so much nothing could escape.

    I’m thinking of next year already. Dreaming of Brian Giles, Javy Vazquez, Andy Marte, & a full year of Boyer in the pen; mixed feelings about the impending departures of Dank Lob, LaRoche, Estrada, one of KJ/Langerhans, HR(please!), and Furcal.

    The team should be better next year. We only need relievers. I don’t know who, or how, but I have faith that JS can fix it. Hopefully he won’t patch the bullpen hole and open up another one somewhere else. We’ll see.

    I also want to echo so many other’s comments to Mac. Thanks so much for your once again awesome job this season. I look forward to reading, though less frequently, in the offseason, and I’ll be here next year, hopefully it’ll have a better ending. See ya guys!

  79. Marte seems to be the forgotten factor in all of this. Just because he didn’t play much (or well) this year, he’s still our top prospect but it all comes down to Chipper and whether he’s willing to move.

    I wish Chipper would suck it up and move to first (to end his career there), trade LaRoche, put Marte at 3B, make Furcal a fair offer and hope he gives us a hometown discount. We have plenty of intriguing talent and Schuerholz will come up with another brilliant trade.

  80. It all comes down to the Braves drafting but not keeping Randy Johnson. That lead to us signing Maddux as a FA instead of Bonds. We coulda won like 5 WS championships and none of us would really be so sad right now.

    At one point in time, before the self imposed salary cap, the lineup could have been Bonds, Andruw, Sheff, Chipper, Furcal, Giles, Fick, Lopez, Big Unit, Glavine, Smoltz.

  81. Well, at least Bobby didn’t blow this one. The Kerosene Kids did, although Brower pitched great and Devine did too, except for one.

    When the Roach got thrown out, I had this sick feeling that that would come back to haunt. And it is not a “slow runner”. He jogged the whole way, and he didn’t even turn it up when he got the green light. That was a church league softball player running. My 11 year old daughter would have blown by him like lightning.

  82. Drew,

    Very good post mortem. This was truly a good year, all things considered. If the Braves had not lost a game that they were leading by 5 runs in the 8th to end the season, I might honestly feel that way, too.

    Seriously, a win in game four and a repeat of last year’s game 5 in Atlanta, and I would not feel this wretchedly nauseous.

    When you think about it, it was the perfect way to end the season. This team had one of the worst bullpens ever. It is fittingly appropriate, really, to lose in a situation where no playoff-caliber team would. I cannot believe that any MLB pen would give up 4 runs to the ‘Stros in the 1st inning it was called on in virtually every game.

  83. You can blame the park all you want, but it was the team’s fault. As you may guess, both teams play on the same field.
    Ausmus’ home run was 406′. That’s hardly a joke.

    Both teams are allowed to hit into the chip-shot Crawford Boxes in left. They aren’t moved back and forth between half innings.

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