Phillies 8, Braves 3

ESPN – Phillies vs. Braves – Box Score – July 01, 2008

So, Chipper’s back. Didn’t matter. Charlie Morton fell victim to what so commonly happens to young pitchers who taste immediate success — diminishing returns. He’s pitched somewhat worse in each successive outing, and today was lifted before retiring a man in the third, having given up five runs.

I hate to agree with Chip Caray, but he made what I think is a valid point — Morton might have pitched better if the Braves hadn’t blown early scoring opportunities. They went 0-5 with runners at second base in the first two innings, and after that were really in no danger of taking a lead.

They had one real rally, coming in the seventh when the unlikely happened and Francoeur and Lillibridge (who will hopefully gone tomorrow with Escobar or Infante ready to play) singled. Norton hit a pinch double to score both. Blanco grounded out (the morons in the booth actually applauded, down three runs in the seventh). KJ and Chipper worked walks to load the bases. Teixeira hit a double play ball, but Utley botched it and only got the hitter; McCann grounded out to end the inning and effectively the game. Any chance of a comeback was dashed when Boyer gave up three runs in the ninth, Bobby sitting on his hands and letting him pitch to the lefthanded Victorino with Ring warmed up.

Chipper was 1-3 with two walks. Blanco continued his good work with two hits and a walk. Kotsay was activated from the DL (Brandon Jones was sent to AAA, because Francoeur is a star even though he sucks) but didn’t look too good, going 0-4. Infante was able to pinch-hit.

78 thoughts on “Phillies 8, Braves 3”

  1. Perhaps a new nickname for Francoeur could be “Mega Maid”? It goes right along with his ability to suck and blow at the same time…..

    “It’s Mega Maid, sir. She’s gone from suck to blow!”

    And Mac, maybe we could come up with an acronym for Bobby’s bullpen management? It’s definitely mentioned enough times to warrant one.

  2. The Phillies’ management has the gut to send Myers to the minor, and the Braves’ management should do the same to the Prince of Suckage.

    Our team doesn’t lack talent, but it has no life and no heart. We went to the World Series before with less talented team.

  3. And Mac, maybe we could come up with an acronym for Bobby’s bullpen management? It’s definitely mentioned enough times to warrant one.

    Maybe it should be SPFCCMT in honor of the Carlin 7 dirty words.

  4. Dan, Chucky is not ready yet. We have seen enough of Buddy last year to know his current role suit him the best. I would prefer to let Morton stay until Tommy coming back after the break.

  5. Might as well let Morton take his lumps. This team isn’t going anywhere anyways. By the way I am a big Warriors fan F*** Baron Davis. What a great night for me!!

  6. This team is so hard to watch. And what was up with McCann swinging at the first pitch in the seventh? He walked Chipper and Kelly! He is a stud, and in the end, it didn’t matter, but shoot.

    Jeff is going to lose all of his female fans if he keeps up his hobo look.

  7. Just back from the Ted. The crowd was booming for the Braves, but they did not deserve it.

    This team just cannot seem to get the big hit lately. It’s a syndrome. They cannot quite come all the way back or take a sufficient lead. It has to be in their heads, right?

  8. I don’t really know what to say about this team anymore. Now that they have been hit by so many injuries and can’t even win at home now, I don’t know what they should do. I’m convinced that the team is not that many pieces away from being pretty good but I don’t know where they get those pieces.

  9. Wow, the Phillies sent down Myers. Earlier in the year the Tigers sent down Willis, why can’t the same be done to Francoeur?

  10. How about “mule-pen management” for his stubborn use of the same pitchers over and over no matter what?

    Or “bull-headed pen management?”

    Not acronyms, I know. And they probably don’t sufficiently capture my frustration with Bobby Cox.

  11. BS management.

    I didn’t mention Atrosta in the recap, but you just know that Bobby will think that him somehow getting out of a bases-loaded situation of his own making is a sign that he turned the corner and not a sign that he can’t pitch.

  12. Bobby’s biggest problem is putting too much faith in players who simply is not good enough…or he is so desperate in finding consistent performances that he keeps giving chance to players who do not deserve such chances.

  13. A lot of losses on the farm tonight.

    However, Heyward is a beast.

    And Jeff Locke pitched pretty well tonight.

  14. I am glad that I missed the game…Morton was due to get hit and while I think he can become a very good starting pitcher, it would be naive to believe that it will be an easy ride….

  15. Not to mention Kala Kaaihue is starting to turn it around — hitting .338 in the month of June, average up to .251. Although it’s more than a little odd that all 10 of his HRs have come on the road this year. Hopefully he’ll turn out to be more than another Canizares/Thorman type, and he hits right-handed.

    Kala Kaaihue Mississippi statistics

    “You will receive eternal concsciousness on your deathbed. So I’ve got that going for me.”

  16. On a positive note, Danville is dominating the Appalachian League. I am beginning to think that Richard Sullivan was a steal in the draft. There are younger pitchers in the AL and Sullivan probably did not see as many strong hitters as should have at the Savannah College of Art and Design, but you have to like a guy who in 16 innings has 19 strikeouts and no walks…

    http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?gid=2008_07_01_dnvrok_jcyrok_1&t=g_box&did=milb

    At Rome it was nice to see Cody Johnson hit another HR and have a game without striking out!

  17. Hawkeye Fan–I couldn’t agree more: Kala has turned it around at Mississppi. The trend is probably much more important than the overall numbers. If he can sustain his June hitting, then I see him winning a promotion to Richmond in August….

  18. Sorry, but I see KK as Thorman junior.

    Also, is Paul Runge the manager at Danville? He just seems to keep on winning. Maybe, we should swap him and Bobby Cox.

  19. Blanco grounded out (the morons in the booth actually applauded, down three runs in the seventh

    My favorite part of the game. God, those two are dense. Chip really does bring out the worst in Joe.

  20. Kala still has a chance to be a decent major league 1B; more important, perhaps, if he re-establishes his prospect status, then he could be useful in trades….

  21. Two quick notes:

    Apparently, the Braves will be attending a work out by Freddy Garcia. Could be a cheap pick up. Also, Murton and Nady seem to be the most available and affordable OF pick ups out there….thoughts?

  22. It’s starting to become pure comedy watching Jeff Francoeur–bearded like he doesn’t own a razor, sitting the bat on his shoulder, etc. Something’s got to make a Braves fan laugh these days and by God if it isn’t Jeff Francoeur’s quest to find out how to hit again.

  23. It can’t hurt to go to the Freddy Garcia dog and pony show, but our main problem is not starting pitching…Either Murton or Nady would be useful additions–but probably not enough to be decisive. Therefore, as long as we don’t have to part with significant prospects, it might be worth the extra cost.

  24. Stephen, after seeing how our prospects are faring at Rome this year, I am not putting too much stock on any performances at Danville.

  25. KC–Rome has been disappointing, but, in fact, its not that bad: Heyward and Freemen have been great; Cody Johnson may well finish respectably and start at the Beach next season. Diamond, Broadway and Rivas have already been promoted.

    Evarts has been injured and Rohrbough may pitch better after he gets over what is proably a minor ankle injury.

    Locke and Rodgers are learnng, but growing and Ortegano has been ok. Osuna has pitched well and I would not be surprised to see him at MB in August.

    Of course we hoped that some of these arms would be dominant, but they are still developing…

    Coe and Shults need to turn it around and I am hoping the Benji Johnson can show some improvement.

    There is some talent at Danville, but its too early to draw any firm conclusions about individual players, though there are some arms with significant potential there. It is less clear with the position players…

    Above all, its a numbers game: most won’t make it or have an impact, but the more that can promoted at young ages, the better the organization’s chances at obtaining assets for trading and development.

  26. Nady is a Boras client….not interested. I’m more interested in Murton, but honestly, what would the Braves do with Murton? They would play him in LF and bench Blanco. This still does not solve the problem of Jeff Francouer.

    No thanks on Garcia. We have enough starting pitching, with Chuck James in AAA and Glavine set to come off the DL after the All Star break.

    #11 – Couldn’t agree more. When I heard Myers went down to the minors, my first thought was “Why don’t the Braves ever do that?” And Myers has more big league experience than Francouer.

  27. Sending frenchie to the minors doesn’t deal with the fact that he is a fundamentally flawed MLB hitter; he is either unwilling or unable to recognize the difference between a ball and a strike, and to swing only at the strikes. Look at his minor league walk rates; they were terrible (in contrast to the rates of the other good Braves minor league prospects right now, which are generally good to excellent). If Frenchie goes to Richmond, he will pound some of the mistakes thrown by AAA pitchers, have a nice run, and proclaim a “cure”. Then he will come back and have the same problem, because MLB pitchers won’t throw as many mistakes, and will throw him balls that look good enough to swing at in Frenchie’s eyes, but are not.

    Frenchie needs a winter maybe to spend 3 months changing his approach or learning about pitch recognition, and if the problem isn’t fixed after that, the Braves need to start the Hayward countdown, because Frenchie will never be successful.

  28. I’m not ready to give up on Charlie yet. He’s young, you expect him to get knocked around a bit every once in a while. He had 3 good starts before this one and as long as this didn’t psych him out too badly he should have many more good starts in him. Granted, I may have this c’est la vie attitude about him because in the long run our offense is going to cause us to lose more games than one rookie pitcher is.

  29. I agree–I want to see the Braves give Morton every chance to develop; it may be that the best things which can come out of 2008 are the development of individual players. Of course, it would be nice if Chipper could find a way back to .400….

  30. This is the most important game of the season, tonight.

    WE NEEED A HITTER, NOT A KITTY LITTER.

  31. Bethany–I could not agree more, which is why I don’t want to see the Braves start shipping key prospects away for trades whose impact will be inadequate.

    Of course if the Braves would contemplate the unthinkable (trading Frenchy) then things might get interesting….

  32. Who would you as GM of any team you choose give the Braves for Francouer right now?

    I don’t think anyone would part with a top-rate prospect. I wouldn’t.

  33. The issue with Morton is somewhat complicated by the fact the Braves are still in the race (by no means attributed to their play, but the suckiness of the NL). As long as they are still in it, you have to send out the best players that give you a chance to win. That means Morton may be replaced by Hampton, Glavine, Carlyle, James or whomever might give them a better chance in that spot in the rotation. If the Braves sink to 9 or 10 games out by early August, I have no problem letting him take his lumps and generally playing younger guys to evaluate players for 2009.

    I personally don’t think this team has what it takes to be a legitimate contender, but every team in teh division has flaws, and they still have half a season to get healthier and maybe catch a spark. The Rockies and Phillies came back last year from a pretty good deficit, so you never know. As long as they are this close, there is no reason to throw in the towel just yet.

  34. Coop is right. The Braves are among the least SABR of any MLB organization. The others would value him lower. Francoeur, for his career and for the Braves, either needs (1) to get his ankle fixed or (2) go to AA or AAA under a mandate and a personal mission to completely destroy and re-build his swing and his approach.

    This team has too many holes to commit trades to improve for 2008. IF no ground gets closed by 7/20 or so, then a good trade of a useful veteran for prospects or young talent would be good. Like moving Ohman or Texeira. If we close ground, only make second order trades.

    I would hold Hudson as he is the only projectable #2 or higher we have. The “young un’s” can definitely hold the back of the rotation. We have plenty of young bullpen arms if Cox hasn’t blown them to bits this year.

    Chuck James has been pretty good at Richmond. He SHOULD have been working on his third pitch. IF he has, then bringing him up some time in the next month could be valuable. IF he again establishes MLB #4 credentials, then he is worthwhile to keep or trade.

  35. I was so sure that urlhix would bring great fortune to the Braves. Alas.

    …and if the problem isn’t fixed after that, the Braves need to start the Hayward countdown…

    I began the Heyward countdown in June of 2007.

    That means Morton may be replaced by Hampton…

    LOL!

  36. Not to gripe, but Victorino is a switch hitter. In normal circumstances, you’d rather have Boyer facing him than Ring. But with the way Boyer was pitching, well, it’s probably closer to a tossup.

  37. Doesn’t Bobby (or anyone else of the Braves’ “brain trust”) realize that J. C. Romero NEVER throws a pitch in the strike zone. Never. Ever. The Phils use him just about every game and the Braves’ hitters just keep swinging at first pitches, even after he walked two in a row (on nine pitches, including a called strike that wasn’t). It’s really frustrating.

  38. What is Will Ohman’s contract status?

    He’s a FA after this season. Trade him for a prospect!

  39. The reason Murton would be a good trade target is that it’s likely he can contribut positively to the team for at least a couple years in a platoon/4th OF role, if not an outright starter. That’s worth giving up, say, a low-level arm with some upside, maybe two.

  40. I’m not ready to give up on Charlie yet. He’s young, you expect him to get knocked around a bit every once in a while.

    I agree. The Phillies are a strong offensive team, that’s going to happen. Just leave Morton in there and see if he can get established. Next year (and that’s all there is at this point) looks a lot better if Reyes and Morton can show they are legit major league starters. Jerking them around in favor of Glavine, James (!), and Carlyle (!!) makes no sense.

    Doesn’t Bobby (or anyone else of the Braves’ “brain trust”) realize that J. C. Romero NEVER throws a pitch in the strike zone.

    The Braves have shown time and time again they have no idea how to deal with this type of pitcher. Just not patient enough.

  41. Let me know when you decide to sell Will Ohman, Parish. I bet I could make you a decent offer.

  42. Well, at least my wife, who grew up near Philly, is happy. So I got that going for me… :(

    Francoeur delenda Richmond.

  43. Picking up Murton would allow us to trade Brandon Jones or Blanco for a pice we may need, say another good reliever or a decent back up catcher, or someone who may actually be able to play third on short notice with a little offense. It also could allow us to trade Frenchy, would might bring us something of use in return…

  44. This is Matt Murton:

    .258 /0/ 6 /.303 /.323

    I don’t get what the excitement is about him.

  45. Tony: “I looked at a player’s line for one season, ignoring how many ABs he’s had and the entirety of his past performance! That means I know everything there is to know about a player! Hey, look! I’m a Cubs executive!”

  46. Matt Murton:

    career minor league .310 .385 .455, 1333 AB
    career major league .295 .363 .451, 861 AB

  47. Sign Bonds for free, trade Francoeur to Delta for a bag of peanuts TBNL, and let Brandon Jones and/or Blanco play right.

  48. Not really knocking Matt Murton, I just don’t see how he solves any of the Braves problems. My question would be, what’s the difference between Murton and Matt Diaz?

  49. I know there are people that find this idea not to their liking, but there’s a left fielder playing in Cincinnatti who hits for great power. Apparently, there’s little trade interest in him, so he may be gotten a bit more cheaply than one would otherwise think. Just throwing it out there: power and OBP.
    I haven’t looked at his career numbers recently, however, but power and OBP are still there, I think.

  50. from the Braves website…

    Tidbits
    Jeff Francoeur, who has hit .138 (8-for-58) in his past 16 games, took early batting practice under the watchful eye of hitting coach Terry Pendleton on Tuesday afternoon. Last week, an American League scout said that he noticed the right fielder was changing his mechanics nearly every plate appearance. …

    now the question….why does it take an American League scout to notice this?? Sorry, but TP needs to go. This offense has been underperforming under his watch. Its like they dont want to hurt anyone’s feelings or something.

  51. Francoeur by month:

    April: .273/.305/.464
    May: .236/.306/.373
    June: .206/.270/.314

    I’m excited to see what July holds. How low can he go? How high is the team’s pain threshold?

  52. TP should go if only for a new voice.

    In regards to Francouer…maybe he just isn’t that good.

  53. csg-

    Why do you assume Pendleton hasn’t noticed that, too, and just chose not to air Frenchy’s dirty laundry out for the media?

    It’s not the offense that’s underperforming; it’s Frenchy. Who else? Chipper? McCann? Tex started slow (like he does EVERY YEAR), but he’s hitting now. Kotsay? KJ? Blanco? Escobar? What part of our lineup, exactly, is sucking?

    Yep! It’s Frenchy! And the reason for this is deeply-rooted flaws in his swing: it’s too long and has been since he was called up. Because of how long his swing is, he’s got to start it about the same time the ball is leaving the pitcher’s hand, which is well before he (or anyone else for that matter) can recognize the pitch type or location. I remember seeing a video analysis of his swing in either his rookie or sophomore year (here it is!) where the conclusion was that he swing was about 25% longer than that of an average MLB player. So he’s basically deciding whether to swing and what kind of pitch to swing at before the ball leaves the pitchers’ hand. And this is why he’ll often go up there and just look foolish. It’s why he’ll swing at pitches well off the plate and why he’ll take pitches down the middle: he’s making the decision to do these things before the ball is being released.

    The solution is to re-work his swing completely into something more compact; try to maintain his great batspeed, but do it in such a way that the swing takes a lot less time. But we can’t do that because that would imply that there are deep flaws in Frenchy’s game, and after a month like that one he had in 2005, well, that kind of talk’s right out the window!

    I guess my point is that a pitching coach at the ML level has the job of fine-tuning a swing, noticing minor differences from year to year, slump to hot streak. With Frenchy, you don’t need tweaks; you need whole-sale reconstruction.

  54. Francoeur by month:

    April: .273/.305/.464
    May: .236/.306/.373
    June: .206/.270/.314

    I’m excited to see what July holds. How low can he go? How high is the team’s pain threshold?

    What, you’re just going to ignore the on-base improvement from April to May?

    A lot of losses on the farm tonight.

    To be fair, Mississippi was up against the best pitching prospect in the minors.

  55. I’m pretty sure TP has given Jeff all the advice he can give. I agree with Mraver…

    why not make TP the bench coach or promote him to 3rd base coach since he obviously the manager in waiting and hire a different type of hitting coach.

    As far as the hitters go, unless the Braves get a back-up catcher, McCann numbers will crash in the 2nd half. Francouer and until recently Tex have been the problem with the offense the whole year.

    Two stats that define Francouer’s year:

    Batting .105 in 19 abs with bases loaded
    Batting .211 overall with RISP in 95 abs.

  56. Stu–Price’s stats are pretty mean–but I think you will appreciate the fact that Price beat Deunte Heath (who did not pitch that badly) who was a Tennessee Volunteer before Atlanta drafted him…

  57. Frenchy was never that good, but he isn’t THIS bad. Even now. The guy can’t hit a ball thrown right down the middle square. He’s either topping everything, popping it up, or whiffing entirely. He is in a real bad funk and it is all in his head. But again, he isn’t good either way.

  58. Two stats that define Francouer’s year:

    Batting .105 in 19 abs with bases loaded
    Batting .211 overall with RISP in 95 abs.

    Beg to differ. It’s these:

    High leverage: .160/.209/.309
    Med leverage: .198/.268/.315
    Low leverage: .321/.366/.485

    If the game is even in danger of being in doubt he is completely, utterly worthless.

  59. Robert, I’d say those stats seem to indicate that the psychological aspect is MUCH more a factor than it would be if this was all mechanical/uncorrectable. If he can hit the ball fine when it’s a low stress situation, but chokes on anything resembling stressful, it’s would seem apparently much less that he’s not seeing the ball, and more that he’s psyching himself out during those situations and changing what works OK when nothing is on the line.

  60. I dunno, Charles. Pitchers are probably throwing better pitches—they’re certainly trying to—in high-leverage situations. With two out and nobody on in the second inning, he probably sees quite a few meatballs.

  61. Yeah, he’s hitting .261/.292/.435 when the margin in the game is 4+ runs. It seems he can only hit when the pitcher is just trying to get the game over with.

  62. Regarding Frenchy K, I sincerely home he and TP are reviewing each and every at bat on tape so he can better understand what he is taking, what he’s swinging at, and how pitchers are working him. Hopefully TP is peppering him with questions like “Why did you swing at a 2-0 curve 1′ off the ground?” and the like. He has to work on this aspect of hitting as much as his mechanics to get himself squared away.

    FWIW the 2 AB’s I saw last night looked better (2nd and 7th innings I think). He hit the ball back up the middle and the other way, which are good signs. Not sure what he did in the other AB’s.

  63. I think wat’s really making Francouer season look even worse…is his lack of power. Ryan Howard is hitting .218 this year, but with 20 HR and 64 RBI.

    Even Andruw had a few meaningless HRs last year.

  64. I think him trying to hit for power has screwed him up. Along with him not being that smart of a hitter to being with, then you have what we see now.

    He did hit a legit .293 last year. Should have just built from that.

  65. As an out-of-towner who has to watch the Braves on Extra Innings, I get the opposing team’s broadcast about 3/4 of the time. Honestly, it shocks me how overrated Terry Pendleton is as a batting coach in the minds of other broadcasters. They constantly rave about what a well-respected hitting coach, often right as Jeff Francoeur rolls a 2-0 slider on the outside corner for a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.

    He is roundly praised for allowing Chipper Jones to do his own hitting. They seem to miss the irony of the fact that the player who is far and away the team’s most discplined hitter takes little to no instruction from Pendleton.

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