Braves 8, Pirates 1

ESPN – Braves vs. Pirates – Box Score – May 12, 2008

It’s a pattern with these guys. The Braves finally got a run in the third inning, largely through Gregor Blanco’s legs (he bunted for a hit, then stole second, then came home on a single by Escobar). In the fourth, Kotsay had the big hit, a two-run double to produce an actual lead. The Braves broke it open in the fifth, Chipper singling home Escobar, and McCann following with a three-run homer. Kotsay added another RBI double in the seventh. He and Francoeur were both 3-5.

Meanwhile, Tim Hudson was solid, giving up an “unearned” run in the first and going seven, allowing just two hits and two walks, striking out five. For reasons I can’t begin to understand, Bobby let him hit for himself in the eighth and then relieved him anyway. Boyer came in, since he hadn’t pitched in two whole days, and after a leadoff single got through the inning. Ohman allowed a couple of flare singles in the ninth but ended it with two strikeouts. As several people pointed out in comments, what’s the point of keeping Resop on the roster if you won’t even use him with a seven-run lead?

The Braves had fourteen hits, and everyone had at least one. Teixeira didn’t play after leaving the first game with back spasms. Fortunately it’s a short plane flight to Philadelphia.

67 thoughts on “Braves 8, Pirates 1”

  1. I don’t know, maybe Bobby didn’t take his “Dusty Bakeritis” shot. He’s certainly showing some serious symptoms and if the Braves bat out of order in an upcoming game, we should quarantine him.

  2. Mac – surely, this is a time when the unearned run makes sense, no?

    Also, are they trying to retain some value in Resop for a trade. His obvious non-use suggests this or an injury. Given that he was warming up in game 1 should eliminate the latter. But who would trade and what would they give up for Radar Gun?

  3. They are keeping Resop around so that extra innings games don’t last so long. Bobby is old. He needs his beauty sleep. We can’t have these 15+ inning games that keep him up well after all the decent people have gone to bed.

  4. As several people pointed out in comments, what’s the point of keeping Resop on the roster if you won’t even use him with a seven-run lead?

    Fixed.

  5. I’m not going to fine-tooth-comb an 8-1 win—call me a contrarian because I try to actually enjoy them— but if there was ever a perfect time to use Resop, Game 2 would’ve certainly fit the bill.

    I share Parrish’s thoughts there: I hope trade winds are blowing. And I hope some club views Resop as one of those “he-just-needs-a-change-of-scenery” guys.

    On to Philly. Let’s hope our winning streaks continue to ourstretch the other kind.

  6. It’s weird. It’s like Cox thinks Resop is Joey Devine. Except Joey Devine is actually good….

  7. Oops —

    As several people pointed out in comments, what’s the point of keeping Resop on the roster if you won’t even use him with a seven-run lead?

    Fixed.

  8. I was in the car for much of today’s action. I have to say I enjoyed the camaraderie between Pete and Lemke. Maybe it was the weather — Pete was giving Lemmer a hard time about accepting an ice cream sandwich from a cart vendor, because it made him so cold that he had to leave the booth to find some coffee, which it turned out was also cold. Now that’s good radio!

  9. @ 12

    With all due respect, AYFKM? Mark MF Lemke: he of the mealy mouthed poor radio voice and utter lack of insight?

  10. That’s what I’m saying, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I don’t necessarily need a whole lot of analysis — I’ve been a fan for a long time, and at this point I pretty much know what’s going on. When I got home and turned on the TV, Sciambi and Simpson were talking about whether KJ’s strikeouts matter, and I didn’t care because I already understood the respective arguments.

    On the radio I got more of the sense of what it’s like to be in the booth for a frigid Monday doubleheader in front of a sparse crowd, hoping but not admitting that the games would be mercifully short. I just found that to be more entertaining.

  11. When I got home and turned on the TV, Sciambi and Simpson were talking about whether KJ’s strikeouts matter, and I didn’t care because I already understood the respective arguments.

    Well you missed a riveting six hours of Joe going on and on about why Blanco should be the leadoff hitter instead of Kelly, and Sciambi one by one shooting down his arguments without being mean about it.

    Joe’s strikeouts gambit was one of his more silly attempts as a quick trip to baseball-reference.com will tell you that Blanco does and always has struck out a ton.

    Sciambi is very good at what he does.

  12. I like Sciambi, too — I was just using that particular conversation as a contrast.

    For what it’s worth, having Blanco lead off instead of KJ makes a lot of sense to me. If you have two players with a similar ability to get on base (as Blanco and KJ have, historically), but one is faster and the other has more power, you should put the fast guy at the top and the guy with power lower in the order. What argument to that could there be?

  13. Some people think that it’s better to have a little power in the leadoff slot. And some other people have their #2 hitter bunting so often that there’s no point in having SB ability in the leadoff spot.

    I think we should be careful with Blanco, let him mature without pressing him, but giving him a few leadoff opportunities when KJ isn’t playing wouldn’t be a bad idea.

  14. whats the deal with all the back injuries so far this year? Chipper, Tex, and KJ have all had back spasms and Pena suffered a back strain. Our trainers must be doing something wrong or its a ton of bad luck

  15. What argument to that could there be?

    Nobody hits more often than the #1 hitter. The more at bats by good hitters the better, therefore your #1 hitter should be one of your good hitters, not just your fastest guy. KJ should be one of our better hitters, Blanco – who knows? We are not even really sure that he’s a major league player.

  16. Which ultimately leads to the Bobby Bragan hypothesis, to bat your best hitter first. Lineup:

    Chipper
    Teixeira
    McCann
    Escobar
    KJ
    Kotsay
    Francoeur
    Blanco

    I dunno.

  17. If we could wrap our minds around the fact that RBIs are grossly unimportant, I would actually go for that lineup, Mac. Of course, my ESPNized mind couldn’t imagine Chipper putting up a 45 HR/80 RBI line. That lineup would score a lot of runs, though, especially with Chipper’s OBP.

  18. Plus, when the pitcher bunts the runners on into scoring position, I’d rather have Chipper up next over anyone else.

  19. The way I make up a lineup (since nobody asked) is to seperate the players into two broad groups. Good hitters and the rest. The good hitters I array in the top spots since they will bat most often, and the rest in the bottom spots. So for the Braves we have:

    Good hitters:
    KJ, Yesco, Chip, Tex, McCann
    The Rest:
    Franceour, Kotsay, Bliaz

    Since we have five good hitters they should take up the first five spots, which they normally do. And the rest should take up the bottom spots, again which they normally do. So I approve of our normal lineup.

    The most common mistakes are of course batting the fast guy who can’t really hit first (think Corey Patterson) or the bunt/hit and run guy who can’t really hit second.

  20. I know the guy on this site that people love to hate is Francoeur, but I’ve got to say that Diaz is a much greater liability at this point. 2 walks and 25 K’s in 108 ABs with only 2 HRs and a .269 avg will not cut it. I know he’s prone to starting slow, but I never remember him striking out this much. Let’s hope he turns it around soon.

  21. Diaz is not a bigger liability at this point, quite simply because he’s not playing everyday. If we could please stop with the cries of sending Frenchy down to AAA, that would be great. It’s not that it’s the worst idea in the world, it’s just not going to happen. Leading the crusade to getting him a day off every now and then is must better, and a much more realistic solution to the problem.

  22. It’s almost comical how much hatred is spewed towards Frenchy. His start this year has definitely been a problem, but I think Tex, Diaz and KJ have been as big or bigger problems so far. OPS is almost identical for KJ and Frenchy, but I haven’t heard too many calling for KJ to be sent to AAA. KJ has lost a little playing time lately and seems to have responded well. As you point out JJ, that’s the more practical solution. (Although if Frenchy hits like he did in game 2 for a while, there will be no need to do this.)

  23. It’s not Frenchy’s production, it’s his approach. And to put a finer point on it, his technique sucks.

    That loooong swing that has served him so well in the past just won’t cut it consistently in the bigs, IMHO. He starts his swing too early to recognize the pitch, to put it plainly. Once you start that kind of swing it is hard to stop, no matter where the pitch might be going.

  24. Didn’t realize the Braves will play the A’s, Mets, and D-backs for 11 games at home after this road trip…I wonder which Braves team will show up…

  25. I’ve read all that lineup construction stuff, too. Here’s the thing — I look at Blanco’s and KJ’s full body of work, and I see that Blanco has shown the ability to get on base at least as well as KJ. In fact, Blanco out-OBP’d KJ by 20 points in the last full-season comp we can find (AA — KJ 2004, Blanco 2005), and was a year younger when he did it.

    This fact is lost somewhat in casting KJ as a power-and-patience guy and Blanco as a speed guy — Blanco may be actually be better at the most important skill there is.

  26. Sansho1,

    There has been good statistical proof that when a guy comes up from the minor leagues with a high walk rate and very little power (low SLG), that usually the walk rate drops significantly and the BA drops a little and what looked like a good OBP guy suddenly isn’t. Basically, the major league pitchers just force him to hit his way on and the Major League 70% of all balls in play turning into outs takes the guy’s game away.

    Blanco also suffers from a similar platoon split to KJ. Therefore, the solution to the “left hander malaise” doesn’t have to do with moving Blanco up.

    New proposed lineup for lefthanders:

    Esco
    Chip
    Diaz
    Tex
    Frenchy
    McCann
    Infante (CF)
    KJ
    pitcher

    That puts the 2 highest OBP guys at the top, gives Chip RBI opportunites, Puts Diaz in a place where singles are big, avoids Loogy / Roogy problems, and gives a chance for substiutions to reverse the platoons without clobbering the team.

    At least once a week against righthanders Blanco needs to play center and Kotsay right and give Frenchy a day off.

  27. Anybody else read the ESPN thing on Andruw? I’ve said all along I feel bad for him and I hope he comes out of it (and it’s probably fitting that his one HR came of Chucky). http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3392423

    Looked at Pythags again this morning and we’re the only team that’s WAY out of wack on the pythag charts. Most everybody else lines up with where they sit in their division.

    It almost looks like Chipper cooled off for a couple games just to see if anybody else would hit… and they didn’t, so he went 4-8 in the last two games.

  28. I hadn’t heard that one before, Cliff. It makes sense, though. Blanco appears to have regressed a bit in terms of hitting the ball with authority in ’06-’07, so I guess that’s a worry.

  29. “OPS is almost identical for KJ and Frenchy, but I haven’t heard too many calling for KJ to be sent to AAA.”

    It also matters that KJ plays 2B while Francoeur plays RF. KJ is a better hitter among his comps for this reason alone. He has been mediocre to start the year, but he’s still an asset for the Braves. Francoeur, on the other hand, is not. I don’t blame him for the Braves’ troubles–a combination of bad managing, bad luck, bad hitting with men on base will do for now–and I do think he’s shown much better plate discipline (and coverage). But he’s not helping; if anything, he’s still hurting.

  30. It’s almost comical how much hatred is spewed towards Frenchy. His start this year has definitely been a problem, but I think Tex, Diaz and KJ have been as big or bigger problems so far. OPS is almost identical for KJ and Frenchy, but I haven’t heard too many calling for KJ to be sent to AAA. KJ has lost a little playing time lately and seems to have responded well.

    For me, the most frustrating thing about the Francoeur situation is that he seems to be immune to days off. I’m not sure whether it’s the stupid streak or an overinflated sense of how valuable he is when he plays—I suspect it’s a combination of both—but as you note, when other guys don’t play well for extended stretches, they’re given time off. They don’t do that to Francoeur.

    Now, I’m not at Marc Schneider’s level of disdain for the guy because he’s good looking and a good chunk of the team’s marketing therefore revolves around him, but I do feel like he’s somehow gotten this favored status even among team management that he most certainly hasn’t earned.

    You’re right about KJ having been just as bad as him this year—the difference is that the team seems to care.

  31. To me, Frenchy is Raul Mondesi except that he’s white and looks like he plays harder. (And speaks better English so he doesn’t get pegged as “moody.”) Same kind of player–everyone talks about all the talent but their performance doesn’t live up. Mondesi also had a great arm. The main difference is that Mondesi never had 100 RBIs and people made a big deal about that.

    I resent Frenchy because he’s a mediocre ballplayer that is treated like a star, in part because the teeny-boppers in Atlanta and Delta love him and because he plays baseball like a football player. (And, to some extent, the same is true of KJ–he has shown flashes but is hardly an All-Star). People say Frencyh’s plate discipline has improved; I haven’t seen it, although admittedly I don’t get to see many Braves games anymore up here in DC. As for the doubleheader, yay, he had two good games in a row. Meanwhile, it’s May 12 and he has three home runs.

    As for the Pythagorean garbage, it seems to me that it is a good analytical device post-hoc but it doesn’t make much sense to use early in the season with a small sample size. The Pittsburg series is an obvious example; the Braves lost three out of four and two of the games really weren’t close, yet because the Braves won one blowout, they were only outscored by two runs. I know Rob Neyer says all losses in one run games are bad luck but anyone that has seen this team play knows that’s not true–unless you consider playing badly bad luck.

  32. On thing to note about the “best hitter leadoff” theory is the opportunity cost involved. Sure, Ted Williams (or Chipper Jones) may be the best guy to have leading off for your club. But he’s probably also the best guy to be hitting #2 or #3 or anywhere else. The decision is choosing where to put him in your lineup, not whether he’d be better than anyone else at any one particular spot.

    By batting Chipper first, you’re taking away a lot of his value, since immediately in front of him will be the pitcher. And his first at-bat, that double he hits will never drive in a runner on first. The optimal lineup theory I read about (somewhere, one day) basically said put your best hitter in the 2-hole with a good hitter with a high OBP in the one-hole (Escobar or KJ would fit) and another guy who will at least get on base in the 9-hole (Blanco seems like the rigtht guy here; singles don’t drive in a lot of runs, which is fine when you’ve got the pitcher hitting in front of you). The rest of the lineup is more ambiguous, but in general, you want OBP guys in front of power guys, so I’d probably do:

    Escobar
    Chipper
    KJ
    Tex
    Mac
    Frenchy
    Diaz/Kotsay
    Pitcher
    Blanco/Diaz

    You could drop KJ down behind Frenchy if you like, to give Diaz/Kotsay some more RBI opportunities and break up you free-swingers a bit. I mean, I probably wouldn’t hit him in the 3-hole right now. I actually might stick Kotsay there for the time being with KJ 6th and Frenchy 7th.

  33. On Pythag records and why they’re useful in-season:

    They’re great to look at how teams are doing compared with how they’ve been playing. The Braves have a tremendous offense and have gotten the best starting pitching in MLB (at least in terms of starter ERA rather than IP per start). Their barely-.500 record does not reflect this, but their Pythag record does.

    Of course, you get basically the same information looking at team ERA and team OPS. Indeed, the Braves’ record in 1-run games is probably the best statistic to describe their year-to-date performance this year.

  34. That’s not really a good thing, AAR. That’s a signal that his bat has slowed down and he can’t pull the trigger on good fastballs anymore. Andruw needs to make major adjustments.

    He’s never been very coachable, and that actually helped him when he was younger because the Braves’ minor league instruction was so bad. But right now, he needs to remake his game, and he doesn’t seem willing to do so.

  35. Guys, check out our next 13 games. DAMN! Phillies, A’s, Mets, D-Backs. Then we get the BRewers and Reds, then Florida.

    We got a tough road ahead that could put us on top or end our season.

  36. I really have no resentment for Frenchy and I don’t care if he’s a mediocre ballplayer treated like a star. If the Braves can use him as a marketing tool while his salary is still low, I’m all for it. At his age, I think he has a chance to be more than mediocre, but the jury’s still out. If Frenchy’s production stays mediocre and his salary balloons to star level, then we have a problem!

  37. Oh, generally more is better, but when a veteran suddenly starts seeing a lot more pitches/drawing a lot more walks, that usually a bad sign. A slow rise is okay, and normal, but not a big jump.

  38. I don’t care if he’s a mediocre ballplayer treated like a star.

    Well, this is where we disagree. As I said, the marketing doesn’t bother me at all, but I don’t want mediocre players having their names automatically pencilled in to the lineup every game.

  39. I agree that Frenchy should sit more. I’m talking about being treated like a star from a marketing/fan standpoint. From a coaching standpoint, I don’t think any player should be treated like a star if they fail to produce. That was one of my problems with Andruw

  40. Re batting order: For what it’s worth, some studies suggest that batting order makes little difference to the overall number of runs scored.

    Re pythagorean: I think it’s misleading with a small sample size because it results in disproportionate weight in blowouts. If a team wins 15-0 and the last five runs came off an outfielder or a pitcher left in to save the bullpen, why is that more descriptive of how good the team is than a 5-2 loss? In general, it’s obvious that there should be a relationship between the team’s won-loss record and their RA/RS differential overall and that teams with better differentials should be the better teams, but I think it’s hard to read too much into it at a particular point during the season, especially early.

    I don’t think the Braves have a tremendous offense. Everyone thinks they should have a tremendous offense but when you look at their problems on the road and against left-handed pitchers, I can’t say it’s a tremendous offense. They’ve already been shut out three times and scored less than 4 runs a bunch. I would argue that the pitching has been a lot better than the hitting or at least more consistent.

    As for Frenchy, yeah, I do resent guys that get a lot of publicity for little performance. If he wasn’t Jeffy Francoeur, maybe the Braves would be more willing to look at him objectively.

  41. Yeah, Nelson Figueroa called out the Nats dugout for heckling him and riding him during a game. He seems to forget that they’re not on his team.

    Baseball ethics are deeply bizarre, but this is a pretty open and shut case. If Nelson Figueroa wants to figure out why he got battered by one of the worst teams in the league, he needs to look in the mirror and shut up.

  42. So I went to the game Saturday, went and got washed out Sunday, then sat through all 18 innings yesterday. I think there was a point where the Braves didn’t score for 20 innings. The last game made it worth it, when they played like a real baseball team. By the 4th inning, I think there were 12 Braves fans left in the stands.

    And for good measure and for my own entertainment, I got my picture taken with Chris Resop. If anyone is making a Braves Journal scrapbook, please let me know. I plan on getting some 8 x 10’s made.

    Side note: Royce Ring is a pretty cool guy. And Bobby Cox signed a baseball for me. Which really was the highlight of the trip.

    Bobby: “Why are you all Braves fans?”

    If I knew how they were going to play, I may have answered differently. Such as, “Why do you bunt all the time?”

  43. don’t like to read that the Mets might dump Sosa–it’d help the Braves if they kept him around to piss away a few more games

  44. Re: Andruw. I’ve always heard he wasn’t very coachable, but the LA hitting coach actually said he was doing everything asked of him to try and snap out of it. Now that may speak to poor coaching, or (as I suspect) something highly psychological about his drop off in the last couple years.

  45. Oh, and on Figgy’s complaints about the Nats. I can’t believe he’s actually complaining about the sort of antics HIS team is known for, especially Mr Wright and “The Most Exciting Player in Baseball” (c).

    I don’t have a problem with guys being pumped up, excited, and such. I actually like to see guys excited about playing the game… silly me.

  46. Read on Neyer’s blog where the potential for HITf/x data was discussed at length at the recent PITCHf/x Summit.

    Wow.

    How different is baseball gonna be in 20 years? I mean, I know the rules will be the same, more or less, but what is the average player or roster going to look like when all of this data starts getting absorbed?

  47. I imagine that statistical analysis will continue to be more important in the evaluation of players and the building of teams. But roster building will probably still (roughly) be about two roads — spending or trying to take advantage of market inefficiencies. But that’s overly simplistic and it’s also assuming that the teams want to win and not just turn a little profit for the owner.

  48. maybe for some crazy reason teams will start loading their rosters will fast guys who can’t get on base or that otherwise tailor their game to the new surface that they play on. then after a few years we’ll see commercials about how chicks dig guys that bunt.

  49. and maybe smoltz will have mastered the knuckler and will still be pitching 20 years from now.

    and with that triple post.. i’m done.

    Go Braves!

  50. Stu, if I were in charge, every player would look like Joe Torre, Yogi Berra, and Kirby Puckett — short, squat, ugly, and powerful, the sort of guys that make some people think, “Hey, I could play baseball!” and other people think, “Baseball isn’t a sport, because those sure as hell aren’t athletes.”

    Instead, they’ll probably just try to redefine “the baseball face” to look exactly like Jose Reyes and Carl Crawford.

  51. I guess everyone thinks that “time served” is appropriate for the Pats. I am inclined to agree, but not sure why this thing is dragging on.

  52. I think if we compare the Red Sox intelligent and patient approach to hitting to the Braves apparently unplanned reactionary style, we’ll begin to find the source of our frustration.

    Men in scoring position? Hack away!

    Read somewhere that a good hitting coach could raise a good hitter’s average 50 points by getting him to swing at, you know, strikes.

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