Astros 7, Braves 5

Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – May 03, 2009 – ESPN

I really am starting to hate this team.

After a leadoff double in the first, the Astros pushed the run across, but Joseph Reyes settled down, shutting them down for the next four innings. The Braves tied it in the fourth on a single by Ross to drive in Diaz, then took the lead on a bases-loaded balk and a sac fly in the fifth. (By the way, the concept of a bases-loaded balk is ridiculous. The entire concept of the balk is to protect baserunners from trickery by the pitcher, and there is obviously no attempt to steal with the bases loaded. It was a “good call” in the strict legalistic sense, but that only shows that the modern balk rule is absurd.)

But in the sixth inning, with one out, Chipper couldn’t make the play on a bunt attempt, turning it to a single, and Joseph’s evil twin Jo-Jo showed up. Jo-Jo is alternately wild and hittable. He gets behind in the count and then either walks the guy or throws a meatball over the plate. By the time he got out of there, the bases were loaded and the game was tied. Jeff Bennett got out of it with only one run scoring, but the Astros had the lead.

Diaz tripled leading off the bottom of the inning; Ross and Schafer tried to strand him by striking out, but Norton came through (right-handed!) with a single to tie it. But the Braves’ lack of a lefthanded reliever of any quality burned them in the seventh. Bobby used Moylan to face a run of lefties, and he was (like Jo-Jo) alternately wild and hittable, allowing two runs to get the loss. The Braves cut it to 6-5 on a Diaz single in the bottom of the inning, but Schafer struck out with the bases loaded and two out to end that thread. Soriano gave up a run in the eighth, and Francoeur (after swinging at ball four earlier in the count) struck out to end another threat (two on, two out) in the bottom of the inning. They went 1-2-3 in the ninth.

The Braves had eleven hits and six walks, but could score less than a third of those baserunners. Eleven men were left on base, and Escobar grounded into a double play. (Watch out, Sid Gordon!) They struck out ten times.

147 thoughts on “Astros 7, Braves 5”

  1. no lineup consistency. do other teams constantly shuffle their lineups like the braves? i would love to see bobby stick with schafer at the top for 3-4 days straight and see what happens.

  2. Moylan didn’t pitch nearly as badly as your write-up makes it sound, Mac. The Astros small-balled him to death. Speedy Michael Bourn got a 26-hop single up the middle to score the first run and then basically created the second run all by himself by stealing two bases and scoring on a sac fly.

    Not a big fan of small ball, but if you can execute it as well as the Astros did today, it can work. Especially when the opponents can’t do anything with their own baserunners.

  3. so Anderson declined the Braves request for him to go on a minor league rehab assignment. I hate the guy, cut him

  4. I wouldn’t activate Anderson until he did a 3-4 day rehab stint. What he needs–other than retirement :-) –is to play 3-4 days in a row since his spring training was chopped up by injuries and he was in/out of the lineup for several days before hitting the dl.

    I, too, am coming to hate this team.

  5. Why did Anderson sign with the Braves if he clearly doesn’t want to be here and is going to be a jackass?

  6. Seems like he’s in the lead for this year’s “still a douche” award.

  7. Among a million other things that could have gone better, I’m curious about something in particular. In the 6th when Jo Jo leaves and the game is tied with the bases loaded — why bring in Bennett? The Braves have two “closers” (TM), so why not use one of them in that situation? I know I’m preaching to the choir and that Bobby will never be in the choir… but what’s the reasoning for not doing it if you’ve supposedly got TWO relievers with shut down stuff?

  8. 9 — You’d think his performance would be enough and that you wouldn’t have to bad mouth him.

  9. 11–I have a similar but different wonder–why not use Gonzo in the 7th against the run of lefties? (I didn’t see that part of the game so I don’t know the situation/context of the decision–assume it was just normal manager tactics of using the closer in the 9th.)

  10. By the way it looks like Jeff Bennett put a lot of weight back on. His legs look like tree trunks.

  11. why do players have the right to decline rehab stints anyways. The Braves are his employer and they make the decisions. Im tired of this FO just making everyone happy

    I also have a bad feeling about McCann and the glasses. They wasted 15 days and still dont know if they have a solution. By now Mac couldve done the lasik and would probably be on about the same schedule to return.

  12. Fire Frank Wren first.

    And then send Garrett Anderson on the next turnip truck outta Atlanta.

  13. He also walked two guys.

    Berkman was walked intentionally after Bourn stole second.

  14. why not use Oflaherty? say what you want about the guy but he hasnt given up a hit in his last five outings. he has 4k’s and no BB’s in those games also

  15. You really think a Berkman-Moylan confrontation could have had a better result?

    Oh, so you’re holding hypothetical hits against him?

  16. Not to have a Kent Brockman moment, but these next 10 divisional games are big.

    Made even more so by the way this team plays in June.

  17. @19: Obviously Mac’s #2 is the correct answer. We’re also still working under the assumption that The Mohel will show up when called, and not this glasses-less Moylan fellow. Left or right, The Mohel gets ’em 1-2-3.

    @15: If I were McCann, after one eye surgery screwed up, I think I’d want to try all my options before I run and get another.

    I see why Garret has a right to reject the assignment, given his seniority, but I’d agree that the Braves shouldn’t activate him until he proves he’s completely healthy, in Gwinnett or wherever. I am, however, becoming more convinced that Brandon Jones and Gregor Blanco aren’t really options.

  18. 1. you’re excuses #1 and #3 are the same
    2. he’s pitched 7IP in a month, so Im sure his arm isnt falling off
    3. you want Blum, Matsui, and Berkman hitting RH
    4. Bourn is terrible against lefties
    5. its harder to steal off a lefty

  19. “The entire concept of the balk is to protect baserunners from trickery by the pitcher, and there is obviously no attempt to steal with the bases loaded.”

    What about stealing home?

  20. There are hardly any direct steals of home these days; that’s why there was so much attention paid when Pedroia did it. Also, you would be crazy to try to steal home with the bases loaded, especially with less than two out.

  21. It may be flawed, but I wouldn’t want to build in contingencies to the rule. What about second-and-third? What about man on third only? One out? Two outs? Pitcher batting? Kotchman running? Better to just say here’s what you can’t do on the mound when there are runners on base.

  22. The Braves pitching in general wasn’t that bad today. Reyes and then Moylan just got dinked and dunked for 5 of the 7 total runs allowed today. Moylan I blame a little for walking the leadoff man, but all they were giving up was grounders that could have been DPs as easily as run-scoring singles.

    The stranded runners is what really hurt, IMO. Getting only one after Esco and Chipper reached base to lead off in the 7th was pretty disappointing.

  23. Andruw with a two-out single to drive in Andrus from third and put the Rangers ahead. Sigh…

    Umpires use their best judgment all the time. Why not just say that there’s obviously no intent here and no effect. Most balks nowadays are like that — small moves that aren’t within the rules, but which obviously are not meant to fool a baserunner. Meanwhile, pitchers are allowed to do all sorts of things that are meant to fool baserunners. The balk rule has become completely unmoored from its intent. It would be better to have no balk rule at all than the present interpretation.

  24. The balk rule in baseball is a joke.

    A balk is supposed to be motion that the pitcher does that decieves the base runner. (cliff notes). By letter of the law that was a balk on Wandy today and I’ll take it. However, I have a real problem with that being called and all this junk that LHP get away with. (Andy Pettite has balked for years and years and NEVER gets called.)

    Baseball would be more intertaining if umpires enforce the following by the book:

    1. the real strike zone (bottom of the letters to the top of the knees as long as any part of the ball crosses any part of the plate)

    2. balks (see above)

    3. interference when a fielder is in the basepath (you would protect catchers and runners and open up the running game)

    Side Note: When did it become legal to block the base with your knee or leg, or for a catcher to block the plate w/o the ball. By the letter of the law you cannot do any of that.

    4. make fielders on force outs actually touch the bag (and make 1b actually be on the bag)

    Baseball is a great game if they would just follow their own rules.

    I am off my soap box.

  25. Enough with Garrett Anderson. Cut him loose. He’s no good, he rarely plays, he doesn’t appear to care/try when he does play, and he seems to have an attitude problem. 3 out of 4 of the above should warrant a release.

  26. I don’t hate this team, but I really hate the offense, and I have hated it since the season started. It sucks, and there is no way to get around it no matter how Bobby changes his lineup.

    Garrett Anderson…I didn’t HATE signing him to an one year deal…at least I thought he would be a professional baseball player…professional enough that he would NOT turn down a rehab assignment which is just freaking down the I-85. But he is turning into an a$$hole…sorry for the language Mac and everybody.

  27. I think you guys are forgetting that the balk is not just to protect runners trying to steal. It’s also to protect ALL runners in getting a secondary lead.

    Think about it. You have a lefty on the mound and a runner at first. He may not be going, but he wants a good secondary. If there were no balks, you’d pretty much have to wait until the pitch left the pitcher’s hand before you could take your secondary. So, you’d have the time it took for the ball to get to the plate, whereas with the current rule, the runner has the time from when the pitcher either crosses the 45 degree angle or makes a move towards the plate.

    With the bases loaded, it’s still the same deal. The guy at first obviously is not going to steal, but he still wants a good secondary. Same with the guys on second and third. You gotta keep the balk rule regardless of the runners on base.

    Also, it’s not about what the pitcher meant to do; it’s what he actually did. A pitcher may not have meant to deceive a runner by not coming set, but he still didn’t come set and that’s deceptive and unfair to the runner. The balk rule is fine and necessary. Let’s touch other rules.

  28. Balks are one of the dumber things in baseball. The justification for the rule (not being able to deceive the runner) has little to no relation to the actual way it is enforced. And why the hell shouldn’t a pitcher be able to deceive a runner, anyway? It’s a dumb rule; chuck it.

  29. Mac,

    Can you give a situation where a pitcher meant to deceive a runner and didn’t get called with a balk? I’m not arguing with you; I just wanna know what you have in mind. I can’t think of anything that is unfair to a baserunner that isn’t called a balk.

  30. Grst,

    If the pitcher is able to do whatever he wants on the mound, then the game loses a lot of its cohesiveness and you essentially stamp out the running game. Plus, that would suck for hitters too.

    For instance, there’s a runner on second with a righty on the mound. If there were no balks, he could start his delivery, and right before he releases, stop and turn to second and easily nail the runner. OK, no big deal, right? Then you wouldn’t have secondaries. Then, no one would score from first on a double or second on a single. And on top of that, there would be less scoring because the hitters would be as confused as anything trying to read pitchers, which is hard enough as it is.

    I’m kinda passionate about the balk rule, in case you guys couldn’t tell.

  31. One of the most annoying things at a baseball game is when you hear fans yell “BALK!” when a pitcher stops his windup with nobody on base.

  32. Let’s evaluate our options for LF before we get rid of Anderson, as much as I hate him:
    1. Anderson. He’s old and sucks, but should hit at least .290 and drive in 80 runs.

    2. Matt Diaz. Is horrible. Dreadful. Not capable of playing everyday, let alone against righties. Had 2 clutch hits this week, but is otherwise horrible.

    3. Brandon Jones. Never given a long enough look, but let’s face it—he’s a career bench player.

    Frank Wren clearly goofed up by not going after Adam Dunn or the like, so out of what he have, Anderson is probably the best bet, albeit a poor one.

  33. Anderson is a terrible player who is more likely to hit .190 than .290. Get Prado out there.

    There are lots of times when pitchers try to deceive runners. The horrible bluff to third throw to first comes to mind. And as someone mentioned above, a lot of lefthanded pitchers get away with murder, with pitching motions and throws to first that are indistinguishable.

  34. I can’t imagine Prado in the outfield, but perhaps his defensive inefficiencies would be better concealed in the outfield. I think he has better trade value as a 2nd baseman, and package him with someone else for a true LF.

    As for the balk rule, one name comes to mind: Andy Pettite. The balk rule is garbage.

  35. I am actually thinking starting Infante at leftfield as long as he keeps hitting.

  36. Infante would serve the purpose, but we need somebody with some actual power in LF. And at first base, for that matter.

  37. Mac, those things are perfectly legitimate and within the rules. The fake-to-third, throw-to-first thing doesn’t deceive anyone, including in the stands, anyway. All it is is two pick-offs at once. And pitchers that get away with going past 45 degrees is not within the rules; it’s just tough to spot. I mean, an umpire is not going to bust out a protractor to find out if a pitcher broke the 45 degree plane. It’s just like a checked swing. Supposedly there’s a definite point where a hitter swings and doesn’t swing, but the who the heck can see it? There are definite rules for lefties can do, but it’s tough to actually police their obedience to those rules.

    I still fail to see where pitchers are doing some deceptive that isn’t in the rule book.

  38. I think Prado should remain in the role he is in currently…pinch-hitting against LHP and spelling regulars against LHP. I think this role is helping him succeed. His weaknesses would probably be exposed if he got much more playing time.

    Anderson’s track record says he’s better than our other options. I say we give him 100 PAs in a platoon with Diaz before we run him out of town. Hopefully, his attitude will shape up.

  39. How much did Pat Burrell sign for with the Rays, again? I remember everyone here being (rightly) pissed off that he signed an affordable contract that we could have given him.

  40. Pat Burrell is hitting .250 with almost no power with the Rays. He’s also DHing because he can’t play defense. Plus, he signed for like $5M, which is nothing to sneeze at. I don’t think he was the answer either.

    Anderson needs to get healthy and get on the field so we can see what he’s got. We haven’t done that yet. I’d hate to cut bait on someone before seeing if he’s legit, especially if we’re paying him either way.

    Edit: He signed for 2 years, $16M.

  41. Have you seen him play defense? He’s got a way better arm than Carl Crawford, and he still can’t sniff the field in Tampa.

  42. Re: Balks

    A pithcer is supposed to step off the back of the rubber to throw to a base. (Once he does that, he can do anything he wants, including bluffing throws, etc.)

    A pitcher is supposed to come set before he comes to the plate, even if it supposed to be for a split second.

    If those two things would be enforced I think the running game would be opened up a little bit and the game would be more exciting.

    The balk is a necessary rule. It just needs to be enforced better.

  43. McCann the Man, ideally I would want more power from our star rightfielder as well…but he is what he is.

    Our options in left field are not pretty, but only Barry can solve our mess. Dunn would help, but he would not solve all problems. Our main problem is actually the lack of development in Frenchy and KJ…and of course, the eye problem of McCann…

  44. I’ve seen him play defense. I’ve also seen Matt Diaz play defense. Left field defense really isn’t that important if you have the bat to make up for it, like Burrell’s career record has shown.

    Re: Offense

    Looking over our team’s offense statistics…it should get better. Nobody is playing above their head (with the possible exception of Francoeur), while several players are playing below career levels, i.e. KJ, Escobar, Diaz and Anderson.

  45. Re. G. Anderson:

    Once the braves get G.A. healthy and B Mac not seeing three baseballs at once, the offense will improve a little. it is still going to be bad.

    Bottom line, the braves are not the ‘balanced lineup’ Wren and everyone said they would be. Remember back in Spring when all the talk was about not having a 30 HR guy, but having 7 that could hit 20 HR and a bunch with .300 avg, etc. Well that ain’t the case. We spent too much on pitching and not enough on the lineup or pen. (I am looking at you Kawakami and Glavine.)

    The braves are just a bad baseball team with no power, patience, or speed. They pitch okay but play poorly in the field. In other words, we are the same team we have been for the last 3-4 years.

    BTW, is it just me or do the Astros bring out the worst in the braves. In 2007 it was the 15 inning game that Renteria hurt his ankle and that killed the braves chances at the wild card (Willie Harris played 3rd and Chipper played short and Harris made a killer error.) Last year something wacky happened in a game that sent the season spiralling out of control too. (I’m not even going to think about the last two playoff series.)

    Dang I hate the Astros.

  46. I think our team defense is pretty good.

    Our pitching so far is near the top of the league. We’re 3rd in runs allowed. But we’re 12th in runs scored.

    The problem I see is that regression to the mean will happen with both offense and pitching. I think our starters have been pitching a bit above their heads.

  47. I think our defense is good in spots, but LF is terrible and Schaffer is still learning on the job. That has hurt us some. Alot of balls are falling that shouldn’t fall.

    The infield makes too many errors and the braves give up too many bases on missed cutoff men, etc. Chipper has had a tough time at 3B this year. (I’m sorry, I had to say it.) The range on the infield has just average. On the good side, Kotchman has erased some errors with his play, and Escobar is improving. Ross has been pretty good throwing, but blew a huge one today. McCann is a poor thrower.

    The braves give up too many free bases and make stupid mistakes.

  48. well, the hawks are doing well, for once. they’re actually past the first round of the playoffs

  49. Yes, but they’ll be lucky to win a game in the second round. They’re facing the team with the best record in the league, Williams is probably out, and Horford and Johnson are hobbled.

  50. You think our defense is pretty good? We’re 29th in baseball in defensive efficiency. Our defense was SUPPOSED to be good. Be it luck, delusion, or a bad start, we’re not anywhere NEAR as good as we were supposed to be defensively. And to think we’re 3rd in runs allowed WITH our crappy defense. Imagine if we were just league average?

  51. Speaking of stupid rules, my all-time least favorite is:

    On a dropped third strike with less than two outs and no one on first, a hitter can advance to first if the catcher doesn’t throw him out.

    What is the purpose of this rule? Why should a guy be rewarded for swinging at a horrible pitch on the 3rd strike?

  52. We’re 29th in MLB in defensive efficiency. We were supposed to be good on defense. For whatever reason, be it bad luck, delusion, or a bad start, we’re not nearly as good as we were supposed to be. And our pitching staff is 3rd in runs allowed even with this shoddy defense behind it. Imagine if we were just league average on defense.

    @57: “The braves give up too many free bases and make stupid mistakes.”

    That’s pretty much been my complaint with this team the entire life of the season

  53. I can agree that Chipper’s defense has been weaker this year. Also, second base defense has been average at best. Escobar and Kotchman have been great defensively.

    Outfield defense is fine I think except for LF. I think Schafer will do the little things like playing the ball off the wall better with more experience.

  54. They’re going to move back Santana? Really? I believe it when I don’t see him.

    I don’t know the reason for the rule — it’s lost in the dawns of time. You will notice that catchers get a putout on strikeouts, BTW. It’s dumb, but there it is. The two are probably related.

  55. Can they demote Ollie?

    If we miss Santana in Atl, that means we will see him in NY. So more time to vote!

  56. Lowe vs. Santana in NY to open the series. Hasn’t been announced but I’m pretty sure it’d take an injury for something different to occur.

  57. @67: Why is it dumb that catchers get a putout on strikeouts? They’ve done more than most fielders do to get the credit.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever understood the reasoning for the rule, but I don’t see it as particularly stupid. It does at least force the defense to do some fielding.

  58. I suppose the idea is that you can’t make an out unless the defense has possession of the ball. Grounder to short, and the first baseman bobbles the throw? Safe. Strike out, and catcher bobbles the throw? Safe. I guess it’s consistent, if not goofy.

  59. This team is not interesting enough to hate….In fact, they are quite boring to watch: consistently underpowered and often inept.

    With respect to our options in leftfield, this is also a predictable outcome. When the Braves made no real moves to go after Burrell or Dunn or even Ludwick they pretty much guaranteed that the team would be weak offensively. Its certainly possible that neither would have come to Atlanta, but for those who like to give grades on ‘the Braves offseason’ and think that Wren deserves an A- or even a B+, the failure to get another bat challenges any such positive evaluation.

  60. So much whining about a team that’s two games under .500 and has had excellent pitching to date. Frustrating loss today, but if the hits (and outs) for the Astros are spread out a little more or the Braves’ hits are a bit most closely packed, and it’s a different result.

    Today’s one of those “that’s baseball” games; one of the 60 you’re going to lose. I was encouraged by another pretty good outing by JoJo and that he offense wasn’t completely inept against a LHP. Once McCann returns, the offense will start to come around.

  61. ‘one of the 60’ that we are going to lose–agreed and be prepared to lose at least 20 more….

  62. Was it a “good” outing of JoJo? Based on what Mac wrote, seems like he has gone back to his old habits.

    Stephen, losing 80 games will be a big improvement from last year!

  63. Yeah, 82-80 might be ambitious, but as we said over the winter, we are also looking towards 2010….

  64. The keys are Frenchy, KJ, and Kotchman. They are at a stage where they either make it or break it.

    I was just thinking about it this morning, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Frenchy is our catcher and McCann is our rightfielder? I think Frenchy’s stat would make him a pretty good catcher!

  65. You know what, if you take away Delmon Young’s SB, his stats look remarkably similar to Frenchy’s. Where has the power gone for the two guys?

  66. @75,

    Two games under but have lost 12 of 18 and five of six series. Team that has averaged less than 80 wins the last three years. Continue to blow leads in the middle innings. Team with no discernible offensive personality. Hitting coach that seems unable to help any hitters. Even Chipper noted that the team has been unable to put things together for the last few years. And, as someone above said, they are a really boring team.

    It’s early but it’s hard to get excited or encouraged about this team. They haven’t really played well in four years. They are being helped by the rest of the division struggling as well but this is a pretty bad lineup. I really hope Bobby leaves after this year; but they will probably hire a Bobby clone anyway.

  67. @81 The team has seriously misjudged the level of talent on the team. Wren did a fine job rebuilding the rotation by actually bringing in established talents. I hope he will do something on the offense in the coming offseason.

    I thought we all consider this year as a rebuilding year?

  68. Hitting coach that seems unable to help any hitters.

    I really hope Bobby leaves after this year; but they will probably hire a Bobby clone anyway.

    Guess who’ll likely be the new manager (assuming there is one) for 2010? Go on, guess.

  69. On a dropped third strike with less than two outs and no one on first, a hitter can advance to first if the catcher doesn’t throw him out.

    What is the purpose of this rule? Why should a guy be rewarded for swinging at a horrible pitch on the 3rd strike?

    Because the catcher has to complete the strikeout. It’s like saying: “well, he popped it up on the infield. Shouldn’t that still be an out even though it wasn’t caught?”

  70. If it is a “rebuilding year” I’d like to hear the rebuilding plan. What’s going to be different next year? Pretty much the same team will return except they dump Ganderson and Glavine while losing both of the best bullpen arms in Soriano and Gonzalez. Everone else’s salaries are only goin to go up so I don’t see where the money comes from to replace the bullpen arms and get the middle of the order bopper this team needs.

  71. 55 — The 2007 extra innings loss to the Astros was, in my opinion, the turning point in that season. We had taken the first two from the Astros, had won big the night before in Tex’s first game, and had come back from an early deficit and appeared to be crusing up 9-5. Soriano gave up a game-tying grand slam in, I believe, the eighth inning.

    Ranks right up there with the 2-1 loss to the Brewers after we beat Brandon Webb on Memorial Day and the loss to the Phillies when Kelly Johnson dropped the pop-up.

  72. #77 – watch for the key words in Mac’s recap with Jo Jo. If you see Joseph then he was average or better. If you see Jo JO then he was useless

    Edit: next offseason we’ll have a starter to trade, or dump Hudsons option

  73. “Hitting coach that seems unable to help any hitters.”

    Amen to that. Seems to me that he would be a much better manager than hittng coach. All of our good hitters (and some of our bad ones) use other people to work on their swing.

  74. anyone see the Rangers game on ESPN. Andruw’s swing looked so much better than it did any of his last 5-6 seasons. You could see the hitting coach giving him instructions while he was at the plate. Andruw came out of his shoes on several swings, but actually kept his balance and didnt fall back on his back leg like he used too. That guy out there is what a hitting coach is suppose to be like. I was very impressed with what Andruw looked like

  75. I believe that our biggest problem this year, and the two years before that, has been coaching. I’m ready for a total housecleaning of our coaching staff, but I don’t think it will happen. Obviously a lot of it goes back to not having the players (especially in 07 and 08), but part of that has been the “win one last championship for Cox” mentality and moves that have been made as a result.

    All that being said, with better coaching, I think we have the talent to at least compete for a division title – it’s not like our division is anywhere close to the best in baseball. Unfortunately, I don’t think this coaching staff, beginning with BC, can get it done.

  76. kc-

    I’d say it was a pretty good outing. 1 run through 5 innings, and then:

    -Ground out
    -Bunt single (bang-bang play)
    -Bloop single to RF
    -DP grounder that goes for a single because Infante’s holding the runner at 2B instead of playing his normal spot
    -GB just to the left of Infante for a single instead of a DP
    [Relieved for Bennet]
    -SF to LF
    -5-4 grounder

    I guess he could’ve struck somebody out instead of giving up the GBs to blooper to right, but he was getting the heart of the Astro’s lineup to hit the ball to the opposite field without power. Seems like a decent job to me.

  77. Where is this team’s killer instinct?

    In fact, where is its guts?

    With the exception of solid starting pitching…and spotty solid relief pitching…this team is terribly mediocre.

    It is greatly disheartening to see this team struggle as much as we’ve seen the last couple of years. Not to be dramatic, but it is depressing to be so excited about watching 4 or 5 games a week…and lose most of them.

    What was the last winning streak we enjoyed? I imagine it is that 10+ run per game streak we had a while back.

    I hate watching this Braves team right now. And the last thing we need is a “it’s all about me” player like Garrett Anderson.

    And Frank Wren has to go. If it takes the Braves losing 100 games this year to do it…fine by me. Fire Frank and let’s get Dayton Moore back. Dayton isn’t fixing KC overnight…but on a shoestring budget, he ain’t doing too bad.

  78. 87 – I forgot about the Soriano meltdown. I just remember Renteria turning his ankle in a really ugly way in extras that night. Nice call.

    Re: Garrett Anderson

    Dude is losing alot of cool points by not going on Assignment. I mean he missed most of spring. It is arrogant of him to think he doesn’t need a tune up of his swing considering he is hitting .200.

    He better hope he hits when he gets back or he is going to end up buried UNDER the Braves Journal Doghouse.

  79. News involving the Mothership:

    RE Dayton (@94):

    The team is doing decent so far, but also, the payroll is over 70MM and Kyle Farnsworth/Jose Guillen are taking up 16.5 MM of it.

    And, having the best pitcher in the league (who was drafted by Baird) doesn’t hurt either

  80. Re: JoJo/Joseph

    At least Reyes has at least shown improvement this year. (Unlike some hitters.) He got knocked around in the 6th a couple of times, but overall he has been better. He is still young and I think he has earned some more time.

  81. Although the Royals are improved, Moore’s fat contract for Jose Guillen is enough for me to say no thanks. Same with Farnsworth. Trading for Crisp and Jacobs are not great moves either, though not as bad as Guillen and Farnsworth.

  82. The gif of the popcorn shower from Texas last night. Dude, you know you’re gonna be on television. You need to prepare for this kind of thing.

  83. #41 .. where we messed up was not pursuing the trade KJ for Ludwick … we would have been more balanced RH and LH’s .. lineup would look like this.
    Against Lefty’s
    1. Escobar – ss (if he leads off he cant hit into DP’s)
    2. Infante – CF (Shaefer SO’s too much against lefty’s)
    3. C. JOnes -3b
    4. Ludwick – LF
    5. McCann – C
    6. Francour – RF
    7. Norton – 1B
    8. Prado – 2B

    Against Righties

    1. Shaefer – CF
    2. Infante – 2B
    3. C. Jones – 3b
    4. McCann – c
    5. Ludwick – LF
    6. Kotchman – 1B
    7. Francouer – RF
    8. Escobar – SS

  84. I have a question.

    Why can’t Infante play LF more often? It would seem like that would allievate SOME (not all) of the issues. KJ drops to 7th in the order and Infante or Escobar lead off. (I agree with 102 with Escobar leading off, except I would do it all the time.)

    I love Schaffer, but he is not ready to leadoff. He is doing a good job at 8 turning the lineup over in front of the pitcher. The top just has to do a better job.

    I know everyone was on Kotchman’s case earlier, but he in not the issue in the lineup, he just ain’t a cleanup hitter. He is either a 2, 6, 7.

  85. Where is all this hatred for Frank Wren coming from? It’s not like he could have projected B-Mac’s eye problem. Kelly, Anderson, and Diaz haven’t been playing up to expectation, but Schafer and Infante have been much better than expected. The pitching has been shaky in some spots, but overall the rotation looks solid. And he’s got two potential starters waiting in Triple-A with Morton and Hanson.

  86. I feel like the Infante love may be getting out of hand. He’s been a very good player for us over the last season+, and it’s possible that he’s establishing a new production level, given his age, but check his career stats: he’s no everyday LF. Diaz, at the very least, should be a better option than Infante in LF.

  87. Re: balk rule — it’s a “strict liability” rule, applicable based upon actions not intent to deceive. If anyone thinks that balks are poorly umpired now, imagine what would be the case if the rule required umpires to descern the pitcher’s intent to deceive. (E.g., look at the warning/ejection rule for intentionally throwing at hitters.)

  88. Is James being sarcastic, or am I brilliant?

    Does it seem to you that most balks nowadays are just based on legalistic interpretations of the rules, and not on the pitcher actually trying to deceive the runner? We had a run score today in the Braves-Astros game on a balk with the bases loaded and one out — obviously the runner wasn’t going, and the pitcher wasn’t worried about him. Should we have a rule that, whatever its original purpose, basically comes down to giving a free base when the pitcher moves his leg wrong?
    Asked by: Mac T
    Answered: May 4, 2009

    That’s brilliant. That’s absolutely a brilliant interpretation of the facts. I’ve been trying to put my finger on the problem with balk rules for 30 years, and that’s it.

  89. Infante may not be an everyday player in LF, but right now the braves have to get the best 8 bats in the lineup that they can.

    Right now Infante is probably one of those 8 AND he fills a hole at the top of the order. When Lowe pitches, maybe Infante can give Schaffer a day off here and there.

    If Diaz gets right then yes, he is absolutely the best option in LF, but the something is not right there. He also did not answer the bell last year before he got hurt, or the year before when he was tried as the ‘everyday’ LF. He works best in a platoon, and if (HUGE IF) G.A. starts to hit then LF should produce runs.

    That then leads to the other issue, the braves HAVE to look at the pen and the bench. The braves HAVE to keep someone on the roster to play D in LF late in games, even if it means losing Norton on the bench or Parr or Carlye in the pen.

  90. @104

    My problems with Frank Wren (in a nutshell):

    1. How he handled the Frenchy demotion
    2. Not getting anything back for losing Will Ohman
    3. Not bringing back Smoltzie
    4. The whole Furcal signing debacle; and then the whining that ensued
    5. Not signing a bat for this offense coming into this year…Anderson just doesn’t cut it.
    6. Committing a lot of our available money to a 33-year-old Japanese pitcher that has had shoulder problems
    7. Keeping Corky Miller on the roster last year

    For starters

  91. Omar is hot, but it’s been less than 50 ABs. His career OBP is .307—that’s hardly top-of-the-order hole-filling. Last year, his OBP was .338, which is OK, but not even as good as the career OBPs of the guys everyone seems to hate at the top, KJ (.354) and Yunel (.371).

    As for LF, Diaz has a lot more pop than Infante, and that alone should give him the nod in this lineup, IMO.

  92. @110 — I don’t think James’ sarcasm translates to an absence of brilliance on your part, Mac.

    The “problem” with the balk rule is commonly reflected in many rules-based social organizations — whether it’s the rules of baseball or of civil and criminal law. A basic judgment is made as to whether it is important to the organization (here, the sport/game) that intent be an element of rule violation and whether the entity enforcing the rules (the umpire/referee) will have available the information necessary to determine intent in a sufficiently reliable way. I’ll stick with the current balk rule, thanks.

  93. I agree with you, Mac. The lineup I’d go with, in a McCann-is-healthy world, would be:

    Escobar – SS
    Kotchman – 1B
    Jones – 3B
    McCann – C
    Francoeur – RF
    Johnson – 2B
    Diaz – LF
    Schafer – CF

    Right now, I’d bat Ross 7th and move Francoeur, KJ, and Diaz up a spot.

  94. Also, I miss the old, power-threat version of Chipper. His SLG is down and, anecdotally, it sure seems like he’s getting an awful lot of singles in situations where we really need him to be trying to drive the ball. I’d be fine losing some of his awesome OBP-ness if it meant more SLG, at least in this lineup.

  95. 112
    I agree with everything you say totally, except the Smoltzie part, only because of what he wanted money wise, he was an expensive Glavine. (I HATE saying that, I love the guy, he is my hero.)

    I actually agree with you. Infante is not the everyday LF, however with the way that the team is constructed, the braves HAVE to play the hot bat. Diaz is not the hot bat right now. We don’t have enough offense. I still think KJ is better down in the order as a run producer and Infante is better at the small ball stuff.

    Both of you,
    We would have at least 1 bat (power or leadoff) if Wren had not overspent on Kawakami. We would then not have to mix and match so much with the lineup to try and sqeeze out 4-5 runs a night. Getting runs out of this lineup is like getting blood from a turnip.

    I think Bill James thinks you were right. He would believe that even more if he saw the doghouse with Escobar’s picture in it.

  96. @112 – “My problems with Frank Wren (in a nutshell):

    1. How he handled the Frenchy demotion
    2. Not getting anything back for losing Will Ohman
    3. Not bringing back Smoltzie
    4. The whole Furcal signing debacle; and then the whining that ensued
    5. Not signing a bat for this offense coming into this year…Anderson just doesn’t cut it.
    6. Committing a lot of our available money to a 33-year-old Japanese pitcher that has had shoulder problems
    7. Keeping Corky Miller on the roster last year”

    1. totally agree
    2. not his fault, we made a better offer and Wren thought he’d be a type B FA. He wasnt though
    3. shouldnt overpay to someone who might not pitch, Smoltz got enough riding the pine last year
    4. there was a signed term sheet, and it was JS in the Media not Wren
    5. yep, big hole there now
    6. deal is not looking good
    7. I think that was Bobby

    With all of those you also have to keep in mind all the holes we had this offseason. He didnt trade away the farm and overpay for anyone. He did bring in Vasquez and Lowe and we do have the best SP rotation in our division. Cant forget about the Ohman/Infante deal or the Jurrjens trade. In my opinion he’s done an overall good job. I think our biggest problem is Bobby has to big a voice in our FO. If this team can stay around .500 till Mac gets back I think we can be okay. We’ll need to move a SP around the break and we can find a big bat to add in there then

  97. “Yeah, 82-80 might be ambitious, but as we said over the winter, we are also looking towards 2010….”

    Who said that? The chorus on this site was that the Braves were legitimate wild card contenders. I have repeatedly been dismissed for arguing they will, at best, win 83-85 games. I’ll admit that I was wrong: this team is actually a 75-78 win team–with poor defense, no middle relief, no back end of the rotation, and a mediocre offense.

    And as I maintained all offseason: Wren is an idiot.

  98. Infante is hot and it probably is best right now to stick him somewhere.

    But I hope no one is kidding themselves. Infante’s career batting average is in the .260’s, his career OBP is .306 and his career slugging under .400. He is almost certainly not going to keep hitting .350 or putting up an OBP at the .400 level.

  99. @120

    I can appreciate your comments. But I don’t think you can claim he’s done a good job until the Braves are at least IN the playoff hunt going into the last two weeks of the season. That hasn’t really been the case…much less making the playoffs.

    And Frank Wren was the Braves organization face as far as the Furcal whining went…yes, JS chimed in…but Wren was the one answering local radio and media questions. And moaning/groaning.

  100. “Where is all this hatred for Frank Wren coming from? It’s not like he could have projected B-Mac’s eye problem. Kelly, Anderson, and Diaz haven’t been playing up to expectation, but Schafer and Infante have been much better than expected. The pitching has been shaky in some spots, but overall the rotation looks solid. And he’s got two potential starters waiting in Triple-A with Morton and Hanson.”

    I’m not sure what Wren’s expectations were for Diaz or Anderson, but that they were even for league average production justifies fan vitriol. He has been a PR debacle, from losing control of the Francoeur demotion to Smoltz’ departure to Furcal’s non-signing. And he seems to be loyal to a fault, which does not a good business model make.

    My main beef, though, is with the outfield situation. How is it possible that we didn’t land an OF this offseason with so many hitters available? It’s almost intellectually impossible to go back to December and fathom how, at that moment, we would spend the next four months unable to sign (or trade for) any of the underpriced outfielders we so desperately needed.

    It’s almost as if Wren didn’t realize that he had to replace 2/3 of Teixeira and Hudson’s 2008 as well as the deficiencies the team had at year’s end. And so: he’s an idiot.

  101. The whole thing about Wren is this:

    He should not have counted on a 37 year old Chipper Jones and a catcher (as good as McCann is) to carry the offense. PERIOD.

    That seemed to be the line of thinking and it was faulty logic at best.

  102. I want to pick up on what TD said in #93. It seems clear that there is little instruction going on by the coaching staff. TP is apparently clueless; BS is terrible as a 3B coach (looks like the players are ignoring him completely now — and I don’t blame them considering some of his decisions); can anyone who has come up through the Braves’ organization bunt? (honestly, it doesn’t look as though they even know how); fielding, hitting cut off man, understanding game situations — they often look like a high school team; and Bobby is Bobby (at his best he was only an average “in-game” manager, but he’s been far worse than that over the past three years). I’m wondering what is being done with the pitching staff; bullpen management has been horrifying.

    The Braves are not a good team but they’re getting no help from the coachings staff.

  103. How is it possible that we didn’t land an OF this offseason with so many hitters available?

    Constrained maximization. Spent his budget on pitching instead of hitting. And we needed pitching. Ibanez, Burrell, and Dunn all signed for much more that we gave Anderson. Abreu should have been in our price range, but since he was taking a discount I think he must have wanted to go to the Angels.

  104. Spent his budget on pitching instead of hitting. And we needed pitching. Ibanez, Burrell, and Dunn all signed for much more that we gave Anderson.

    I don’t think anyone, apart from some minor quibbling about dollars, has really had a problem with either the Lowe or Vazquez deals at any point. The real issue here is Kawakami. We didn’t need a third FA starter, and the money we spent on him most certainly could have purchased Adam Dunn, for example. (I understand the timing was an issue, and that we didn’t *know* we had Lowe at the time, but come on: we had to know that 4 years and $60 million was getting that done.)

    I actually liked the Kawakami signing at the time—you can never have too much quality starting pitching, and finally making our way into Japan is a good thing—but given how totally inept our offense is, I’m really starting to wonder. And I’m not even fatalist when it comes to Kawakami; I fully expect him to start getting better results soon, assuming he’s healthy.

  105. We didn’t have Lowe signed yet when we signed Kawakami. At that point, he was pitcher #2 acquired in the offseason. You can’t say he was overkill at the time of the signing. Panic move? Maybe. We had just lost out on Burnett and Smoltz and Lowe was leaning toward the Mets. But overkill, no. When KK was signed, we still needed innings. Bad.

  106. @129

    Lowe signed 3 days later. These things don’t happen in a vacuum. In any case, they could’ve made Kawakami wait 3 three days till Lowe was resolved.

    I don’t buy the argument

  107. The only OF we could have gotten this offseason was Swisher, no one else of any quality moved.
    Abreu, Burrell and Griffey(190 2 HR’s)have done as much as our favorite Anderson.

    The killer to me has been KJ sucking so bad, we need him to be consistent, I guess he just never will be and our current team has too many holes for his streakiness.

  108. Enjoyed the balk discussion. I think Rob Cope explained his side well. In general I think the problem is interpretation and implementation of the rule. Besdies, I like quirky rules to the game. I had to try and describe it to my wife, which was difficult since we were listening to the game and I didn’t even know what had gone wrong.

  109. Adam M.–I was never part of the chorus because I have not ever believed that this team was a wild card team. Maybe it will be, but, yes, right now this team is about as good as it might be expected to be.

    I also largely agree with Marc Schneider that the Braves have not played well for the last four years. It may take longer than most of us would like to admit to see the team regain its old form….

  110. Also, the Braves have pretty consistently underperformed offensively relative to the number of runners they have. As I noted in the Mets Today Q&A, they’re actually fifth in the league in OBP, but fifth from last in runs scored. Even with as little power as this team has, they should be scoring more often.

  111. Speaking of Chipper, his poor fielding was almost solely responsible for one loss to the Nationals; and his serious lack of timely hitting and absence of power makes his contract a much bigger drain on the Braves’ economic well-being than Kawakami.

    Also, Kawakami’s signing opens doors for future Japanese signings, and his poor start and sore shoulder are not much worse than Chipper’s poor defense and power outage. If Chip plays 120, we’ll be lucky.

  112. So after, what four starts, Kawakami is this year’s “it’s this one player’s fault the entire team sucks” guy?

  113. Chips toast, if he cant hit for power he better retire so we can spend his money elsewhere.

  114. @134

    How much blame does Yunel “Frosted Tips Twin Killings” Escobar get for that?

  115. Mac, you forgot Chipper. He’s being blamed here for this team sucking too. Must be that team-leading slugging percentage (not including Ross) or something….

  116. Chip wont hit for power until he gets someone in the lineup to protect him. Also if Bobby keeps letting Yunel bunt people will keep walking Chipper. He also cant do much with no one on base and Yunel hates for him to have people on to move around

  117. Must be that team-leading slugging percentage (not including Ross) or something….

    Danny DeVito has a few inches on Eddie Gaedel—that doesn’t make him tall.

  118. And Chipper can still pick it … up after he’s dropped it and it stops rolling.

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