Marlins 4, Braves 0

ESPN – Braves vs. Marlins – Box Score – July 22, 2008

Ways to know it’s not your day…

1. When the first hit you give up is a three-run homer in the fourth…

2. When you load the bases on walks and the next two men strike out…

3. When you knew that would happen because those two men were Jeff Francoeur, who sucks, and Kelly Johnson, who is in another one of his slumps.

Francoeur, of course, struck out in his own special way in that aborted fourth inning; after the three straight walks to start the inning, he swung at four straight balls at eye level. He sucks so much that the word “suck” is starting to lose all meaning. He is a black hole from which no offense can escape. Both teams were hitless at that point. Charlie Morton didn’t give up a hit until the aforementioned two-out, three-run homer in the fifth, which was, of course, the end of the game for all intents and purposes. Royce Ring walked in a run in the sixth. I issue bases on balls, therefore I am.

The only question was if the Braves would get no-hit by the immortal Henricus VandenHurk. It is my delightful duty to say that they were not, because HVDH was lifted after the fifth, and Chipper Jones had a single in the sixth. Hooray! As I mentioned in the game thread, I am terribly worried that some Braves pitcher is going to take a bat to his position-playing teammates and somehow fail to hit Francoeur.

157 thoughts on “Marlins 4, Braves 0”

  1. Kelly Johnson sucks too, no matter how big your crush on him is too. It’s more then a slump when it’s to 20+ games.

    Play Martin Prado everyday at 2B.

  2. The Red Sox backup catcher is hitting better than Francouer is right now (I checked the numbers!). Think we could trade for him?

  3. Jake, explain to me why we’d want to play a 2B who can neither hit nor field over one who can field and sometimes hit.

  4. I was being sarcastic, of course. I was blasted recently for pointing out the same thing. People on here sure love him.

  5. Rick Van Den Koufax

    It seems I attended a game at the TED last year when Van Den Hurk pitched about a 1-hitter against the Braves. Didn;t this guy have an 11+ ERA coming into the game?

    I actually missed the game but caught the Francoeur AB in the 4th on the radio. Pete practically predicted what would happen, as if that takes some great insight at this point.

    I heard Buck Belue on the radio today say RF needs to be evaluated. More Atlanta media seeing the light?

  6. “He sucks so much that the word “suck” is starting to lose all meaning.”

    That’s classic.

  7. Wow KJ is in a slump, but there is no way that Prado should be playing everyday instead of him. Hell, he shouldn’t even platoon with him on a regular basis.

  8. True. Because of Prado’s penchant for committing Prado’s, his pathetic defense is one of the few attributes in baseball than can’t be quantified using traditional statistics. Hence the need for creating “the Prado.”

  9. I also think Kelly can improve a little bit on what he’s done. He won’t be a superstar, but Prado is Prado.

  10. I do remember Prado playing right this off season in the winter leagues, and thinking, wow, they must be hard up for outfielders.

    The Braves are hard up for outfielders.

  11. By the way Kelly has hit about .190 in July.
    And I am not defending Frenchy but he can’t be doing much worse than Kelly this month.

  12. Kelly has definitely had a disappointing 2008 both at the plate and in the field. There’s no getting around that.

    After finishing 8th among 2b in VORP with a 33.1 last year, he has been downright mediocre this year with a 12.5. Keep in mind though, that this doesn’t mean he was mediocre last year and terrible this year. In fact, he was superb last year, and has been mediocre this year.

    And let’s not write him off just yet. He is afterall a notoriously streaky player and always has been. And remember, he plays second base…a position you don’t expect to get that much production from. And let’s also not give him more blame than he deserves. It’s not like he’s Francoeur afterall, who has hurt the team more, while playing more, and been demonstrably worse in every way (-8.7 VORP this year).

    All you people accusing Mac and others like myself of having a mancrush on Kelly, and giving him a freepass while Frenchy suffers our wrath, you’re off base. The numbers put Frenchy in a class of suckiness by himself.

  13. And despite his slump, KJ has been the team’s fourth-most-productive hitter this season. Of course, a lot of that is Escobar’s injury, and there’s a huge gap between the Chipper-Tex-McCann triad and fourth place.

  14. And from a scouting standpoint, Kelly has more power, speed, and better pure hitting. I still think Kelly can hit .300 one day, as he still is hitting .270 after a major slump. I don’t understand what is better about Prado than Kelly.

  15. By the way, anyone else enjoying free-week at baseballprospectus as much as I am?

    Deciding which stats to choose from their cornucopia of awesomeness to pwn the KJ-haters/Frenchy-apologists was the most satisfying thing I’ve done all night. (I went with the ole reliable, VORP.)

    So. Much. Good. Shit. I’m definitely gonna have to add a subscription to the budget next month.

  16. I’ll tell you the reason why Francoeur sucks than Kelly.

    1. Kelly doesn’t whine.
    2. Kelly feels sorry about that when he make a mistake.
    3. People who doesn’t support Francoeur blindly, ignorantly. and don’t nourish fond hopes of success.
    4. Kelly doesn’t delude himself he is a superstar.

    I am also considering not watching games if Francoeur must not go anywhere after this season. Morever I will change my favorite team. WHY NOT! I’m serious. This team’s colour and fanbase take the gilt off the gingerbread. How dare could I do it? Because I just want to love to watch baseball/sports.

    Francoeur sucks. More than words.

  17. I wonder how much playing time Kelly Johnson would be getting if his season stats mirrored that of Francoeur’s….

    Think he’d still be playing everyday? Me neither.

  18. Kelly doesn’t play everyday now as it is. He is platooning with Prado for some ungodly reason. I don’t care if Kelly is slumping. He should not be platooning because even in his slump he is better than Prado. Does Bobby truly know that KJ is hitting something like .333 against lefties this year?

  19. Dan,

    The evidence suggests no, furthermore the majority of Kelly’s abs against lefties came only because Prado mercifully got injured. It baffles the mind.

    By the way, I don’t have a mancrush on Kelly, but I can spot the difference between his abilities and those of the lesser Prado. I only wish to educate those who can’t see the difference like Dan has.

  20. This KJ vs. Frenchy thing, to me, smells of being driven by his relatives/agency trying any and all spin possible to take the heat off the golden boy of suckitude.

    Guess what? It won’t work. Go away.

    And yeah, does anyone in the Braves organization look at a stat sheet, even once in a while. Good Lord, the stupidity, it burns!

  21. Those are some very substantive points you’ve made in support of your argument there, Nature Boy.

  22. No, ricflair (whoo!), I’m not excusing KJ’s performance of late. I’m just saying it is being highlighted by people with a vested interest in Frenchy to take some heat off the golly-gee-whiz boy.

    Classic misdirection argument. “Forget A, what about B? Huh?”

    KJ is not trying to be the face of the franchise. He can afford to have a slump. It happens to everyone. These folks are trying to piss on your shoe and tell you it is raining. Or, more appropriately, that KJ is also making it rain. Laughable, really.

  23. I highlight it all the time, and I have no “vested interest” at all in Francoeur. In fact, I’ve said he sucks all year. Just reminding everyone that KJ sucks too, and doesn’t deserve the free pass from criticism that he sometimes gets on here.

  24. As far as him getting a free pass, I’ve personally referred to his season as disappointing in this very thread. And Mac prominently featured him in the recap, referencing another one of his slumps….not exactly high praise.

    Also, when you say we’re giving him a free pass, you imply that we have some irrational attachment to him that blinds us from the truth that he sucks. There’s only one problem with that; it’s not true. The stats just aren’t there. He absolutely is having a disappointing year and is in quite a funk right now, but there isn’t any rational way you can make that case. I can cite stats until I’m blue in the face that prove tihs, but that apparently does nothing for you. So I’ll just say this, as disappointing as he’s been, he’s still been one of our most productive bats, and he’s done it from the 2b position. If we can get a level of production somewhere between what he’s done this year and what he did last year over the next few years from him (hopefully closer to last year’s numbers), coming from the 2b position, then you really can’t complain. In fact, that would make him quite a valuable commodity on a team that had the rest of its parts in order.

  25. KJ has been a disappointment. As many have said in the past, including last year. But he’s, overall, not killing us at 2nd. Unlike our boy in RF. And if he’d been allowed to play all the time his numbers might be a bit better. Maybe. Who knows? We certainly know how bad RF is, though.

    I’m just saying it’s not a valid comparison. That’s all.

    My other point being, I think JF has people doing a bit of astroturfing for him. Which should not be surprising to anyone, considering how much money is potentially involved in the situation. Frankly, if I were the client, I would be pissed if they weren’t doing it. That’s what those folks get 15% for.

  26. Brad,

    Were you saying KJ sucked June 1, when his OPS for the year stood at .852, his batting average at .300? Is that included in “all year” as you say?

    He’ll hit again in the 2nd half and push his numbers up again. And again, you will be making a foolish statement.

  27. He had his critics last year. Not saying that were valid, just saying they were there.

  28. I’m sure that that is true. But so is what I said.

    It just goes to show you how fickle fans can be.

  29. Jake,

    See what I mean? These guys love him.

    I give in. It’s much easier to just say “francoeur sux!” and go on believing that he’s the sole cause of all of our problems.

    KJ for MVP!

  30. Kelly’s only been a disappointment this season, because everyone was expecting him to have an Utley like rise in his game. It hasn’t happened but every measurable statistic in the world indicates he is still an above average player overall, not just his position. To say that Kelly Johnson sucks is an assanine statement of epic proportions. And I’m done.

  31. Brad,

    “KJ for MVP” is such a strawman. No one is saying that. C’mon dude, surely you can do better with your arguments.

    And you address Jake like you know him, what’s up with that?

    Oh yeah, Frenchy suxxors!!

  32. Ok one question for the Kelly sucks opinion camp. Where does this opinion come from? Statistics, visual observation, or a one month slump?

  33. He is too streaky. He will go 1 for 30 like when he first got called up and then go on a torrid streak. He needs to be more consistent and learn how to catch a damn pop up!!

  34. Re: 39

    Stop being a punk and make your case then, big shot.

    Seriously, you accuse us of just saying “francoeur sux” as justification for Kelly not sucking. Yet, if you read the thread, we’re the ones who’ve provided the evidence in support of our claim.

    You’re the one who’s making baseless “KJ sux!” claims. You haven’t cited shit. That’s not your fault though, because you’d be looking for a long time to find evidence proving that KJ is even a below average second baseman, let alone “sucks” (or even remotely close to the level of suckitude as Frenchy).

    I would never make the case that Francoeur is our only problem. But to say that Kelly’s underperformance warrants the kind of backlash Frenchy’s has caused is a joke. Even claiming KJ is even close to our next biggest problem is a joke. If you want us all to jump on your KJ sucks bandwagon, then what about the Kotsay, Blanco, Diaz, Lillibridge, Miller, Anderson, Jones, Norton, Infante, Prado, Morton, Acosta, and Reyes suck ass bandwagons? They’ve all got worst stats this year than KJ, so what about them, smart guy?

  35. Why do you guys cry when someone doesn’t agree with you. If you haven’t heard it’s a free country!! WOOO!!!!

  36. Ric,

    Buddy we are just backing our point up with statistical evidence, instead of an irrational argument of he’s too streaky. I am coming to the conclusion that you just want to be contrary.

  37. ric,

    He missed one pop up. How long are you going to hold it against him? Jeez Louise.

    p.s. I haven’t seen to much crying around here, just rational discussion, FWIW. And doesn’t freedom include the right to tell someone they are wrong, and why?

  38. I’m not crying at all. Far from it in fact, I love talking baseball. I’m just trying to explain my point of view on the subject, and using statistics to support it. Conversely, you’re slowly killing my will to live by responding to these statistics with such gems as “If only he could catch a popup” and “If you haven’t heard it’s a free country!”

  39. And the hits keep coming.

    Not since wun have I been so entertained by a hissy fit on the board.

  40. @50,

    As my Mom used to say, someone’s got a case of the ol’ tired and irritables.

    Bless your heart. Get some rest, Nature Boy.

  41. Francouer is like Kelly without the hot streaks or the walks. Which is to say that Francoeur is not at all like Kelly.

  42. Wow, the hot topic is Kelly tonight!

    Honestly, nobody can suck like Jeffrey, but Kelly has been pretty bad except for one month. Just the fact that they play on the same team doesn’t make KJ looks better. KJ has sucked except for one month, you have to come to that conclusion after seeing his monthly split.

  43. Ok, who is to blame?

    First, it was Bobby, who is senile. Then Chucky James, who has but two pitches. Then Terry Pendleton, who knows nothing about hitting. Then Kotsay, who just isn’t Andruw. Then Wren, who knows nothing about fixing problems and filling holes. Now KJ, who cannot field or hit. And of course Hampton, who is made of glass and Frenchy, who suck so bad that sucking loses all meaning.

    What I don’t get is why you guys don’t get that this is a TEAM thing!!! The BRAVES, 2008 model, suck! With the exception of two, maybe three guys, the whole organisation has underachieved.

    So please, stop slamming hell on whoever turns out to be the fool of the day. This whole discussion leads nowhere. Instead, we should SELL! Trade whoever is expendable now and returns some value for the future, replace some positions in management and coaching, and rebuilt. NOT from scratch, but around the guys who are worth keeping.

  44. This entire organization has underachieved. It is amazing how many of our prospects flame out at AA ball. Are they overrated or is it poor development by the system?
    We really have not turned out anything in a while, well, not enough anyway, and we cant plug holes through FA like we used to either.
    We are still in a transitionary period of the spending days and the emerging model this team must take and rebuild from within.
    The tough part is that make takes many years to do. I feel we have a bad habit of rushing players up. If we are not close to contending, and this team is not, do not bring players up just to fail. Let them develop and work their way up.

    Ugh, i do see several bad years ahead for this team though. The holes are plentiful and the pickins are slim.
    Normally I get excited for football season right around now, but we just got our letter form the NY Giants about our season tix.
    20,000 PSL and 700 per game!

  45. according to the AJC, Hampton hopes to join the rotation by this weekend….anyone care to wager what he’ll pull, tear, strain or break before then?

  46. Put me down for neck strain. I can’t remember him having that one before, although he certainly has since he’s had everything.

    The BRAVES, 2008 model, suck!

    I wish people would stop using our beloved term “suck” in this way. The 2008 Braves don’t suck, they are simply mediocre which is not the same. It devalues the term. It lessens the impact when we say Francouer – who really does suck – sucks.

  47. @57.
    Our farm system really hasn’t produced?
    KJ, Escobar, Blanco, McCann, Morton, Boyer, and Acosta all play for us.
    Salty, Harrison, Andrus, Feliz, and Beau Jones got us Tex. Not saying they were all worth it, but they did.
    Jose Ascanio got us Will Ohman who is our best reliever.
    Joey Devine got us Mark Kotsay who is playing well.
    Granted none of these are superstars, but to say that our farm system did not do its job is ridiculous. And we still have a lot of prospects on the way. Just because they are not all-stars does not mean the development system sucks.

  48. I think we can all agree that they have underachieved so far. And they may not be all that great. But when a farm system chugs out that many players, who are at least competent major leaguers, I don’t see how it can be criticized. I’ll say that no other farm system in the majors could handle that. And we still have a top 5 system. I’m not saying that these guys are great, but our farm system is definitely not the source of our problems.

  49. I think the beginning of the end came when Time Warner downsized a bunch of our minor league infrastructure. As I recall they cut many coaching and scouting positions saying they were not needed to develop and maintain a good farm system. I guess they might have been wrong.

  50. #60

    Don’t forget Chipper, Andruw, Glavine, Wainright, and Jason Marquis. Marquis is no superstar either, but he’s been a competent major leaguer for the greater part of a decade. I think our farm system has done a fine job.

  51. @62, i understand totally. We have turned up some decent player and McCann is a stud, but most of the other guys are just parts. They really do not make the team good.
    I think Escobar has potential, KJ is really letting me down and he is not young.
    Blanco is a 4th OF tops.
    Morton, ehh. We will see,he only had one good minor league season but I like him, but liking these guys does not make them good.
    I have kids on the teams I coach who I like and they earn Varsity Letters but only because they are the best of the worst, not because they are good, if you catch my drift.
    The 90’s Braves were good because they developed some top tier talents.
    Glavine, Avery, Wohlers, Gant, Justice, Lopez, Klesko…. Not all of them had long careers, some were traded, but they were dominant type payers for a period of time. That we are not getting right now.
    Anyway, a crappy season gets us all annoyed, funny how we all look for a reason and find different ones to attack.

  52. How about a new nickname for Frenchy? “succubus”. It’s got the whole female thing going on too.

  53. I have little hope for a post season for the Braves this year (I still have SOME hope, but I still HOPE I win the lottery too, doesn’t mean I think it’s likely), but I’m not about to give up and be a fan of another team for pity’s sake. Eric has hit the nail on the head with “underachieving this year” statement. I’m hopeful that we’ll pull things together enough to have a winning season, and hopefully Tommy and (blasphemous and ludicrous as this is to say) Hampton will come back, not for long enough to make us win, but for long enough to give our young arms a break so they don’t fall off next year.

    That said, I enjoy watching baseball, not JUST when we win. To be sure I prefer that we win, but I’ll watch little league and high-school games just for the fun of it when I don’t care about either team, so it doesn’t make sense for me to get too huffy when my team doesn’t win as much as I’d like (as oldtimer pointed out “Anyway, a crappy season gets us all annoyed, funny how we all look for a reason and find different ones to attack.”). With the skills the Braves players have I think we can see how they COULD go on a 10 game run and get back into things, but we just haven’t seen it happen (and it probably won’t at this time). Heck I think we can safely say they SHOULD have done it but haven’t.

  54. Carroll wonders if the Rangers could send an outfielder to Atlanta for closer Mike Gonzalez. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan also linked the Rangers to Gonzalez. Gonzalez is under team control through ’09; I’d be surprised to see him traded.

    http://tinyurl.com/6l5e7l

    I can only speak for myself, but I think this trade would be dumb. It’d be dumb to put all of your faith in Soriano’s creeky elbow. If anything, trade the future Tommy John surgery case, not the one who just got back from it.

    I can see the disaster that would come from trading Gonzalez a mile away:

    July 30, 2008: Braves trade Gonzalez for so-so outfielder.

    April 10, 2009: Soriano dad-to-day with sore elbow.

    April 15, 2009: Soriano goes on DL

    April 22, 2009: Soriano needs season-ending surgery.

    May 20, 2009: Blaine Boyer blows fifth save.

    July 20, 2009: Braves open up shop and sell at trading deadline after horrible, 2006-esqe bullpen put them out of contention.

  55. This is starting to sound like Mets Blog! Oh please no. (BTW, how bout that Mets’ bullpen last night. If the Braves are going down, I want the Mets to as well.)

    Frenchy is in a class of his own as far as sucking. He is the dictionary definition. He gets worse and worse every night and Booby continues to send him out there batting sixth, knowing what’s going to happen. It’s as if Booby is saying to everyone, “fuck you, I’m doing it my way.” I guess he is turning into Frank Sinatra now.

    Clearly, Jeffy is not the only problem with the team. KJ streakiness is a problem but he is obviously a much better player than Frenchy. At this point, Francoeur is simply one of the worst players in major league baseball, while KJ is not.

    I think most teams would be more than happy with the production of the Braves farm system. What they have not done, however, with the exception of McCann (and Chipper but that was long ago) is produce stars and, in particular, dominant starting pitchers. But a lot of that is luck anyway and having a deep system allows you to make trades for stars. I think the problem is not the players but with the organizational philosophy or player development model which seems to emphasize tools and aggressiveness over baseball skills. The Braves organization does not really value the ability to get on basse or to work the count and players pick up that that is not the way to get to the majors.

    Having said that, I agree with Oldtimer that the problem with the Braves is they just don’t have the talent they had in the 90s. But as far as being dominant, the dominant players on that team were Glavine, Smoltz, and Maddux. Without those guys, the rest of the lineup was pretty ordinary.

  56. Wow…KJ finally getting some criticism. For a minute, I thought Brad and myself were the only ones who could see the obvious. I’m not going to be too hard on KJ though, b/c I have been consistent throughout. Plus no one ever said he was going to be a superstar, and he is not the main reason the Braves suck right now. Prado will probably start against lefties from this point on.

    Question: Why is Tex still a Brave? Maybe after the Phillies sweep the Braves again…they will sell.

    Jeff Francouers is laughable at this point. I just hope Escobar is not severely injured.

    NY Mets…epic meltdown.

  57. The yankees are kind of going through the same thing as the Braves, the Minors made lots of studs for both franchises during the 90’s and now they are thinning out.
    The big difference is the Yankees still have deeeeep pockets, the braves have gotten shallow.

  58. This Kelly Johnson hate is weird. For one thing, he alternated last year from being a .260 hitter one month and a .350 hitter the next. Guess what he’s done this year? I’ll grant that the July looks pretty bad, but for whatever it’s worth, Brian McCann is about the only Brave hitting a lick this month. Even Chipper’s been just okay.

    Yes, Kelly Johnson has been pretty awful since May. But guess what? He’s still been worlds better than Frenchy, has been playing better defense than Frenchy, and isn’t put in the starting lineup day in, day out despite his suckitude like Frenchy.

    I’m sorry, but the only way Frenchy will get less heat is if he either (1) stops sucking or (2) at least mans up and acknowledge that he needs to change something to turn things around.

  59. I think that is all anyone is asking of Frenchy. The hatred is not based on his sucking, which is evident. It is that he seems to believe he has an inborn right to play everyday no matter how he performs. And he is not getting better. His at-bats against VandenHurk yesterday are evidence of that.

  60. Just thought I’d clarify that Francoeur does suck. We just take it above and beyond because of the way he acts.

  61. I will also note for oldtimer’s benefit that the reason the Braves suck this year is that their starting pitching has been devastated by injuries, their bullpen has been devastated by injuries, their outfield has been devastated by injuries (combined with Francoeur sucking), and … our middle infield and bench have suffered a good bit (but not really been devastated) by injuries.

    Oh, and apparently we can’t win a 1-run game on the road. But maybe that has something to do with all of the injured late-inning bullpen guys and general lack of production from our 5th- and 6th- and sometimes even 7th-string OFs who were brought in to start on an all-too regular basis.

    Now, you can claim that there should have been more bench depth in the OF or that we should have had a better 3rd option to start at SS than Brent Lillibridge, but I think most of those criticisms are silly.

    The Braves are below .500 because players they were relying on to be key contributers have done nothing this year, whether because they got hurt or because they’re Francoeur, and because they can’t win a one-run game on the road. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.

  62. #68 continued…”Carroll wonders if the Rangers could send an outfielder to Atlanta for closer Mike Gonzalez. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan also linked the Rangers to Gonzalez. Gonzalez is under team control through ’09; I’d be surprised to see him traded. ”

    yeah, Josh Hamilton would look nice in Atl…

    David Murphy shows promise, but I wouldnt make that 1 for 1 trade. Murphy and Chris Davis maybe

  63. Murphy and Davis for Gonzo…yes, I would take that. There is zero chance the Rangers would offer that.

  64. yeah I know….what about Davis for Gonzo? They also have Nelson Cruz in AAA with 32Hr and 85 RBI, what about those two

  65. Has this team been unexpectedly decimated by injuries any more than any other team? And is this the main cause of the Braves woes?

    Smoltz is the biggy, but the gimpy shoulder had to be expected (see spring training “regimen”. Glavine wasn’t expected to be that good, and wasn’t good before he got hurt. Moylan is just part of a slew of marginal pitchers who have the occasional good year of relief work. Plus, relievers don’t pitch many innings. Soriano is just a reliever with a history of arm troubles, whom I think is vastly overrated. Several other members have stepped into their roles and may have actually outperformed these guys.

    Chipper has been relatively healthy Diaz and Escobar’s injuries are within the realm of random injuries that strike teams every year.

    On the other side, some reserves (Campillo, Blanco, B. Jones, Prado) have played well above expectations.

  66. The Rangers wouldn’t do it straight up for Davis. That guy has crazy power and would be our first baseman for a while.

    And neither Murphy (career minor league OPS of .750) nor Cruz (he’s 27) are good enough, IMO, to make it worth trading the guy Mac believes is the NL’s best reliever.

  67. Pitching has not been the problem for the Braves this year. Hitting has definitely been the issue. In particular Tex for most of the 1st half, Francouer the whole year and now KJ and Esco(although he has been injured). But when you look at it, Tex and Francouer are the main culprits. Especially against lefties, and I know Tex has come on lately, but boy was he bad early on. Chipper’s great year has been basically wasted. Francouer, well that’s obvious. I know the Braves are thrilled they didn’t sign him long term. Thank goodness for McCann.

  68. Gonzalez hasn’t been the NL’s best reliever for almost two seasons now. I would always – ALWAYS – trade a relief pitcher for a nice young player, though Murphy may not be it. The trouble is Atlanta has never been able to figure out how to put together a very good bullpen with in-house parts. They’ve tried, and in one or two years they’ve done it, but never systematically. The Mariners, amazingly, are one of the teams that HAS shown a penchant for this, which is probably why they dealt Soriano in the first place. Notice that they’ve had a good bullpen ever since anyway.* All the Braves need to do is turn one or two of their AAAA starters into a reliever. Look at how effective Carlyle and Bennett (mostly) have been this year, and they were never any good in the first place.

    *Note: This is NOT a justification for their trading for HoRam, in case someone wants turn my statement into that slippery slope argument.

  69. Eric hit the nail on the head. Francoeur acts as if he is an established star that need do nothing but “find his swing.” I’m sympathetic to the idea that it’s not that easy to change your approach but when you continually go up and swing at bad pitches time after time, then it’s time to acknowledge there is a serious problem.

    At any rate, it’s time to acknowledge that the Braves right now are one of the worst teams in baseball for whatever reason–19-30 since the end of May, which would translate to 62 wins over a full season. It’s pretty clear that, offensively, this team is as tight as it can be; Francouer is not the only one having bad at bats. Chipper has been pretty ordinary for the last month of so–in part due to injuries, probably, but I would bet that he has been feeling the pressure to do more and that is affecting him too. Whatever Bobby Cox’s magic in the past was (and a lot had to do with having a lot of talent) in running a clubhouse, it ain’t working anymore.

  70. Our starting pitching has definitely not been the problem, even with the injuries. You can say that the back end of our rotation might not hold up the rest of the year, and you would have a valid argument, but there is no denying they have been awesome so far.

  71. @82 “In particular Tex for most of the 1st half, Francouer the whole year and now KJ and Esco(although he has been injured). But when you look at it, Tex and Francouer are the main culprits.”

    Uh, no. Tex is not even the 20th-biggest culprit. KJ and Escobar have been decent-to-league average at their positions. You know what the culprit is? The entire outfield. How is this still escaping people?

    Mark Kotsay: 5.0 VORP
    Gregor Blanco: 1.3 VORP
    Jeff Francoeur: -10.3 VORP

    That’s right. Of the 33 players who have swung the bat for Atlanta this season, Frenchy has the lowest VORP. Right now, he’s worse than a mediocre AA player. It should also be noted, though, that in significantly less playing time, Corky Miller has done only marginally less harm. Which is also kind of amazing.

  72. All the Braves need to do is turn one or two of their AAAA starters into a reliever. Look at how effective Carlyle and Bennett (mostly) have been this year, and they were never any good in the first place.

    Bullpen from scrap again? Sounds like another 2006 repeat.

    What’s with the trade obsession? I think a lot of people just want trades to give them something to talk about sometimes. Gonzalez just gets back, pitches good, and the thing that comes to peoples’ minds is not “wow, we have our 2009 closer” but “what minor league player can we get for him?”

  73. Glancing at the team page, it’s staggering to see that Lillibridge, Norton, Miller, and Francoeur–and Diaz when he returns–all have negative VORPs. Since none of them are even passable defensively, except Lillibridge, their WARPs are also miniscule. This is an abomination and falls mainly on Wren’s shoulders. He’s not only proving himself to be a bad GM; he may actually be one of, if not THE worst GMs in baseball right now. There is no possible explanation for having this much slack on your roster, let alone that much slack in the starting lineup.

  74. I would always – ALWAYS – trade a relief pitcher for a nice young player, though Murphy may not be it.

    Murphy is most certainly not it. And, in the abstract, yeah, I agree with you, but it gets trickier when you’re talking about giving up one of the better relievers in baseball (now that he’s back to pitching) and receiving replacement-level OFs. Of course, replacement-level would be an upgrade for this team, but I’m still uncomfortable trading Gonzalez without getting a legitimate prospect/player in return. Gonzalez, if we were to trade him this season, should fetch at least one really good prospect/player, given his contract and ability.

  75. @89 No. They just have never done it right. Other teams, mainly AL teams, have. Toronto, Seattle, Oakland, Anaheim: all have excellent bullpens with guys you’ve never heard of. Just because the Braves can’t do it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It’s a problem this organization always has because it never learns.

  76. The Braves have done it in the past. Greg McMichael, Kerry Ligtenberg, John Rocker — none of these guys was a prospect. The 2002 bullpen, which was so sensational, was made up of spare parts behind Smoltz and Remlinger — and those two were a rehab case and a guy acquired as a throw-in.

  77. Stu, I think that, when considering the Braves’ inability to put together a decent bullpen for cheap, you’re right that they shouldn’t deal Gonzalez, if only because they’ll never replace him. But with a limited budget this is exactly where the good GMs make their pay. They deal big name closers for lesser known guys who contribute a lot more for a lot less. The Braves problem is that they have a limited budget and an incompetent GM.

  78. @93 I concede that point, but like I said, it’s been few and far between. Plus, Smoltz moved to the pen to solidify several bullpens, which never should have had to have happened.

  79. Now YOU guys are the ones comparing KJ to Francoeur. I personally don’t think either of them are very good, it just annoys me that Francoeur has become the whipping boy for the entire message board when KJ isn’t that much better. And again, I have no loyalty at all to Francoeur. I’ve said he’s not very good about a hundred times. But to act like he’s responsible for every loss gets old, especially when last week we were told “he sucks” for the 10,000th time when he actually WON A GAME for us, the same night that KJ went 0-4. They’re both the problem, along with about 15 other bad baseball players we have this year.

  80. The only reason I’m fully against a Gonzalez trade is because I don’t trust Soriano’s health at all.

  81. …it just annoys me that Francoeur has become the whipping boy for the entire message board when KJ isn’t that much better.

    The problem with your argument is that this is patently untrue. KJ, an above-average (still!) second baseman, is much better than Francoeur, who is one of the 2 or 3 worst regulars in baseball. I’ll just assume that studying for the bar has made you lose your mind and, paradoxically, your ability to argue coherently.

    Adam M,
    I don’t disagree with you. Thus, I’d gladly trade Gonzalez for someone like Davis. I’m just saying Murphy and Cruz aren’t worth a whole lot.

  82. Smoltz addendum: he should never have Stayed in the bullpen after the initial rehab case. His value was always far greater in the rotation, and besides, he claimed relieving put more stress on his elbow than a starter’s regimen. In the end, the Braves were paying a lot of money to their closer. The Kolb trade marked, I think, the beginning of this new, seemingly more clueless era.

  83. KJ is much better than Francoeur. As a hitter, though, Tim Hudson has been more productive than Francoeur. It’s not much of a stretch to say that the Braves’ fourth (or fifth) best hitter is better than their 33rd best. Francoeur is not just bad; he’s terrible–perhaps the worst everyday position player in all of baseball.

  84. Another reason to keep Francoeur’s suckitude on the front burner in comparison to KJ is the fear that the organizational commitment to Frenchy will be a millstone for a long time. A return to his previous mediocrity at this point probably solidifies his spot as the starting RF for years to come. And he’s no better than Juan Encarnacion even when he’s playing well. Can you imagine Juan Encarnacion as the centerpiece of a franchise?

  85. The 3 primary reasons, as I see the situation, why Francoeur takes a whole lot more heat than KJ:

    (1) Francoeur is a much worse player.

    (2) Francoeur feels entitled to his role on the team, despite being so obviously bad.

    (3) The organization plays Francoeur every single day, whereas KJ is jerked around and platooned.

    I honestly can’t understand the difficulty some have understanding why Francoeur gets so much more negative attention than KJ.

  86. KJ is batting 33 points higher than JF. He has 39 RBI’s all year…again, I’m not a stats guy, so spare me all the OPS+ VORT stuff. Neither of them are very good.
    I think what bothers you guys is not a guy having a bad year, but the fact that he’s been pumped up by the franchise as the “face” and the fact that he whined about going to AAA. All that’s fine, but it has nothing to do with the fact that KJ isn’t much better and, apart from a brief mention once a month, pretty much gets a free pass around here.
    Yes, KJ is better than JF. I’ve said that now 4,657,727 times. My point is that he’s not SO MUCH BETTER that he shouldn’t get his share of the blame, and that people around here think he’s in the Chipper-McCann category of being untouchable. And he’s not.

  87. And I’ve yet to see how the organization playing him everyday and Delta putting him on commercials A) is his fault and B) has anything to do with KJ, which is more of what my argument is. Those are personal things that y’all need to take up with the organization. And it didn’t bother anyone in 2005 or last year.

  88. KJ has 39 RBI’s batting first and second, and seventh with Black Hole Francoeur hitting in front of him. Jeff has hit behind Chipper, Tex, and McCann. I could drive in 100 runs batting behind them. And I dont think anyone compares Kelly with McCann and Chipper.

  89. KJ is batting 33 points higher than JF. He has 39 RBI’s all year…again, I’m not a stats-that-have-meaning guy, so spare me all the OPS+ VORT stuff. Neither of them are very good.

    Fixed that for you. I find it hilarious that you consistently compare the two but don’t like relying on worthwhile comparative statistics.

    people around here think he’s in the Chipper-McCann category of being untouchable.

    Yet another straw man. Who thinks this?

  90. It’s not that the organization plays him every day, which is bad enough. It’s that he feels entitled to play everyday. And he shouldn’t, period.

  91. If it was Josh Hamilton or the Murphy and Davis combo I’d consider trading Gonzo, but otherwise I think it wise for us to keep him. A) I love to watch him pitch and B) he’s fairly cheap and C)he’s a stabilizer for the bullpen.

    You don’t need a bullpen full of “aces”, but it’s VERY helpful to have at least one go-to guy who you know can get the save. We’ve had too many games where the offense has barely put up anything to give up the one guy who could be counted on to help you hold onto a slim lead.

    I like Soriano too, but as his health is suspect it would be foolish to deal Gonzo until you KNEW Soriano and Moylan were back and healthy (at which point it might make more sense to deal Soriano).

    I’ll chime in on the KJ vs Frenchy thing I guess. I’m sure it’s just a feeling, but when KJ comes up to bat I don’t feel as hopeless as I do when Frenchy does now. At this point in the season Frenchy’s at bats feel like Andruw’s did for much of last year… you hope he puts it together, but you don’t expect it much. KJ I don’t expect great things from every time he comes to the plate, but I’m not surprised if he comes through with a clutch hit, or gets on base.

    I still hope they both break out of it, though the way Frenchy handled the demotion may have taken a bit of shine off him for me. I think it’s because he doesn’t seem to have the “oh wow I’m playing in the bigs” attitude that guys like Diaz, KJ, Escobar and even McCann seem to still have.

  92. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that the Rangers would not be interested in a Gonzalez-for-Hamilton swap.

  93. Outside of McCann, Chipper, Tex, and sometimes Escobar, the rest of the possition players suck. KJ isn’t consistant enough to play everyday right now. If Bobby platoons him, good. Blanco doesn’t have enough pop; Kotsay has Larry Bird’s back; Frenchy ugh; Diaz is a platoon player; Gotay and Norton have been over exposed and need to hang it up or play softball; Infante is decent when he plays once a week; Corky is the equivilant of me playing catcher; Lillibridge isn’t ready.

    In the witner if we move KJ, the whole outfield, and some of these over rated left handed pitchers, I would be happy.

  94. How has KJ not played well enough to start everyday. Would you honestly rather have Prado out there?

  95. They aren’t dealing Hamilton OR Davis. Also: for those who seem to think that ‘rebuilding’ means becoming the Florida Marlins (though, seriously, wouldn’t it be great to have Ramirez, Miller, Uggla, Hermida, Maybin, etc., right now?), lets’ look at those Rangers. They dealt Tex last season and, this season, even without the breakout of Salty, the Rangers are the best hitting team in baseball. They had four all-star position players. The Braves have three good-to-great hitting position players. Period. It just goes to show that trading big-time players does not necessarily doom a franchise. The Rangers are far better off right now than they were last season with Tex.

  96. RBI, 2008:

    Frenchy – 44
    KJ – 39

    Number of runners in scoring position while batting, 2008:

    Frenchy – 176
    KL – 95

    Given their success rate in driving in runners, approximate number of RBI for each, given the other’s # of opportunities, 2008:

    Frenchy – 29
    KJ – 59

  97. “So…Josh Childress to Greece. Didn’t see that one coming. Poor Hawks fans.”

    The ASG might be the worst ownership group in all of sports. Prepare to see The Hawks in Seattle within five years.

  98. #118

    Keep in mind that KJ is the absolute epitome of an average hitter this year. His numbers vs. NL avg:

    .264/.336/.416
    vs
    .261/.333/.418

    But consider if we had the average NL RF batting sixth instead of our lineup instead of Frenchy. Matt Kemp (even his name sounds average) is the seventh best NL RF by OPS, and would have about 68 RBI right now. Ludwick would have about 80. That’s what we’re missing.

  99. At this point, sticking up for Frenchy in any way pushes you closer toward membership in the Flat Earth Society, IMO.

    Whether you mainline stats from afar or actually watch each game, it should be obvious to any reasonable person that Francouer’s collection of failure is without peer on this club (and possibly in all of baseball—he could be MLB LVP).

    He’s been so bad that I rarely discuss him. There’s just no point. It’s like saying, “Y’know, catching the flu is a drag.” We know this already.

    We needed Jeff Francouer to improve this year & he’s divebombed to a level we haven’t seen, maybe since The Chuck Tanner Era. There’s just no sticking up for him—I’m sorry.

  100. Despite recent speculation about Mike Gonzalez’s availability, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman says the Braves reliever is not going anywhere. Bowman talked to a team official who seemed adamant about keeping Gonzalez. That is no surprise, since Gonzalez is under team control for ’09 and Rafael Soriano is of questionable health.

    Bowman adds that interest has picked up in another Braves lefty reliever, Will Ohman. The Braves apparently see Ohman as a Type B free agent and want a return better than the supplemental draft pick they could receive by letting him walk.

    Similarly, the Braves will keep Mark Teixeira if they can’t top the two draft picks they’d receive for him. The risk there would be if Baltimore signs Teixeira and their first round pick is protected.

    http://tinyurl.com/69x2ur

  101. @120 The sad thing is that this is directly related to the court case the team has been embroiled in for three years. When will it end? Whatever. By the time it does, the team will be devoid of assets and on its way to Seattle. This is all, somehow, David Stern’s fault, who I loathe even more than I do Bud Selig.

    Is it football season yet?

  102. You are correct, ububba. I haven’t been around much lately, though, so I’ve got some catching up to do on the Frenchy-bashing front.

    In short — I’m told he sucks, and I agree.

  103. It’s only midday but I doubt this line will be topped:

    At this point, sticking up for Frenchy in any way pushes you closer toward membership in the Flat Earth Society, IMO.

  104. I’m not certain if anyone has been sticking up for Jeffy, but rather trying to reapportion blame for the team’s general suckiosity.

  105. I can’t prove it, but I believe that the Braves would be in first place if they had an average right fielder, and no more than three back if they had a merely bad one.

  106. Entirely possible, though no way to prove it. Using the numbers from 118, if Francoeur had driven in only 10 pct more of the RISP when he batted that would have been an additional 17 runs. With all the one-run losses this year, 17 more runs might well have produced enough wins to be near the top of the division.

  107. When I did the math, it looked like the difference between the Black Hole of Outs and an average RF was about three wins, but like you say, with all the close games and the Braves’ record in them, a relatively small boost could be worth more like five or six wins.

  108. #112, that was sort of my tangent point… if they were stupid enough to give up those pieces for a very good closer we’d be foolish to turn them down, but there’s no reason to expect they’d be that foolish.

    And the image for #113 made me laugh.

  109. I wonder if, in a perverse way, Corky has actually increased the Braves wins. Here’s the thinking–Corky’s so bad, it has forced Cox to play McCann more than he would if the Braves had a normal sack of potatoes as the backup catcher. And since McCann is so much better than the average backup it has actually increased the Braves offense and wins.

    I’m being cheeky, of course, and the difference is minor since McCann would probably have played maybe 5 fewer games. Obviously, I do not encourage the burnout of McCann.

  110. I think the problem with Frenchy is that he has never been that good but people were overly impressed by his RBI totals and his two out hits. But he was never more than an average at best RF. If this was just a bad year following good ones, you could just write it off. Every time he got a walk last year, people would get excited–oh Jeff is learning at last. But he didn’t. But last year he could at least pound mistakes. This year, he’s lost even that and his attitude makes it even worse. Is Bobby really going to keep running this guy out there for the rest of the year? It must be embarrassing even for Francoeur to constantly fail.

  111. “Outside of McCann, Chipper, Tex, and sometimes Escobar, the rest of the possition players suck. KJ isn’t consistant enough to play everyday right now. If Bobby platoons him, good. Blanco doesn’t have enough pop; Kotsay has Larry Bird’s back; Frenchy ugh; Diaz is a platoon player; Gotay and Norton have been over exposed and need to hang it up or play softball; Infante is decent when he plays once a week; Corky is the equivilant of me playing catcher; Lillibridge isn’t ready.

    In the witner if we move KJ, the whole outfield, and some of these over rated left handed pitchers, I would be happy.”

    Great post. And I agree.

  112. Also, on a team full of below replacement level holes, you people think trading our young secondbaseman, who put up a 33.1 VORP last year at age 25, is the solution?

    While I agree that there would be QUITE a demand out there for him, you people really need to put his underperformance into perspective.

  113. I love Tony, that you STILL bash Kelly Johnson and act as if Escobar is so great while Johnson’s season stats (OPS and OPS+) are better than Escobar’s. How’s that work?

    To me, Johnson and Escobar look about the same offensively. They’re right at the same age. Pure favoritism of one over the other (i.e. keep one, trade the other) is misguided.

  114. Well, Dan, Escobar is clearly superior defensively, but I generally agree with you and am equally baffled/amused by Tony’s “reasoning”. I think he just has a blind spot when it comes to Escobar.

  115. You know, you would think with him being the “face of the franchise” and delta and whatever other God forsaken corporations that think the he’s a valuable marketting asset, that at least one of his handlers somewhere along the way would’ve taught him a bit of PR tact. Where are those ballplayer cliches that we’re so used to hearing from players in Frenchy’s situation? I have never heard a player take less accountability for their own performance. Duder is either a spoiled brat who can’t admit when he’s fucked up or he’s just absolutely delusional.

  116. Duder is either a spoiled brat who can’t admit when he’s fucked up or he’s just absolutely delusional.

    But what about the two-out RBIs?!!!!!!!!

  117. “I couldn’t see VandenHurk [throw any pitches] down,” said Francoeur, who has three hits in 22 at-bats with the bases loaded this year. “Everything I saw was up.”

    Can someone translate the first part? I don’t understand.

  118. I read it as:

    “I hadn’t yet seen VandenHurk throw any pitches down, and realized that he probably wasn’t going to, but rather than draw a walk, I decided that I had to man up and rip one of those high fastballs into the seats, the way only I, Frenchy, can – the way my wife likes to see me do it. Have you heard I married my high school sweetheart? I’m from the Atlanta area by the way. Problem is I struck out, but in my defense, Everything I saw was up, but like I said I was just trying to impress my homegrown hottie wife, so you understand right?”

  119. Hmm…I guess I could see how that was confusing. I changed the wording and added a colon. I was just setting up my doctored version of the quote.

  120. Oh I triple posted?

    Whoops…I swear I know not to click more than once. But I could’ve sworn it was a connection issue on my end and it didn’t send at all.

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