Braves 7, Nationals 2 – MLB – Box Score – Braves at Nationals

Cormier didn’t suck, but that’s obviously unlikely to be replicated. He went 6 1/3 and allowed a homer in the first and a run on an infield single in the fourth. He struck out five but walked four and allowed six hits; that pattern will more normally yield three or four runs. He got lucky.

Chipper doubled in the first and Andruw brought him in on a single. Later, Chipper walked and scored in front of McCann’s three-run homer. Unfortunately, Chipper reinjured his foot and may be done for the year. This was his 104th game; last year he played 109. At least he’s more or less halted the decline. Andruw and Francoeur added solo homers later, and Renteria doubled home L’il Tony in the ninth.

Paronto got the last two of the seventh, Kali pitched the eighth, getting two strikeouts, and McBride picked up the Atlanta Save. As you probably know by now, the Braves signed Wickman to a contract for next season, $6.5 million. It’s a bit pricey but after what happened this season…

65 thoughts on “Braves 7, Nationals 2”

  1. Will this team ever get over four games under .500? Every time the Braves’ have reached four under .500, they lose and fall back.

  2. What is wrong with Chipper Jones? No player should be this brittle.

    I wonder if his daily training regimen (stretching, plyometrics, running) is adequate.

  3. According to the game note, Bobby said Chipper could start Thursday at Colorado.

    It’s funny that Chipper said the following a few days ago:

    “Back when I ate cheeseburgers four or five times a week and did my own program, I never got hurt,” he said. “When I started eating healthy and getting trainers, I started getting hurt. Maybe it’s time to get back to the old-school way of working out. I certainly don’t feel [that] playing 110 games is worth all the work that I put in this offseason.”

  4. Speaking as someone with chronic foot problems, I’m afraid that the downward injury trend may continue for Chipper. I’m not sure if a daily training regiment has been developed to keep problems from recurring. Swimming is about the only thing that helps me.

    Also, the quote below from JS (related to the Wickman signing) on the mlb site is the best news I’ve heard from him in a long time. Let’s hope JS lives up to his word.

    “We feel real confident that this is the first important step in re-strengthening our pitching staff in all facets,” Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. “We’re going to focus on our pitching. We’re going to try to get out pitching back to the level where it’s been for 14 of the past 15 years.”

    link to full article

  5. I agree that fixing the bullpen should be a priority, but as pathetic as our bullpen has been, we would be the WC frontrunner with decent starting pitching and we may be in contention for the division.

    Some people may disagree, but I think we’ve had worse bullpens during the 14 year run. The major difference was our starters went deeper into the games and our bullpen wasn’t called upon as much. I don’t expect us to trade for Schmidt or Zito, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we traded for 2 very strong starting pitching prospects – one of which we could fit into the rotation immediately. This is where our scouts will earn their pay. Who knows, we may find a prospect from Japan, Korea, Cuba, … that has an immediate impact.

  6. I agree that the bullpen, while bad, is not the biggest concern, its obviously the starters but i could still see a rotation of smoltz/hudson/hampton/james/davies being very good its just theres so many question marks surrounding each of them it could just as easily be a complete disaster.

  7. man, theyve been gone for so long u forget some of those guys like grissom, klesko, and schmidt even played with the braves back then

  8. KC–Thanks for the Chipper quote–some of us will be tempted to live by it.

    I agree that the bullpen should not be the Braves’ biggest concern in the offseason. Along with the current pen, the Braves have Devine, Startup and Schneider on the horizon. Boyer may be back as well.

    Finding a quality starter or two ought to be JS’ mission for the next 6 months.

  9. Been out of the loop for a few days…that Wickman contract seems high. I mean, I’m thankful that we’ve locked up a pretty established closer — and I love Wickman’s attitude — but weren’t we going to be pretty strapped for cash even before that $6.5 million?

    Also, when you guys talk about acquiring good starting pitching (be they veterans or prospects), do you think the only commodity we’re offering to get that is Andruw? I know I don’t really see another way. I see Marcus as potentially bringing a good relief arm, but any starter he’d bring would either be average-at-best or in some very low level of the minors.

  10. And one more thing: since when did JS discard his only-discuss-contracts-at-the-end-of-the-year policy? Again, I’m glad we have Wickman next year…but it seems odd that JS broke his long held pattern for him and not others.

  11. I agree that starting pitching only comes at a high price. One of the worst, but least commented things which happened in 2006 has been the pretty poor year which many Braves’ prospects have had on the farm. The point is that the Braves do not have as top level prospects to use in deals. Unless the Braves deal Salty, they do not have another Wainwright or Marte to seal a major deal.

    All of this is why it is easy to talk about getting a quality starter, but much more difficult to achieve. JS has worked hard to improve our starting pitching and the result has been Hampton and Hudson. I make this obsevation not to criticize JS, but to point to the enormity of the task.

  12. Stu, there’s policy and then there is common sense. Getting Wickman now is smart. I’m not saying that he is the thing that instantly turns us into front runners but this fall its going to be a sellers market. Wickman probably left some money on the table by signing early.
    Is the closer’s myth indeed a myth? BP and all of the other statistics oriented sites may have statistical proof that the the most important bullpen guy is the high leverage middle reliever not the closer but it seems that the successful bullpens recently have been built from the 9th inning pitcher back and not the other way around.

  13. Funny how it was a policy that kept JS from giving Mazzone a multi-year contract. JS doesn’t really have policies (nor to most people). They’re an excuse to blow off people politely.

    The Braves do need starting pitching. It’s expensive to buy, that’s why you need to develop it. Unfortunately, the pitching side of the farm has been weak for some time.

  14. So how does Smoltz feel about Wickman getting an extension and he doesn’t get his option picked up because JS doesn’t do deals during the season?

  15. I think it’s funny that the photo on of the yankee’s clinching has Giambi with his arm around A-Rod.

  16. What are you people complaining about? He finally signed a closer, I don’t care if it breaks his policy, or if it was handled differently than other contracts, all that matters is that he didn’t fail to sign a closer this time round. Its already his best offseason in three years.

  17. I agree the starting pitching has been bad, I think there is some revisionist history going on here. The bullpen has actually improved but it was abysmal earlier and cost the Braves a lot of wins when they had decent starting pitching. For example, let’s not forget the six games that the bullpen blew for Smoltz. I can think of two games that Reitsma blew in which the Braves came from behind. Granted, the rotation is not good and needs to be fixed (although I’m doubtful it can for the reason that JC mentioned), but the bullpen was the number one problem this year.

    The problem with bullpens is its hard to find quality middle relievers because if they are any good, they eventually become closers. So, you end up with guys that have a good year (like Reitsma in Cincinnati), get a big contract and suck. Certainly, having dominant starting pitching as the Braves had in the nineties would help, by reducing the number of innings the bullpen has to go, but so would scoring more runs. I still think, despite the statistical ranking, that the Braves need to beef up the offense. They had lots of games where they scored a lot of runs, but also a lot of games that they got shut down. But it’s easier to improve the hitting than the pitching.

  18. The Wickman signing is all good. Picking up Smoltz’s option is a foregone conclusion. There are probably accounting reasons or something for why they will wait to the last minute to do it. I can’t see the Braves signing a top of the line free agent starter unless they move Hudson. The rotation of Smoltz, Hudson, Hampton, James, Ramirez/Davies looks solid on paper assuming Smoltz remains healthy at 40, Hudson recovers at least some of his former ability, Hampton is at least average, and James builds on what he has done this year. The scrubs in the bullpen now should be adequate with the possible returns of Boyer and Foster (and hopefully not Reitsma). The only hole left on the club now would be finding an everyday left fielder who can lead off.

  19. I disagree. I think the offense is fine in every way, shape, or form. I mean, who do you want to replace? And with who? A Diaz/_____ platoon in Left should be fine production, and that leaves… Francoeur?

    No, The offense is fine and the only big move I could see happening there is Andruw and/or Marcus getting traded for more pitching (although in the latter case, it’s not that big a deal because we’ve got Aybar to plug in).

  20. Signing Wickman is the best news we have had in a long time.

    That said, the problem with the starting pitching is that it is fragile. Yes, it is possible that Smoltz will have another good year; it is possible that Hampton will rebound quicker than most from arm surgery; it is possible that Hudson will be a bit more like last year; it is possible that James will continue to develop; it is also possible that HoRam will stay healthy and be a strong fifth starter; finally, failing one of these rosy scenarios it is possible that Davies will stay healthy and have an impressive breakout season. All of these developments would also probably help any bullpenm as well.

    I am guessing that the Braves would do well to have half of these things happen. What is needed, then, is more reliable starting pitching and that will be hard to find.

  21. At least we have a base to work with for next season. 6 of the 8 postional starters are average or above average. We’ll carry Francoeur just because and we have viable options in left field.

    The pitching staff does have some hope. Lots of stuff has to go right for it to be a good staff but its not out of the realm of possibility kind of stuff. I doubt that we’ll be in the market for any of the premier starters out in free agent land and really who are you going to trade that we can easily replace with another player of like quality? Giles, sure but he is coming off a poor season. He won’t get much back for us so I say we should keep him.

  22. from the Braves website

    With McBride, Paronto, Yates and Wickman already in place, Schuerholz’s biggest offseason task in relation to his bullpen may be finding a legitimate setup man. Reitsma and Danys Baez are candidates. But both may be deemed too expensive.

  23. LuGo might be a decent platoon LF for us if his salary expectations are realistic (no more than $2-$3m). Then again, he might implode outside of the snakes’ favorable home park. Still, he was 286/370/481 against RHP with a lot more walks than Ks. That plus Diaz is like getting Pat Burrell at a 5th of the price.

  24. Luis Gonzalez, would like to play in Atl. I wouldnt mind having him in LF, but that would also be a lot of money for an older player

    “Atlanta is good. Both Chicago teams. Houston,” Gonzalez said, listing other top choices.

    “I’m just looking at good scenarios. I mean, I want to go somewhere where I have a chance to win.”

  25. You know, L-Gonz came up as a third baseman and is recovering from TJ surgery, so maybe he could mentor KJ. Also, he went to South Alabama and would go with the Alabama guy and the Auburn guy. I don’t think there are any UAB guys around though.

  26. LGon is only allowed to play for Houston, SD, Chicago, or Detroit. Sorry, those are jsut the rules.

    Signing Wickman now is a great idea. Now we can build our pitching staff from the closer back, like you are suposed to do. However, this might signal the end for Giles in Atlanta.

  27. Gonzalez at this point in his career just isn’t enough better than using a combination of Diaz/Langerhans/Thorman/Johnson to be worth the several million dollars the Braves would have to pay him.

  28. If we trade Andruw and Giles for some cheap pitching and other players, after paying the rest of the salaries we’d have, what kind of cash would we have to spend on FA’s? I know it is probably impossible to know at this time, but maybe someone with nothing better to do today could come up with a ballpark amount.

  29. Dans, might not be able to know that just yet. Andruw will be around $13-14 and Giles around $5 I think. With that being said it depends on if we resign Smoltz to an extension or if we just pick up the contract. Also depends on whether or not we have prorated Hamptons pay for next year. Someone could probably calculate it, but good luck to them.

  30. Boy, I’d hate to lose Andruw. It might make some kind of sense, but it sure wouldn’t feel right. Also, I wonder how much money Giles lost from having such a lousy year.

    If anyone’s in NYC tonight, there’s a great rock show at Webster Hall: The Drive-By Truckers—another fine Alabama export.

  31. I wouldn’t worry too much about free agents. The Braves aren’t in financial position no matter who they trade to seriously compete with the infinite payroll franchises (Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, etc.) for the top free agents.

  32. If we trade Andruw and Giles for some cheap pitching and other players, after paying the rest of the salaries we’d have, what kind of cash would we have to spend on FA’s? I know it is probably impossible to know at this time, but maybe someone with nothing better to do today could come up with a ballpark amount.

    I have a spreadsheet at home. I estimate the Braves’ 2007 payroll at roughly $90M, including all players under the Braves’ control next year. That is, players signed through next year and those who are not yet eligible for free agency. Many of the numbers are estimates.

    Obviously the Braves don’t have $90M to spend in 2007. I’m not sure that they’ll even have $80M. That means at least one big trade.

    Farewell, Andruw.

  33. what would everyone want in return for Andruw. I would expect more than mayeb an above average reliever for Giles. That’s if were lucky.

  34. Personally, i dont want Gonzo hes too old, his arm is too weak and $2-3 million is too much for a guy to just platoon. Plus who knows if he could even hit that well when he doesnt play in the hitter’s paradise that is Chase field. I wouldnt mind a diaz/_____ platoon, just not gonzo. Also, if we dealt andruw who would we get to play centerfield and fill the 4 hole in the lineup. i mean were already without a solid leadoff guy and the person we do have at that spot is probably on his way out anyway

  35. Stu, your on to something. Dont think they would do it though. Sizemore is almost as good as Adnruw defensively, I would take it

  36. Yeah, that was a joke. There’s no way they’d do that. If they’re willing to do that, though, they might as well send Marte back to us, as well. :)

  37. I’m with Ububba. Letting Andruw walk just doesn’t feel right. We practically watched him grow up. Remember when he was a rookie and he said that his favorite player growing up was Ken Griffey, Jr.? I don’t want to see him in any other uniform. Maybe we can trade Huddy to the Yankees for Bernie Williams to free up some cash.

  38. I’m not that interested in Gonzo IMHO. I don’t think the amount of production is much different with him than with our current Left-field platoon. Plus he will probably want more money than he is worth.

    The re-signing of Wickman scares me a little. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we have a closer locked in for next year. But when I look at his career numbers I’m feel like $6.5 might be a bit much. If he continues to perform the way he has been, then ,yes, he is a bargain. But if we get the 2002-2004 version then we may regret it. (Especially if we get the 2003 version that didn’t play).

    Even if we get the not-so-good version of Wickman in 2006 then it will be better than our other options, but $6.5 will be too much for that mediocrity. Oh, but I did forget one thing, in 1993 Wickman was a starter for the Yankees and almost won 15 games. So if we run out of starter options….(sarcastic)

  39. I couldnt see Wickman pitching more than 2 or 3 innings as a starter. We would have to have oxygen mask ready for him after every inning. Some nights it looks as if he’s exhausted before he even gets the 1st out

  40. yeah, in regards to #54 i dont know the specifics but id imagine bernie williams prolly has some sort of no trade clause in his contract because he’ll want to retire a yankee. Plus, as pisspoor as hudson has been this year id still take him over a 38 year old outfielder with diminishing speed and little power

  41. I’ll take anyone in a trade for Huddy, we can send them to the minors and they will never have to play for us. It wouldn’t matter, the salary dump would be worth it.

  42. I watch Bernie a lot. He’s shot as on OF & the only value I see with him is PH/DH. Because of the injuries to Matsui & Sheffield, he had to play a lot more than the team wanted this season.

    I think he’s going to retire after this year anyway.

  43. I’m not sure about where I should put this, but Brian J. asked about my weight in relation to foot problems (I’ve been away from the computer all day). I think there’s a relation, but not overwhelmingly so. I only weigh about 5 to 10 pounds more than I did when I graduated high school – unfortunately with a lot less muscle. Chipper’s extra weight, combined with increasing age and a lot of wear and tear from a long season definitely have an affect on things. I still don’t know if he can significantly reverse the trend relating to foot problems. The oblique muscle seems to be something he could fix with a better/different conditioning and stretching program.

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