Braves 2, Cubs 1

ESPN.com – MLB – Box Score – Cubs at Braves

See, if you were a Cubs fan you would have just watched your team get dominated by Lance Cormier and your manager sit on his hands in the last inning of a one-run game rather than use a pinch-hitter for your subnormal 6-7-8 hitters.

The Braves actually were one-hit to two out in the fifth, but had gotten a run anyway in the third. Langerhans (getting the start for Andruw in center) hit a leadoff double, Cormier sacrificed him to third, and Aybar brought him home on a groundout. It stayed that way to the sixth, when Cormier allowed a leadoff homer, but LaRoche and McCann had back-to-back doubles to retake the lead in the bottom of the inning. The Cubs got a leadoff triple from Henry Blanco, of all people, in the seventh, when Francoeur misplayed the ball. But Cormier pitched around it.

He finished with ten strikeouts and no walks, eight hits, 98 pitches, 69 strikes. It was fairly impressive, but the Cubs didn’t look too interested plus they’re the Cubs. Kali allowed a one-out double but got out of it, and Wickman got two strikeouts and a groundout when Dusty Baker decided to end the game with Derrek Lee sitting on the bench.

The Braves only had seven baserunners, five hits and two walks, and LaRoche (who had one of the walks) was the only Brave who reached twice. Now the Phillies.

UPDATE: I am reminded that this is a stupid wraparound series and we have one more with the Cubs. Who suck.

46 thoughts on “Braves 2, Cubs 1”

  1. 17-3, 3 victories down, 17 more until we make the playoffs. you guys PUMPED?!!!! Mac, we have one more with chicago.

  2. Yeah, one more against the loser Cubs. Smoltz is pitching. Maybe the Braves can put someone else out there and let Smoltz have the first game against the Phillies?

  3. Yeah two whole starts, the last one being a quality one I think (wasn’t it three runs in six innings against the Mets?)

    No one I’d rather have on the mound for the Braves for a win than Smoltz.

  4. No one is comparing him to Smoltz. I think he was just saying that Cormier could be a productive pitcher. He may be right…

  5. Since June, 4 games under is the best we have been. Maybe playing the Cubs won’t be so bad since it would allow us to cross a line of resistance. Here’s hoping that we’ll see 3 games under tomorrow. After that, we’ll see…

  6. Let’s face it..

    Injuries have been the story this year — and while Andruw has had a good year, it wasn’t last year.

    I think we have a lot to look forward to next year…if Francoeur can double his walks and halve his errors.

  7. Was that really Cormier that pitched, or did someone take his place and wear his uniform? 10 strikeouts – ya’ gotta be kidding me.

  8. Well it was the Cubs.

    It better be Smoltz, Hudson, Hampton, James/Ramirez/Davies next year. If Cormier becomes some new starter and somebody else is traded Schuerholz should be fired.

  9. wow, only 4 games under .500. Smoltz has had the opportunity to finish off sweeps in his last two starts (I think) and hasnt pitched well. Hopefully that will change and he can get the win tomorrow.

  10. Creeping back to .500 is nice. Didn’t see any of the games this weekend. (Watched the Dawgs at a Manhattan sports bar & went to CBGB’s afterward to see this old punk band, the Angry Samoans, who play classics like “My Old Man Is a Fatso.”) I’m not hopeful for a whole lot, but winning is always better than the alternative. Go down fighting. Anyone going to the game on Wednesday vs. Philly? I’ll be there.

    But…how…’bout…them…Dawgs?

  11. I was at the game waaay up high, and I really thought it must have been the altitude. I couldn’t believe all of those Cingular “Ks” in right field. It feels good to be on the right side of a 15K game for once. Poor Cubs. I actually felt sorry for all the invading fans who showed up. I would rather be a Devil Ray fan.

  12. Good to hear the Angry Samoans are still rockin’ it. Them, the Dickies, the Descendents and later the Angry Milkmen were my favorites of the 80’s humor punk scene. I must have put “My Old Man’s a Fatso” on a hundred mix tapes.

    And yeah, how ’bout them Dawgs. The talk down at the grocery store today was all about Stafford. No one wants Joey T to come back.

  13. One thing that Malone said that I want to take issue with. I know that it may be sematics, but I just don’t see how you can say that Andruw has had a good year – even if you quantify it by saying it was below last year’s standard. He has had a terrible second half (when it’s mattered most) and he is not coming close to earning his hefty salary.

    I’ve neer been an Andruw basher (and I’m still not), but I would like to see him traded in the off-season. Maybe I’m missing something, but he doesn’t look like he’s in very good shape (as compared to 5 years ago – of course he wasn’t as productive offensively then) and seems to be a major injury waiting to happen. Let’s get something for him while his value is high and unload his heavy salary. I would put him behind Renteria, LaRoche, McCann, and Chipper (when he’s healthy) in terms of overall worth to the team. Heck, even Diaz has been as good or better during his time as a starter. Giles is pretty close also. This isn’t good for a top MVP candidate from a year ago.

  14. In response to Dan’s post, yes it was the Cubs!!! As I’ve said before, I would like to see the Braves trade for a top notch starter and I don’t want to see Cormier in next year’s rotation. However, he could be pretty valuable next year as a spot starter (especially considering the injury prone tendencies of Ramirez, Hampton and Davies and Smoltzie’s age). The injury tendencies of the guys listed above are precisely why I think the Braves need one more top quality starter!

    I don’t believe a starting rotation of Smoltz, Hudson, Hampton, James/Ramirez/Davies is good enough for us to win the division next year (even if Hudson has a much better year).

  15. Hudson, Giles and Andruw as trade bait could net us some interesting players. We need offense in LF and a reliable starter.

    I don’t advocate trading Andruw, but td’s right…his value may never be as high.

  16. I really like Andruw, but I would have to say this offseason would be the best time to deal him. I think the reasons are obvious, as well. I just hope nostalgia doesn’t deter JS from moving on.

  17. That gut on Andruw has been getting bigger the last couple of years. No wonder he’s been having knee problems. Love him as a player but it might be time to cut the cord. Frenchy is already more popular as a player, so it is not like we would be trading away the 2008 face of the franchise. Ideally, BMac will be that guy in the future anyway. Let AJ go to the Yankees and get his payday. Lawd knows he’s earned it. Besides, the strip clubs are better in the Big Apple.

    Count it! (apologies Smitty)

  18. And when I say Frenchy is more popular as a player I mean to the masses that casually follow the team around the Atlanta area, not the keen observers on this board and elsewhere. I guarantee that more 11 year olds in Marietta want to be Frenchy than Andruw, is all I’m sayin’. Anyone got any stats on jersey sales this past season?

    On another note, I’m interested to see how Diaz would produce if given the job in LF. His D is mediocre at this point but his bat has been great in limited playing time. I know no one is really “clutch” but it seems like he came through more often than not this year. I don’t know, I just like the cut of his jib, so to speak, and think he could be a solid and cheap player for us next year. It’s certainly worth letting him and KJ duke it out in left for the first half of the year. Thoughts?

  19. Diaz is the worst LF we’ve had since Lonnie Smith, but he’s hit like crazy this year. I kinda think it’s flukey, but .335 is .335, right?

    Re: The Dawgs.
    Hate to say it, but I don’t mind Joe T on the shelf. Whatever happens with Stafford, I think I can deal with. He’s got a gun. He’ll make some more mistakes, but he’ll also make some big plays. He’ll also open up the running game much more than Joe T ever could. We’re not going undefeated anyway. But let’s get this era started.

  20. @19

    Wow, Matsui, Williams, Jones, Sheffield, Cabrera, Damon. That would be one hell of a crowded outfield.

  21. I think the Braves keep Andruw and make a run next year. He will leave after that. The NL is so weak that it won’t take that much to contend–if they are able to keep Wickman or sign another decent closer, they will probably be in WC contention at least. I think the idea about trading all these guys and building up the team is more fantasy than reality. It’s really hard to trade established players for other established players. Generally, all you do is weaken one part of the team to strengthen another. If you trade players, you are more likely to get prospects. In other words, expecting to trade Andruw or LaRoche or somebody and get equal value in pitching just isn’t likely to work. Usually trades for established players involve one side getting fleeced.

  22. Diaz is 28, all-hitting OBP, little power, and not-so-good defensively. I think we’ve just witnessed the high-water mark of Diaz’s career.

  23. I think Diaz can be just as good next year, if used right. He’ll crush lefties for a while (shoot, even Jordan crushed lefties a few years ago), and if we can get someone to platoon with him that can hit righties (Langerhans/KJ?) then we can be in good shape in LF. I would like to see Atlanta do a deal with Boston to pick up Coco Crisp who would be a good CF/Lead-off type that we need.

  24. Andruw is in one of his valleys, making this a dangerous time to draw any conclusions about him. Did it happen “when it mattered most”? Well yeah, but how was he last year when it mattered most? Reality check — while Beltran is far and away the best CF in the NL, Andruw is far and away the second best.

    I can’t see trading him before his contract runs out — we would be creating a new gaping hole just to try and fix an old one. If we had a viable in-house option, that would be one thing, but we don’t. If we’re going to let him walk, then the best course of action is to get one more year out of the SECOND BEST CF IN THE NL and then spend the money wisely for 2008.

    In fact, I don’t think you do anything to the outfield next year other than tell Frenchy, Diaz, Langy, and KJ that the starting job for each position is available to whoever earns it. They each do some things well, and they’re all cheap. We’ll cobble it together.

  25. We’re getting an 800 OPS from the LF position this year — I don’t see Coco Crisp doing any better than that.

  26. I’ve been thrilled to see the success Diaz had this year – but I don’t see him being a long term answer (though I’d be happy to be proven wrong on it). His year reminds me of the year Eli Marrero had for the Braves a couple years back (and then he totally lost it since then)

  27. Diaz is not the answer next year in LF. But before paying a lot of money for production out of LF, I’d give KJ or Scott Thorman a shot. We have a few pitching needs to be spending our money on.

    Unfortunately Francoeur has ‘earned’ the RF position because Joe Simpson says he is a good player.

  28. @35

    *sigh* I’m getting sick of this. Absolutely sick of it. Like it or not, he is the starter. So he has to be taught paitence at this level. You guys may be having wet dreams of Frenchy being benched or sent to Richmond, but dammit, it’s not going to happen!

  29. Just yesterday I was being blasted for suggesting the trades of players like Andruw and today I wake up and see that others are joining in. Damn you! You bunch of pessimists and defeatists…

    Seriously, I agree that trading individuals like Andruw serve to weaken you at that position. He’s absolutely right. Trading individuals like Andruw, Giles, and LaRoche (to name my favorite subjects) will necessarily weaken us there–each is either outstanding or has been outstanding in recent years. So, the only reason to do it is to improve other, even weaker areas (pitching, clearly).

    The question then becomes, can you improve the pitching enough to suffer the blow to the offense and, perhaps, defense as well. As an advocate of such moves (not because I’m giving up next year, quite the contrary), I believe that we have ready replacements (although definitely not as good) in either Francouer/Langerhans for Andruw, Aybar for Giles, and Thorman for LaRoche. I’m not arguing that any of these would be as good (or even nearly as good). But, if they could net us pitching then it would be worth it, particularly solid starting pitching.

    There’s definitely a risk involved. The Marlins have showed, though, that such trades can work, although they weren’t trying to make them work for this year. Perhaps my error is in thinking that we could get any major league ready pitching…

  30. @37

    I agree, Sam, he isn’t going to be benched or sent down. In the minds of the Braves he is a productive player because of those triple crown stats. In reality the best that can be said for Jeff Francoeur’s 2006 season is that he cancelled out his power and run production with a horrific OBP.

    IMHO a team with true championship aspirations and a true understanding of what a productive player is wouldn’t be asking its top prospect to learn plate discipline in the majors.

  31. @40

    I agree. That is the most disturbing thing about how the Braves are handling Francoeur. Its almost like they are looking at the back of the bubble gum card and saying ‘just a couple of more hits and the kid is hitting .275 and that would be great’. Or maybe ‘if he would just try to go the other way a couple of times’.

    As much as I have admired the Braves annoucing team, I’ve always wondered how much of a mouth piece they are for the organization. So when Joe Simpson, whom I have lost all respect for since his Morgan like diatribes against Moneyball, says that everyone in the world is wrong about Francoeur, I have wondered if thats really the Braves saying all that.

  32. The Braves are near the top of the league in runs scored. Whatever faults Francoeur has, he’s not the reason the team is going to miss the playoffs (Tim Hudson, injuries, bullpen). Some players such as McCann seem to have an almost instinctive understanding of how to approach at bats, work pitchers, and be quality major league hitters. For others (see: Francoeur) it takes seasoning. Andruw Jones still flails away at sliders outside and fastballs at forehead level after 10 years in the bigs, so maybe we should cut Jeff some slack for his frequent bonehead at bats.

    We all wish Jeff would improve at a faster rate, but the Braves are sensible to be patient with him and let him learn at the major league level. Who else do they have? Brian Jordan? If Jeff does hit 30 homers, drives in 100 rbi, and finishes with a .270 BA and .300 OBP, that’s not all that terrible for a 22 year old in his first major league season. If he is still stuck at those numbers in 3 or 4 years, then it’ll be time to dump him.

  33. “Diaz is not the answer next year in LF. But before paying a lot of money for production out of LF, I’d give KJ or Scott Thorman a shot.”

    The answer is not Matt Diaz, but it’s Scott Thorman? Step outside and get some air.

  34. @43
    Diaz is a classic all batting average or nothing type player. If he isn’t hitting .310 or so he has no use. I think that he is a decent bat off the bench and has been a useful player this year but I don’t think even with his high average that he has shown enough power for a left fielder. Thorman’s minor league history mirrors Adam LaRoche’s and Rochy has kind of worked out this season. Ultimately I would like to see Kelly Johnson win the position next season as I think he is the best of the bunch.

    @42
    You are correct. Our offense isn’t the reason for our poor performance this season. Thats why I would like to see us try a couple of our homegrown options at LF next season. Any importation of new players should be attempts at upgrading the sorry state of our pitching. But, just to reiterate, there is no way a team that has true championship aspirations should be trying to grow their top prospect in the show. Especially when that prospect is a drag on the teams fortunes. Just as an FYI, even in his worst OBP years 1997 and 2001 Andruw still drew 56 walks.

  35. Ron,
    I don’t want the Braves to dump Francoeur. I want them to extract that fantastic talent in a venu that doesn’t hurt our major league team. If handled properly Jeff Francoeur’s floor is championship caliber player. Imagine what the ceiling could be. I don’t hate the kid I just hate the way the Braves are handling him. They are for all intents and purposes retarding his growth as a player by encouraging that ‘aggressive approach’ at the plate. You know the approach that Joe Simpson says makes him special. The approach that has him swinging at pitches from his shoe tops to his eyeballs.

  36. Jeff M, @ 38,

    I agree that it would make sense to trade someone like Andruw if you could significantly improve the pitching. But I”m skeptical that you can do that–after all, would you really trade an ace-type pitcher for a centerfielder no matter how good he is? I think you would have to be suspicious of any pitcher that got raded, a la Hudson. The Marlins aren’t going to trade Dontrelle Willis for Andruw. I’m just not convinced that you can really get value for someone like Andruw unless you trade for prospects that you hope can step in. It might make sense to trade Andruw for prospects if you don’t think you can sign him and maybe you can get someone that can step in. My point, I guess, is that I don’t think it’s realistic to expect that trading Andruw would really upgrade the team for next year (even though I don’t think it makes much sense to sign for a long-term deal). There just isn’t that much pitching out there to get. I think the most realistic approach is to try to upgrade the bullpen (which generally doesn’t involve trading big names), hope the starting pitching is a little better and maybe look for a corner outfielder (because I think it’s easier to acquire hitting than pitching). I think the Braves are going to have to focus more on offense than on pitching for the moment, at least until some of the young arms come around–if they do.

    As for the announcers, they work for the Braves and are essentially shills for the team. Skip, at least, makes up for it with a sharp wit and I personally like Sutton because he can talk about pitching. But, these guys are not going to bash the team’s star prospect based on some arcane stats. Maybe if they worked for the Red Sox, they would be more inclined to give the stats some weight. And, ex-jocks are the last people that are going to look at statistical analysis. Even Pete Van Wieren, who one would think might have more of a feel for that kind of stuff, pretty much disregards it.

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