Pirates 4, Braves 3

ESPN – Pirates vs. Braves – Box Score – April 03, 2008

First off… exactly as I predicted, Mike Hampton hurt himself (his armpit!) during warmups and was unable to go, unless by “go” you mean “on the DL”. This surprised a surprising number of people.

Second, Chris Resop should probably give a tenth of his salary to the makers of the radar gun, because if there was no radar gun he’d be selling shoes. Resop is no more a major league pitcher than he is Tübingen Professor of Archaeology. Down to three pitchers in the tenth inning, one of them Peter Moylan, whom he didn’t want to use, Bobby went completely and utterly insane. Not so much for pitching Resop, but for feeling the need for Resop so much that (after Resop had gone walk, sac bunt, walk) that he actually moved Resop to the outfield, brought in Royce Ring, LOOGY, to face LaRoche (whom he easily handled), then brought Resop back in to give up a game-winning single to Xavier “Burn In Hell” Nady. Well, that last wasn’t part of the plan, but was nonetheless inevitable.

Jeff Bennett started for Hampton and went four innings. He gave up four hits, but three of them were doubles and he walked two, and was charged with two runs. It stayed 2-0 to bottom of the sixth, as Blaine Boyer had a strong outing as the second man, and the Braves got three runs on four singles, a walk, and an error. Bobby then brought in Will Ohman, LOOGY, to be a setup man. This did not work, because Ohman can’t pitch to righthanders and because Martin Prado booted a ball and Abe Miller (Johnny Wholestaff’s personal catcher) couldn’t catch a pitch. The Braves couldn’t get anything going after that, leading to the tenth-inning debacle.

The Braves outhit the Pirates 11-6, but had only one walk and couldn’t bunch the hits except in the sixth. Chipper had three hits, but Teixeira’s slump continued and he was 0-5. Tyler Yates got the win for the Pirates. Sigh.

(Oh, and the reason this wasn’t posted until now was that, indeed, the internet is out at my apartment, along with most of the cable. The anniversary post was pre-written.)

54 thoughts on “Pirates 4, Braves 3”

  1. This team is like the anti-Jeter. They seem to have an uncanny ability to lose close games. Maybe that’s a good sign though – I remember a bunch of close games at the start of the season where they were lucky and won, but which reversed later in the season. Crappy bullpens plus an inability to beat the other teams’ better pitchers is probably a key to wining/losing close games.

  2. Way to silence those critics, Mr. Hampton.

    I know this must be tough for him but I simply had to laugh. You were right, Mac and though I did not doubt you, I was one that held out some tiny sliver of hope. No longer. Hampton never throws anouther big league pitch for the Braves. That’s my position now and I’m sticking to it.

    Frankly, I am pleased to see the Pirates leave town. Not the way I had hoped to start the season, to be sure.

  3. mac…………….it really hurts, but i’ll admit you were right about hampton. its like some kind of bibical curse. with that and watching tex do his andruw impersonation, i’ve about decided that i’m too old for this crap. someone wake me up in june so i can check the standings.

  4. I like Neyer because he’s generally reasonable and not one of the anti-stat asses ESPN employs by the dozens. Who cares if he comes out against the Braves? I disagree with a lot of stuff they’ve done recently and I’m a huge fan of the team.

    All that leads me to: the Braves starting pitching situation does strike me as negligent. I mean, it’s not like he’s saying anything that many of you have not said before anyway: expecting anything from Mike Hampton is silly. That none of us expected anything out of Hampton doesn’t change the fact that the Braves walked into this season hoping–hell, in some ways needing–Hampton to provide innings, league average or otherwise. Now that one of the ancient guys is down, that puts even more pressure on Tom Glavine, a guy who may not have anything left. Last year the back end of the rotation was terrible; this year I will be surprised if it isn’t again. I hope I’m wrong, and I’m sure I’ll get blasted here for suggesting that the situation is drastically improved with Jurrjens and Glavine in the mix, but it’s also possible that in a couple months many here will be moaning about Wren’s inability to deal with the bleeding.

  5. Neyer predicted the Braves will win 87 games. How is that coming out against them?

  6. Thanks for the humorous recap Mac. The Braves are depressing so that helps to deal with them.

  7. I’ve been privy to some bad management over my career, and one of the worst kinds is the one that confuses “Hoping things work out” with “Having a plan”. See, e.g., Iraq.

    If you want to bring Hampton in, great. But do it the way the Red Sox did with Colon. Treat him as a pure bonus. Not your 5th starter, or even the 6th starter. Just a guy on the extended roster who might be able to contribute if a bunch of things break the right way. Which is what it will be if he throws any effective innings for this team ever again. Considering you are also carrying the huge age-related question marks named Smoltz and Glavine, you MUST have several extra major league ready starters that you expect to use.

  8. #8 I think Neyer predicted that because that’s what “the numbers” he had said. However, in his marathon chat last week I believe he said he didn’ t believe the Braves would win that many games, but he was going with the projections.

  9. Three one-run losses against 2 crappy teams. Hopefully, by Sunday evening we’ll be 4-3. The audacity of hope, indeed. C’mon Huddy…

  10. Adam M,
    First, let me reiterate—I’ve said it before—that I generally appreciate Neyer for all the reasons you mention. I read pretty much everything he puts out there.

    However, the bit from his blog which I posted in the previous thread is a joke, for all of the reasons I sarcastically mentioned there. Nobody was counting on Hampton. Glavine+Jurrjens>Bud-Jo Redavier (How is that even arguable?). Hampton is replaced by James, who was our league-average-ish 3rd starter last year. Neyer doesn’t seem to have taken any of this into consideration before taking a shot at the organization, which is why I called him out.

  11. If you want to bring Hampton in, great. But do it the way the Red Sox did with Colon. Treat him as a pure bonus.

    (1) We don’t have the Red Sox’ budget—how do you write the possessive of “Red Sox,” BTW?—making it a bit more difficult to line up 5 great starters. (Of course, we also haven’t developped the front-line starters they have lately—right, Marc?—but that’s a different issue.)

    (2) This is exactly what was done! Smoltz, Hudson and now James (our Top 3 from last year) remain the same. 4 and 5 were replaced by Glavine and Jurrjens. Our 5th starter at the end of last season, Jo-Jo Reyes, is now like our 8th starter. That’s an improvement, and it should be credited to Wren & Co. As Wren said several times, Hampton, if he pitched, was gravy. Sure, we (well, some of us) got our hopes up during Spring Training when Hampton pitched well, but that doesn’t change the fact that the rotation was built to withstand his absence, as well as it could be on our budget, anyway.

  12. The “negligence” comment by Neyer was truly off-base, and he deserves to be called on it.

    He’s right about the depth issue, though — even before the Hampton injury went from “extreme probability” to “absolute certainty”. Everyone in the planned rotation has a question mark except for Huddy (although I have faith in Smoltz), and James is the only true “depth” we possess. Reyes, Carlyle, and Bennett don’t count — Reyes isn’t ready, and the other two are depth only in the sense that we won’t start a game without a starting pitcher on the mound. Just about any team in baseball could claim a Carlyle/Bennett 7th/8th starter tandem.

  13. I am at the point of getting angry at Hampton for how long he is prolonging the inevitable. Yes, I know he doesn’t want to be injured, he is trying to come back, blah blah blah. But, at what point do the Braves start to say that in his attempts to come back, he is costing valuable payroll that could be better used on something other than a pipe dream? If I recall correctly, previous year salaries have been mostly covered by other teams or insurance. I don’t think that’s the case this year – while he tries to do something that NOBODY has ever done before, the Braves keep sending him fat checks that could be used on someone with a real arm. Hampton, get a clue – the Braves have humored you in your comeback attempts for a long time – do what most athletes would have done long ago and retire already!!

  14. Everyone in the planned rotation has a question mark except for Huddy (although I have faith in Smoltz), and James is the only true “depth” we possess. Reyes, Carlyle, and Bennett don’t count — Reyes isn’t ready, and the other two are depth only in the sense that we won’t start a game without a starting pitcher on the mound.

    Are we really any worse off than other similarly situated teams (read: teams without ginormous budgets), though? To me, it seemed like we were last year. Our 4/5 combos were dreadful. This year, even without Hampton, ours looks like a league-average-at-worst sort of rotation with even a bit of Jamesian and Jurrjensian upside. Maybe I’m biased—maybe last year was just so bad that I’m overstating the improvements we’ve made.

  15. The Braves have much better starting pitching depth than last year. For instance, Mark Redman won’t be starting any games. On the down side, they may still have a problem with much of their rotation being unable to go more than 5 innings. That could wear down the bullpen quickly when combined with the retarded managing style of Bobby Cox. Meanwhile the Mets may have to turn to Jorge Sosa to take Pedro’s spot so they aren’t in all that great shape either. It’s way too early to panic or even be concerned. I don’t really pay attention to the standings until June.

  16. there are too many ups and downs throughout a 162 game season. We will have other stretches where we lose 3 of 4, I’m not worried. I’m a little worried that the Braves saw something in Resop that I dont see. Yates appears to have much better control, I never thought I’d say this, but it might have been a mistake to let him go. At least we’re not Detroit, KC just swept them

    new update: Giles never signed with LA per mlb rumors

  17. I agree. The depth is there if the defense and offense can do their part. One pitch by Hampton this year would have simply been gravy.

    And on Hampton, he reminds me of the air traffic controller in Pushing Tin who can’t go back to work…”I got all the way to the door today.”

  18. As wally (resident Mets fan) mentioned yesterday, with Pedro going down, the Mets are now essentially the same team they were last year, only with Santana instead of Glavine.

    We’re now the same team we were last year, only with Glavine and Jurrjens instead of Bud-Jo Redavier. That strikes me as basically even, and when considering that we actually pythagged the mess out of them last season, it seems like this game of trading injuries advantages the Braves. (Of course, having them suffer injuries while we don’t would be even better.)

  19. I’m actually impressed with Kotsay so far against RH pitching. Small sample size 3-5 .600 Avg, but his swing looks terrible against lefties 1-11 .091. Should we look at a platoon out there? Would Josh Anderson be a better fit than Blanco right now. I didnt like the fact that Blanco and Gotay didnt take the bat off their shoulders last night.

  20. I can go along with the argument that we have some depth in starting pitching. But I’ve been puzzled by the occasional talk–maybe on this board, maybe not, I don’t have a specific example–of the bullpen depth. We seem to have a lot of unknowns and scrubs, and a couple of proven guys, one of whom is out until June.

  21. One thing I don’t understand: the sizeable contingent here who didn’t like Bobby’s Resop maneuvering last night. Why not? We were basically out of pitchers, and as bad as Resop appears to be, I’d much rather have him than a LOOGY facing B.I.H. Nady. Yeah, it was Cox’s (and Hampton’s) fault that we were down to only Moylan and those 2, but those mistakes had already been made and don’t have anything to do with the wisdom of moving Resop to LF and back in that situation.

    I loved the move.

  22. Gonzo will help a ton, but the only scrub I see is Resop. Ring, Moylan, Soriano, Ohman, and even Boyer (other than when Bobby left him out there for 40 pitches) have looked solid so far

  23. I thought Bobby was playing the cards right last night. Its not like he had a choice in what was left. I think Soriano could’ve easily pitched the 10th and I think we probably should’ve let Ring walk Nady and then let Resop face someone else, but you can always second guess yourself

  24. You’re right, Mac. I shoulda checked the numbers first.

    ML Careers:

    Resop against righties – 92 PA, .952 OPS
    Ring against righties – 89 PA, .570 OPS

    Resop just sucks.

  25. I’m not sold on Ohman (especially after checking his career stats). Moylan was lights out last year, but I guess submariners just make me nervous. I’ve seen some balls thrown that way hit a long way. Royce Ring seems pretty solid. And yes, Resop blows. Good name for a band there: Resop Blows.

  26. Outside of Soriano, I don’t really have a great deal of confidence in any of our bullpen arms. They can look great one minute and then totally stink up the place the next. Inconsistency was a hallmark for the Braves the past few years and I fear we are seeing it already again this year. But it’s early. The Mets series will be telling one way or the other for the early months.

  27. The Braves pitching is probably good enough if the offense can develop some consistency. But they had the same trouble last year and, despite the black hole at the end of the rotation, the pitching numbers weren’t really that bad. But this offense just has to develop more consistency. It’s obviously early but you can’t help but be concerned at how often the offense can be shut down for long periods. A lot of times it’s when you score the runs that’s more important than how many you score. If the Braves had had, say a 7-4 lead on Monday instead of 4-3, the dynamics of the game would have been different,there would be less pressure on the bullpen. The final score doesn’t necessarily reflect how the game played out.

  28. You’re right, Mac. I shoulda checked the numbers first.

    ML Careers:

    Resop against righties – 92 PA, .952 OPS
    Ring against righties – 89 PA, .570 OPS

    Resop just sucks.

    Well Nady kills lefties at a .320/.390/.477 clip so there are always two sides to every story.

    I liked the maneuvering just fine, the problem is that we are four games in and already are running out of pitching. The idea that someone is on the ‘Do Not Use’ list for Game 4 would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

  29. I’ve always kinda liked Vanderbilt for who they are within the athletic conference they’re in, still emphasizing education while competing in a big-time conference. I’ve kinda felt that way about Duke, but Vanderbilt also being located in Nashville makes me like it more.

    As for a “my college’s athletics vs. your college’s athletics” debate, I will undoubtedly always lose that one. So, I just stick to my love for all things University of Florida and never budge from it. Though I’ve said from day one I would have gone to UF if they were a different type of school. I would have sure saved a whole lot of money…

  30. Here is how I see it:

    Braves are better at first, left and rightfield, and at catcher.

    Mets are better at short, center, and second.

    Third is a push.

    Slight nod to Mets starters, bigger nod to their bullpen.

    Braves get a better bench. Braves have more depth in the minors.

    Bottom line, Mets are better where it counts, in pitching. The Braves will need to get someone or promote someone for the middle innings.

    Can’t Royce Ring get righties out?

  31. I’m planning on going to the game tonight. Weather permitting. I hope the trip is worht it.

  32. Stu, you’re right that Neyer overstated the case and that the starter’ situation–as it stands early in the season today vs. mid-to-late season last year–is better. But remember that when you’re comparing a projection to a finality there is always room for debate, and that the future may end up being just like the finality. That is, we now know that 2007 was a disaster for the back end of the rotation, but early in the year… our foresight was obviously not as clear as our hindsight.

    So now let me provide a counterpoint: both Jurrjens and Glavine have huge question marks while both Hudson and Smoltz, who both should be generally fine, may regress a bit. Jurrjens undoubtedly would be better off spending a year, or at least half a season, in AAA getting more seasoning, while we still don’t know yet if Glavine can be even league average. He may be ok, he may not. I’m one who tends to think Jurrjens will be pretty good but Glavine will be a bust. If that happens, Chuck James or somebody else will have to step up.

    Ultimately, we’re 1-3 and already looking at the prospect of an overused bullpen by June. That’s eerily familiar, and that Neyer looked at the situation from afar and questioned it is, if not in the details then certainly in the gist, understandable. I know I’m worried.

  33. Adam M.,
    Yeah, I know what you’re saying—but is Glavine really going to be more of a bust than our 4/5 guys last year were? I’m not projecting a great year from Glavine, but he could be below league average and still better than what we trotted out there in 2007.

    And I didn’t think Neyer was questioning the overuse of the bullpen. I’m worried about the bullpen, too, but my concern—that some of the guys suck—doesn’t have anything to do with having a backup plan for Hampton.

    Rob,
    One thing about Duke that makes their situation not totally analogous to Vanderbilt’s is that the ACC is much more academics-focused than the SEC is. Not that they’re the Ivy League or anything, but they do generally emphasize and take pride in education some, too, which at least 75% of the SEC doesn’t do. As I’ve said before, I’d love for Vanderbilt to trade conferences with Clemson or Florida State to make for better fits.

    Robert,
    Good point, but is Nady’s line all that much better than the league average for righties against lefties? I honestly don’t know. The .867 OPS doesn’t seem all that spectacular. Given the big difference between Ring’s and Resop’s performance against righties, I don’t know what to weigh more heavily. Of course, those pitching numbers are in really small sample sizes, too.

  34. Hell, James is better than Hampton. The way I see it, Hampton is a backup plan for Chuck.

  35. Yeah, the only reason this looks bad is that Chucky started on the DL instead of Hampton; if it’s the other way around, then it’s just business as usual. I’m not concerned about our depth.

    I do find it amusing, however, that we’ve now got 9 relief pitchers on the staff. I guess Reyes’ll hang out until Smoltz comes up to pitch on Sunday, and then someone else will have to go to make room for Chucky. Which, I think, gives us a better rotation than Santana/Perez/Maine/Pelfrey/? (maybe Duque?). So nya.

    Also, FWIW, I was really impressed with Bennett yesterday, and I REALLY hope we can keep him around as our long man. Actually, I’d just be excited to see Bobby leave a reliever out there for more than one inning like EVER.

    And finally, we’re not going to win games scoring 3 runs per 9 (or 10) innings. Our pitching is certainly not the reason we lost last night.

  36. Yeah the pitching numbers are suspect because each guy has a limited track record. I can see what Bobby was doing here, it’s defensible. I might not have done the same since Resop has looked so sucktastic. But Bobby must think he can get people out or he wouldn’t be on the team.

    Ah whatever. If Ring stays in and gets Nady we probably find another more excruciating way to lose it later.

  37. Heh. Agreed.

    And let me add that I love the creativity Bobby showed—just not sure it was best used in that situation.

  38. Actually, I’d just be excited to see Bobby leave a reliever out there for more than one inning like EVER.

    Unfortunately, he sometimes does exactly this. See: Devine, Joey, first ML appearance.

  39. If KJ can’t go, I’d like to see Gotay get the start at 2B against his former club.

  40. I just want to see Tex hitting like his normal self and not giving us a Thorman look alike

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